Good question! We’ve been scouring the net ourselves trying to find details on the “Heutchy Method,” which was named after the engineer that created it, Eric Heutchy. We find references to the “Heutchy Method” back in October 2017 when Microsoft announced backward compatibility of Xbox and Xbox 360 games for the Xbox One X. We recently heard it again mentioned yesterday when Microsoft talked about the latest backward compatibility capabilities of the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.
According to the initial article, the Xbox One would leverage their own power to ” let the Xbox 360 emulator present the very best version of the game possible with the existing assets—all without touching the game code.” Without any more details, it makes sense that this “Heutchy Method” would be extremely beneficial as it would remove the need to update older games and creating remastered versions of older games which ultimately takes away precious development time on different projects.
The Xbox Series X|S has not been released but many pre-release models have hit the field with incredible reviews of how well the older titles hold up on this next-gen hardware all thanks to the “Heutchy Method.” Simply, the newer hardware has more CPU and GPU power that can upscale the imagery using the higher resolution bitmaps and geometry already included in the game assets. These older games were designed with higher resolution assets that the hardware at the time could not handle 100%. Although the methodology is different with the Heutchy method, the best analogy we could come up with is – if you think about PC graphics and go back 10 years to play a game on a decent, but not top of the line PC of the day, the modern games at the time would have likely run adequately in a mid-range graphics settings where rendered textures, blooms, shadows, etc were balanced with a reasonable framerate that allowed the game to be playable. Now, bring that game forward to a PC that is a couple of GPU and processor generations newer and suddenly playing the game on “Ultra” settings is no challenge, allowing the player to experience the TRUE graphics that the game was designed with.
While this is an overly simplistic explanation, it is what it is at it’s core. The Heutchy method doesn’t aim to redesign the existing graphics or “remaster” the game. Instead, it just makes the newer hardware capable of rendering the graphics as designed, rather than as they would have appeared on the original hardware they were designed to run on. If you’re interested in reading more technical data, Microsoft filed a US Patent on the “Heutchy Method” in September 2017 which was approved in June 2019 under patent 10,311,548. You can also hear more about the method from the man himself, Eric Heutchy via The HanselMinutes Podcast which goes into a little more detail for those who want to know more.