Virtuos has actually gone far for itself with Switch players as one of the premier designers of quality ports on the platform. With impressive Switch variations of L.A. Noire, a clutch of Final Dream remasters, Starlink: Fight for Atlas and Dark Souls: Remastered under its belt, we were pleased to hear that the Spingapore-based developer supervised of porting upcoming titles The External Worlds, BioShock: The Collection and XCOM 2 Collection to Change.
Focusing on Firaxis Games’ XCOM 2– a video game very first launched on other platforms in 2016– we recently spoke to Senior Manufacturer Zhang Chengwei and VP of Games Studio Elijah Freeman about the obstacles of bringing Firaxis’ turn-based techniques to Nintendo’s platform undamaged and on time.
Nintendo Life: How did Virtuos get involved with porting XCOM 2 to Change?
Zhang Chengwei: The team at Virtuos were extremely excited when we found out we were bringing XCOM2 to the Switch, but as most people will understand, it’s not an easy case of dragging-and-dropping the game to a brand-new platform. In this case, our work involved bringing the complete XCOM2 video game to Change.
We then established a creative general-purpose rendering library that enables XCOM2 to be rendered directly on the Switch without altering the initial rendering module from Unreal Engine 3. And naturally, there was likewise a certain amount of QA testing that’s required.
However arguably the most important thing is all the work done to optimise the game to make sure it can run smoothly on the Change. The XCOM2 PC video game utilizes more than 7GB memory, whereas the memory use of the Change is simply 4GB (only 3.2 GB are entrusted to game itself).
It has actually been specified in the past that you’re only interested in offering the finest ports possible
Zhang Chengwei: When we talk about any Switch task with our partners, the very first action is to figure out what their expectations are for the video game. It’s not just about timelines or budgets, however more about accomplishing the video game quality they desire for the game they understand and enjoy. We start by taking them through all the areas they need to think about for an excellent Switch game.
We propose the finest solutions for how to fully utilize the Change’s finest functions and actually make the game shine, not simply as a game, but particularly as a Change video game. Off the back of our work on Starlink: Fight for Atlas, Dark Souls: Remastered, The External Worlds and the coming XCOM2, we now have no doubt that Switch adjustments can be worked for video games on any of the current generation of consoles (PS4/XB1).
We have our own quality requirements and obviously we do not develop low-quality products which might injure the Switch library or the broader video games market.
From start to complete, how long did it take to port XCOM 2?
Zhang Chengwei: We started the project in June 2019 and finished in the very first few months of2020 All in all, it took around 10 months of work.
What aspect of the original game was most difficult to get right on Switch?
Zhang Chengwei: The biggest obstacle we find is memory optimisation. The XCOM2 PC video game uses more than 7GB memory however on Switch we can make use of simply 3.2 GB of memory usage. You need to constantly profile the game, make decisions, execute and evaluate, then profile once again.
I ‘d say that we invested half a year just to optimise the memory […] This process is like squeezing water from a sponge. As more water is squeezed from the sponge, the harder the procedure ends up being!
Thinking about UI, text scaling which sort of thing, have you made any changes to the experience that gamers from other platforms might observe when playing on Change? Will there be any Change special enhancements or functions?
In the past, XCOM2 was constantly played on a PC or console, and in either case the appearance of the game came down to the quality of the TELEVISION or monitor you owned. We understand whatever about how a video game will look on the Switch’s built-in screen, so we took time to make sure the game was optimised to look terrific on the portable screen when in portable mode.
With a number of prominent and really effective Switch ports now under your belt, did any lessons gained from previous tasks assist with this job?
Zhang Chengwei: In many ways I believe the XCOM2 project is now an example of finest practice here at Virtuos. The more games we establish for Switch, the much better we get and the more we can squeeze out of the hardware. We are now really clear about what the Change’s hardware power is compared to the existing (and next) generation of consoles, so we understand what is and isn’t possible before starting a brand-new project. It’s likewise interesting to note that XCOM2 for Change was developed in parallel together with BioShock: The Collection for Change, so when we were formulating the techniques at the beginning, among the pillars was sharing knowledge so that these jobs could both get the most optimisation and advantages in terms of expense and timeline. These 2 games have more in common than many individuals may believe.
XCOM2 for Switch was developed in parallel together with BioShock: The Collection […] These two video games have more in common than lots of people might believe.
How close was your contact with Firaxis on this job and what specifically was each group accountable for?
Zhang Chengwei: During the job we had routine weekly conferences, and we likewise utilized Slack for instant messaging. Virtuos and 2K have actually been interacting for years now, so our groups know each other actually well. When it pertained to these particular games, Virtuos was accountable for all video game advancement, and 2K was accountable for all Publisher’s registration products, localisation materials, and last QA indication off.
The international COVID-19 pandemic has affected most designers and business, including Virtuos
Zhang Chengwei: As your readers will most likely already know, when COVID-19 broke out in China, it coincided with the Chinese New Year. At the same time, XCOM2 reached the milestone of submitting to the Nintendo lot-check.
At that time, Virtuos held a high-level meeting immediately (virtually, naturally). First of all, we examined the existing circumstance and most notably how to protect the health of our staff members. We then examined the prospective influence on a project-by-project basis. All of Virtuos’ staff were well and accounted for, with no indications of infection reported. In general, everybody in China was stressed by the restrictions enforced to slow down the spread of the infection, however we were safe in the house. As soon as I had a clear picture about the effect on a job, I started to talk with our partners, inform the situation and told them the mitigation intend on the task. I was extremely touched that our partners could likewise comprehend the circumstance and provided the best assistances and motivation. Recalling now, all our actions were extremely effective and ahead of the curve.
Virtuos is among a choose group of developers putting out really top quality Switch ports. Are there any examples of other Change video games or companies whose output has particularly satisfied you just recently?
Elijah Freeman: We constantly look to first-party games as impressive examples of terrific gameplay constructed for the platform. Surprisingly, the multiplayer shooter genre is one we keep an eye on as the video games developed there are outstanding. They handle to preserve great frame rates and a comfortable experience. What is most appealing about these shooters is that they feel best on the platform and are a testament to game centric style. The video game sessions include all you need and are best for the pick-up-and-go Change. Get in, go out, get on your way.
the multiplayer shooter category is one we watch on as the video games developed there are impressive.
Developers beginning projects these days are tending to think about scalability from the start, however with next gen consoles from Sony and Microsoft on the horizon and Nintendo’s console over three years old now, how long do you think Switch will have the ability to deal with quality ports of new releases without considerably jeopardizing the experience? What upgrades would a brand-new Change need to ‘stay in the video game’, so to speak?
Elijah Freeman: We constantly mention a game-centric pattern in advancement, where designers focus mainly on what makes a fantastic video game, instead of what platform they’re building it on. By doing this the game can be fun, and the experience will meet the expectation of the platform. In my opinion, the experience of playing a game depends a lot more on the design, instead of the platforms. That said, it is really amazing to see the incredible leaps in technology and we like seeing how we can push video games further on the most recent hardware. When it pertains to creating amazing game experiences, I make sure that the Switch will keep up.
Our thanks to Zhang and Elijah for their time. XCOM 2 Collection is out for Switch on 29 th May.