Killzone HD: How Guerrilla Restored An FPS Classic

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Killzone HD: How Guerrilla Restored An FPS Classic


When Killzone HD drops on 24th October, the original Killzone will be one week short of eight years old. In this (re-)developer interview we talk with Guerrilla Technical Director Michiel van der Leeuw and Senior Programmer Frank Compagner, who were there when Killzone was first released. In part 1, Michiel and Frank talk about the challenges they faced and the discoveries they made during the conversion process.

What prompted the HD remaster of Killzone?

Michiel: It was an idea that’s time had come. Internally we had talked about bringing Killzone to the PlayStation 3 before – Killzone fans frequently asked us about it, and we knew from other developers that such projects could be a lot of fun.

How many of the original team were involved?

Michiel: A number of developers who worked on the original Killzone for PlayStation 2 helped get this project off the ground, including Guerrilla‘s main producer, Angie Smets, who first started producing on Killzone; producer Sebastian ‘MotherH’ Downie, who served as a QA Manager and community liaison back then; art director Jan-Bart van Beek, who was the Lead Artist on Killzone; myself, as the lead coder of the original game.

Frank: I mainly worked on another Guerrilla title called ShellShock: Nam ’67 at the time.


Frank, how did you get involved with Killzone HD?

Frank: I was asked to dig up the source code and the original assets for the game – things like models, textures and sounds. Guerrilla used a completely different versioning system in 2004, so we knew direct retrieval of the assets was going to be tricky. By comparison, obtaining the source code was slightly easier, because we found a copy in our current CVS.

Michiel: Frank performed an amazing feat of software archeology!

Software archeology?

Michiel: It’s a programming term. The biggest challenge we faced with regard to obtaining the assets was that Guerrilla’s whole way of working was different back then. The assets had been backed up to tape at one point, but that was almost eight years and two tape robots ago. So we needed an archeologist, someone to dig into the depths of our backup archives and unearth whatever they could.

Frank: It was quite an interesting challenge. The first issue we ran into was that we no longer had a machine to read most of the tapes. And the second issue was that the tapes were stored, uh, “offsite”…

Michiel: Go ahead, you can say it!

Frank: By which I mean, in a shoebox in the cellar of one of our IT support staff members, without a list of contents of any kind.

In a shoebox?

Frank: Like I said, we were young and we used to do things differently back in those days.

So how did you know which tapes to use?

Michiel: We eventually found a document with tape numbers and backup dates that seemed to match the ones in the shoebox.

Frank: Yeah, I spent days poring over the list to get an idea of the data contained on the tapes, and to see whether any of the tapes might possibly contain Killzone 1 assets. In the end I narrowed it down to three or four likely candidate tapes that I asked our IT support staff to procure for me.

Michiel: Luckily, two of the tapes turned out to be from a previous tape robot that was still in working order, so IT support was able to transfer the contents for us.

You mentioned that you found the source code separately?

Frank: Yes, someone had remembered to store a copy in our current CVS. The challenge there was getting the source code to compile. Owing to the different standards and naming conventions we followed back in those days, that was quite a puzzle in and of itself.

Michiel: We really had to rack our brains to remember why things were set up the way they were.


Can you give us an example?

Frank: A simple example would be the code and header files pertaining to Rico Velasquez; most of them referred to him by a different name, because he started out as an Asian character during development and we never got around to changing it to Rico in the source code.

Michiel: I had completely forgotten about that.

Frank: Me too. At first I wondered why I could only find code for three of the four main characters.

What happened once you got the code to compile?

Frank: From there the team that did the actual conversion took over, working off of the PC development build of Killzone to produce a version that would run well and look good on PlayStation 3.

What do you think of the end result?

Michiel: I think the conversion team did a terrific job. The original Killzone was a product of Guerrilla’s high ambitions and youthful enthusiasm, but at the time we didn’t quite have the experience to pack all of those ambitions into the space provided by the PlayStation 2 platform. The conversion team has gone in and made sure everything fits and runs smoothly this time, fully realizing Guerrilla’s original vision for the game. This is Killzone as it was meant to be played.

Join us next week for the second part of the Killzone HD (Re-)Developer Interview, in which Michiel van der Leeuw and Frank Companger talk about the enhancements made to Killzone HD!

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3 Author Replies

  • not support 3D & move in KZ1 HD is EPIC FAIL! Thank you gurrilla games you are the best !!!

  • You know Killzone? well that is still my fav FPS and best multiplayer game i even played. Why? well its just so chaotic! with all thoose spawn granades! :) thank you guirilla games for making KILLZONE 2. IM BEGGING YOU DONT SHUT DOWN THE SERVERS! IF YOU DO I SELL MY PS3! (no joke) i love Killzone 2 :D

  • Looking forward to this game. It’s a day one buy for me and can’t wait for it. The trophy list even looks great for another platinum to the collection.

    Just a little disappointing that the game isn’t released on disc as i don’t like downloading from the store. Would have liked the disc for the collection but wouldn’t want to buy kz2 and 3 again just for a disc version.

  • That was pretty interesting, and hopefully a lesson going forward. People of today don’t use tapes anymore, but when it comes to disks we can easily make all the same mistakes! Thanks to both interviewees and interviewer.

    • Thank you! It certainly proved a very interesting project for us, and a bit of an eye-opener in terms of how far we’ve come.

  • Can’t wait! And I agree about the disc thing, means I just have to buy the trilogy and have duplicates :-P

  • I’m looking forward to getting my hands on Kz1 somewhat more than the triple A titles soon to be released in the coming months (I’m not saying this isn’t an AAA title)! <3 GG

  • why is this not out for vita 2 it woulf run just fine and the vita needs real games like this not plant gowing or rubblsh like that pl bring over to the vita

    • Luckily, we’re working on a Killzone title designed from the ground up for PlayStation Vita – Killzone: Mercenary!

  • I can’t wait :P + Any chance of doing ‘Killzone: Liberation’ to for the PS3 with Trophies & in HD??? :P

    • There are no plans for a Killzone: Liberation on PS3. We’ve learned our lesson though: if we do decide to bring Killzone: Liberation to a new platform someday, the code and assets won’t be as tricky to retrieve as they were for Killzone HD. ;)

  • @1 TOUGH @2 sell ur ps3 4 a xbox if they shut servers @7 n WILL PPL STOP ASKING TO ADD GAMES 2 VITA WEN THEY SAY NO VITA ,(all replys to this will be ignored because i cant READ)

  • there is a new killzone for vita and boy o boy i carnt wait i no its going to be the first solid fps on vita,was just hopein this could of been on it two as it was a hell of a game and the vita is lacking in shooters badly keep the good work up and thanx for my tex bac

  • @Victor:
    I’m really glad you guys at Guerrilla actually porting KillZone to the Vita. Not many major studios ported their games to the portable systems, they still did a good job except for Nilistic Studios who ruined Resistance on Vita. You know, sometimes good games always tend to go the wrong way around so let’s hope this one sells well and yes, I will trade in Resistance: Burning Skies for KillZone Mercenary since I need a decent FPS for the Vita.

    Just bought and played on KillZone on the PS2 you know and will get KZ2 eventually. WOOT!

  • Can’t wait for this and Mercenary. This will always be my favorite shooter series, next to Battlefield ;p

  • That interview was amazing, seriously interesting stuff, obviously i haven’t a clue about the tech stuff, but just picturing someone having the KZ source tapes at home, in a shoebox, ha… yep things were definitely done differently way back .. wait, was only 8 years ago.. nah, that is a (few ?) lifetime i guess, in tech world.. Am really looking forwards to gettin this, But come on guys, you could of put move in, and 3d, And while you were at it maybe added a vi capability, you know, just put a plug in our ears and play it Inside the ps3 lol.. Great work imo, and ps blog, Keep these kind of interviews coming.

  • Haha I Love the honesty about this interview, especially the shoebox-case of course, and just shows that we/you are humans

  • @Victor

    Could you please tell us WHY 3D support isn’t to be included with Killzone HD? Especially since you guys at Guerilla Games seemed to be one of the first and main Sony studios that, with Killzone 3, were really pushing 3D forward when it first came about and now with the vast majority of HD Collections – even NON Sony ones – having 3D it seems like such a – for want of a better word – FAIL that its not on Killzone HD.

    I’m SO disappointed that its not going to have 3D support. Killzone 3 is still one of the best 3D games. Move, not so much but it still would’ve been cool to have.

    Any chance for a quick reply for an answer?

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