For a while now, Playtonic has been busy working on a free N64-inspired visual update for Yooka-Laylee.
In a recent Q and A on Playtonic's website, Technical Director Jens Restermeier - the brains behind the operation - spoke about ideas and challenges encountered along the way:
When we decided we were going to implement the 64-bit Tonic, we knew we wanted to create something reminiscent of “the good old days”. Naturally, we looked back at Nintendo 64 games that we had both played and worked on.
We had to consider the technical side too, so we looked at what was possible with the hardware in that era, and tried to simulate that with our existing game assets. Many features that are common nowadays were either not available, or were limited by the memory available and rendering performance.
It was obvious early on during development that rebuilding the game with low poly assets would be too time-consuming and present additional challenges:
While we would have loved to completely rebuild Yooka-Laylee using low poly assets, it would have been a gargantuan task that would have required a full studio effort for a long time. We’d have had to create entirely new assets, and with their implementation would come a whole host of design and code considerations.
The biggest challenge was writing 64-bit approximations of the various special effectshaders, and making sure that various scripted changes still worked correctly. Circumnavigating individual platform bugs/glitches, performance on console and avoiding projectiles thrown at me by Lee are worthy mentions too.
In regards to the CRT filter, it's present as long as the 64-bit Tonic is active:
Many people used CRT TVs when playing on their N64s and the screen blurred out the blocky pixels that come from using a lower resolution. A lot of graphics at that time were designed around that effect, so we decided that a CRT filter would be required for an authentic experience.
We’re aware that some people have requested the ability to turn the CRT filter on and off, however this wouldn’t be a simple thing to implement as it requires additional art (UI), design and test work. We also feel it significantly reduces the quality of the rest of the 64-bit Tonic, so we’ve opted out of doing so.
Check out the full interview over on the Playtonic website and tell us below if you're excited for this demaster.