For those not into real-time strategy games, Command & Conquer (C&C) is a real-time strategy (RTS) video game franchise, first developed by Westwood Studios. It’s now owned by EA (Electronic Arts) and saw widespread popularity between the years 1995-2020. The game we are working on is called Command & Conquer Kane’s Wrath. It’s the 9th Command & Conquers game in the series.
Command and Conquer 3, Kane's Wrath, game cover.
Recently EA decided to remaster one of their oldest Command & Conquer games, called Red Alert and Command & Conquer in a package called the Remastered Collection. We - in one of the newer titles as a community felt that we too deserved a remaster for our game, however, due to strict budgets and timelines, EA decided not to remaster our newer game Command & Conquer game (Kane’s Wrath). So we, a friend named Jackson Hume along with many others in the community decided to design, create and market a game add-on called Command & Conquer Kane’s Wrath Remastered.
The Command and Conquer 3, Kane's Wrath, Remastered website.
The add-on features over remastered 1400 distinct remastered textures, specular maps, normal maps, shadow maps, unit portraits, and more. The UI has also been upscaled to match the latest demands of 4K resolution. However, due to our target audience being a worldwide one and the average specifications of a person's computer ranging from those that are 15 years old to those that are cutting edge and brand new, we knew that it needed to be backward compatible.
Specular maps are the maps you use to define a surface's shininess and highlight colour. The higher the value of a pixel (from black to white), the shinier the surface will appear in-game.
In 3D computer graphics, normal mapping, or Dot3 bump mapping, is a texture mapping technique used for faking the lighting of bumps and dents – an implementation of bump mapping. It is used to add details without using more polygons.
Shadow mapping or shadowing projection is a process by which shadows are added to 3D computer graphics. This concept was introduced by Lance Williams in 1978, in a paper entitled "Casting curved shadows on curved surfaces".
Specular maps are the layers to apply to a texture so that you can define a surface's shininess and highlight colour. The higher the value of a pixel (from black to white), the shinier the surface will appear in-game.
The remastering process used highly advanced AI neural engines such as those found on Letsenhance.io and other similar software to upscale the images so that they can be viewed properly using a 4K display. These very same neural engines are the ones I’ve written about in my Artificial Creativity dissertation, which can be found in my portfolio. Using this technology we were not just able to remaster the game at scale, but to also re-design and innovate key solutions to shortcomings created by the game's original developers who were on a tight deadline.
Using user testing we were able to create an add-on that not only was fully compatible with the game but one that anyone can use providing they have over 3GB of VRAM on their graphics card. By looking at the Steam user survey, the largest collection of PC user information, we were able to discover that on average, the typical PC user has more than enough VRAM to run this modification and moreover, run it smoothly.
Steam hardware survey 2021.