Star Wars: Dark Forces remaster was incredibly ‘difficult’ despite source code access

Star Wars Dark Forces Remastered cover art showing stormtroopers in battle

Star Wars Dark Forces Remastered cover art showing stormtroopers in battle

Nightdive Studios’ Star Wars: Dark Forces Remastered brings the iconic FPS game to modern systems for the first time since the days of the OG PlayStation. However, the remaster wasn’t as easy as some would assume.

Announced earlier this year, Dark Forces Remastered revitalise the game’s graphics, cutscenes and even gameplay into a more modern package.

Via PC Gamer, Nightdive Studios project lead Max Waine explained that LucasArts’ forward-thinking development made porting the game more difficult. While the game was brilliantly optimised for the 90s, its cutting-edge tech made modern ports a nightmare.

Waine explained that LucasArts created an early form of multithreading on PC, an extreme rarity for 1995. This brilliant programming meant Nightdive Studios had to work extra hard to fix an “overdesigned” game, even with access to the game’s source code from the start of development.

“Dark Forces has been difficult to change, from the technical end of things, because it is very heavily over-designed," Waine explained. "There were a lot of small details in how LucasArts did things at the time that made stuff particularly difficult. They managed to do multi-threading effectively, using a task system in the mid-1990s. We had to use sophisticated modern techniques to be able to get it to work nicely, while keeping the same basic idea."

“Nike other projects, we managed to get the source code from the start,” he continued. "We had to modernise all these concepts that worked for programming in DOS for your 486 or Pentium, but do not fly on your 16-core, infinite gigahertz modern processor."

With Star Wars: Dark Forces Remastered coming to more than just PC, Nightdive Studios had to completely redo the game’s user interface. With the original game only designed for a mouse, new menus had to be created to work with keyboards and controllers.

“The other thing that's been difficult to appropriately modernise is the user interface that they had, in terms of menus and such, because the menus are all mouse driven in the original,"Waine said. "Finding an appropriate balance that feels faithful to how the original menus are, while being able to work while you're on a controller, was quite difficult."

Star Wars: Dark Forces Remastered releases on February 28, 2024 for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and S, and Nintendo Switch.

For more Star Wars content, check out our look at Star Wars: Jedi Outcast VR, a fan-made port of the classic FPS game.

This Article's Topics

Explore new topics and discover content that's right for you!

Have an opinion on this article? We'd love to hear it!