Ninja Theory’s upcoming psychological horror game, dubbed “Project Mara,” will take place entirely in a single upscale apartment, with some serious technology being utilized to create incredibly realistic textures, lighting, and more.
In a four-minute video, Ninja Theory chief creative director and co-founder Tameem Antoniades explained how the studio attempted to “capture reality obsessively.”
Ninja Theory’s art team utilized a real-world apartment (seen in the video), took numerous samples from walls, floors, and other objects, and photographed and scanned everything. With that reference, Ninja Theory then recreated the materials (such as a bit of leather) and generated procedural shaders and detail maps to make the materials as true to life as possible.
“A funny thing happens when you get that close to a material, when you get as close as a human eye can possibly see,” Antoniades said. “Things that seem flat from afar become 3D. You start to see details, you start to see edges, edgeware, you see lint, you see dirt. You see all kinds of stuff that is 3D geometry.”
To give you an idea of what Antoniades means, Ninja Theory shows off in-game renders of a carpet with countless individual bumps and curls in its threading, and hair and dust scattered along a wall. Side by side, the in-game renders certainly give the real world a run for their money.
Watch Ninja Theory’s previous teaser trailer, which shows off some minor story details.
Ninja Theory also utilized the skills of Clear Angle, a 3D scanning specialist company, to scan the entirety of the apartment. This allowed Ninja Theory to have a working “point cloud” of the apartment, allowing the team to ensure everything has a proper sense of scale and shape.
Perhaps most impressively, Ninja Theory’s artists used procedural generation to create this level of detail across the apartment, a task that Antoniades says would have been impossible by hand. You can see their work in the images below.
Project Mara Developer Diary Screenshots
Project Mara was announced in early 2020 alongside Ninja Theory’s Hellblade: Senua’s Saga. Ninja Theory is now a part of Xbox Game Studios, so expect to see its titles release as first-party Xbox exclusives on consoles and PC. From what we’ve seen so far, Project Mara appears to follow a young woman plagued by “mental terror” based on real accounts and research.
Joseph Knoop is a writer/producer/texture sample for IGN.