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

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Written By techgiga

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Upon its original release, Resident Evil 4 was nothing short of a revelation for the beloved horror series. Combining precise moment-to-moment action with some of the best settings and boss battles of the 2000s, RE4 deserves its reputation as one of the best action games of all time. With Capcom’s impressive new version coming out this year, the original continues to stay relevant thanks in part to the fans. Resident Evil 4 HD project, a mod that updates the look of the game to modern standards. It’s one of the most impressive gaming exploits of all time, and it’s all thanks to a small team of dedicated hackers who have literally traveled the world to achieve their goals.

Albert Marin Garau is a longtime Resident Evil fan who dabbles in game modding. Over the years, he made a hobby of collecting assets that were featured in many of the best entries in the series, including pre-rendered soundtracks, textures, and backgrounds. He created repositories of these assets mostly for his own amusement. When he started working on RE4, he noticed that many of the game’s textures were blurry and low-res. However, it wasn’t until the first PC port of the game came out that he realized he could simply extract the game images. 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 modifiable the game was,” Marin Garau tells _. “The textures were simple TGA images, which meant I could go from compiling in-game items to updating them. I created a texture pack for the game that obviously pales in comparison to Project HD.”

Although his early attempts to improve RE4’s visuals arose from a place of pure passion, Marin Garau’s efforts quickly ran into some major roadblocks. First, 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 amazing in HD. (Fixing those flaws, masked by the low-resolution nature of the original, would later become the bulk of the project’s texture work.) such as mouse support and correct button programs for controllers. When you considered the amount of work required to fix all the HD assets in the game, it just didn’t seem worth it.

Marin Garau later met a fellow modder, Cris Morales, who had been working hard on the same UV map issues that Marin Garau had encountered, with slightly 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 work began on the project, Capcom announced that an enhanced PC port of RE4 was in development. Marin Garau 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 overwhelming, so overwhelming, in fact, that it completely changed the structure of the project itself. After working on textures for a year, a community co-developer released tools that allowed Marin Garau and Morales to play with other aspects of the game, including character models, lighting, collision data, and the in-game camera. . This allowed the team to envision a more ambitious undertaking: a project that would build HD-ify RE4 from the ground up in every detail. One that would be measured in years, not months.

“Most of the tools we use were created by our colleague, Son of Persia,” explains Marin Garau. “I would tell him the result of my research and he would create the tools to facilitate editing. But most of the tools were completely created by him from scratch, without any help. We really owe him a lot.”

From the beginning, Marin Garau wanted to deal with such a total restructuring, but quickly realized that he lacked the technical knowledge to handle certain aspects of the game. Early in the project, he describes spending hours manually editing the game’s hex table in hopes of solving it. Looking back, he now realizes that those early efforts were hopelessly ineffective.

“I spent two hours moving a candle flame effect and didn’t know what the hell I was changing,” he says. “I didn’t even know what a slip point was. Without Son of Persia, I would be completely lost.”

Even with the tools, Marin Garau worked hard to improve the visuals in Resident Evil 4. During the development of his original texture pack in 2008, he realized that he would need to obtain the source images used to create the in-game assets. . so I can do them justice in HD. One day, he found an image of a door on Google Image Search, which he immediately recognized as one used by Capcom.

After doing some research, he realized that Capcom had acquired footage of famous castles all over Europe, including his home country of Spain. Marin Garau traveled to Seville and then to Wales to photograph all these sites in person, including doors, windows, walls, decorative reliefs and one particularly large rock.

“You can imagine the faces of other tourists as I photographed a tiled wall or floor,” he says. “It took me five years to go everywhere I needed to go in my spare time. Traveling to all those places was my favorite part of the project, it felt like I’d been to them all before, just seeing them on screen. And he always found more textures than he expected.

In total, Marin Garau worked on the project for eight years before its original release in February 2022. (Morales contributed heavily to the project for about three of those years, before leaving for personal reasons.) Marin Garau never expected the project to last this long. for a long time long, but he says it got too big without him even noticing. He especially thanks the fans who gave feedback on small mistakes, because they ended up making up a big part of his work. “I estimate the textures ended up being only 40% of the final project,” he says. “The rest is 30% model overhaul, 20% lighting and effects adjustments, and 10% everything else. That’s just a guess, of course.”

Capcom's Resident Evil 4 remake will add more horror elements to the game, judging by the pre-release materials.
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 game, Marin Garau attributes it to the game’s gameplay and feel, which stands out even in today’s market. He acknowledges that RE4 was indeed a turning point for the franchise, fueling criticism that because it’s not a survival horror game it’s not really Resident Evil, but overall, he feels it has had a much greater impact on the world of games more wider than the series itself. Although RE4 did not invent third-person over-the-shoulder shooters, the genre would become much more popular in the years following its release, with games such as Gears of War. direct inspiration from RE4.

Capcom intended to increase the horror elements in its upcoming remake of Resident Evil 4. For his part, Marin Garau plans to enjoy the remake, but he is almost certain that it will not be able to live up to the original, which he maintains. .mind. However, it looks like there is more than enough room for both games in the series.

As for future improvements, Marin Garau plans to release another patch that fixes some minor issues that he hopes to work on this summer. Recent versions of the project have started to include another standalone mod called RE4_tweaks, which corrects many of the errors of the PC version and adds impressive new features, including adjustable FOV and ultra-wide resolution support, as well as missing restoration effects. ports of the game. Even if you’re a traditionalist who prefers the low-res textures you remember, RE4_tweaks is worth downloading.

Currently, Marin Garau works in the game industry professionally; in fact, right now he is taking a course in 3D animation, in addition to a full-time job. He says he owes his new career to the Resident Evil 4 HD project and the fans who made it possible. Even now, there is still much work to be done in this regard. “We’re not customer service, but we do what we can when we have time,” he says. “Are we perfectionists? Are we crazy? Maybe both. But anyway, I’m fine.”

All in all, RE4 is one of the most important entries in the horror franchise and a game worth playing today under any circumstances. With Capcom’s remake featuring new gameplay, it’s great that these dedicated fans were able to keep the legacy of the original strong for a new generation of gamers to enjoy.

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