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The Pandora Directive 25th Anniversary: One of the all time great adventure games is getting a remaster/remake

SF Kosmo

...please disperse...
7 years after the release of the last Tex Murphy title, The Tesla Effect, Big Finish has made a new update, something of a good news/bad news.

The bad news is that they have cancelled the Poisoned Pawn, a fan-developed project that began as a remake of Overseer but had evolved into a new made in collaboration with BFG. Apparently the two teams were not working well together and had different visions for the project.

The good news is that they are developing an all new HD remaster of The Pandora Directive, the fourth title in the series, often regarded as one of the best adventure games of all time (it was #9 on Adventure Gamers top 100).

It's somewhere between a full remake and a remaster. Video of actors is being scanned from original archival tapes and remastered in HD, but CG backgrounds and compositing will be redone. Sound and music are being remastered from higher quality archival assets as well. Game levels are being remade based on original source assets used for pre-rendered cutscenes. Gameplay will be faithful but might have a few rough edges sanded down, and a modern interface.

Although I do think the "soft reboot" third game, Under a Killing Moon, is probably a better entry point for new players, it seems like the archival material for PD gives them a lot more to work with.

I'm excited, this is one of the few games from the mid-90s FMV era that really holds up. Hopefully it can introduce some new players to the series as well.



 

tsumake

Member
7 years after the release of the last Tex Murphy title, The Tesla Effect, Big Finish has made a new update, something of a good news/bad news.

The bad news is that they have cancelled the Poisoned Pawn, a fan-developed project that began as a remake of Overseer but had evolved into a new made in collaboration with BFG. Apparently the two teams were not working well together and had different visions for the project.

The good news is that they are developing an all new HD remaster of The Pandora Directive, the fourth title in the series, often regarded as one of the best adventure games of all time (it was #9 on Adventure Gamers top 100).

It's somewhere between a full remake and a remaster. Video of actors is being scanned from original archival tapes and remastered in HD, but CG backgrounds and compositing will be redone. Sound and music are being remastered from higher quality archival assets as well. Game levels are being remade based on original source assets used for pre-rendered cutscenes. Gameplay will be faithful but might have a few rough edges sanded down, and a modern interface.

Although I do think the "soft reboot" third game, Under a Killing Moon, is probably a better entry point for new players, it seems like the archival material for PD gives them a lot more to work with.

I'm excited, this is one of the few games from the mid-90s FMV era that really holds up. Hopefully it can introduce some new players to the series as well.




Good. You can’t replace Kevin McCarthy.
 

protonion

Member
A timeless masterpiece.

The design of the multiple paths, two difficulties with different content, money managing...

No other adventure even attempted to do what this game did in such a masterful way.

Pity about the poisoned pawn though... I was very hyped for it :(
 

SF Kosmo

...please disperse...
Pity about the poisoned pawn though... I was very hyped for it :(
They do mention in the post that the team has their blessing to go back to making it on their own, and that this is more of a divorce than a full stop cancellation, but I think the team is sort of burnt on it. You never know though.

There's a LOT of behind the scenes drama behind this. Basically, when the original fan project (remake of Overseer) linked up with BFG they decided to replace the Chelsea date frame story from the original with a new frame story to set up a new storyline. They shot like 3 hours of new footage for this too.

But then it kind of stopped being a remake of Overseer entirely. BFG wanted to turn it into a new game that would retell bits and pieces of old Tex stories and retcon them into something new, but they were really slow to actually deliver new scripts and almost no finished design, so the team was just developing empty stages with no gameplay.

They also had different ideas about the gameplay. The dev team wanted to keep it pretty classic with maybe some more physical or traversal based puzzles to take advantage of the new tech. Meanwhile BFG was pitching collect em up unlockable videos and stuff.

Ultimately the team felt like the fact that they were working for spec (i.e. for free with payment on the back end after release) should have bought them some more creative control than they were getting, and the project just stalled out.

It could come back in more of it's original form, but a couple of the devs sound pretty bitter.
 

Krathoon

Member
I am playing Tesla Effect. I can't believe it has been 7 years.
I always find it funny how so much of the game happens on Chandler Ave.. Even people in your case happen to stay at the Ritz.
 

SF Kosmo

...please disperse...
This continues to look pretty good and show steady progress. They are apparently extracting all the original models and rebuilding them in Unity, using the original stuff as a framework. They're obviously leaning pretty heavy on asset libraries to get this done with a small team, but the results are honestly very good.

They've also put a lot of work into digitizing and upscaling the original master tapes, which has paid off in a much better result than we have seen from other remasters of games of this era.







 
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Denton

Member
I remember reading reviews for Under a Killing Moon, Pandora Directive and Overseer in local magazine like 25 years ago. First two got 9, Overseer 7. Always wanted to play them, even kickstarted Tesla Effect but never got around to them.

Maybe on Steam Deck I will finally delve in.
 

SF Kosmo

...please disperse...
I remember reading reviews for Under a Killing Moon, Pandora Directive and Overseer in local magazine like 25 years ago. First two got 9, Overseer 7. Always wanted to play them, even kickstarted Tesla Effect but never got around to them.

Maybe on Steam Deck I will finally delve in.
I'd agree with those scores, pretty much to this day. Overseer was made on a very rushed schedule so it feels a little pared back in some ways, though the FMV was really well done. Tesla Effect was really good for what it was, too. Didn't modernize the formula much, but it was a worthy sequel and the finale the series deserved.
 
I love the Tex Murphy games since I grew up with them and also backed Tesla Effect. This looks really good and I hope it is doing well and they will make a new one after that.
 

Nico_D

Member
Oh wow. I barely remember anything about the game, just that it was very different. I think it was quite difficult too? Wasn't there some kind of combat too in the final parts of the game?
 

NeoIkaruGAF

Gold Member
Huh, UAKM and Overseer are two names I always heard through the years, but this one I’ve never heard about before. Sounds interesting.
 

SF Kosmo

...please disperse...
Oh wow. I barely remember anything about the game, just that it was very different. I think it was quite difficult too? Wasn't there some kind of combat too in the final parts of the game?
It's not especially difficult as far as adventure games go, in fact probably one of the more beatable, and has a generous hint system. No combat either.

What you are probably remembering is a part near the end with a timed/stealth element that ran too fast on faster computers and could be a bit frustrating, where an enemy patrolled the area and instakilled you if it got near you. One of the obvious things they intend to fix with this release.
 

SF Kosmo

...please disperse...
Huh, UAKM and Overseer are two names I always heard through the years, but this one I’ve never heard about before. Sounds interesting.
It's generally regarded as the best in the series, though it didn't sell as well as UAKM, and was poorly marketed such that many didn't realize it was a sequel. Some prefer the more comedic tone of UAKM, but Pandora is generally regarded as the best designed and most ambitious, with choices that have consequences and eight different endings. Plus, unlike UAKM, the FMV is competently directed and much more movie-like.

That latter point is probably the main reason it's being chosen for a remaster over UAKM. They didn't really know what they were doing when they filmed UAKM, and it worked in the technical limitations they imposed, but trying to make it look like a "real movie" might be hard.
 

Nico_D

Member
It's not especially difficult as far as adventure games go, in fact probably one of the more beatable, and has a generous hint system. No combat either.

What you are probably remembering is a part near the end with a timed/stealth element that ran too fast on faster computers and could be a bit frustrating, where an enemy patrolled the area and instakilled you if it got near you. One of the obvious things they intend to fix with this release.

Yeah, that's probably it. I remember it being just that, frustrating. Liked the game a lot though.

Someone should remaster Discworld Noir too.
 

SF Kosmo

...please disperse...
I have to say, this is really the gold standard for remastering old game FMV. They went through crazy lengths to get the video pristine, from traditional tape restoration, to a range of processing and AI enhancement, and then rebuilt the sets and redid the compositing and color grading. It looks fantastic, hard to believe it was shot in 1995.

 
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