Gearbox On Remastering Homeworld, Mods & Multiplayer

Just before I got hold of some early code for Gearbox’s upcoming remastering of unbelievably beloved space RTS Homeworld (which I made some stupidly oversized and stupidly pretty screenshots and video of yesterday), I had a chat with the studio’s Chief Creative Officer Brian Martell, plus Community Manager Chris Faylor about the new version of Relic’s game. Why do this rather than make their own space RTS? How was melding Homeworld 1 and Homeworld 2’s multipalyer going to work? What about mod support, past and future? And did they feel having something as respected as Homeworld in their stable would help with Gearbox’s… chequered reputation?

RPS: How come it’s remastering mania all of a sudden [we’ve had Grim Fandango and The Indigo Prophecy recently too]? Is there something in the water?

Brian Martell: It’s probably a good combination of both of those things. For us, Homeworld was something that people hadn’t played in ages, there was no digital version, so it made a lot of sense to bring it back. Given the opportunity of the THQ bankruptcy and all that it made some sense. In that respect, for us it was a little more noble .We wanted to make sure it was out there. I don’t think we had an understanding that there would be a wave of this sort of thing. But it’s kind of nice, right? In a way, if we think of this as the art form of game-making, it kind of stinks that as technology dies off and becomes overcome with the new badass thing that these things should just sit back there and be leftovers. So I’m kind of excited to be able to relieve some of this, what’s in some cases childhood gaming, in a new version.

RPS: Why do this rather than make your own space strategy game, if you’ve got a love of them?

Brian Martell: Sure. We have tons of ideas here that we could have done, for space operas. For us, I think Homeworld has a special place in the industry, so that part of it was we wanted to be able to help it rise from the ashes. I think it’s also just some dang sexy spaceships. I think they’re some of the best designs over the last twenty years, these guys have done such a phenomenal job, especially when you go through the concept and you see what their intention was. To be able to get from that to have what’s actually in the game now be a lot closer to what they intended was really nice.

As game developers, we’re always working with the limits of the technology. We can only realise our dreams up to a certain point. So this is kind of our way of freeing things, because of our involvement with all the original creators. It’s been a way for them to bring this stuff to life in their own vision. The way they intended it. When you look at the backgrounds and ship models, all the audio that we’ve been able to redo, all of these things have been able to revamp and made to a level they were always intended to have.

For example, we remastered all the audio because Paul Ruskin still had all his old DAT tapes. The original games were all on CD, so their audio’s compressed, the video’s compressed, it was kind of crappy even then. Nobody’s been able to experience them at the high quality level they were recorded at. For these guys, they went to the trouble of getting real instrumentation, having almost like a mini symphony orchestra record the music, then it had to be super-compressed and streamed off a CD. That’s terrible. It’s kind of nice now because we’ve been able to really let that swing and be amazing in the way that it was intended.

Chris Faylor: I think one of the coolest bits was when we got everything, when we acquired the Homeworld property, some of the delivery included all the internal documents that were post-mortems from the original Relic Entertainment Crew. They were talking about “oh, I wish the technology enabled us to do this, or I wish we had this”, so from the get-go we were able to have a list of things that they had wanted to do at the time but just didn’t have the technology for. And then in our conversations with them we were able to help realise that.

RPS: Is there a line in which you become George Lucas, where you screw with it too much because you can?

Brian Martell: [laughs]. I think that’s the trick, and I think we all look at that as an example of what not to do. Episodes 1 to 3 were massively successful on the monetary side, but for the franchise felt like a mix. Whether that’s a case of somebody like George Lucas becoming so powerful that he felt like he didn’t have to listen to people… There are some really cool books lately on the making of the Star Wars franchise and you see that when he had surrounded himself with some really exceptional people he actually did a better job of making the movies. So we wanted to avoid that kind of thing, obviously. When we were able to talk to Rob Cunningham and Aaron Kambeitz, who were the art director and lead artist, that’s the place for starting. These games were visually stunning, and our mind’s eye has elevated them to such a high standard. So when you go back and look at them you realise how clunky they are. So one of the things we did when were talking to these guys was to reassure them that we weren’t doing a George Lucas on them, we weren’t making them overly shiny or plastic or whatever the case may be for the Special Edition versions of Star Wars. We were actually realising their vision as intended. It was really important to use to make sure that we were really integrating those guys into the team in a way, making sure that they were able to give the kind of feedback they’ve always been able to get.

Then you have the cinematics and things being personally handled by someone like Aaron, and able to be at such a high resolution because he’s got all his original sketches and he’s such a masterful painter. Especially even in the ensuing years, these guys have gotten even better. They were fantastic then, but they’ve improved over 15 years. And they surround themselves with a team that’s capable of helping out. That’s why the backgrounds are stunning and amazing. This is the kind of stuff, so if we make sure these guys are happy, why wouldn’t you use their input?

Chris Faylor: There’s a couple of other notes too. We had to make sure that the classics were out there no matter what, as untouched as they could possibly be for the sake of history. The untouched classics, the only changes that we’ve made is to enable them to run on modern operating systems.

We weren’t the original creators of Homeworld. We’re huge fans of it, but we wanted to respect that legacy and the intent that the Relic Entertainment crew had. The only change I can think that would be construed as significant is that, for Homeworld 2, the voice of the mothership, Heidi, they tried to have her reprise her role from Homeworld 1 when they first recorded it. Heidi at the time was very pregnant, and that had changed some of her vocal cords, so she didn’t sound like herself. So they had to recast that role for Homeworld 2 but in the day. When we looked at that we realised there was an opportunity to get Heidi back in the studio and have her record all the mothership lines for Homeworld 2 remastering, so there’s the same voice in both games.

Brian Martell: Everything is really the same game, all the way up and down, except the visuals have improved and some of the gameplay quirks here and there that needed to be corrected, that had been languishing because Relic stopped doing anything with it in the ensuing years. It is, to all intents and purposes, the same games, except more beautiful and awesome.

Chris Faylor: It’s really interesting reading forum comments, because back in the day for Homeworld 1 and 2 you didn’t have Steam. The way that you got updates was you went to somebody’s site, a download site, and you downloaded the update. So there have been some bugs that were fixed in later patches for the game that some players weren’t aware of. It’s been really fun to read some of the comments, “man, I hope they fixed this” then someone pops up and says “actually that was addressed in patch number blah blah.”

RPS: Was there temptation to fiddle despite your determination not to?

Brian Martell: Sure, but if there was approval to do something we would go back to the original guys and ask them what we should do. But I can’t think of anything off the top of my head there was anything. I think most people were very committed to this idea of bringing it forwards.

Chris Faylor: Any of the biggest underlying tech changes have been as a result of bringing Homeworld 1 into the Homeworld 2 engine.

Brian Martell: That was an important thing for us, as we think about what we’re going to do in the future. It became obvious to us that we didn’t want to have these two separate games that would splinter our community. The singleplayer side of Homeworld 1, the whole thing was brought into the Homeworld 2 engine. The reason for that was it was a more updated engine, a stronger engine, a lot more capabilities for rendering even way back when. It had just started understanding what shader technology was, a whole host of shadowing, and all these different things which are all very commonplace now. That seemed like we needed to do it to make sure that we integrated it into one engine.

As we move forwards and think about doing things like mod support and if there was to be DLC, if there was ever any chance of doing that, we wanted to make sure that there was a great foundation. And then of course you have to go back in and make sure it plays the same way, and that the quirks and difference of Homeworld 1 still happens. And then there was multiplayer, what were we going to do there? By unifying that we now have the ability to have all of the factions from both games, and all of the maps, played against each other, so that’s kind of fun too.

RPS: You’ve made it clear that this isn’t your game, it’s Relic’s but presumably it can’t hurt to have Gearbox’s name associated with this? We can’t mention the studio on RPS without people bringing up Duke Nukem Forever and Colonial Marines. Something as respected as Homeworld surely brings in a lot of goodwill…

Brian Martell: I think you’re right. I think that’s true. I hope that people really appreciate why we’re doing this, and understand the reasons why we tried to do it, and if they feel better about us and swayed in some way, they realise that we’re all trying really hard to make the best games that we can make, whether we stumble or whether we are extremely successful as with Borderlands, these things happen. We all do our best.

Chris Faylor: Our goal at Gearbox is to entertain the world, and when we saw the opportunity for Homeworld arise, we saw something that was missing from the world. Again, outside of the original CDs, there was no way to get Homeworld or Homeworld 2 legally. Even running them on modern operating systems was tricky because of missing DLL files and command lines. To us, we love these games. More so than anything else, we just want to make sure that people have these games to experience.

RPS: How difficult has it been balancing combined Homeworld 1 and 2 units for multiplayer? Did anything significant need changing there?

Chris Faylor: We launch on February 25th, but the multiplayer that goes with that we’re calling a beta. One reason for that is that, as many tests as we can do here to balance the games, we know that there are going to be more matches played in the first day by players around the world than we’ve done across the entire development. We’ve played hundreds and hundreds of games, almost daily, but statically we’re going to be able to say some things that we might not have seen before. This is a game that lives and breathes by its community. Homeworld was kept alive by modders and hardcore fans for 10, 15 years, depending on which game you’re talking about.

RPS: Do you have a good sense of how big that community is? In terms of, how much of this is happening because you can be certain of a certain number of sales right from the off?

GM: Yeah, obviously, we’re business. We’re not doing this out of just the kindness of our hearts. I don’t have the exact numbers, but obviously the better the game does the more likely there is to be the opportunity to work on a follow-up. There is more likelihood of thinking about how to stretch and broaden the brand. We think the community helped us to think about it, we clearly had to make a case for a reasonable number of sales to allow us to be profitable, so we could go from there.

Chris Faylor: What’s been really neat is that, when we got the delivery of all the source code and everything, some of the tools didn’t compile. As part of the development on Homeworld remastered we’ve been working with the mod-makers to help us understand some of the underlying systems, to help us understand what they want out of this engine and their mods. That’s actually been super-beneficial to the point where some of those have been brought on as contractors for their project. One person in particular had some great ideas for multiplayer modes that he wanted to see. We actually had him design those, those are part of the multiplayer beta.

RPS: He must be a very happy man right now.

Brian Martell: Oh yeah, no doubt.

Chris Faylor: The reason multiplayer is beta is one, this is a game that lives and breathes by its community. We want to chart the journey of Homeworld with the fans, because those are the ones who are playing it, who kept it alive and will keep it alive. The other reason is when Homeworld 1 and 2 came out they were powered by Gamespy.

RPS: Whoops.

Chris Faylor: So we knew that we had to replace the netcode. So we’ve been working to incorporate aspects of Steamworks into it. We’ve been doing as many tasks as we can, but we also know that just because something works in the lab, when you get it out in the world that’s a different beast. We want everyone to understand that this is a living, breathing thing that will be shaped by the community.

RPS: It’s going to be quite a psychological shift for some of these people. This thing that they’ve been used to being fixed, unchanging, is now going to keep changing.

Chris Faylor: There are people who’ve been working on mods for Homeworld 1 and 2 for years…

RPS: Which you’re cruelly going to render completely incompatible now, right? [laughs]

Chris Faylor: [laughs] We’ve actually been working with a lot of them to make sure that the hooks that they want are still there. I believe the Complex mod guys are releasing their last version for legacy Homeworld 2 and moving into a new mod for Remastered that they’re calling Rebirth, which will have a lot of the same gameplay mechanics. So we want to do the best we can by these guys.

RPS: A whole lot of people waiting for Star Wars and Battlestar mods in the new version, I suspect…

Brian Martell: Our legal department are like “la la la la” fingers in ears, but I’m sure that will be really exciting. [adopts mysterious tone]. Wouldn’t that be cool?

RPS: Thanks for your time.

Homeworld Remastered Collection is out on Feb 25th.

83 Comments

  1. tehfish says:

    Typo needs fixing :)
    “all on CD, so there audio’s compressed,”

    *gets out the there/they’re/their bat out* ;)

    • Cut says:

      No, no, no…

      Surely the typesetter simply misplaced the word “audio”…

      • tehfish says:

        Lost me there. don’t see how changing the word *audio* fixes that?

        Though i’m a little disappointed i didn’t get an amusing RPS reply, i simply do not understand what your complaint was… care to elaborate?

        Funny or not, i simply don’t get it… :O

    • Razumen says:

      Well, if “audio’s” is a contraction of “audio is”, it’s makes perfect sense. Whether or not that’s “correct” English, is something else.

      • Northern says:

        It should be like this
        “All on CD, so their (there) audio is compressed”

  2. heretic says:

    Was there in depth coverage of what went wrong with Colonial Marines? (Duke is a bit different as I guess they were just trying to get it out the door), but after the Molyneux interview it’s great to hear people be candid about their games – or at least their version of events and being called out on things which don’t make sense! :D

  3. David Bliff says:

    With the two games merging for multiplayer, I’m assuming one of my biggest questions – fighter and corvette squadrons – has been addressed by them. Homeworld 1 didn’t group fighters into squadrons like Homeworld 2 did. Making squadrons rather than individual fighters makes the game a lot more playable (and it’s been in every Relic game since HW2), so presumably they’ve brought it back to the first game, to aid in playability and balance the game for multiplayer.

    • EhexT says:

      Their preview video showed squadrons for HW2 races and single fighters for HW1 races. But that’s actually not the big problem with the merging. The big problem is that HW1 and HW2 operate on completely different combat systems.

      HW1 tracked every shot fired to see if it hit anything, everything fired at 100% accuracy at all times and missing was entirely down to movement of ships.

      HW2 uses a much simpler dice rolling system to check for hits (chances defined for each weapon against each ship class) and then fudges the weapon FX to make it hit or miss depending on the roll.
      Except for missiles and torpedoes (which are their own problem – HW 2 torps are extremely slow in HW1 terms, and the missiles have splash damage, which is a nightmare for a system based on dodging things like HW1 is). which did check for an actual hit before they did damage.

      These 2 systems are fundamentally incompatible – the multiplayer versions of the HW1 and HW2 races will necessarily be fairly different from their singleplayer versions (3 choices: they’re all HW1 style, they’re all HW2 style or they meet in the middle), or it’ll be a complete mess.

      • Cinek says:

        There’s mote to the story than just that. HW2 operates on hard counters, HW1 does not, whatever unit A is a counter to B depends on many factors like speed, weapon, armor, damage, etc. In HW2 firgates are very very weak, in HW1 frigates are really hard opponents. In HW2 gap between frigate and destroyer is by far greater than in HW1. In HW1 it also took longer to kill any cap ship with bombers or corvettes than it did in HW2. Also hW2 and HW1 operate on different types of ships… Well, it will be very interesting to see how many changes in stats of the units they made to make both games be playable with eachother in a multiplayer. Cause there must have been a lot of them.

  4. deadfolk says:

    What they are attempting to do here is admirable: attempting to restore and preserve these games for the future.

    My concern, though, is that by using Steamworks they are wiring in another form of potential obsolescence.

    • Rindan says:

      I have a feeling that Steam is going to remain functional and backwards compatible for vastly longer than your current version of Windows.

      What is the alternative? A big install file you keep locked away on dropbox or something?

      When it comes down to it, I have lots of games that have gone missing or been destroyed, both downloaded and physical. On the other hand, I have had Steam since day 1 and every single game that I have ever had is still there. Hell, I have re-bought games that I once owned when the physical media went missing (hurray Bloodlines!).

      • Cinek says:

        “What is the alternative?” – gog, for one. Something, anything that allows you to download the game and run it with as few dependences as possible. That’s what makes games future proof. Not adding BS like GFWL, Steamworks, Origin, Gamespy or other crap. Oh, and by the way – putting the game on steam in no way helps with backwards compatybility, like you imply. Quite contrary – it adds another point of failure.

        • FriendlyFire says:

          GOG doesn’t offer matchmaking. That’s the whole point of adding Steamworks in the first place. Note that this also doesn’t necessarily mean the game will have DRM (ie. it could run without Steam, just without matchmaking).

          • Kefren says:

            GOG does have that – added for AvP and others. LAN would be my preferred option though.

          • Cinek says:

            Yea, gog does support that. But even if not – people somehow made games with matchmaking before steam was created. By… you know… making their own matchmaking.
            Also: The game has steamworks integrated, so it is perma-locked to steam (as in: requires online activation on Steam as every other steamworks game), so by all means: it is a DRM.

          • Universal Quitter says:

            If you guys get to arbitrarily despise Steam, I’m declaring the same for GOG.

            So to answer the “why steam” question, because unhappy, pissy little people will get mad at them no matter how they distribute it.

          • Kefren says:

            “If you guys get to arbitrarily despise Steam, I’m declaring the same for GOG.”

            Of course you can, but you’re misinterpreting a preference for choice as something more negative. I use Steam too. I just prefer to buy via GOG, or at least have the choice.

            “So to answer the “why steam” question, because unhappy, pissy little people will get mad at them no matter how they distribute it.”

            I’m not mad about it. I have a preference, that’s all. And you’re wrong that there’s no way to please everyone: a game released on more than one platform keeps everyone happy. GOG, Steam, and any others they like (Desura, Origin, whatever).

          • Delicieuxz says:

            “Also: The game has steamworks integrated, so it is perma-locked to steam (as in: requires online activation on Steam as every other steamworks game), so by all means: it is a DRM.”

            GoG downloads are locked to an account that has to be logged-in to access the download. No different between being logged into the GoG site and being logged into Steam. It’s the same number of steps, and the same authentication requirement.

      • Premium User Badge

        Phasma Felis says:

        The alternative is using the Steam distribution service without Steamworks DRM, obviously. Thousands of games do this already.

        • EhexT says:

          Steamworks isn’t DRM. Steamworks handles the multiplayer. You can have a game using Steamworks that runs without steam ever being launched (just not the multiplayer part).

          • Cinek says:

            Try to install a Steamworks game without internet connection, and then tell me how very much Steamworks is not a DRM.

          • Asurmen says:

            Not really considering the context. A one time activation is hardly the same as always online, and yet both are called DRM.

          • Bugamn says:

            This argument really isn’t the best. You can’t download a GoG game without internet either, can you?

          • Emeraude says:

            This argument really isn’t the best. You can’t download a GoG game without internet either, can you?

            But you can copy it from one hard drive to another – one system to another, and do not need to get permission from a client to access it at any point past having downloaded it.

            It’s all the more aggravating when buying a retail copy of a Steamworks game. You buy a game disc, start installing, and the game starts downloading IN FULL anyway.

            As for one time activation, I find it just as bad as always online myself. Because there’s nothing that warrants a company demanding that one proves one paid for their product after one has already paid for it.

            The transaction has already been done.

          • Bugamn says:

            But once you have download the game through Steam, can’t you copy it to another place? I haven’t tried, but it seems that the argument is that it is possible.

          • august says:

            Last time I checked STeam encypts the executable files for its games, preventing you from just copying it wherever (or to whomever) you please.

          • Asurmen says:

            Emeraude, I’m talking about DRM in the context most people do, namely stopping you from playing the game you own. One time activation doesn’t, always online doe. You may find it repugnant on some moral or philosophical levlevel, but I don’t think that’s a major consideration for most.

          • tetracycloide says:

            You can copy games downloaded from steam from one HD to another as well. Steam is only really DRM when the developer chooses it to be.

          • Delicieuxz says:

            “Try to install a Steamworks game without internet connection, and then tell me how very much Steamworks is not a DRM.”

            Try to download a GoG game without an internet connection and without being logged into the GoG website using your username and password.

    • P.Funk says:

      I doubt it honestly. If worse comes to worst then the community can just do what SupCom did and Forged Alliance Forever.

    • Cinek says:

      Yea, it’s laughable. First complaining about Gamespy and then talking about Steamworks implementation.

      Oh, stupidity.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        Except you know Steam is about 100X more entrenched, functional and profitable than Gamespy ever was. Steam is going nowhere for the foreseeable future.

        • Cinek says:

          Except we’re talking here about over a 10 years period, which is far beyond foreseeable future.

      • manny says:

        One positive of Steam is that Disney allowing a Star Wars mod or game to developed is possible. If it was on gog.com it would be impossible.

    • Kefren says:

      I agree. Add LAN as one of the multiplayer options and stick it on GOG too. Best of both worlds – people can get it on Steam, but there’s also a DRM-free version with multiplayer on GOG. I’m sure some Steam users would appreciate LAN too.

      Note that GOG also now has its own multiplayer service, but LAN is more futureproof.

      • Cinek says:

        If they got Steamworks integrated than they cannot put the game on GOG.

  5. GiantPotato says:

    “We’ve actually been working with a lot of them to make sure that the hooks that they want are still there.”

    Wow. Plus they’re aware of the Complex mod and even plugging it during the interview. Can’t wait for this now.

  6. Psychomorph says:

    Gearbox, that company name does not evoke a lot of trust within me, for some reason.

    • airmikee says:

      “We can’t mention the studio on RPS without people bringing up Duke Nukem Forever and Colonial Marines.”

      • DrollRemark says:

        they realise that we’re all trying really hard to make the best games that we can make

        Handing off development of an eagerly anticipated game to a third party because you’d much rather focus on your other project does not really strike me as “trying really hard”.

    • EhexT says:

      Let it never be forgotten that Gearbox was the developer who had it’s PC Playertesters use gamepads when testing the PC version of Borderlands.

      • Joshua Northey says:

        Maybe they thought the game played better with gamepads? What is the problem with that? I simply don’t buy games that are designed for or mostly play well with gamepads, but not every game needs to be designed for me.

        • EhexT says:

          It was a first person shooter. Even if it somehow played better on gamepads (which is absolutely, categorically, factually does NOT) – you don’t test your PC version one. Because the #1 input device for any PC game is Mouse and Keyboard period. You test what players will use, not what your console UI is already made for.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            Well really both methods should be tested. But yeah testing your PC game using only gamepads is a pretty dumb move.

      • LionsPhil says:

        It doesn’t show.

    • SuicideKing says:

      They also ported Halo CE, which works fine till date.

  7. Darkheart says:

    Still the coolest warp-in effect ever imo.

  8. WIbigdog says:

    So when Homeworld 1 & 2 is done does that mean I’m finally going to get Brothers in Arms 4? And not this Furious 4 crap, I want the next serious BiA game, bring on Bastogne.

    • Mandabar says:

      No I hope not. Homeworld 3 should be up next. I hope.

      I HOPE SO HARD

      • Werthead says:

        HOMEWORLD: SHIPBREAKERS is the next project from Blackbird and Gearbox, and apparently they’ll be talking a lot more about it once the remasters are out. Given how long they’ve been working on it, I’d expect it at the very latest next year.

        If the remasters and SHIPBREAKERS are both successful, I suspect we’ll see a ‘proper’ space-set HOMEWORLD 3 afterwards.

        • Cinek says:

          Capslock abuse. Homeworld: Shipbreakers is spelled Homeworld: Shipbreakers, not with capitals.

          Anyway – I doubt it’ll be successful. I’m quite sure it won’t be anywhere near Remastered edition in terms of sales. I know some hardcore fans are hyped on it, but I know plenty of Homeworld fans that have absolutely no interest in Shipbreakers and the reactions to every trailer shown so far were rather mixed. Yea, arts style and interface is great, HW-alike, but everything else? Not so much. It’s like Homeworld stripped off on of it’s major high points: 3D space combat. We’ll see how the final game plays, but so far I, and many other people are very discouraged by the direction they took with shipbreakers.

          • Werthead says:

            It’s actually spelt in italics, but as RPS doesn’t do that easily and leaving a title unadorned is as offensive to my sensibilities as capslock is to yours, I won’t do that again and will resort to acronyms.

            I agree that a ‘real’ next HW game should be set in space. However, Blackbird didn’t want to do that because they didn’t want to just repeat themselves over again in a different franchise: one reason HW2 was so late was because they didn’t just want to do one type of game and took a break to make that game about improbable biological entities, which didn’t do so well. For their first game as Blackbird they wanted to do RTS, but differently to what they did in the HW games, so they decided to do it on the ground.

            On the one hand, disappointing, although understandable as they didn’t have the HW licence at that point. On the plus side, it did make the game look like a spiritual successor to that other early-2000s RTS from Massive which was easily as good as HW (and just as badly underrated and just as badly in need of a revival). So if you’re going to do planetside RTS, going in that direction is as good as any.

            I also think they’d be idiotic not to pursue a ‘proper’ HW3 once SB is released, especially since HW2’s bizarre closing cinematic (which feels like a Wikipedia plot summary for a much more elaborate sequel/expansion they knew they’d never get to make and had to cram into HW2 instead) certainly left the door open for it.

            The existence of SB also opens the possibility of merging the two game modes at some point in the future: space battles with attacking forces having to cut their way through defending space forces in orbit and then landing troops on the ground. It wouldn’t be appropriate for a core-series HW game, but maybe for a spin-off it would be an interesting experiment.

          • Hmm-Hmm. says:

            Italics? You mean like ? Sorry, just nitpicking.

            Anyway, sounds good. I trust that they’re at least aware that messing with such a beloved set of games (especially the first) would cause their already battered reputation to plummet further. So I’m actually quite hopeful regarding this project now.

  9. green frog says:

    I think this whole “chequered reputation” stuff that people keep going on about every time Gearbox comes up is so utterly overblown. What’s this based on? 2 games? Duke Nukem Forever and Aliens: Colonial Marines? But we all know that Duke was really 3DRealms’ baby, Gearbox just helped get it out the door. So one game, really. And my understanding is that Aliens wasn’t entirely in-house, either.

    On the other side of the equation we have the generally well-regarded Borderlands series, the generally well-regarded Brothers in Arms series, the much beloved Opposing Force (and its lesser cousin Blue Shift), a Halo port that some people complain about but I thought was just fine, another Aliens game for the DS that was actually pretty good, and a handful of other perfectly decent games, going all the way back to the 90’s.

    All that up against one game.* And yet they have a sketchy reputation. Gamers aren’t a very forgiving lot, are we?

    *A game that, I might add, all the reviews warned to stay well away from, so if you spent money/time on it anyway it’s kind of your own fault for not bothering to do even the most basic research.

    • Werthead says:

      Reminds of Rockstar. GTA4’s port not being great (and mostly fixed later on) somehow counts against the excellent ports of LA NOIRE, MAX PAYNE 3 (done in direct response to the crappiness of GTA4), BULLY, VICE CITY and SAN ANDREAS.

    • dmastri says:

      Borderlands is a mediocre game whose artwork was lifted wholesale, copy/pasted with no credit given, to Codehunters.

      Duke wasn’t their fault.

      Colonial Marines was a complete travesty. They were given the license to make a game that was to be regarded proper Alien canon. They spent 3 years on it, though they decided to outsource it so they could spend time on borderlands 2. And they mismanaged and bungled it straight into the ground, then rushed to slap together an absolutely piece of shit.

      And they never had the courage to come clean about any of it, or even commit to really fixing it. Gearbox can go fuck themselves, I don’t care what IPs they hold hostage.

      • Asurmen says:

        So one bad game = go fuck themselves?

        • Werthead says:

          Gearbox’s behaviour over A:CM was a bit shady (possibly an understatement), although given the behaviour of Sega in the past (rushing out ROME II before it was ready over CA’s objections, screwing Obsidian over royally over ALPHA PROTOCOL) we shouldn’t assume they were blameless in the situation. If you’re also trying to seriously tell me that Sega didn’t know that Gearbox had outsourced production to Timegate, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.

          Regardless of that, I do think that the core of that particular situation was that people were buying A:CM because it was a new ALIENS FPS from one of the best FPS companies in the business, i.e. on Gearbox’s reputation. Gearbox not actually making the game themselves and being misleading – willingly or not – about it was a serious problem. Hopefully, one they’ve learned from.

          • Asurmen says:

            I’m not denying it was bad. Personally it wasn’t a gane as I bothered about, it’s just don’t understand the logic that merely one bad game means that level of vitriol.

        • dmastri says:

          If it was borderlands 3 and it sucked (i think all the borlderlands games are bad, but that’s a different conversation) it would be far more forgivable. This was suppose to be Aliens 2.5. They were given the keys to the castle, the rights other studios would have killed for. This was something to be cherished.

          Instead of treating the IP with respect, they took the money and focused on borderlands 2.

          Yes, in this instance, one game = go fuck yourself. They blew an opportunity so large that I will never forgive them.

          That being said, I’ll happily pirate homeworld HD. Fuck you randy.

    • Grayvern says:

      Gearbox had nothing to do with Aliens Infestation that was a wayforward game.

  10. vence333 says:

    I know Gearbox from borderland and borderland 2, both excellent games and both played to hell and had a blast doing so, so what if they fucked up on some game ? no body is perfect … people these days.

  11. Kempston Wiggler says:

    You’re basing your conclusion on a not-quite-complete picture of what went happened with Colonial Marines. Presenting glossy, mock-up demonstrations at major gaming press events as actual gameplay footage – when the actual gameplay was nothing like what was shown – was very naughty of Gearbox. Being paid millions to develop Colonial Marines and then shunting development off to another studio because you want to focus on Borderlands 2 is also not great, although there are business precedents for doing so. But to turn around and then flat out BLAME that other studio for the end result, when that poor studio seeming worked tirelessly to sort out the shonky mess they were handed is where most people have decided they have a real problem with anything Gearbox says. They’ve shown themselves publicly to be untrustworthy.

    Reputation is fashion. It’s about now, and the recent past, not about what they might have done twenty years ago. There’s wisdom in this – look at Peter Molyneux, for years trading on his reputation as the developer of some early, amazing games. and yet nothing he’s done in recent history has even approached that high level. Not only that, but he’s become very controversial, constantly jibed at for making over-blown promises that never fully deliver, and has, with Godus, opened himself up to criticisms of untruthfulness and outright fraud. Do you think HE should be automatically forgiven his most recent actions because he made some fabulous games in the past? Do you think HIS reputation deserves to be spotless after recent controversies? I doubt you do.

    Gearbox may have a good history but they should be judged on who they are NOW, not who they WERE.

    • Kempston Wiggler says:

      arrg, that was a reply to Green Frog above. Where’s that dratted edit box gone???

      • Cinek says:

        I have no idea what the hell happened. Not only we lost edit box but also avatars. I’m confused…. really hope it’s just temporary.

    • C0llic says:

      Replying here – It’s not a massive thread so it shouldn’t be an issue.

      I completely agree and would just add that staff and companies can change a lot over the course of the years, so recent history should always be weighted more heavily than a companies back catalogue.

    • Lanessar says:

      Well, Borderlands: The Prequel and one or two BL2 expansions were pretty good, and done after A:CM. So, if we’re going off of “NOW”, as of NOW, they have a pretty good track record.

      Molyneux has fudged the last three (four?) projects he’s worked on, and hasn’t shown any signs of real remorse about the garbage he’s pawned off as a finished game. He’s evasive and scattered, and possibly a pathological liar. If his earlier games succeeded, I personally believe it was in spite of him, not due to his “brilliance”. Awesome employees make a shitty boss look excellent, but a shitty boss can make amazing developers look like crap.

      HWR is different in all regards to A:CM. There are five people working on the project directly who were part of the original HW team. This alone is miles different than DNF or A:CM. This team (BBI) also wants to make a follow-up new game after completing the remaster, and continue the series (already having a nearly finalized game created), so doing a superb job on the remaster actually benefits them to no small degree. If it’s crap, it will hurt them to no small degree.

      I know people have a hard time seeing differences, identical situations and similarities… but this is silly. I’m sure the MP will require work, but that’s not why I played HW – it was an amazing game, with a brilliant story and game play. The original creators are updating it. I’m almost positive (different game-engine aside) that it will still be an amazing experience.

      • Baines says:

        Wasn’t Borderlands 2 The Pre-Sequel’s development farmed out to 2K Australia? I don’t know who did the BL2 DLC. I remember complaints about Gearbox outsourcing at least some Borderlands DLC, but I don’t recall which.

        Randy Pitchford has developed a reputation for being rather less than honest.

        Gearbox’s involvement and faith in Duke Nukem Forever depends on whether you look at interviews and stories dated before or after the game’s release. Before release, Pitchford was in massive hype mode, pushing DNF as one of the greatest games of the last decade. After release, DNF was relegated to being something they were forced to publish in order to get the rights to create their own future Duke Nukem title.

        Aliens: Colonial Marine was an utter mess, with contradictory accounts from various sources, including claims that Gearbox was repeatedly lying to and embezzling from Sega. We’ll probably never know the real story, but it is a big enough mess that no involved party would probably come out clean. Regardless, we had Gearbox and Pitchford talking for years about how much they loved the Alien franchise and how they were going to do the game proud. Apparently, they loved it so much that they immediately outsourced it and ignored it for years, only asking Sega for more development time every now and then.

  12. C0llic says:

    I will be buying this. Brilliant games.

  13. Thoribus says:

    The remodeled ships look gorgeous. I loved the ship designs in the original Homeworld. But the switch to the HW2 engine is a bit of a dealbreaker for me. The HW1 and HW2 engines are practically antithetical to each other in terms of gameplay- HW1 had a physics and ballistics system, ships could collide in combat, and all projectiles were simulated. It could sometimes be messy or exploitable, but it also provided a lot of depth and it was fun just to zoom in on a ship and watch. HW2 in contrast was unapologetically simple. Ships didn’t dodge and projectiles weren’t simulated. From the perspective of the developers I can understand the appeal of that- it’s easier to balance and less exploitable. But for me it took away what was enjoyable about HW battles in the first place. There was less the player could do to affect the outcome since no matter where a ship was in relation to its target it always had the same percentage chance to hit. It gave the game a very sterile feel and I never got into it the same way I did HW1. However well Gearbox are able to balance the new HW1 ships in HW2, it will still feel like HW2, because that’s what it actually is. Ultimately it’s a game’s systems that make it identifiably that game and not a different one. I’m sure the Gearbox team made the decisions they did for good reasons, and I can understand why uniting the games in one engine makes a lot of sense on paper, but for me it goes beyond what a remaster should be. I may still pick this up one day during a sale, but I have a feeling I’ll feel pretty much the same way I did about the Star Wars special editions, where the visual improvements are overshadowed by the frustrating changes that were made.

    • Werthead says:

      I agree that the two games fundamentally ‘feel’ different to one another, and the feel of HW1 (and HW:C) is definitely superior for me. Amongst other things it did lend the game a somewhat slower pace than HW2’s insanely massive battles. Those battles made HW2 look more awesome, but given that you spent almost the whole game zoomed out to see the whole map with the building panes open frantically replacing ships the second they blew up, that wasn’t tremendously helpful. I hope they’ve added the ability to record and reply battles (even in SP) as that would be pretty cool.

      On the other hand, HW1 may have felt and played a bit better, but it definitely didn’t sell the scale of the ships as well. The ships, even the Mothership (which I believe canonically, at least originally, was supposed to be about 36km tall), all felt really small. The ships also didn’t really collide as such, they tended to bounce off one another and only blew up or took damage if they had nowhere else to move to or if they crashed into an asteroid in one of those missions. The combat/ballistics was more realistic, but the game did let down the realism in other areas.

      One question as-yet unanswered: does the move into the HW2 engine mean that the HW1 Mothership can now move? It was always idiotic it couldn’t and the one time it was critical it couldn’t move could be easily fixed, as the asteroid sent to collide with it had engines on it and could simply change course to intercept.

      • Thoribus says:

        I totally agree the mothership should’ve been able to move in the campaign. That wasn’t an engine thimg though since the ms could move in multiplayer hw1. Still, that would be a nice change.

        I actually thought the feeling of the scale of the ships came across better in HW1, maybe because they moved more naturally, but I agree that HW2 looked better in massive battles (as long as you kept the camera zoomed out so the fakiness of the weaponsfire was not apparent)

    • frymaster says:

      I wouldn’t necessarily assume that just because both games are running in an updated version of the HW2 engine that both games must use the same combat mechanics. I’m not saying they don’t, just that we don’t know for definite.

      • Thoribus says:

        I had been holding out hope that that would be the case, but the latest round of videos showing the HW1 sp missions are clearly using HW2 movement and chance based systems. Heck, they didn’t even bother to put fuel in, which would be trivial compared to implementing a ballistics system. I had a bad feeling when in the announcement video from PAX they purposefully cut away from the HW1 demo immediately after the cutscene ended to show HW2 gameplay instead.

  14. minimaul says:

    Am I the only one who actually preferred the Homeworld 2 voice? :(

  15. Eviljimmy says:

    Now can they do the original Dawn Of War series? I love those games and the second just felt so simplified and constricted and only had the very basic races.

    • Werthead says:

      If DAWN OF WAR 3 wasn’t announced in the near future, I’d be very surprised. Sega have the licence, they now own Relic and DoW is Relic’s biggest-selling franchise, so it only makes sense.

  16. score47 says:

    I heard about this game many years ago when it came out. I really would like to play this game. Is there a release on GOG.com planned?