It’s all about the style

We’ve learned it’s all about the style

One of the things we’ve determined is the most important for maintaining the feel of the original games is “style.” It’s one thing to use the tech to re-create “a” street, or any office, especially when the technology enables you to do many more things compared to what was possible back in the 90s. But to create “the” street and “the” office is a whole other story. We must avoid getting carried away with the possibilities or losing sight of the flair that made the original so great. We’ve learned that Tex’s original sophistication is the best way to approach recreating and remastering the game. This is why the original design team (and some of the franchises’ most dedicated newer blood) is heavily focused on the aesthetic and ambiance. We don’t want players to say, “this looks great,” we want them to say, “this is Tex Murphy!”

Animated GIF of real-time lighting being cast over Tex Murphy's office.
From sunset to moonrise, and a black sun ascending…

The above example showcases some of the real-time lighting introduced into most of the scenes. Doug Vandegrift and Mat Van Rhoon have been working closely on re-creating the mood and style of the original games while also introducing new technology to enhance the overall aesthetic.

To see the above animation in 4K, you can watch it on the Big Finish Games YouTube channel here:


Landlords of the lore

So what does an old office in the run-down Ritz hotel in Old San Francisco look like, anyway? These are the questions our team is asking ourselves when re-creating the locations in The Pandora Directive. Sure, we can throw in a bunch of new assets and give everything a fresh coat of paint, but that’s not Nilo’s style now. So instead, the attention to detail we are taking when it comes to representing the actual state of Tex’s office is just one example of how every scratch, chipped wall, scuff, and stain contributes to an overall aesthetic paramount for maintaining immersion.

Tex Murphy's office in the afternoon. Shafts of light are cast in through the windows and lather the surfaces of Tex's Office.
RTeX: On. Tex’s Office, utilizing real-time lighting and shadowing to set the mood.


The waiting area of Tex Murphy's office. An unoccupied leather couch and chair sits in the corner. An open magazine is on the chair and two alien landscape paintings accent the space.
This alien landscape reminds of the old Star Trek episode where they get that distress call, then Captain Kirk meets that beautiful woman, then he and Spock barely escape, then Kirk makes that funny joke right at the end.


Behind Tex's desk, the walls are cracked, the plaster is peeling, and water damage stains appears to have cascaded down from the ceiling. In the foreground, various papers on a shelf, and two cans of 'Eat the Rich' dog food.
Fine attention to detail really showcases the run-down nature of the Ritz Hotel.


Tex's bedroom, looking towards the door to the office. Wash basin and mirror to the left of the door, a wall sconce and Tex's check and certificate from the Mutant League on the right, above a potted plant.


Alternative Angle. Tex's bedroom, looking towards the door to the office. Wash basin and mirror to the left of the door, a wall sconce and Tex's check and certificate from the Mutant League on the right, above a potted plant.


Close up of the door frame in Tex's bedroom, which leads to the office. Focus on the light switch. The pain on the doorframe is peeling, showcasing the fine details of the render.
More close-up details.


The Ritz Hotal hallway on the second floor, where apartments A, B, C, and D are located. Moodily lit with wall sconces. Fine texture detail with wallpaper in disrepair and wood floors.
Welcome the the Ritz Hotel.


Close up shot of the wallpaper in the hallway of the Ritz Hotel second floor. Fine details on the peeling wallpaper, bumps, as well as water damage.
The wallpaper has seen better days.


Alternative angle. Close up shot of the wallpaper in the hallway of the Ritz Hotel second floor. Fine details on the peeling wallpaper, bumps, as well as water damage. Also, some stains on the walls as well.


On the left: The window which leads to the alleyway at the end of the hallways on the 2nd floor of the Ritz Hotel. The glass is filthy and the smears refract the internal lighting. On the right: the door to the ladies bathroom.
The last time these windows were cleaned, NFTs were all the rage.


Masters of the remaster

Speaking of the original team, we’d like to announce a new member who has come on board to help with The Pandora Directive remaster/remake. Many Tex Murphy fans will undoubtedly remember the name, Mark Hulka. He was one of the critical players of Access Software, contributing his talents in art, graphics, design, compositing, and programming to the original Pandora Directive (as well as Under a Killing Moon and Overseer). He has agreed to join the Pandora Directive remaster team, joining Chris Jones, Aaron Conners, Doug Vandegrift, and Mat Van Rhoon. Talk about a Tex Murphy tour de force! The band is genuinely coming back together for this one.

A photo of Mark Hulka from the Under a Killing Moon game boardroom sits on top of a computer keyboard. Around it are: a pair of glasses, a coffee mug, one of the Pandora Directive Puzzle box props, and an original Pandora Directive big box game box.
In addition to his development work, Mark was featured as a character in various places throughout the series, including: the UAKM boardroom, NSA agent in Pandora, and the gorilla in Overseer.


Image of Mark Hulka playing Paul Dubois in Under a Killing Moon. From the scene where Paul is tied up and experimented on with the viral powder.
Mark didn’t take much convincing.


The AI is still churning away

We are about two weeks into our second upscale pass on the original Pandora Directive Beta SP and MII tapes. As explained in our previous article, the first upscale pass took seven months to complete, and the second pass will use a different algorithm and model to make up for shortcomings in certain scenes and objects from the first pass. The result will ensure we have the best of both models to work with. The good news is that the second pass is on track not to take as long as the first and may be completed in as little as three months. Adrian Carr has already been cutting together the video sequences using the source tapes as a reference. So, by the time all upscales are completed, we should already have a good chunk of the video sequences ready to be replaced with their shiny 4K 60fps counterparts!

In the meantime, we would like to tip our fedoras to the amazing TexBox. This amazing machine has been burning on all cores (CPU and GPU) for almost eight months straight now!

Image of the internals of the Core i9 RTX rendering PC being used to upscale the video footage with AI and machine learning. Plenty of RGB lighting inside, as well as a model of a Delta Airbus A320 plane.
The i9 RTeX Box – now with 1,000x more ram than the original. Delta Airlines Airbus A320 for scale.


Fans have been our bread and butter

We want to depart from The Pandora Directive briefly to recognize the great Tex Murphy fanbase and supporters. Without folks like you, we would never have maintained the passion and dedication towards this franchise.

Gamers like Pam from CannotBeTamed are one such example of our fantastic fanbase. She recently shared with us images of a school assignment she did on Under a Killing Moon, which her mom dug up from long ago!

Images of Pam's school assignment on Under a Killing Moon. On the left: The front cover, which is a hand-drawn mockup of the Under a Killing Moon art, focusing on the explosion of the Moon Child space station. On the right: Pam's description of each of the locations in the Under a Killing Moon Game, with a hand-drawn map and icons.
Pam aptly recognizes the Ritz as the “Run down, used to be classy hotel.”


Three images of Pam's school assignment on Under a Killing Moon. Left: Cover art for scrapbook, Middle: Research on the moon and solar system, Right: showcase on the space shuttle as a popular means of transportation in 2042.
In the year 2022 we’ve got some catching up to do!


Inside Pam's Under a Killing Moon scrapbook. Pages detail the prevalence of racism in real-life and how it compares to Lowell Percival's motivations in the Under a Killing Moon story.
We tip our fedoras at the research that went into this assignment.

Pam has kept the spark alive, continuing her thorough analysis not only in the Tex Murphy universe, but for adventure games as a whole. Her fantastic insights and reviews can be watched over on her YouTube Channel.

What about you? Do you have a Tex murphy story to share from from your corner of the globe? We’d love to hear from you, so be sure to follow us on Twitter and let us know how Tex has made an impact on your life!