How Captain Mathius' transformation scene was made in Dead Space remake — explained by EA Motive

The Dead Space remake not only carefully recreates the original game, but also uses modern technologies to breathe new life into certain scenes. Here is how EA Motive reworked the famous transformation sequence.

Captain Mathius' transformation in Dead Space remake — how it was made

On February 3, the team behind the Dead Space remake held an AMA session on Reddit (spotted by New Blood Interactive’s Dillon Rogers).

One user asked about an impressive scene where Captain Mathius gets infected and transforms into a Necromorph. The entire sequence is like 10 seconds long, but the amount of detail and the fact that it works in-engine makes people wonder how EA Motive executed it technically.

The transformation sequence from Dead Space (2008)

The scene looks even more impressive compared to the original Dead Space released in 2008. Especially the part where Mathius’ clothes are torn apart as he morphs into a monster.

The transformation sequence from the Dead Space remake (2023)

The studio’s character artist named Leo confirmed the Captain transformation sequence was a big challenge for the team. So here is how they managed to remake this scene:

  • One of the main issues was to make Captain Mathius’ model geometrically change shape, so the team used a rig in Maya to make the asset grow in size by scaling it and aligning the two models (human and Necromorph) to match each other;
  • The devs created BlendShapes, a tool used for blending one model into another by creating a target shape for it, and then made Dynamic Masks in Houdini to blend Captain’s human and Necromorph models into a single animated one;
  • Another huge challenge was to make Mathius’ clothes tear apart during the transformation, so they precut the clothing using the tyFlow simulation plugin for 3ds Max;
  • “Then we exported everything as alembic data to Maya and processed bones to replicate the vertex deformation to be able to send the final result to our real-time Engine (Frostbite),” Leo explained.

Leo noted that the team had to go through “a lot of trial and error and modifications along the way.” The end result looks incredible (and creepy), especially considering the amount of work that went into it.

The Dead Space remake was officially announced in July 2021. Developed by Electronic Arts’ Canadian subsidiary Motive Studio, the game came out on January 27, 2023 to positive reviews from both critics and players. It currently holds an 87/100 rating on Metacritic, with fans around the world wishing for a remake of the sequel.

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