One of the surprise announcements during this week’s ongoing GDC 2018 event was that ARK: Survival Evolved is coming to the Nintendo Switch. The game is being ported to the popular platform by Abstraction Games. The team says that they managed to get the game up and running on the Nintendo Switch in just a matter of weeks.
“Most companies usually have a Plan A and a Plan B, and it’s Plan B that they’re banking on. But we delivered Plan A, and they didn’t expect it. They wanted a first playable at this point, but we actually have created something you could almost send for certification. That’s how we try to operate. They didn’t expect that. And that’s why they’re all of a sudden shifting gear and doing an entire presentation at GDC.”
“Switch is not as powerful as a PS4 or Xbox One. Everyone knows that,” Egas says. “Having said that, the difference isn’t as big as the general perception would have you believe.
“In some locations you need to downsize a bit on the distance you’re able to view. But not as much as you’d think compared with Xbox One and PS4. Obviously, in terms of Xbox One X and PS4 Pro, that’s a different story. But compared with the base platforms, Switch is not that bad.”
“Performance is not really the issue. The issue instead is in the size of carts. The 32GB carts are expensive, you shouldn’t be wanting to do that. So we need to fit everything on 16GB, whereas the standard game on PS4 is much, much larger. It’s a crazy ratio we’re talking about. However, thankfully, there are a lot of opportunities for reduction without changing anything anyone will notice. Another thing we can do is do a cartridge version and then do staggered downloads to make the game complete. That’s probably the hardest part. Finding all the new technicalities and quirks that you get with a new platform.”
“Studio Wildcard only asked for a first playable. That’s not even a straightforward port. They just want to be able to play it, but maybe sound isn’t there yet. Or no cutscenes. Or not all the controls are implemented yet. Maybe you can walk and do this and that, but you can’t craft anything yet. That’s a first playable and that’s what we agreed. But we went all the way and did a straightforward port on every sub-system, and then some. We still have some work to do, but it’s already running close to 30fps in most cases.”