Xbox’s Project: Mara target renders are scarily realistic

Xbox-acquired Hellblade developer Ninja Theory has released footage of their in-development psychological horror game Project: Mara, and it’s looking scarily realistic. 

Announced last year, Project: Mara is an experimental horror game that’s poised as one of Ninja Theory’s multiple small-scale projects. Based on exploring a “grounded representation” of mental terror, Mara aims to obsessively “capture reality”.

Ninja Theory’s “concise” experiment will take place entirely in a single apartment that the development team aims to completely recreate as realistic as possible. Materials will have realistic edge wear, lint and other intricate details thanks to complete LIDAR scanning of the real-life apartment.

“The art team’s goal is to recreate this apartment perfectly. To do this, we first start with materials,” said Project Mara’s Chief Creative Ninja, Tateem Antoniades. “So, we first got samples from the apartment… And we scanned a lot of it as well using a home built scanner that our technical art director Matt created. With this reference, we then generated procedural shaders and detail maps to attempt to recreate these materials as true to life as possible.”

“But a funny thing happens when you get that close to a material, when you get as close as the human eye can possibly see. Things that seem flat from afar become 3D: you see details, you start to see edges, edgewear, you see lint, you see dirt, you see all kinds of stuff that are 3D geometry. So, materials for us are no longer flat things, they’re things that blend between shaders and 3D geometry.”

Project: Mara’s graphics technology will not only be seen in this one project. Much like most game studios, Ninja Theory will reuse their handcrafted systems for future titles, possibly allowing even more realism as the generation continues.

Ninja Theory is also hard at work on the development of Xbox Series exclusive Hellblade 2. Neither title has a concrete release date.

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