Mania on the small screens
Since its debut Retro City Rampage has provided hours of 8-bit urban carnage across practically every modern home console. After finding more popularity on the Playstation Vita, developer Vblank Entertainment has announced that the game is headed to the Nintendo 3DS eShop this winter. Brian Provinciano, the mind behind Retro City Rampage was once again able to speak with us about what to expect for the upcoming 3DS edition.
Daniel Scheid: After the already ambitious multi-platform release of Retro City Rampage what exactly drove you to bring the game to handhelds?
Brian Provinciano: Being able to play games on the go is pretty important for a lot of people, myself included. I do most of my gaming on handhelds. While it was originally envisioned as a console experience, when the PS Vita came along, it presented the opportunity to do a port which wouldn't require significant rework or optimizations. It proved to be the easiest port of them all.
DS: Can you tell me about the process of porting RCR to Nintendo 3DS? From a consumer perspective it is a unique system, (dual screens for instance,) and with that in mind were there any new goals or challenges for you as a developer?
BP: The 3DS version's required more work than previous versions, simply because of there are so many differences. The game screen needs to be cropped much more to fit the screen without the sprites being too small. This means going through every mission and tweaking/tuning to account for less of the screen being visible. I also needed to move the HUD and UI elements to the second screen. Finally, it's required a fair bit of RAM and CPU optimization work specific to the system. Writing cross platform code sometimes means writing code that isn't as optimized as it could be, but guarantees pixel-for-pixel consistency between systems. The reason you do this is because the more code that's the same between platforms, the less testing you need to do. You can assure that if a bug doesn't occur on one that it won't occur on the others, or if it does occur on one, it can be reproduced and fixed on another. In the case of the 3DS for example, I had to write a new renderer that used less CPU, and a new shadow renderer which used both less CPU and less RAM.
DS: What was the most difficult aspect of bringing the game to 3DS? Is it easier to bring a finished game onto a new system to just start from scratch?
BP: It's definitely easier to bring it to the new system as a completed game. There are no unknowns or things which might change, and I know exactly what needs to be tweaked and adjusted to fit the 3DS. On the flip side, if it were done from scratch it would be able to take advantage of more 3DS features though.
DS: As for content can we expect a nearly identical experience from the console version?
BP: I always feel it's important to keep the various platforms as close as possible to avoid giving players a tougher decision as to which to buy. It will make use of the touch screen in ways which make sense though, and it's possible that I'll experiment with a few more features, but I'm still exploring that.
DS: For the 3DS version, who is your audience? People who play RCR at home or players who aren't familiar with the game?
BP: Hopefully both. While I've heard from a lot of fans that they'll be buying it again, I hope to expand the audience.
DS: Has the PS Vita edition of the game influenced how you are approaching the 3DS version?
BP: The biggest influence is how much I could zoom in. I initially had in my mind that a large amount of what's in front of the player should be visible, but with sprites being somewhat small on the handheld screen, I had to add an option to zoom in and cut off a bit of the edges. Eventually, I started to feel that it looks better zoomed in more and added the option to even the PC version.
DS: Since porting Retro City Rampage to handheld systems, has your outlook on the game and its design changed at all?
BP: I've made a lot of improvements to Retro City Rampage since its original release in October, patching the previously released versions and including them in the later releases. Overall, I'm very happy with the state of the game now. It was a rush to initially release it, and juggling more than one man can handle (business, production, marketing, PR, certification submissions, final bug fixing, final tweaks, five SKUs in one day), a few things slipped through the cracks and the game which hit day one wasn't what I'd intended to release. Unfortunately, the release date was locked so it had to come out of the oven before it was ready. I spent another month working on it, patching the game, then over many months did a few more tweaks such as the dynamic shadows just for fun.
DS: For those who cannot attend PAX, is there any kind of demo planned before the game is for sale?
BP: No plans, but if an opportunity comes up for GameStop kiosks or something, I'd be on board. Having two kiosks at Nintendo's PAX booth is already very generous of them though.
DS: After working on Retro City Rampage for the Nintendo 3DS can you see yourself returning to the console for future projects?
BP: It's very possible. It depends on the scope of the other projects and how far I want to push hardware limits. The 3DS is a great little system, but it's no PS4.
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