Inside Gearbox’s plan to resurrect ‘Homeworld’ with 12-yr-previous instruments
Homeworld is arriving as a Steam obtain on February twenty fifth, sixteen years after it initially launched. The sport and its 2003 sequel spent the final 12 years languishing in THQ’s vaults earlier than being rescued by Gearbox Software program. Does not ring a bell? Gearbox is the studio behind the extremely-lauded Borderlands collection, the universally-derided Duke Nukem Endlessly, and the largely panned Aliens: Colonial Marines. Relatively than simply push the titles out for a fast nostalgia hit, nevertheless, the corporate spent the final two years giving Homeworld a excessive-definition remaster in order that it appears nearly as good as we keep in mind. Within the run as much as the launch, I spoke with Gearbox’s Brian Martel and Chris Faylor to speak about reviving the sport.
In concept, the thought of updating a couple of textures sounded easy, however the actuality was considerably extra complicated. One of many first, and largest, technical challenges that needed to be overcome was that the 2 video games have been inbuilt completely totally different engines. Earlier than any work might start, subsequently, Gearbox needed to pull the primary title aside and rebuild it contained in the Homeworld 2 engine. Utilizing a 12-yr-previous setting to construct a recreation definitely is not a great state of affairs, and I requested the pair what this is able to imply for any future titles. Based on Martel, regardless of its age, the HW2 engine is “so robust and succesful,” thanks, partially, to the efforts Gearbox has made to improve the platform, that it might deal with any theoretical sequel, In fact Martel was fast so as to add that a Homeworld sequel might not take the identical type as the primary two, and the group must sit down with the sport’s unique creators to “take a look at what the subsequent recreation can be.”
So, what is the level of bringing again these two video games that, outdoors of a really loyal group of followers, had virtually slipped totally off the radar? So far as Martel is worried, it is all about how good it was to take a look at.
“[Homeworld had] such a tremendous, properly-designed universe and actually cool ships. Frankly, it is onerous to do sci-fi nicely, and you may actually schlock it up in case you aren’t cautious. I feel these are a number of the greatest designs within the final sixteen years, as a result of it is actually onerous to seek out cool ships in a – I imply, there’s the Mass Impact ship – however they’re few and much between the place you go ‘this can be a attractive, attractive spaceship.'”
However alas, to take a look at unique screenshots of the video games now, you would be tricked into considering that they are being run at tremendous low-res. The reality, in fact, is that each titles have been shipped on a single CD, which means that they solely had a footprint of 650-or-so MB to occupy.The ship textures and audio have been so compressed that they appear “kludgy” to trendy eyes — peep the comparability video under for extra proof. Working with the sport’s unique artists, re-designed fashions with upgraded lighting results and textures have been added to the sport, and the Remastered Assortment now clocks in at near 20GB.
As beautiful because the visuals are, nevertheless, Homeworld’s most original promoting level was its groundbreaking strategy to fight. For a era of PC players raised on isometric technique video games like Command & Conquer and Starcraft, your whole tactical considering was horizontal. Homeworld, being based mostly in area, turned this concept on its head by making a spherical battleground that allow you to add verticality to your considering. Now, you possibly can select to cover your ships properly above or under your opponent and assault them from any angle.
Sadly, the title successfully disappeared from cabinets shortly after developer Relic was bought by THQ in 2004. Sadly, company rivalry between THQ and Sierra, Homeworld’s writer, meant that any future video games have been placed on ice, and when the corporate started to hit the skids, the rights to the sport have been put up for public sale.
“The ‘ninety nine launch of Homeworld and the ’03 launch of Two are the one launch these video games have acquired. It is also been restricted by compatibility points in the previous few variations of Home windows, they usually have not been on digital obtain, so on the very least we’re bringing these classics again.”
You could be asking your self about Homeworld: Cataclysm, the standalone enlargement to the primary recreation produced by Barking Canine. Because the city legend goes, Cataclysm’s supply code was misplaced, and whereas there are some hints that a copy should exist, it is in all probability not value holding your breath over.
Like several good Homeworld obsessive, I requested what kind of circumstances would must be met earlier than any discussions have been had round Homeworld three. Naturally, gross sales of the remastered assortment will probably be an enormous a part of it, and a dialogue should be had with the sport’s unique artistic group, at present engaged on prequel recreation (Homeworld: Shipbreakers).
From their voices, nevertheless, it is clear that Martel and Faylor are smitten with the collection, describing the remastering undertaking as a “labor of affection.” And whereas they’re presently in a “wait-and-see holding sample,” if the demand proves robust sufficient, then the pair would “like to make Homeworld three.”