Meet the hackers behind the Resident Evil 4 HD project that took 8 years to make

When it was first released, Resident Evil 4 was nothing more than a revelation to the beloved horror series. Combining moment-to-moment precision action with some of the best episodes and boss battles of the 2000s, RE4 deserves its reputation as one of the best action games of all time. With an impressive remake of Capcom coming out this year, the original is still valid in part thanks to fan creativity. Resident Evil 4 HD Project, a mod that updates the game’s look and feel to modern standards. It’s one of the most impressive video game fans of all time, and it’s all thanks to a small team of dedicated hackers who literally travel the world. to accomplish your goal.

Albert Marin Garau is a longtime Resident Evil fan who is passionate about game modes. Over the years, he has a hobby of collecting content that has appeared in many of the series’ best entries, including tracks, textures, and pre-rendered backgrounds. He created archives of these assets primarily for his own entertainment. When he started 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 simply extract the images from the game. In fact, he can even modify them himself. Now his library is in actual use.

Marin Garau told GameSpot: “When the first RE4 port came out in 2007, I was really impressed with the game’s modding capabilities. “Textures are simple TGA images, which means I can go from compiling game assets to improving them. I created a texture pack for the game, which is obviously a bit pale in comparison. with Project HD.”

Although his early efforts at improving RE4’s image came from pure passion, Marin Garau’s efforts quickly ran into some serious setbacks. Firstly, many textures have problems with the 3D to 2D mapping process (UV mapping), which requires trial and error editing to make them look impressive in HD. (Fixing these imperfections, masked by the low-resolution nature of the original, will eventually become much of the project’s texturing work.) Like many players, he disappointed that the original PC port lacked basic features like mouse support and correct button prompts for the controller. When he considers the amount of work required to custom repair all the HD content in the game, it doesn’t seem worth it.

Marin Garau eventually met a fellow modder, Cris Morales, who was working hard on the same UV mapping problems Marin Garau had, and with a little more success. Morales planned to release his own texture pack for the Wii version of RE4, using the Dolphin emulator to patch the game. However, shortly after he started working on the project, Capcom announced that an improved PC port of RE4 was in development. Marin Garau and Morales decided to team up to release the definitive HD texture pack for the beloved game for everyone to enjoy.

The support from the RE fan community was overwhelming – in fact, so overwhelming that it completely changed the structure of the project itself. After researching textures for a year, a co-developer in the community released tools that allowed Marin Garau and Morales to modify other aspects of the game, including character modeling, lighting, collision data and in-game camera. This allowed the team to envision a more ambitious project: one that would HD-ify RE4 from start to finish. A thing will be measured in years, not months.

Marin Garau explains: “Most of the tools we use were created by our colleague, Son of Persia. “I’ll tell him the results of my research, and he’ll create tools to make editing things easier. But most of the tools are created by him completely from scratch without need any help. We really owe him a lot.”

From the beginning, Marin Garau wanted to tackle such a total redesign, but he quickly realized that he lacked the technical knowledge to control some aspects of the game. At the start of the project, he describes spending hours manually editing the game’s hex table in hopes of figuring it out. Looking back, he now realizes that these early efforts were hopelessly ineffective.

“I spent two hours moving a candle flame effect and I don’t know what the hell I’m changing,” he said. “I don’t even know what floating point is. Without the Son of Persia, I’d be completely lost.”

Even with the tools, Marin Garau went to great lengths to improve Resident Evil 4’s visuals. During the development of his original texture pack in 2008, he realized he would need take the source images used to create the game’s content in order to do their fair share in HD. One day he came across a picture of a door in Google Image Search and immediately recognized it as the door used by Capcom.

After some research, he realized that Capcom had taken images from famous castles across Europe, including in his native Spain. Marin Garau traveled to Seville and later Wales to take live photographs of all of these sites, including doors, windows, walls, decorative reliefs and a particularly large rock.

“You can imagine the faces of other tourists as I take pictures of every wall or every tile on the floor,” he said. “It took me 5 years to go to all the places I needed to go in my spare time. Traveling to all those places is my favorite part of the project, it makes me feel like I’ve been there. all those places before, just by seeing them on the screen. And I’ll always find more textures than I expect.”

Overall, Marin Garau worked on the project for eight years prior to its initial release in February 2022. (Morales contributed heavily to the project for about three of those years, before leaving for public reasons. personally.) Marin Garau never expected the project to take that long, but he said it had grown so big that he didn’t even know it. He especially thanked fans for providing feedback on minor inaccuracies, as they ultimately make up a huge chunk of his work. “I estimate that the final texture is only 40% of the final project,” he says. “The rest is 30% model modifications, 20% lighting and effects adjustments, and 10% everything else. Of course, that’s just a guess.”

Capcom's Resident Evil 4 remake will add more horror elements to the game, based on pre-release materials.
Capcom’s Resident Evil 4 remake will add more horror elements to the game, based on pre-release materials.

When it comes to RE4’s status as an all-time classic, Marin Garau attributes it to the game’s playability and raw feel, which stands out even in today’s market. He admits that RE4 was indeed a turning point for the franchise – which led to criticism that since it’s not a survival horror game it’s not really Resident Evil – but overall, he feels that it has more of an impact on the world. The game world is larger than the series itself. While RE4 didn’t invent third-person shooters, the genre would become a lot more popular in the years following its release, with games like Gears of War. direct inspiration from RE4.

Capcom has aimed to pop up horror elements in its upcoming installment Resident Evil 4 remake. For his part, Marin Garau plans to enjoy the new version, but he’s almost certain it won’t be the same as the original in his mind. However, he felt that there was too much room for both games in the series.

In terms of future improvements, Marin Garau is planning to release another patch to fix some of the minor issues that he expects to work on this summer. Recent versions of the project have begun to include another standalone mod called RE4_tweaks, which fixes many bugs of the PC version and adds impressive new features, including adjustable FOV and resolution support ultrawide resolution, as well as restoring effects missing from later ports of the game. Even if you’re the traditionalist who likes the low-res textures you remember, RE4_tweaks is well worth the download.

Today, Marin Garau works in the gaming industry as a professional–in fact, he’s currently taking a course in 3D animation, in addition to a steady gig. He says he owes his new career to the Resident Evil 4 HD Project and the fans made it happen. Even now, there is still a lot of work to be done about it. “We’re not customer service, but we do what we can when we have the time,” he said. “Are we perfectionists? Are we crazy? Maybe both. But either way, I’m fine with that.”

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

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