How does one make this work?!

After months of discussions with the team at Oddworld Inhabitants we decided a plan of action to bring Oddworld back to today’s gamers, and that by remastering Oddworld Stranger’s Wrath. So what to tackle first, after all there are a number of things to keep track of and update …

  1. Update the characters to much higher poly counts.
  2. Implement rendered improvements, such as normal maps, self-shadowing and specular maps.
  3. Res up the movies.
  4. Remove placed Xbox controller button graphics from in game textures.
  5. Update the audio, in particular the dialogue quality.
  6. Add in Trophies/Achievements.
  7. Add in game stats to add to Trophies etc.
  8. Update the UI.

In each of these development diaries we will chose one of the above elements and concentrate on that, in this diary however we will discuss getting the project back up and running from it’s 2005 achieved state, where poly counts were limited to sub-3000 per model, the data build process didn’t work and other little gotchas along the way.

The first problem we had was getting all the data, of which there is around 30GB of source assets, not bad considering the original game is roughly 2.1GB in size. Once we got the data restored it became apparently that all the tools and the build process was hardwired to drive d:\ of a PC, so next we had to make sure we all had enough space on our d:\ drives.

For source control we’ve been using Subversion(SVN) for a few years now, which is great for a small indie studio with small-ish projects, as an example Gravity Crash is around 4GB in size. The major issue with using SVN is that it replicates all the files in your repository, so in actuality we didn’t have 4GB of files for Gravity Crash we had 8GB.

So with Stranger we wouldn’t have 33GB we’d have 66GB. Not really an option for quick iteration development, but we needed some type of asset management. The original team used Perforce, so we gave the Perforce folks a call and they helped us get the original systems up and running, which has saved us masses of time and effort.ย So 2 weeks of struggle meant we now have a solid build system based on the original.

When we sorted that out the next step was to start breaking down a list of what needed to be changed.

I won’t go onto that one yet, but something that’s happened this past week has been the decision to not just update the player models from say 3000 polys to 9000 polys, we took the decision to go upward of 18k, Stranger will have around 20k polys and is already coming together, in the next diary we’ll show you the new look Stranger, in the meantime, below is a comparison between the XBox Stranger, what was to be the PS3 Stranger and the original CG movie Stranger, we hope you enjoy it.

12 comments on “How does one make this work?!

  1. When you say update the dialogue quality are you referring to the audio quality or the actual intellectual and/or comedic value of the dialogue?

  2. Sorry for the multiple comments but I wanted to mention how fantastic this is. I am a developer and I love to hear about perforce and SVN, both of which I have used, and the process and challenges you come across. Thanks for giving us this insight into the game development process. Please don’t hesitate to include more nerdy detail about the code and dev process. Thanks again guys, keep it up.

  3. Excellent work! I’m looking forward to this remake. Stranger’s Wrath is one of my favorite games of all time, so naturally, hearing this news sent me into orbit.

    I am, however, noticing some complications with your WordPress blog. The sidebar is appearing below comments when a user is not signed in. This should be an easy CSS fix, just wanted to make you aware of the problem.

    Again, great work! I’m looking forward to reading more about this project!

    -Tom King

  4. this is awesome. Nice getting familiar with you guys, I should buy Gravity Crash

    but I ask, why do you say “trophies/achievements”?

    Is that for clarification or should an Xbox 360 port be expected?

  5. I’m using FireFox and Safari. The sidebar is appearing below the content only when the user is signed out. I’m guessing there is a separate file single.php file for users that aren’t signed out. The problem seems to be that sidebar is being called AFTER the content DIV instead of before. Reversing this should fix the issues.


  6. I’m really excited about this new and improved game! I loved the first one when it came out on the original Xbox, and it saddened me that such a great game was so under-rated and sold poorly. And when Microsoft announced they’d be adding backwards compability for certain Xbox 360 games I hoped and prayed Stranger’s Wrath would be one of them, but alas. But now it seems like I don’t have to wait much longer, and for an even prettier looking game. ๐Ÿ˜€

  7. There’s a definite trend of PSN indie game developers getting to remaster classic games. I hope it continues!

    I really like that you guys are going back to the original, lossless assets and re-authoring in a significantly higher quality. Using a lossless codec (like FLAC) for music and 320kbit/sec AAC for voice would be a great upgrade from the original Xbox version.

    I’d gladly pay $20 for this, if it has a platinum trophy.

    Some questions:

    why use normal maps instead of parallax maps? They looked great in the caverns in Uncharted and would help the rock faces in Stranger’s Wrath look awesome.

    Making Stranger’s cloth simulation better, as well as the water effects, would also be great.

    I’d be really interested in hearing about latent programming bugs that came to light as part of the porting process.

    Keep up the great work! I can’t wait to pre-order/buy this!

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