People are always recreating things in Unreal Engine: Half-Life, Metal Gear Solid, Diddy Kong Racing. Often, though not always, these projects result in short videos or barely playable mods that serve as a cool “What if?” but don’t lead to anything more. The creator of GoldenEye 25 says he is dead set on beating the odds and using Unreal Engine 4 to recreate the Nintendo 64 classic in its entirety.
Ben Colclough, the project’s founder, is an amateur game developer who was previously involved in GoldenEye: Source, a fan mod to make the game’s multiplayer mode work online on PC. Joining him is that mod’s music composer Yannick “GoldenZen” Zenhäusern. GoldenEye 25, which Colclough began work on earlier this year, is much more ambitious than Source, focusing on updating the single-player story missions with modern graphics and, in some cases, gameplay tweaks.
“The project was initially inspired by the canceled GoldenEye XBLA remaster,” Colclough told Kotaku in an email. GoldenEye was developed by Rare and published by Nintendo in 1997. In 2002, the studio was purchased by Microsoft, and years later there were plans to remaster GoldenEye as a downloadable game on Xbox 360. It was eventually canceled, however, and though there eventually was a new GoldenEye in the form of 2011’s GoldenEye 007: Reloaded, it was a different game based on the movie, not a remaster of Rare’s original.
While Colclough had originally planned to simply port the N64 game to Unreal Engine 4, it quickly proved overwhelming, and he decided to go ahead and just start remaking everything in the engine from scratch. “Unreal offers a lot of possibilities: we can have better AI, a certain degree of dynamic lighting, and a dynamic music system,” he said. “I use 3ds Max to model and Substance Painter for texturing. When it comes to GE25's visuals, I draw inspiration from both the original game and the GoldenEye film.”
Over the past few weeks, Colclough has been releasing videos on YouTube showing off the project’s early progress, including a preview tour of the game’s Facility level as well as demonstrations of how GoldenEye 25 handles weapon aiming.
“In the original game when you aimed, your camera stayed still and your crosshair moved around the screen,” he said. “I think most modern PC gamers would find this rather awkward, so I’ve changed the aiming system. Now the crosshair stays in the center of the screen and it’s the camera which moves.”
At the same time, he said he’s already had other hardcore GoldenEye fans emailing him asking if he can keep the original aiming scheme of the N64, so if he gets that far, he’s considering making it an optional setting.
But that point remains a long ways off. Colclough said he’s able to spend a few hours a day on GoldenEye 25 in between his commercial work as a 3D artist. As a result, unless the existing two-man team dramatically scales up in the months ahead, he projects GoldenEye 25 won’t be completed until, at the earliest, 2022. That prospect hasn’t discouraged him though.
“I used to be a big gamer, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve found game development to be more rewarding than playing games,” he said. “I don’t have any other big hobbies besides game development. I’ve found gamedev to be a good way to imbue a sense of purpose in my life.”