Nightdive’s remaster of Westwood’s great Blade Runner adventure game will not launch this year after all. Turns out, reverse-engineering a game to rebuild it in a whole new engine without access to the original assets is a bit of work. I still don’t see why they’re putting this much effort into it when a perfectly fine version is available on GOG, running in ScummVM. Especially when the first bit Nightdive that showed, an update version of the opening cutscene, looked worse than the original.
Looked bad, that. It wipes out some of the original’s detail, and the high framerate looks odd – especially with the ghostly trail on fast-moving parts. I’d rather have the original than a messy upscaling. Nightdive admit it wasn’t the greatest video, but that’s all we’ve seen so far.
“It’s more of a work in progress,” Nightdive CEO Stephen Kick told told Eurogamer in an interview, “as opposed to, this is what the final version’s gonna look like.” They’ll probably drop it from 60fps to 30 then whack on some grit. They’re still a way from launch.
The launch has gone from being due in 2020 to “TBD”, Eurogamer say. Development has been a real effort without Nightdive having access to any of the original source code, assets, or development tools. They’re reverse-engineering and rebuilding it all whole thing themselves. Which is repeating the work a team already did to get Blade Runner running in ScummVM. But Nightdive can’t build on that work.
Eurogamer say Nightdive had been in negotiations with ScummVM to use their reverse-engineered work, but talks fell through cos ScummVM’s open source license would require them to distribute code alongside the game, which doesn’t really fly on consoles. So they’re reverse-engineering and rebuilding everything themselves in their usual engine, Kex.
The interview goes more into the complications of this whole task, if you’re curious.
I genuinely don’t get why they’re persisting. This is evidently a lot of work to touch up a game that we can buy and play just fine. If the ScummVM gang hadn’t fixed up Blade Runner and GOG hadn’t re-released it, this would be grand. But they have. So why? Granted, I’m a hoary purist who often prefers to play originals over revamps (if you don’t play Quake without blurry newfangled texture filtering, you’re a coward), but this seems particularly unnecessary. Ah, maybe the finished game will surprise me.
In the meantime, you can buy Blade Runner on GOG for £7.59 and probably just should.