The success of Koji Igarashi's Kickstarter campaign for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is having an unexpected knock-on effect that could genuinely benefit console game developers around the world.
Stretch goals to create Wii U and PlayStation Vita versions of the Unreal Engine 4-powered game have been met; Texas-based development studio Armature Studio (developers of Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate and the Vita version of Metal Gear Solid HD Collection) have signed on to port the Inti Creates-developed game to those platforms.
The studio has also announced that it plans to release the code base for free for that porting effort -- to any developers who are licensed to create games for those platforms, which Epic Games does not officially support with Unreal Engine 4.
It's an exciting new option for developers, and to find out more, Gamasutra spoke to Armature's tech director, Jack Mathews.
Can you talk a bit about the technical challenges presented by this task and, if possible, some ideas on how you're going to tackle them?
UE4 has a very robust feature set, so a big challenge from the start will be supporting as much of that feature set as we can on the target platform.
The first steps for any project like this is to do whatever you can to just get the code building on the target hardware while documenting everything you had to disable or remove to get there. Once you're at that point, it's then about putting the pieces laying on the floor back into place, slowly making those pieces work on the new hardware as you go.
What kinds of things do you need this code base to tackle to make it possible to get a UE4 game running on these consoles? I mean, obviously it won't be possible to get a current-gen full-3D game running at 60fps on a Vita, but how (for lack of a better term) "elaborate" a game do you think is feasible?
As for how "elaborate" the game is, the more important question to me is "how much of the original gameplay can be preserved?" One of our main goals is to keep everything about the making of the game itself identical, so that the platform differences don't make us, for instance, have to re-implement or recode all of the player, AI, collision, et cetera. If we're doing our jobs right, then the game that Inti creates is identical to ours gameplay-wise, and the platform differences really lie in the rendering of the game assets.
We're very familiar at this point with hardware features of the Vita as well as the Wii U, so a lot of it is going to come down to working within those hardware feature sets to facilitate as much of the UE4 feature set as possible. From there, we'll end up doing a lot of performance profiling and tuning, and adapting our focus on optimization as the development of the game unfolds.
The game isn't due for approximately 18 months, but when will the code base start to be available -- any estimate?
It will be available after Bloodstained is done.
Have you talked to Epic at all about this, and if so, what's the reaction?
I had someone there wish us luck on getting it all ported over. :-)
It's impossible to make this truly open-source due to the platform NDA stuff, but are external developers going to be able to contribute?
Taking external contributions is a minefield, both in feasibility and legal liability. So no.
We will do this and when we're done, anyone who wants it (and is allowed by first parties to have it) can have it. It's that simple.