There’s a reason game remakes and remasters are so popular. With updated mechanics and game engines like Unreal and Unity, new high-fidelity assets and models, high polygon counts, and brand-new textures, players love revisiting the classics.
There is a distinct pleasure in switching on the platform of choice and booting up an old game that you once poured hours into. Innovation and new experiences are just as important, but sometimes you have to look back and enjoy how you got here.
But they can really show their age as technology improves so quickly. There were days when we looked at the faces and graphics in Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and thought they looked incredibly lifelike. Or at the drab shades of brown and black of the ‘modern’ shooter era, thinking it so realistic and grounded.
These things have aged and stand as just one reason why we embrace new life in the classics so happily. And at Ringtail, we love that new life and happily engage with the projects that refresh that old joy. But just how do you go about doing it?
The first option is the more radical of the two. A full remake, within the rough scope of the original. With remaking, you effectively take the old game and recreate it.
It’s a tricky process. Much of it is done without any access to the original files or code. And a lot of these older titles linger on old, out of date engines. Today, we see Unreal, Unity, CryEngine, Lumber Yard. Older games might be using C++ or proprietary engines that are long out of use.
When our team contributed to the Destroy All Humans remake, we had to recreate many assets. This classic is quite old, and its assets are so far beyond the scope of modern development that no upscaling or updating will do. Instead, we recreated it with the original as a guide.
The remaking process is a constant journey of learning curves and adapting requirements. By the end of the project, we will almost certainly revisit our starting work and update it to our final standards.
This type of project involves artists and developers. As many of the core design and mechanics must be recreated – even if they’re not changing.
The alternative option is not a lot of development work but all art assets. For the majority, the models, engine, game design, and code will stay the same. Remastering might not be a huge or painstaking project – but it is certainly a time consuming one.
This would most likely involve just artists as the core game is remaining mostly unchanged. Here, we’re taking the older game and just updating it as best as possible for the modern standards of graphics and performance.
Depending on how old the game is, this could be very tricky. An older engine could take this time-consuming process and extend it significantly. And some projects might have the character models be reworked, upping the polygon count and detail.
Speaking to our team, they said that the core of the work here is texture quality, size, and the amount of detail. Effectively, the bulk of work would be taking the old textures and assets and scaling them up. Adding detail and taking advantage of modern capabilities.