Home Entertainment Why Gearbox’s resurrection of Homeworld is more than just a nostalgic return to the past

Why Gearbox’s resurrection of Homeworld is more than just a nostalgic return to the past

5 min read
66

Homeworld remastered

Homeworld remastered is coming. After being rescued from the ashes of THQ by Gearbox, Homeworld 1 and 2 have been more than just touched up – they will be released at the end of the month and promise to lure in a whole new generation of gamers. I got to ask Brian Martel, Gearbox’s chief creative officer, a bevy of questions, finding out all the reasons why anyone should still care about the original space RTS.

First up was the question of why Gearbox chose to rescue the IP from THQ. As Martel explains, he felt that it would be “a travesty in the pantheon of gaming” to see Homeworld gather dust and go unused. Part blessing, part curse, he knew that nostalgia tinged our view of games, elevating them to a higher quality. His goal with the remaster was to make a version that would match your mind’s eye, making the game that you actually remember playing. He was worried that if anyone else picked it up, it would just be pure re-release of the original and would alienate new players who’d see it as yet another old game; by sprucing it up, it could look awesome and appeal to new players.

However, it wasn’t just a fresh coat of paint. Martel explained that Homeworld 1 came out before our modern rendering and shading technology:

Homeworld 2 came out at the beginning of modern rendering technology. We had to combine the two games, using Homeworld 2’s engine – heavily modified, of course – and the result is absolutely stunning and up to date.

Homeworld remastered 1

Of course, he makes it sound easier than it was. Every ship from Homeworld 1 had to be rebuilt and retextured, as well as updating the textures for Homeworld 2. But that wasn’t the only logistical nightmare – even the original audio and video were on CD and heavily compressed. Luckily, the award winning soundtrack was recovered in the best possible way – Paul Ruskay still had the original recordings at full quality. Yes, the remastered version will let you hear the soundtrack how it was meant to be heard. As for the original cut scenes, they were kept true to their original feel, but repainted at 4K for those who are able to view it at such high resolutions.

Beyond that, the team added a ton of “tiny” improvements, including an update to the UI. While the rendering was the biggest job, it’s important to note that they actually wrote all new netcode for the game. It was necessary considering that multiplayer for the two titles were merged. Of course I had to ask how they managed that.

We don’t want to split the user base. We were already combining the engines, so had to make all the factions in both games and all maps work. It made sense to do them at the same time. We made sure it all balanced together, but it will still be in Beta to pound on it in a way that you’re unable to today. In a few hours, players will exceed the games that we can do in-house with our testers. The quirks will be revealed for fixing and balancing.

Homeworld remastered 3

Yes, they are relying on the community to help bring the game forward. This will be a key thing in a range of ways – they will follow a similar approach to Borderlands, listening to the community and charting the future of Homeworld together. This includes mod support, which will be coming depending on reception. However, there’s more to this – everything is built around the future of the franchise.

I asked about the common feature in other remasters – the ability to toggle back and forth between the old and new looking game. However, Martel explained that this was actually a limiting feature. By requiring the developers to make the whole game work at both settings (when in reality most people would toggle back and forth once or twice and never again), it limited the ideas and reach of future content as players would alway be looking to the past.

Of course, it is that past that made Homeworld so popular. In a post-StarCraft 2 world, I wondered how it was still relevant. Martel believes that it’s still an exception RTS with a fleet of amazing space ships doing incredible things and letting players ascend to that commander level.

There is nothing else like it and there really hasn’t been a good attempt at it in all that time. While it was unique and different then, it has a wonderful heart that people are still attracted to. Players will be able to see it as a novel alternative – similar to all the indies that we’ve been seeing lately.

Homeworld remastered 2

Yes, it will be embracing the past in that regard with an old-school approach to difficulty, something that’s become more popular again. Unlike other games that hold players’ hands, Homeworld Remastered will make you work for it, and feel more accomplished for doing so.

Of course I had to ask about Homeworld: Shipbreakers. Martel couldn’t say much, but did hint that there were a couple of scenes between Homeworld 1 and 2 where you can see where the guidestones came from, what led all the civilizations to rally together. He says there are a few shots where you can see vehicles in the desert, and that’s what Shipbreakers is – taking the past up to the present. Of course, it makes sense that they’re releasing the Remaster now – what better way to get a new generation of gamers excited for Shipbreakers. I suppose symbolically, they’re also bringing the past up to the present within their community before they do it within the franchise.

Last Updated: February 4, 2015

66 Comments

  1. Admiral Chief

    February 4, 2015 at 12:37

    Never did play the original, looks like I can correct that

    Reply

    • Tosh MA

      February 4, 2015 at 12:38

      If you haven’t played the original, it’s a good pick up.

      Reply

      • Admiral Chief

        February 4, 2015 at 12:39

        I want to, but my backlog says NO

        Reply

        • Tosh MA

          February 4, 2015 at 12:39

          Yeah and now with that Star Wars Humble Bundle, mine just grew by a few games. :/

          Reply

          • Admiral Chief

            February 4, 2015 at 12:43

            I luckily have them all and already played the snot out of them

          • Tosh MA

            February 4, 2015 at 12:44

            Yeah that is lucky. I only own KOTOR2 of those, despite having played KOTOR1 many times as well. The rest? Yeah I need to get some game on.

        • Matewis Jubilai

          February 4, 2015 at 12:52

          I’m going to try to be polite here : “To hell with the other games on your backlog if you’ve never played Homeworld!”

          Reply

          • Admiral Chief

            February 4, 2015 at 12:54

            Dude, I’ve got such good games on ye olde backlog that demands attention!

          • Matewis Jubilai

            February 4, 2015 at 12:57

            Unless you have things like Blade Runner, Warcraft 3, Grim Fandengo, Fallout 1/2, Dungeon Keeper, KOTOR on there, Homeworld should be on top!

          • Tosh MA

            February 4, 2015 at 12:58

            At least we know what kind of games you like now, thanks for that πŸ˜€

          • Admiral Chief

            February 4, 2015 at 13:36

            I actually DO have Fallout 1 and 2 in there

          • Matewis Jubilai

            February 4, 2015 at 13:40

            Gasp!

          • Admiral Chief

            February 4, 2015 at 13:44

            My backlog is ATROCIOUS!

            I missed a few gaming golden years while going through my dark times in my life…

          • Matewis Jubilai

            February 4, 2015 at 13:48

            Well, no time like the present πŸ˜‰ But I hear ya, I’ve missed a great deal the past couple of years myself and am completely ashamed of some of the titles on my backlog. Until recently, even ME was on there πŸ˜›

            Seriously though, Fallout 1&2 are beyond briliiant, and I’m not viewing it through nostalgia tinted glasses. I played both for the first time 12 years after release, and I effectively lost 2 weeks of my life in Fallout2 alone. Just make sure you get a version without the invisible children.

          • Admiral Chief

            February 4, 2015 at 13:56

            I have them on GOG

          • Captain JJ the crafter

            February 4, 2015 at 13:42

            I think the lunchbox is better πŸ˜‰

      • b1nd3r

        February 4, 2015 at 12:43

        Definitely agree easy to manage extremely fun and when blue lines start opening up and you see a few battlecruiser class ships appear there`s no greater fear and joy of your own imminent destruction πŸ˜›

        Reply

    • Exalted Overlord Geoffrey Tim

      February 4, 2015 at 12:51

      Game is ace. I have many fond memories of getting my ass handed to me in the world’s first 3d rts.

      Reply

      • Captain JJ the crafter

        February 4, 2015 at 12:58

        Haha. It actually had a really immersive campaign too. Something rare in many strategy games.

        Reply

        • Tosh MA

          February 4, 2015 at 12:59

          I miss the old C&C campaigns. That live action was really cool.

          Also, Tanya. ‘Nuff said.

          Reply

          • Matewis Jubilai

            February 4, 2015 at 13:02

            Red Alert did it the best I think. It was actually all serious (as opposed to the direction they took the series in with RA2) with the last GDI video showing the one guy burying Stalin alive under the rubble of his destroyed headquarters

          • Tosh MA

            February 4, 2015 at 13:03

            Yeah, it was really immersive. Graphics meant nothing back then, tough missions punctuated with live action cut scenes that developed a story you could care about. Was great.

          • HvR

            February 4, 2015 at 13:37

            O man the memories, played it almost everyday for a year (December 1996 to December 1997) until I sold it to the nieghbour’s kid to get enough moolas for Total Annihilation and a RAM upgrade.

            Later even started to mod it myself. Remember changing the grenadier into a suicide nuke bomber.

          • Matewis Jubilai

            February 4, 2015 at 13:42

            Lol yes, Red Alert I remember had some sort of text file with all the units stats, so it was ridiculously easy to change the units. I changed the grenadier’s weapon to a rocket launcher/ or those missiles that the Mammoth Tank fires at infantry. I remember chuckling at the sight of the grenadier throwing missiles at everyone

          • Admiral Chief

            February 4, 2015 at 14:02

            Haha those mods!

          • Captain JJ the crafter

            February 4, 2015 at 13:41

            That “nice” pack that EA released doesn’t even include patches for the games. Most don’t work with the regular download.
            Proof that EA just cares about money.
            You still remember that Tiberiun Sun had Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) and Kyle Reece in it?

    • RinceThis

      February 4, 2015 at 12:52

      They are awesome man. Music sooo much feels!

      Reply

    • Captain JJ the crafter

      February 4, 2015 at 12:57

      Well, I’d say we’re now more than even with regards to the TFU thing.

      Reply

      • Admiral Chief

        February 4, 2015 at 13:37

        Except I’ve never started HW…you, on the other hand…

        Reply

        • Captain JJ the crafter

          February 4, 2015 at 13:41

          So at least I’ve tried! ;P

          Reply

  2. Shas 'O Norm

    February 4, 2015 at 12:40

    Now someone rescue Dawn of War from the remains of THQ!

    Reply

    • Tosh MA

      February 4, 2015 at 12:40

      This.

      Reply

    • Admiral Chief

      February 4, 2015 at 12:44

      Man, I dig that profile pic of yours!

      Reply

      • Shas 'O Norm

        February 4, 2015 at 12:44

        Thank you kind Sir.

        Reply

        • Matewis Jubilai

          February 4, 2015 at 12:51

          So you really liked Tau. You know that they’re relic unit is the strongest 1vs1 against any other relic unit?

          Reply

          • Tosh MA

            February 4, 2015 at 12:52

            *their

          • Admiral Chief

            February 4, 2015 at 12:53

            Thanks, it was hurting my eyes

          • Matewis Jubilai

            February 4, 2015 at 12:54

            Godammit πŸ˜› It’s DoW man, I get uber excited when talking about it πŸ˜›

          • Tosh MA

            February 4, 2015 at 12:55

            They’re two great games right there. Pity about their publisher going under.

            I completely understand. πŸ˜€

          • Shas 'O Norm

            February 4, 2015 at 12:52

            I didn’t know that. πŸ˜€
            I’m a big fan of the Tau playstyle.

          • Matewis Jubilai

            February 4, 2015 at 12:59

            What I used to hate about playing againts Tau, was the habit of several of their units to fire over the entire length of the screen πŸ˜› Like those deployable infantry squads of theirs. Only thing I didn’t like about playing with them, was that it didn’t seem like those squads could be reinforced

          • Shas 'O Norm

            February 4, 2015 at 13:01

            The XV88 Broadsides.

    • Matewis Jubilai

      February 4, 2015 at 12:49

      YES PLEASE!!!

      Reply

  3. Matewis Jubilai

    February 4, 2015 at 12:49

    Still remember my finest multiplayer moment with the original at a lan party: I sacrificed all of my small fighters and bombers in a massive suicide attack of my buddy’s, say Kevin, frigate/battleship fleet. He was far too impressed with how he was butchering my attack to hear the one thing you have to always listen out for : “Mothership under attack”. I had teleported every single one of my, at least 30-40, ion frigates to his mothership and was slowly ripping it to shreds. Kevin’s sister even walked by and he gloated to her in front of me about how he was busy wiping out all of my ships. Then, as the last of my fighters disappeared into a fireball, and with a supremely smug expression on his face, he heard the crackling over his com : “Mothership destroyed” πŸ˜€

    Reply

    • Hammersteyn

      February 4, 2015 at 12:51

      Enders game right here

      Reply

      • Ghost In The Rift

        February 4, 2015 at 13:07

        Reminds me of this though..

        Reply

    • Shas 'O Norm

      February 4, 2015 at 13:05

      #Boss

      Reply

    • Rock789

      February 4, 2015 at 13:10

      I take it he was never heard from again? πŸ˜‰

      Reply

      • Matewis Jubilai

        February 4, 2015 at 13:13

        Now that you mention it, I did kind of lose all contact with him after that lan party…

        Reply

    • Blood Emperor Trevor

      February 4, 2015 at 13:14

      Reply

      • Rock789

        February 4, 2015 at 13:21

        You, sir, win the internet today for this awesome 80’s reference! πŸ™‚

        Reply

  4. RinceThis

    February 4, 2015 at 12:52

    Loved these games.

    Reply

    • Captain JJ the crafter

      February 4, 2015 at 12:58

      LIES!!!
      You don’t know how a mouse works!

      Reply

      • Tosh MA

        February 4, 2015 at 12:59

        Place cheese. Watch it run. Simple really.

        Reply

      • Admiral Chief

        February 4, 2015 at 13:34

        Bwaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahahahahahaha

        Reply

      • RinceThis

        February 4, 2015 at 14:22

        Oi! I was playing Homeworld before you could count!

        Reply

        • Captain JJ the crafter

          February 4, 2015 at 14:54

          Me too. *sighs*

          Reply

  5. Captain JJ the crafter

    February 4, 2015 at 12:57

    Homeworldddddddd!!!!!
    This is a remaster that I will get.

    Reply

  6. Gasim Ramu

    February 4, 2015 at 13:09

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    Reply

  7. Matewis Jubilai

    February 4, 2015 at 13:16

    I think I’m going to hold off on playing this. To match the awesomeness of my experiences with Homeworld when it first came out, I think I’m also going to need a 4k monitor. Guess I’m going to have to cut my KFC budget short for a year or two πŸ™

    Reply

    • Rock789

      February 4, 2015 at 13:24

      You still eat KFC chicken? I sorta stopped when their 11 herbs and spices dropped to around 2 – salt & pepper… πŸ˜‰

      Though, every now and then, I do still enjoy a rounder or wrap from them. But I do miss their crack-infused gravy (I imagine it’s crack-infused because it was so delicious and morish!).

      Reply

      • Matewis Jubilai

        February 4, 2015 at 13:26

        Wraps are good yes, but the habit I’ve fallen into is their breakfast special: AM Deluxe burger + cappuccino for R40. Also, now and again: Fully Loaded Boxmeal!

        Reply

      • HvR

        February 4, 2015 at 13:28

        Hah 2 herbs … they went over to old oil and employee sweat years ago.

        Reply

        • dawith

          February 4, 2015 at 14:02

          Yuck….sies

          Reply

  8. Spy Master Tokashi

    February 4, 2015 at 15:17

    Does it come out for Consoles too ? ^_^

    Man I hope people can add mods. Complex Mod is so epic and I would love to play that mod on the remastered HM game!

    Reply

  9. Sageville

    February 5, 2015 at 09:37

    Me – every multiplayer game of Homeworld….

    Building my armada nicely and boom, 1 x meeelion baddy ships jump on top of my mothership, pew pew….THE END.

    Reply

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