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Meet the hackers behind the Resident Evil 4 HD project that was 8 years in the making

TechGamingMeet the hackers behind the Resident Evil 4 HD project that was 8 years in the making
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Upon its original release, Resident Evil 4 was nothing short of a revelation for the beloved horror series. Combining spur-of-the-moment action with some of the best set pieces and boss fights of the 2000s, RE4 deserves its reputation as one of the greatest action games of all time. With Capcom’s impressive remake coming out this year, the original is still relevant thanks in part to fan-made resident evil 4 hd project, a mod that updates the look and feel of the game to modern standards. It’s one of the most influential video game fan projects ever, and it’s all thanks to a small team of dedicated hackers who literally traveled the world to accomplish their goals.

Albert Marin Garou is a longtime Resident Evil fan who dabbles in game modding. Over the years, he made a hobby of collecting assets that appear in many of the series’ best entries, including music tracks, textures and pre-rendered backgrounds. He hoarded these properties mainly for his own amusement. When he began working on RE4, he realized that many of the game’s textures were blurry and low-resolution. However, it wasn’t until the first PC port of the game came out that he realized he could easily rip images from the game. In fact, he could even modify them himself. Now his library had a practical use.

“When the first RE4 port came out in 2007, I was really impressed with how moddable the game was,” Marin Garou told GameSpot. “The textures were simple TGA images, which meant I could move from compiling game assets to improving them. I created a texture pack for the game, which paled in comparison to the HD project.”

Although his initial efforts to improve RE4’s visuals came from a place of pure passion, Marin Garou’s efforts faced several serious roadblocks. For one, many of the textures had issues with the 3D-to-2D mapping process (UV mapping), which required trial-and-error edits to make them look effective in HD. (Fixing these flaws, due to the low-resolution nature of the original, would eventually become the bulk of the project’s texture work.) Like a lot of players, he was disappointed with the original PC port, which lacked basic features. Mouse support for controllers and the right button as indicated. When he considered the amount of work it would take to custom-fix all the HD assets in the game, it just didn’t seem worth it.

Marin Garou eventually ran into a fellow modder, Cris Morales, who was working hard at the same UV mapping issues that Marin Garou ran into, with slightly more success. Morales was planning to release his own texture pack for the Wii version of RE4, using the Dolphin emulator to patch the game. However, shortly after starting work on the project, Capcom announced that an improved PC port of RE4 was in development. Marin Garou and Morales decided to join forces to release a definitive HD texture pack for the beloved game for all to enjoy.

The outpouring of support from the RE fan community was tremendous – so overwhelming, in fact, that it completely changed the structure of the project. After working on the textures for a year, a co-developer released tools into the community that allowed Marin Garou and Morales to tinker with other aspects of the game, including character models, lighting, collision data, and the in-game camera. Gave permission. , This allowed the team to envision a more ambitious undertaking: a project that would HD-ify RE4 from the ground up in every detail of it. Which will not be measured in months but in years.

“Most of the equipment we used was made by our partner, Son of Persia,” explains Marin Garou. “I would tell him the result of my research, and he would build tools to edit things more easily. But most of the tools were built completely by him from scratch, without any help. We really owe him a lot. “

From the outset, Marin Garou wanted to tackle such a total redesign, but he quickly realized that he lacked the technical knowledge to manipulate certain aspects of the game. At the start of the project, he describes spending hours hoping to manually edit the game’s hex table. In retrospect, he now realizes that these early efforts were hopelessly inefficient.

“I spent two hours moving the candle flame effect, and I didn’t know what I was turning into,” he says. “I didn’t even know what float point was. Without Son of Persia, I would have been completely lost.”

Even with the equipment, Marin Garou went to unusual lengths to improve Resident Evil 4’s visuals. During the development of their original texture pack in 2008, they realized they would need to get the source images used to create the game’s assets to do them justice in HD. One day, he stumbled upon a picture of a door in a Google image search that he immediately recognized as one used by Capcom.

After some research, he realized that Capcom had obtained images from famous castles in Europe, including his home country of Spain. Marin Garou personally traveled to Seville and later to Wales to photograph all these spaces, including doors, windows, walls, decorative reliefs, and especially the large rock.

“You can imagine the faces of other tourists as I took pictures of the wall or floor tile by tile,” he says. “It took me five years to visit all the places I needed to in my spare time. Traveling to all the places was my favorite part of the project, it made me feel like I had been there before , just by looking at them on the screen. And I always get more texture than I expected.”

In total, Marin Garou worked on the project for eight years ahead of its original release in February 2022. tall, but he says it grew too big without even noticing it. He especially thanks the fans who gave feedback on minor inaccuracies, as they ultimately made up a large part of his work. “I would estimate that the textures are only about 40% of the final project finished,” he says. “The rest 30% is for model modification, 20% for lights and effects adjustments, and 10% for everything else. This is just an estimate, of course.”

Capcom’s Resident Evil 4 Remake will add more horror elements to the game, judging by the pre-release materials.

When it comes to RE4’s status as an all-time classic, Marin Garou credits it to the game’s raw playability and feel, which stands out even in today’s market. He acknowledges that RE4 was indeed a turning point for the franchise – which feeds into the criticism that because it’s not a survival-horror game, it’s not exactly Resident Evil – but overall, he feels that its impact was very strong. There was more to the wider world of gaming than the series. Although RE4 did not invent over-the-shoulder third-person shooters, the genre became far more popular in the years following its release, with games such as Gears of War. direct motivation From RE4.

Capcom aims to bring the horror elements to the fore in its upcoming resident evil 4 remake, For her part, Marin Garou plans to enjoy the new version, but she’s almost certain it won’t live up to the original in her mind. Still, he feels there is enough room for both games in the series.

In terms of future fixes, Marin Garou plans to release another patch that fixes some minor issues, which he hopes to work on this summer. Recent versions of the project have begun to include another independent mod called RE4_tweaks, which fixes many of the PC version’s bugs and adds impressive new features, including adjustable FOV and ultrawide resolution support, as well as restoring those effects. does that were missing from later ports. Play. Even if you’re a traditionalist who prefers the low-resolution textures you remember, RE4_tweaks is worth a download.

Today, Marin Garou works in the gaming industry in a professional capacity – in fact, he’s doing a 3D animation course right now, alongside a steady gig. He says he credits his new career to the Resident Evil 4 HD project and the fans who made it possible. There is still a lot of work to be done on this. “We’re not doing customer service, but we do when we have time,” he says. “Are we perfectionists? Are we crazy? Possibly both. But either way, I’m okay with it.”

Overall, RE4 is one of the most important entries in the storied horror franchise, and a game that’s worth playing today under any circumstances. With Capcom’s remake bringing forth a new vision of the game, it’s great that these dedicated fans have been able to keep the legacy of the original strong for a new generation of players to enjoy.

The products discussed here were independently selected by our editors. GameSpot may receive a share of the revenue if you purchase anything featured on our site.

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