PAX Prime is in full swing this weekend in Seattle with one of the largest conventions dedicated to all things video games related. And of course the biggest piece of information that all of us here at Relicnews are looking forward to is the remastered re-releases of both Homeworld and Homeworld 2 by Gearbox Software.
On Sunday morning, Andrew Goldfarb, Randy Pitchford, Mikey Newman took the stage at the Gearbox panel at to discuss many things Borderlands 2, their new IP Battleborn and of course the remastered launch of the Homeworld franchise. Steve Gibson (VP of Marketing for Gearbox) was invited out on stage to give an update on what the status was of Homeworld and what we can expect to see with the remastered game.
Steve began to detail the initial goals of the Homeworld remastering project of bringing the game to modern platforms with the benefits of digital distribution along with an up-rez of the textures and models. He goes on to say that as the project went on they became more ambitious with what they wanted to try to do with Homeworld. Alongside the increase resolution of the textures and models, he indicates that the development team has now replaced the entire renderer for the game! (Note: It is unclear if this specifically points to Homeworld 1, Homeworld 2, or both games).
In addition to the visual overhaul that both games are expected to see, we can now also expect to have the entire audio overhauled as well. Steve goes onto say that Gearbox is getting together with all the original voice actors and composers to re-master and record high quality music and dialogue. If you recall at the Gearbox Community Day in September of last year, Rob Cunningham, Brian Burleson, and a few of the devs working on the Homeworld project showed a video clip of Paul Ruskay (the original composer for Homeworld) lending his support and original master audio files to help with the re-mastering of the music and effects.
In conjunction with with the audio and visual overhauls, the cinematic sequences are getting entirely redone for the remastered versions of the games. This particular piece was mentioned last year at the Gearbox Community Day with a screenshot of preview of the HD version of the cinematics. He goes on to describe the next sequence that as showing a visual and auditory comparison of what the original audio and re-worked cinematics will look like and why it (the remastered launch) is taking so long.
The preview shown is a clip of the intro cinematic of Homeworld in its original resolution with an up scaled follow up showing the originals are being format to fit modern HD monitors. In the background is the voice of Campbell Lane narrating the intro cinematic throughout with the original audio sounding very distorted and “dirty”. The cinematic continues to the asteroids floating waiting to be harvested and as it continues, the remastered version pans over from the right to show a split screen comparison of the stark contrast between the original and high-definition versions. Part way through the split-screen comparison, the high-def audio supplants the original as the HD cinematic preview is shown full screen. The quality difference between the two is stunning. Gone is the audio full of audio artifacts and distortion. Campbell Lane’s powerful commanding voice comes through absolutely crystal clear.The cinematic preview ends with the depiction of Karen S’jet connected to the Mothership in a sharp crystal clear visual.
Next up is the state of the Collector’s Edition, the model Mothership and international orders. For US residents it is stated that approx. 95% to 98% of the Collector’s Editions are sold out. Randy and Steve point out that that Gearbox has set aside a number of Collector’s Editions for international customers and jokingly point out it was much harder for Gearbox to ship things internationally than originally thought as they were not a publisher, but are making the effort to ensure that international customers are able to have the Collector’s Edition available to them. The model of the Mothership (HW2 variant) will have a 12’ USB cable and will be shipping with the game. Finishing it off, they are hoping to have the launch date for the game announced Soon™ but with the re-mastering of the game continuing that date may remain in flux.
Randy and Steve conclude the panel with their thoughts on the Homeworld project indicating their love for the franchise, recognizing its impact and groundbreaking accomplishments on the gaming industry as a whole. They feel that they need to do right by the franchise and will do everything in their power to ensure that it is done well.
As a long running fan of the series since its inception, I am extremely excited to see what Gearbox and Blackbird Interactive are doing with Homeworld after so many years. The dedication and aim to remain true to the core essence of the Homeworld games certainly speaks volumes to work we have seen so far. If everything we have seen so far is an accurate depiction of what we can expect to see in the final games, then I have no doubt at Gearbox’s ability to take us home again.
Check out the Twitch.tv steam of the panel at the bottom (skip to 30 mins in for the Homeworld discussion). While you’re here, don’t forget to hang out on the Relicnews.com and Gearbox forums to keep up to date with all the developments with the Homeworld Re-mastered launch.