This isn’t about those lame videos that PBS and the History Channel seem to put out every patriotic holiday it seems. Nope, this is about what it takes to make those HD remakes of everyone’s favorite games of yester-year like your Devil May Cry, Resident Evil and what not.
Step 1: Will it Sell?
Before they even consider making an HD remake of a series they have to make sure there are a market and a demand for it. Why waste the money if there isn’t any demand for it. It’s usually safe to remake things that are generally considered “hits” and “classics” like “Resident Evil”, “Metal Gear Solid” and “Jak and Daxter”. Then they have to a lot a certain time for the project and people on it too. The more time and people the project will take the less time the companies have to work on original content or new games. This is where having multiple studios across the world comes in handy or out sourcing the project to another company like Sony and Naughty Dog did for the “Jak and Daxter” HD project.
Most companies know and expect that the remakes won’t sell as well as the original three, and it’s for that reason that they are that much more hesitant going into these types of projects. So how do they judge to see if the project is worth doing? There are many tricks that they employ, the biggest and the best is teasing the project. This technique uses their connections with the gaming blogs and magazines and involves the company alluding that they are considering an HD remake of a popular IP. They usually have a team of people whose job is to read the comments posted in response to see if they’re on the right path. Another source is fan input and demand, such as letters and fan post saying that they would like an HD remake. With the advent of social media and sites that make it easy to create petitions, these make it easy for like-minded people to voice they’re wishes.
Step 2: Assessing Your Assets
This is all about trying to see what you have to start with, and how much you have to add to make it work and look pretty by today’s standards. That means adding lighting effects and smoother polygons and sharper textures where they’re needed. You know those things that weren't technically possible back when it was originally released.
Step 3: Reprogramming
Most of the reprogramming comes from remapping and re-rendering some scenes. Another big hurdle that people don’t realize is that most of these games were made for a 4:3 ratio and have to now fit into a 16:9 area, that’s 2x more space that you have to incorporate. Then there is adding lighting techniques and shading that just make the game more appealing, that the original didn't have since at the time those assets weren’t available.
When you start adding stuff that wasn’t there in the first place you have to write more code and make sure the new code doesn’t conflict with the old, and in some cases you’re pretty much recoding the whole set of games. This is made a lot easier when it’s done in-house like the Devil May Cry HD Collection coming out in April of this year, since you can easily pull up old resources and reference them and also most of the time pick the original coders’ brain.
The last big hurdle that these companies face is time; they have a lot less time to spit these out, than they do a new game. The more time that’s spent on the re-mastering the more money it costs the company.
Step 4: Testing and Patching
Like a normal game, remakes have to be tested. They get tested and debugged, since some of the changes might conflict with the original code. Sometimes companies also like to polish the game up a bit too the second time around, which can create bugs along the way. Some games can be abandoned at this stage.
Step 5: Shipping Out
This is the logical conclusion if they pass all the initial hurdles. The game goes into mass production and hits the store shelves.
Guest Post by:Heather Green is a freelance writer for several regional magazines in North Carolina as well as a resident blogger for onlinenursingdegrees.org. Her writing experience includes fashion, business, health, agriculture and a wide range of other topics. Heather has just completed research on associates degree in nursing and online CNS programs.