Alan Wake släpptes i maj 2010 av finska utvecklarna Remedy och fick överlag ett väldigt positivt mottagande. Spelet följdes upp av två nedladdningsbara extrakapitel och fick en spin-off i form av Alan Wake American Nightmare som släpptes 2012.
Den 5 oktober 2021 släpptes Alan Wake Remastered och inför detta passade vi på att ta kontakt med utvecklarna d3t och Remedy för att ställa frågor om själva processen och tekniken bakom.
Frågorna ställde vi innan spelet släpptes och utan tillgång till en förhandstitt. Exempelvis kände vi inte till de potentiella problemen med Xbox One-versionen som vår systersajt FZ har rapporterat om nyligen.
Anton Nilsson, Sweclockers: Give us the background; who are d3t and what do you do?
d3t: d3t Ltd is an award-winning, co-development studio in the game technology sector based in Cheshire, United Kingdom.
As a co-development partner and part of the Keywords Studios group, d3t specializes in adding value to games, and is credited on titles such as Alan Wake Remastered, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Mafia II: Definitive Edition, Assetto Corsa Competizione, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
Now a team of 125+ talented developers based in the North-West of England, d3t offers work-for-hire co-development solutions to the very best video game developers and publishers around the globe and is fast making a name within the sector as the go-to company for its services and skills.
As a recent winner of the GamesIndustry.biz Best Places to Work Award for 2021, d3t has also been recognized for its commitment to an anti-crunch ethos, studio culture, wellbeing and environment.
Anton: Can you give us a general rundown of what improvements the remake brings to the table?
Andy Booth, Studio Technical Director, d3t: Artistically, basically every asset has had some work done to it. This ranges from texture and material improvements, right through to fully rebuilding the geometry from the ground up.
From a tech point of view, we’ve added a lot of new features, but some of the biggest ones include:
New motion blur
Blend-shape animation system
HBAO+ (replacing the legacy SSAO)
New volumetric lighting system
Subsurface-scattering skin shader
Anisotropic hair shader
Material improvements across the board
Temporal Anti-Aliasing and upscaling
Improved wind simulation
Improved shadow quality
Improved tessellation and draw distances
DLSS (Nvidia PC)
Haptics and Activities (PS5)
Controls, camera and accessibility improvements
Anton: Are textures and other assets upscaled or have you created new ones?
Anthony O’Donnell, Art Director, d3t: Most of the assets in Alan Wake Remastered were remade from scratch using current art workflows. This provided the team with the opportunity to refine the models and add details, which the original could not achieve at the time due to hardware constraints. For instance, rivets or handles may have been included within the texture previously, but they are now completely modelled in.
The original assets were always used as a guide for volume, shape and form so that we matched it. The original texture work was used as a guide to recreate the higher fidelity assets, so the hue, value and contextual wear of them was preserved and only altered if it made sense to do so. This could include adding additional edge wear, sun bleaching to paint, or rust to props.
There were also many original textures that were used on buildings which we had higher res source assets for that still held up well. These were used in the Remastering process and formed the basis of the Remastered Diffuse textures. The general rule for the art team was to always utilize as much of the original art as possible, so that we could preserve the original creative intent. If we did have to remake something it was regularly compared against the original as part of the review process. This was a fine line to walk, as it needed to be at a macro level the same visual look as the original, but also be of a higher fidelity to look good on 4k screens.
Anton: Has the audio been tweaked in any capacity?
Thomas Puha, Communications Director, Remedy Entertainment: No. The original audio was already mastered well enough that we didn’t need to go back and redo that work.
Anton: How closely have d3t worked with Remedy during this process?
Andy: Remedy have been instrumental in the development of this Remaster.
From a tech point of view, Remedy have been on hand to offer guidance based on their knowledge of the engine, and they’ve also given us access to the full history of Northlight. This meant that we could look back at what changes were made during the Quantum Break era, all the way up to Control. It’s been a really useful reference resource, even if a lot of the technology cannot be backported.
Anthony: From an art point of view there was great support network from Remedy via some of the art team who worked on the original Alan Wake, right through to those who worked on Quantum Break and Control and those in leadership positions. The team at Remedy provided advice and feedback throughout the Remastering process on the many facets of art from lighting, grading, character art, animation, post-effects work on cinematics and the final image quality of the Remastered version.
Anton: What was the largest hurdle during development?
Andy: The cinematics recreation has been the biggest hurdle to overcome. The cinematics are rendered in-engine and exported as videos. When this was originally done, lots of the shots were done ad-hoc, meaning that the developers would tweak some engine settings (or even a level file) and render the shot. We don’t have a complete history of all these minor tweaks that were made, so we needed to render our versions of cinematics and then work out all the differences, and finally work out what we needed to change to fix it.
Anton: How long does a remake of this kind take to develop and produce, from the first steps to a final release?
Thomas: That always depends…when exactly did this project go from talk to actual development (laughs).
It was about 16 months of development work, give or take. From Remedy’s perspective, this started in 2019 when we got the publishing rights for Alan Wake back from Microsoft. Then we started talking about doing a remaster and looked into finding a partner for it. In the end we chose d3t in the UK due to how they impressed us with their technical know-how when they took a look at the project. This was before the pandemic so we could actually meet them at Remedy. Seems like a lifetime ago!
Anton: Did you use the Xbox 360 or PC version of the game as a base?
Thomas: The PC version was used as the base, which had quite a few nice code upgrades already compared to the Xbox 360 version.
Anton: If Xbox 360 or if the previous PC port was mostly a quick 360 conversion: games often heavily relied on EDRAM and an unusual configuration of three cores without SMT, did this require much rework?
Andy: We used the PC version of the game as a base, so all the custom EDRAM configuration was already factored out. It’s true that the original game on PC wouldn’t go particularly wide, but as part of the remaster we will certainly use more core if they’re available. Our rendering command buffer generation is now multithreaded and will go wide when possible.
Anton: Are the cutscenes redone from ground up or are they mostly better/higher resolution renders of the same material?
Andy: The cutscenes are still put together in the same way that they used to be. However, all of the bits that make them up are now different. All the facial animation has been completely redone, and the characters now use blend-shape animation as opposed to the legacy skeletal system. This was essential – the facial animation is looking quite stilted in the original game now, and if we’d have simply re-rendered the cutscenes at 4k, this would have been even more apparent.
In addition, all the environmental assets have been reworked, along with most of the post-processing pipeline.
Anton: What internal resolution do the different platforms target? If sub-4K: what type of resolution scaling/reconstruction techniques do you use?
Platform / Render Resolution / Output Resolution / target frame-rate
PlayStation 4 – 1080p / 1080p / 30fps
PlayStation 4 Pro (Performance Mode) – 1080p / 1080p / 60fps
PlayStation 4 Pro (Quality Mode) – 1296p / 2160p (4K) / 30fps / 4 x MSAA
Xbox One – 900p / 900p / 30fps
Xbox One X (Performance Mode) – 1080p / 1080p / 60fps
Xbox One X (Quality Mode) – 1440p / 2160p (4K) / 30fps / 4 x MSAA
PlayStation 5 – 1440p / 2160p (4K) / 60fps / 4X MSAA
Xbox Series X – 1440p / 2160p (4K) / 60fps / 4 X MSAA
Xbox Series S – 1080p / 1080p / 60fps
PC – 4K / unlimited
Anton: Is the remaster built using the Northlight Engine, if not what engine does it use?
Thomas: It’s using the original “Alan Wake Engine” which turned into Northlight when we decided to give our engine a name around the Quantum Break time.
So, the Remaster is running on the original Alan Wake engine, which was heavily upgraded and changed by d3t to take advantage of modern hardware systems.
Anton: What kind of customizations can PC users expect?
PC specific features:
PC version will be x64 and support DX12 only
No Ray Tracing
DLSS: Ultra Performance to Quality
Ultra-wide screen support (cutscenes are fixed at 16:9 though)
Ambient occlusion – Yes – (HBAO+ Nvidia Ambient occlusion tech)
Resolution – Enumerated resolutions
V-Sync – On/Off (On, on consoles)
HUD – Enabled/Disabled
Motion Blur – Enabled/Disabled
Film Grain – Enabled/Disabled
FOV – Slider
Graphics Quality – Low/Medium/High/Custom
Render Scale – Slider – default to 100%
Anisotropic Filtering – Off, 2x, 4x, 8x, 16x
Shadow Quality – Low, Medium, High
Volumetric Light Quality – Low, Medium, High
Terrain Quality – Low, High
Draw Distance – Slider
Vi tackar Remedy och d3t som tog sig tid att svara på våra frågor!
Core i5-3340 / Ryzen 3 1200
Core i7-3770 / Ryzen 5 1400
Geforce GTX 960 / Radeon RX 470
Geforce GTX 1060 / Radeon RX 5600 XT
Windows 10 64 bit
Windows 10 64 bit
Till sist tar vi en snabb titt på systemkraven för remastern. Som synes är Alan Wake Remastered inte det mest krävande spelet, men givetvis krävs desto mer av grafikkortet i högre upplösningar.
Spelade du originalet och/eller kommer du att testa remastern?