Thinking out loud about cutscenes...
I can think of some different approaches (most of which have been mentioned at some point in this thread...):
- Decoding the original cutscene files and re-rendering in real-time.
Arguably the most faithful approach. Would also potentially allow for 3D by rendering with different z depths for layers, and offsetting positions for left and right eyes. Has some obvious downsides, being of low resolution and 4:3 aspect ratio.
(I am assuming that the original cutscenes are comprised of multiple animation layers, rather than per-pixel animation).
- Recording the original cutscene files as video files and playing.
The easiest technical solution, but I would think it was a no-go due to copyright implications. (distributing the cutscenes as part of the XWVM download)
- Recreating the cutscenes with new 2D elements (either entirely, or using the flight engine for space scenes and superimposing new elements as needed)
Probably the best all round approach - elements can be remastered to take account of different aspect ratios (maybe a 2.21:1 ratio like the films would be cool?) and in lovely high definition. It would also provide a visual separation between cutscenes and the rest of the gameplay (an advantage, in my book).
The downsides are the effort to create, and the choice of artistic interpretation could be divisive (although any of the options here are likely to be that for some people).
The flight engine could potentially be used to render the space elements, but I personally wouldn't advocate this as the clash of styles can be quite jarring (for a lesson on how not to do this, see the Playstation version of Rebel Assault II).
As with the original cutscenes, there could be an option here to make these 3D by playing layers accordingly.
- Live action
Requires lots of resources and sufficiently talented people to execute. In my view, the margin for error in something like this is a lot higher, as the acting requirements are more demanding for onscreen work and people have generally high standards for live action. There are also technical challenges involved, including green screen, plus creature work (thinking of Ackbar in the opening cutscene). Again, many 90s games are a testament to how not to do this.
- Recreate entirely in-engine
Although some aspect of the space elements would be easy to recreate in engine, there are some inconsistencies in the original cutscenes (e.g. the speed of fighters) which would require some work if re-rendering in the normal engine.
The character work could be challenging, especially the animation to lip sync and have expressiveness, and to have models of sufficient detail. Also: uncanny valley for human characters.
Our collaborator Andrea has managed to decode and replay the original cutscenes. They are in 16:10. It's not really widescreen, but close enough. (Original cutscenes were always 16:10 since they run at 320x200 resolution, but those 90's monitors squished them to 4:3 making pixels not square).
There are still some minor issues with them but I am extremely happy we managed to keep the original cutscenes.
We can replay them in a canvas in the game, so we can have something like a projector screen or whatever.
In any case, this feels to me like a sensible first step to take concerning cutscenes. The bare minimum and the sufficient condition.
If we want more, we can come back at a later point, without the pressure of not having anything to fall back to, and have them raycasted, rendered in the game, live action madness (didn't we learn from the 90's that FMV sequences were almost universally cr*p? :D ), or whatever people would like to pour their time onto doing. AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
This GOG forum is going to be the first to try out what have have been making for the past 2.5 years. It's natural, since it was the place where this mod was born first and grew to what has become today.
I will be soon updating the first post in page 1 with a link to apply to alpha test the mod. We need testers to extend our hardware support and to help find the most critical bugs.
We need people able to install the mod, find their X-wing installation, and have the patience to test the game as it is, reporting all issues, bugs, and problems found.
We appreciate if you have extra knowledge of the game, or extra non-standard hardware like TrackIR headset, advanced joysticks or gamepads, older computer or graphic card, and other edge cases.
For now, we are focusing only on Windows.