When Nightdive decides to remaster a game using its proprietary KEX engine, they typically feed the engine that game’s original source code to do much of the grunt work in terms of coding. This allows the rest of the Nightdive gang to do touch-ups and fine-tuning in order to get an old game into a state where they can release it on modern hardware with 4K/60fps graphics, like how they did with Turok 2 and System Shock 2.
Having that original source code is key. Without it, Nightdive has to reverse-engineer the code and do everything by hand. Which, as it turns out, is exactly what’s happening with Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition.
Nightdive CEO Stephen Kick sat down with Eurogamer recently to break the bad news. “There have been some obstacles we’ve had to overcome in terms of the old technology the game uses,” Kick told the publication. “And our hunt for the original source code and assets have come up empty.”
This means that Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition will not release in 2020 as originally planned. In fact, Nightdive can’t even give a new release date because of this delay and all the trouble they’ve been having with Blade Runner.
Kick confirmed that because Nightdive hasn’t been able to access “any original stuff” they’ve been having to painstakingly reverse-engineer the code to extract original art and sound assets, which is a time-consuming process. Worse, because Westwood compressed their animations by not including entire models in each cutscene, it’s like every animation actually has its own discrete model that has to be extracted separately.
“We had to invent new pipelines to extract the data and to modify it in a way that would present it in even a slightly higher resolution or higher fidelity,” Kick admitted. “So yeah, it’s been a real challenge.”
Last September’s comparison trailer was actually an experiment to see how well this new pipeline performs. Kick said that the final product will actually look even better than that trailer when it’s all said and done.
However, we don’t know when that’ll be. Kick says that the coding “is mostly done” but there’s still a lot of work left before Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition is ready.
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