Nintendo Switch

Abstraction Explains How They Got ARK: Survival Evolved Running On Nintendo Switch

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.”

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9 comments

    1. He’s right. Look at Doom. I actually have the Xbox One version (hold your kill mode back for a second Spider Slayer. lol) and compared it to my Switch version. The graphical fidelity, at least compare to dock mode, is almost nonexistent. The only difference is the texture mapping is reduced SLIGHTLY and framerate cut in half. That’s about it. IDK why snapmap mode was removed or what it is but that’s a separate issue.

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      1. Uhh that’s targeted framerate cut in half and targeted resolution reduced to just 44% with lower resolution textures compared to other platforms. In actuality, the frame rate and especially the resolution fall below their targets most of the time with the average resolution being closer to 30% of the other platforms.

        Also it’s very uncommon that texture resolutions will be reduced “slightly” in a game. Any games that use mip-mapping will use power-of-two texture resolutions meaning there’s a 4x difference in resolution between mip-maps. So it’s not a slight decrease in resolution, it’s at least 1/4th.

        That being said, I understand that the game doesn’t look bad and still properly looks like Doom.

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      2. @myownfriend It really isn’t 30% of the framerate of the other versions though. You are comparing the lowest framerate on the Switch with the highest framerate on the other versions. That is not apples to apples. The Xbox One version is around 40-60 fps vs 20-30 fps on the Switch. Which is 50%.

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  1. Worried about this one. Not the game it’s well worth a look but I had the PS4 version and it was awful without a 50 gig additional install. It’s one hell of an effort if the pull it off.

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  2. People wanna say this is gonna run or look like crap on the Switch because A. The Switch and their growing jealousy of it and B. Ark is one of those games people bitch about not running or supported well on consoles/PC vise versa like Payday 2. From what I’m seeing at GDC, it looks and runs good actually. I’m sure with a bit more time of optimization, it’ll be another great edition to the Switch and really have the other fans flame about why the Switch is getting popularized with better versions of the game so suddenly. XD

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  3. Being weaker than the base PS4 & Xbox One isn’t really a big issue for the Switch itself at this point. It might be a different story when the PS5 or whatever Microsoft replaces the Xbox One with come along, though, but that probably won’t be an issue for another 2-3 years; (maybe.)

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    1. Well put, but it’s worth mentioning that the Switch isn’t fairing as well as some people will think when it comes to running current generation ports and even exclusives. Here’s an updating list of Switch games and the framerates and resolutions which are being compiled by members of ResetEra.

      https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/13F5kp5iJZUXE-5gHgck7j45HqR5omqLdhCmNK-cOjDI/edit#gid=0

      Kinda of surprised to see Project Octopath Traveler only running at 720p when docked even in beta. One would think the kind of locked perspective and simple geometry of the game would allow them to get more out of it but I guess all the bokeh and other alpha effects are heavy for it..

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