On Thursday, May 12th Motive held a Dead Space Art Developer Livestream. Long story short, there was plenty of juicy sneak peeks regarding the upcoming Dead Space Remake. We were really excited to watch the livestream, and we’re excited to share the breakdown with you.
Of course there was a tonne of details revealed in the over one-hour video, so we won’t be able to mention everything. But we will be sure to detail the main points. First off, we have a release date of January 27th 2023. Hell yeah! Secondly, due to the graphic nature of Dead Space, viewers be advised, gore ahead. As specified by the developers here, the game is still in pre-alpha. Although, two weeks prior to this livestream a full walkthrough was completed with all content “present” though still in polish stage with some placeholders and bugs.
Welcome our hosts, along side special guest Blayne Smith of BangerTV – part of the ‘community council’ of longtime fans of Dead Space helping provide feedback on the Remake. A major theme that appears to be present here seems to be “Honor the legacy” through ‘Visual Pillars’.
Pillar 1: Horror
The obvious, of course. It is Dead Space after all. Using defining colours and familiar palettes to shape scenes and generally terrifying aesthetics. From the powertools and makeshift weapons to the grotesque necromorphs themselves.
Pillar 2: Immersion
Certainly a series pillar, and a personal favorite element of Dead Space. The seamless UI/HUD, coupled with a believable and grounded setting. Unsurprisingly story and art departments coordinate for realistic environmental storytelling, which segways well into the next.
Pillar 3: A Lived In World
Dead Space’s world is described by devs as “Rich in environmental storytelling”, a theme that appears to be strong, and repeating. The Planet Cracker USG Ishimura is the first of its kind, thus aging and weathered. This, and other lore necessitates resource conservation and management. Also influencing character design later, such as the non-inclusion of rare materials such as leather.
Importance Of Symbolism
The USG Ishimura is strongly influenced by gothic architecture sporting “evocative shapes”, low ceilings and narrow hallways to induce claustrophobic situations for Isaac. Ishimura could be described as a “haunted house”, or a character of its own – alive, yet sick. And if the ship is a hounted house, then the necromorphs are its ghosts.
Next up we have the plethora of visual upgrades. Many old models were used as the foundation for redesigns (from the ground up) for authenticity.
The Live Stream also included sneak peaks and break downs of the art process itself. Dead Space Remake will be (unsurprisingly) using the likely EA mandated Frosbite engine as opposed to either of the previously used Havoc, or Modified Visceral Tech Engines.
With regards to lighting, the devs spoke enthusiastically about advancements in realtime global illumination and volumetric lighting and their exciting applications here. Then on environments, their locations go through a 6 phase pipeline titled from L0-L5.
L0 – Research, analyze and identify key components from original
L1 – Rough Playable area, built in blocks otherwise known as “kits” of rooms.
L2 – Details and colours added to modular kits to fit themes and tones.
L3 – Update PBR (physics based rendering), materials and refining both lighitng and VFX (Visual Effects)
L4 – Input narrative elements, small props, dirt, grime, signs, etc.
L5 – Final touches. Giggity.
Currently, Dead Space Remake is in the beginning stages of L4.
Further exploring model creation and modification in blender: the green outlines newly added details such as rivets, handholds and seams designed for practical repair, replacement, cleaning etc. taking into account realism for a grounded setting.
Developers focused primarily on smokes, fogs, and pyrotechnics. I must admit, these advancements are fascination. These include effects affected by “changing environmental conditions”. An example of this would be with loss of gravity, sparks naturally fly upward/outwardly depending on trajectory. Drips last longer, stretch farther with many elements feeling more natural and lifelike. welcome additions indeed.
Flames and explosions adjust to their surrounding lighting as to not overwhelm dark scenes, or be drowned out in bright ones. This, I thought was especially cool: Some effects are physics based. Meaning they are intractable with characters and the surrounding environment. For example, certain steam effects exist in “contained” spaces with varying volumes and densities in, effectively, realtime 3D simulations. Moving through smoke will waft it in incredibly realistic ways. A word that seems to be reappearing.
In Engine Workflow
Layers of wear, rust and grim buildup can be either regional or global, and in varying layers to achieve an array of effects. These can range from something as simple or recent as a spilled glass of water, to one that’s evaporated and left a rusty, dirty, bloody spot that begs to ask – what happened here?
Developers are careful not to go too sci-fi as to no break players’; suspension of disbelief
Also spoken about was a focus on the inclusion of enhanced model destruction. A phrase that they and many fans thoroughly enjoy the sounds of. This remake will include not only dismemberment but a focus on visible necromorph damage, such as peeled skin, and complex body compartmentalization down to organs, certain bones and limbs. An important focus to replicate was effective visual damage ques and good weapon feedback.
Lighting & Atmosphere
Largely, there was a focus not only on the use of light to contrast the darkness, but to exemplify the fear of the obscured unknown (especially coupled with the deep volumetric fogs and smokes). Different hues are directly effected by light temperature, which is straight up wild. One weird trick, scientists hate him.
Not only does this application accomplish the aforementioned, but is also a key element in creating the depth and helping shape the atmosphere. Originally due to technological limitations of the time Dead Space used pre-calculated light maps, as opposed to processing in realtime to create credible and realistic rays.
Additionally there was some talk about character models, mostly focusing on Isaac and the iconic Slasher. These models look highly detailed compared to their counterparts. It’s amazing, I remember a time when Dead Space was the absolute pinnacle of graphical technology. I thought things almost couldn’t look better… Yet here we are. Better still.
Finally, the live stream tops off with a more polished gameplay demo, that looks and sounds mighty fine.
For now, however though we reserve judgement for release. While we didn’t want to bore you with every single detail of the live stream, you can watch it for yourself below. Let us know your thoughts in the comments, we would love to hear them. Are you excited for the Dead Space Remake?
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