Ninja Theory shared the third episode of its “Dreadnought Diaries” video series where the developer revealed its process of capturing real-world assets for its upcoming video game codenamed Project Mara. Very little about Project Mara has been revealed to the public at this point. We know it is focused on mental terror and based in a single location in the form of an apartment. In the latest dev video, Ninja Theory shared the process of capturing these assets and recreating them as perfectly as possible in-engine.
Ninja Theory boss Tameen Antoniades shared details on the project saying:
Project Mara is a very special project for us because, although it is quite a concise project, we’re attempting to do lots of things that we’ve never attempted before. And one of those things is to capture reality obsessively.
The game is set in one location, an apartment, a real-world location, and the art team’s goal is to recreate this apartment perfectly. To do this, we first start with materials. We got a bunch of material samples from the apartment: wood, carpet, etc.,wallpaper,and photographed them under lots of different lighting conditions. We scanned a bunch of it as well, using a home-built scanner that our Technical Art Director, Matt, created. With this reference, we then generated procedural shaders and detail maps to attempt to recreate the materials as true to life as possible.
An interesting piece of information in the dev video revealed that Ninja Theory will now shift towards using procedural art for both Project Mara and its upcoming Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II.
Developing these shaders has been a long and arduous process that took our artists several months, but in the end, we got pretty damn good results in terms of recreating materials true to life.
The challenge for the artists is to create what we achieved on a micro-scale with these materials but across the whole apartment, and there’s no way you can do this by hand, it has to be procedurally generated. So, all of our environment artists dived into procedural tools and Houdini in particular, and started to build and develop their own tools with simple interfaces so that we could scale these materials and features across the whole fo the apartment.
So there’s this kind of a shift going on within Ninja Theory in the way we create art. Artists are not there to just create an object, they’re there to create systems that can create that object, and infinite variations of that object. It’s an entirely different approach that is laying the foundation for all of our projects across the studio, and all of our future projects.
Project Mara does not have a release date as of yet. The game does not even have its official name yet. However, it is shaping up to be quite an interesting title. Take a look at the dev diary down below. It is definitely an interesting one to watch.