Ninja Theory’s next psychological horror game, dubbed “Mara ProjectWill take place entirely in a single upscale apartment, with serious technology being used to create stunningly realistic textures, lighting and more.
In one four minute videoNinja Theory Chief Creative Director and Co-Founder Tameem Antoniades explained how the studio tries to “obsessively capture reality.”
Ninja Theory’s art team used a real-world apartment (seen in the video), took numerous samples of walls, floors, and other objects, and photographed and digitized everything. With that reference, Ninja Theory then recreated the materials (like a piece of leather) and generated procedural shaders and detailed maps to make the materials as realistic as possible.
“A funny thing happens when you get close to a material, when you get as close as a human eye can see it,” Antoniades said. “Things that look flat from afar become 3D. You start to see the details, you start to see the edges, the edges, you see lint, you see dirt. You see all kinds of things that are 3D geometry. “
To give you an idea of what Antoniades means, Ninja Theory features in-game renderings of a carpet with countless individual bumps and loops in its thread, and hair and dust strewn along a wall. Side by side, in-game renderings certainly give the real world a run for its money.
Check out the previous Ninja Theory trailer, which shows some minor story details.
Ninja Theory also used the skills of Clear Angle, a company specializing in 3D scanning, to scan the entire apartment. This allowed Ninja Theory to have a working ‘point cloud’ of the apartment, allowing the team to make sure everything has a proper sense of scale and form.
Perhaps more impressive still, the artists of Ninja Theory used procedural generation to create this level of detail in the apartment, a task that Antoniades said would have been impossible by hand. You can see their work in the images below.
Screenshots of the Mara Project Developer Diary
Project Mara was announced in early 2020 alongside Ninja Theory’s Hellblade: Senua’s Saga. Ninja Theory is now part of Xbox Game Studios, so expect to see its titles released as a first-party Xbox exclusive on consoles and PC. From what we’ve seen so far, Project Mara appears to be following a young woman in the throes of “mental terror” based on real-life stories and research.
Joseph Knoop is a texture writer / producer / sample for IGN.