When to Remake, When to Remaster

Remakes and remasters are two avenues of bringing old classics into the modern gaming world. We’ve discussed this before, about how Ringtail Studios has worked on projects to bring life back into classic games!

But a follow-up from that topic is choosing whether you want a remake or a remaster? How do you decide on that for your project, and how do artists tackle that problem during the remastering process?


Update and Refresh

As was discussed in the previous article, the main difference is the type of work. Both are significant undertakings, but they have two distinct focuses. In a remake project, it is effectively creating a new game. You are redesigning and recreating an older system and set of mechanics, bringing it into the modern gaming world. It is a full development effort, which Ringtail Studios has assisted in through co-development. While you have the structure and blueprints of the original, you are still remaking the entire thing!

For remastering, you are updating older models and rejuvenating them to meet modern standards as best as possible. This is mostly the work of artists and modelers. It is focused on updating the texture quality and the level of detail available. This is really an artistic effort on improving the visual quality and design of a game without touching the mechanics, story, or gameplay.


The Choice is Yours

The choice to remake or remaster is absolutely down to the individual studios and developers involved. They are both time-consuming tasks, each with their own challenges to tackle. When talking to our team, the consensus was entirely subjective but there was a common point of reference. Time since release. Remastering an old game is possible. But the older a game gets, the more outdated its assets, shaders, textures, and overall quality.

There comes a point in remastering where certain assets are faster to simply remake entirely, rather than take the time to update them. For remastering projects, our artists are always looking at the level of quality and performance assets offer and whether they are better off remaking the asset entirely. And this comes down to the age of the asset. The older it is, the more likely it will need more work. In a remaster, artists look at improving its texture quality, its use of shaders, and its geometry and details. And eventually the asset or character might be so outdated, technically, that it is easier to create a new piece rather than update it.

This is also dependent on the project and the client. It is understandable that many studios want to preserve the original feeling as much as possible. In that case, our artists do their best to remake as little as possible and instead work on improving what is there.


The Choice is Yours

For those interested in the work done by artists for remaking and remastering, there are a variety of tools used.

Many of our artists prefer Substance Painter for texturing and updating older textures. But often, Mari or Quixel might be used as well! For changing meshes, Maya, 3ds Max, and Blender are the go-to tools. And for high-poly model details, such as battle damage, wrinkles, scratches, and pores, we use ZBrush. This tool is much more about sculpting rather than modeling which allows our artists to really create incredible detail on our projects.

As part of Magic Media we have the combined bandwidth to tackle any project, at any size, in house. Instead of using multiple studios, you can come to your one stop shop, and we can offer a range of services to ensure your project is a success. If you’d like to avail of our co-development or artistic services, get in touch today!