Interview With Brian Martel: Homeworld Remastered Collection

I recently had the opportunity to speak to Brian Martel, Chief Creative Officer at Gearbox Software to talk about the studio's newly released title, Homeworld Remastered Collection. I personally reviewed the game, which you can check out here.

In the following interview, we spoke about the challenges the studio faced in rebuilding a popular classic like Homeworld and what their plans are for the future of the franchise.  

This interview was conducted via e-mail. 

Tell us about the team's experiences in rebuilding a classic title for modern audiences. 

I’ve been a huge fan of Homeworld since it premiered. The story, the universe, the ship design, the gameplay – it really stuck with me. To be able to revisit that, and to coordinate with the original creators like Alex Garden, Aaron Kambeitz, Luke Moloney, Rob Cunningham, Paul Ruskay …it was a dream come true.

In general, how much of a challenge was it to rebuild such a beloved pair of titles? 

The biggest challenge was creating a unified codebase for Homeworld and Homeworld 2. Back in the day, these games used different engines. For Remastered, we created a single codebase – not only so each game could benefit from the new graphical effects and latest technologies, but also so that we could have a single multiplayer client that contains units from both games. Further, the new hooks we’ve built into the engine provide much more for modders to play with.

Homeworld Cataclysm is noticeably absent from the Collection. Are there any plans to hunt down and remaster that particular game? 

We’d love to! Unfortunately, the source code for Cataclysm is missing – it was developed by Barking Dog, not Relic Entertainment – which makes it hard to approach in the same way that we remastered Homeworld and Homeworld 2. That said, if fans are passionate about it, we’ll keep investigating ways to at the very least see if we can re-release the classic version. And if anyone out there has the source code handy, let us know!

Tell us about the challenges you faced while porting Homeworld to Homeworld 2's engine. 

Well, the good news is that we had some awesome engineers, including Dave Eaton and Luke Moloney. Luke was one of the original creators of Relic Entertainment, and did a lot of the code for the original Homeworld and crafted the foundation for Homeworld 2’s engine. So, that helped smooth a lot of the transition despite them behaving in some ways very differently. It was really two projects at once – not only were we bringing Homeworld into the Homeworld 2 engine, but we were modifying aspects of the Homeworld 2 engine to support modern technologies, effects and resolutions. We wanted the experience between Homeworld and Homeworld 2 to be cohesive – ensuring the textures, models and fidelity of both games were on par – so that they didn’t feel or look like separate experiences, but rather two chapters of the same story.

Can you tell us a little about the updates you have planned for the Collection? 

Thus far, we’ve been focused on fixing any bugs or hardware issues that could prevent players from completing the game or posed a significant obstacle. Moving forward, our plans include things like balance, formations and tactics based on community feedback.

What are your plans for the Collection's multiplayer mode, now that it's out (but still in beta)? 

We plan to keep at it! The Homeworld Remastered Multiplayer Beta is a living, breathing thing that we’re shaping and balancing based on player feedback.

Can players expect for some issues, like the formation and tactics issues in Homeworld 1 Remastered, to be resolved in a future update? 

This is something the team is currently investigating. One of the biggest challenges in the remastering was creating a unified engine for both Homeworld and Homeworld 2, as they used different engines back in the day. Since launch, the team has been working to address player feedback, and this is something that we know the fans are very passionate about.

Modders have already gotten their hands on the Collection and have begun to release ship rebalancing mods. Are there any plans to support modders through the Steam Workshop? 

Yes! We support Steam Workshop and are working to add more tools and functionality to that. VERY excited to see what fans come up with 🙂

What's next for the Homeworld setting? 

Oh man. Right now, we’re working on the multiplayer aspect of Homeworld Remastered Collection – it’s a publicly accessible Beta, and we’re shaping the balance and features based on player feedback. In that same vein, the diehard fans are the ones that helped keep this series alive for so long, so we’re really interested to hear what fans and players want for the future.

 

This interview with Brian Martel was conducted by Ian Miles Cheong on March 20, 2015 via email. It may not be reposted in its entirety without permission.