Ninja Theory Showcases Next-Gen Photorealism Tech for New Horror Game

This Is Some Matrix Level Stuff

After a disappointing release from Ninja Theory in early 2020 titled Bleeding Edge, they returned to the drawing board to take a new direction. Project Mara is shaping up to be possibly one of the most ambitious titles of this console generation, at least from a technical standpoint.

Detailed in the visual diary shown above, Ninja Theory demonstrates some of the mind-boggling technology and talent they’ve employed to capture a real-life apartment all the way down to the specs of dust and lint on the floor.

Focusing first on materials, the art team captured photos of the apartment in different lighting next to colour samples. For materials that they were able to take home (e.g leather from chairs,) they used a custom-built scanner that could capture extremely detailed photos of the samples in different lighting conditions. The team observed something unique about this approach. These typically 2D textures that game devs use for these very same materials, are actually 3D. To quote Tameem Antoniades, chief creative “ninja” at Ninja Theory, “.. a funny thing happens when you get that close to a material … things that seem flat from afar become 3D.” He speaks in reference to the wrinkles in the leather, and then the dust and lint that lies in these wrinkles, and turns what we perceive as flat into a 3-dimensional complex object.

The video is fascinating as the tools the team uses to place lint and dust isn’t done by hand, as that would take forever. Instead, these dust particles are rendered as physics objects and are bounced around the environment to simulate a natural distribution of debris.

Finally, the team needed to replicate the apartment’s layout to complete the virtual environment. This could not be done with a tape measure, according to Antoniades. Instead, they employed a company called Clear Angle who specializes in room capture technology. The result was a complex “point cloud” that could be brought in-engine to recreate the environment with all the materials that had been collected previously. The results are stunning.

There’s no news on a release date for Project Mara yet, but we’ll be waiting on the edge of our seats for a chance to experience this picture-perfect horror title. What do you think about this tech? Is it really necessary? Let us know in the comments below!