Electronic Arts and BioWare detailed how they worked with the trilogy with huge effects.
We will only quote the relevant parts of the article, as it is quite long: We tackled the remastering of the trilogy in three phases. Phase 1: Construction of the foundation. We began phase 1 by identifying and cataloging all the assets in the trilogy. How many particle effects, 3D models, textures, levels, GUI elements, sounds, cinematics, etc. are actually in the trilogy, and what is their average quality? Are there any source assets (files to create content)? What percentage of these facilities do we need to improve and what is the average time required to improve each type of facility? The knowledge of the large number of plants and their quality level has determined our strategy for the improvement of each type of plant.
The original trilogy came out entirely on console, which allowed resolutions up to 1080p, but in reality often ran at 720p or less. The remaster has now been released on hardware that allows 4K resolution. So the answer to the question of how many textures we wanted to improve was simple: all of them. For the trilogy, that’s over thirty thousand individual textures. First, we have increased the engine’s limits on texture size, so that all textures that were larger than what can be used on disk can now use their full resolution. We then wrote several batch processes that worked with the AI Up-Res program to enlarge the original uncompressed textures to four times their original size. In our batch tools, special care has been taken to ensure that special texture types, such as. B. regular cards or masks, are kept to ensure that the colors do not contaminate each other. During that time, we also introduced more advanced texture compression techniques, which allows these textures to retain more of their quality on disk. In the meantime, our programmers have been working hard to update Unreal Engine 3 to a more current and consistent version. Once the game was playable again and we were working at a much higher resolution, we started manually upgrading the assets, BioWare explains the first phase.
The second stage, which they called modernization, is much more detailed: Phase 2 was the beginning of what we will see as a full-blown development. The art team was now fully operational, and our content creation tools (many of which, of course, have changed and improved over the course of the trilogy) were up to date and combined with more modern content creation software. Because we wanted to dive right in, we started with what we thought were the biggest improvements: the original Mass Effect. Some assets – mostly generic characters and accessories – are shared between games, and many have already been upgraded in a later title or DLC. In these cases, we usually used the improved version as a base, improved it further, and then transferred it to the trilogy. This resulted in more consistent and higher quality images, but we had to be careful that the process didn’t flatten the sense of time flow and the overall story.
For characters that appear in all three games, such as Liara, Garrus, Cayden, Captain Anderson, and many others, we’ve made small changes over the course of the trilogy as they age, mature, or … hit by a missile. Of course, we couldn’t allow the uniforms with the SR2 logos to end up in SR1’s Norman crew, and we always liked how the Alliance Admiralty’s uniforms became more and more military and stylish as the trilogy progressed, so we upgraded each version of those outfits individually. Our illustrators have worked on a list of hundreds of armor, creatures, characters, weapons, and vehicles from the trilogy. We often returned the source to its original polypropylene sculpt, focused on consistent texture resolution, added support for 3D geometry where appropriate, and fixed bugs related to regular maps or burnt texture mapping. Our efforts were aimed at increasing the sense of reality in the surface response.
Even if the games don’t use PBR (Physical Rendering), we can still work with textures and materials to create a more convincing response of plastics, fabrics and metals to light. We also spent a lot of time improving the skin, hair and eyelid shaders in the trilogy. Our technical animators then reworked the grid (i.e. set each vertex to move correctly when connected to the animated skeleton) and re-imported it into each game as needed. The VFX (particle effects) artists have been busy adding length and fluidity to the animations for elements like smoke and fire, and adding additional secondary emitters to improve the overall look of each effect. Fire can now create secondary smoke trails and sparks, explosions throw up debris, and the flash from your gun barrel now subtly illuminates Shepard and his surroundings. New environmental particle effects have been added to the trilogy to enhance the atmosphere and sense of life in space. As many of you have already noticed, we have also refined the iconic horizontal lens flares from the trilogy and added additional elements.
Many graphics with a graphical interface also need extra love and attention. In 4K, smooth lines that used to cover only a few hundred pixels on the screen now cover thousands or tens of thousands. We had to fully reconstruct many features from the vector images to achieve the necessary clarity and sharpness, while subjecting other images to non-automated secondary AI processes to increase sharpness and clean up artifacts. We also improved the entire cinematography of the trilogy. If possible, we will return pre-cut 4K pieces in full. When interception was not possible, we applied a high-end AI program to the original uncompressed video images. In both workflows, we adjusted colors, added or composed additional details and visual effects, and even smoothed out some edges frame by frame so they didn’t look out of place with the actual gameplay. The directors corrected dozens, if not hundreds, of errors that occurred during the performances and live interviews. Don’t worry about it. What did you just say? The giddy membrane is always there, if you know how to look for it.
At this point, the environment artists review each level of the trilogy and make targeted corrections to any objects or locations that visually detract from the overall experience. This included adding props to exceptionally empty areas, reworking low resolution or stretched textures, smoothing irregular 3D elements, and updating shaders on surfaces with poor lighting performance. At this point, we also started fixing hundreds of bugs ranging from small things like background rotation to major in-game collisions, including a very common worldwide problem where players could easily teleport to the top of backgrounds and get completely stuck in the game. Our lighting designers kept a close eye on the level of the artists and made sure that all decorated rooms and characters were always in their best light. Mass Effect’s signature lighting style features high-contrast spotlights and extensive use of complementary colours. This style was refined considerably over the course of the trilogy, so we were able to carry over many of those improvements to the first game. We focused on maintaining a high-contrast look and added reflections of natural light to create a more uniform and beautiful character lighting. We’ve updated the system shadows and added or improved post-processing effects such as screen occlusion, anti-aliasing and Bokeh depth of field (which improves film quality for out-of-focus cameras). We were also able to remove engine features that existed in Mass Effect 3, such as. B. dynamic volumetric graphics to unify the look of the first two games, the team said.
The third phase was devoted to the restoration of the worlds: In the third phase, we looked for broader layers and feature improvements, rather than just upgrades to individual components. By this point we had manually improved thousands of assets, but there was still a significant quality jump between the first two games. To guide this effort, we compared the submitted levels to their original artistic concept, design intent and artistic inspiration. We also took dozens of screenshots of our current level and sent them to Derek Watts (art director of the Mass Effect trilogy), who used them as the basis for new concept art. These broad brush settings were much faster to use in professional photo editing software.
[…] Feros has a few visually distinct areas, including the colony and the highway leading to the ExoGeni Corporation building, the aqueducts, and the Thorian’s lair. The former now have a stronger smoke and fire effect, more buildings to fill the skybox, and much more damage and debris to better represent the Geth attack. We’ve also opted for dark, creepy interiors, with beams of light leading the player on a quest to discover Thorian’s secrets (which are scarier than ever, thanks to a new sound mix). Edmontonians are no strangers to brutal architecture and bitter cold, so we always felt at home in Novoria. The lighting has been revised throughout the level, the exterior storm has been enlarged, and we’ve highlighted the differences between the hotel area and the synthetic research lab to better allow you to navigate through the early parts of the mission.
Eden Prime is the first place you land in Mass Effect. It’s described to you as a green paradise planet being attacked by an unknown alien ship, but the spectacle that awaited the players didn’t always live up to that image. Fortunately, in Mass Effect 3: The Ashes DLC (which of course is in the Legendary Edition) has already reworked Eden Prime with the general atmosphere and some buildings. We moved the sun so that the player’s path is now lit by evening light, while behind him a fiery red sky can be seen, punctuated by falling ash and tracer fire. We also improved the planet’s surface by inflicting more fire and battle damage, increasing the amount of foliage and structures destroyed, and polluting the crater left by the Sovereign, the team said.
The Legendary Edition of Mass Effect will be released on the 14th. May for PlayStation 4, Xbox One (new consoles also supported) and PC (Steam, Origin).
frequently asked questions
What does remastered mean?
Is a remaster better than the original?
Freshly made sandwiches, sandwiches, sandwiches.
Do remastered vinyl records sound better?
Technically – remastered recordings.
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