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Four Thirds of Grim Fandango

In the morning, while thinking of Grim Fandango, a thought came to my mind: would it be possible to add a real 16:9 support to the backgrounds?
A Facebook discussion then pushed me to post this blog entry, so that I could better explain why I believe that it is.

No more old rendering.

Truly: source files for the background rendering for Grim Fandango are long lost, victim of an age in which Backups were not that important and files were lost like fresh water in Rome fountains.
One thing first, it is important to to understand how the first idea that I am going to expose would be the best option, having the original render.
When we look at the game images, and being the background all in 3D, it is obvious that the game area was framed, when the game was released, in what was the standard resolution of 4:3. Meaning that we, for gameplay reason, we will always be locked in that area; but not for where graphics are concerned.

Example:

If we had the source files and the exact axis the scene rendered in 16:9 (quick example I made) would be this

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Back in the day the 4:3 forced this result.

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If we had the same render then, in the same coordinates, we could enlarge the rendering area without touching the play area.

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The job would be in keeping everything unaltered, adding pieces in the same style where there are (and there might be many) areas that are graphically empty/incoherent. Sadly though we do not have this luxury, we cannot re render everything and increase resolution.

Let’s draw on it.

The second hypothesis is to instead use the current backgrounds, drawing over it, and using the lateral bars as a base. From a few tests I have run the result would not be bad

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A screenshot of the game. You can notice how the rener exceed the play area (look at the borders) as described above, it is then possible to assume and then add missing pieces.
A few base lines

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We can now add a few details and a few colors with a quick brush, it is just an example, I sadly have no time to create anything more complex and coherent.

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The play area is unaltered, and it would be possible to use the side areas to add extra graphic, thankfully no shadows is ever on the surfaces.

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A solution could be to draw again on the original render in a very approximative way and then escalate and keep drawing everything, but it would be really too time consuming.
As I was saying before, with only one render it would not be that bad, or would it?

Some have it all, some people have all the luck

If that rubbish of The Evil Within can afford to cut entire pieces of graphic to be “more cinematographic” (LOL), and the old Abe Odysee had to be re-done in real time to avoid the useless step of pre render again (in that case though they had the source files, you can notice that from the models), with Grim Fandango we find ourselves in a complete stale, also because Disney and Double Fine did not want to invest much in this Remastered version, definitely under standard on a graphical level, for reasons that go way over the simple “lack of time”.

If I only had the time I would want to work on a mod, at least at the second solution (re create everything in 3D without original positions would be a giant trial&error kind of puzzle), but with hundreds of screenshots to be redone I’d say that for now, due to the total lack of time, I cannot take on the project.

Maybe one day…

Grazie Prophet per la traduzione

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