Nintendo Switch

Starlink Nintendo Switch Developers Give Advice For Developing On System

Development studio Virtuos, who are no strangers to the Nintendo Switch, have participated in an interview with Geek. In the interview the team has given other developers advice on how best to approach development on Nintendo’s latest platform. The company was behind Starlink: Battle for Atlas and Dark Souls Remastered on the Nintendo Switch. Here’s what they had to say: 

Our best advice: Don’t try to force what worked on other platforms on the Switch. You might need to change your approach to get the most out of the hardware.

Common areas to focus should be data compression, forward vs deferred rendering, vertex processing and a scalable threading model. Teams should also start considering Lotcheck requirements from the beginning, especially for features that involve multiplayer or something non-standard, in order to avoid surprises during the final phase of bug fixing.

Nintendo has a pretty sophisticated online system for creating Lotcheck related documentation, test cases and even automated testing, so take advantage of it. Start preparing these things early, upload a build for automatic test as soon as possible and deal with any issues even before your final crunch. Don’t forget about Amiibo – if you are considering Amiibo, make the decision early so that you have as much time as possible to design and test full support including extreme cases and failure scenarios.

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8 comments

    1. It reads as kind of vague but let’s see if I can help simplify these things for anyone who’s curious lol

      “Common areas to focus should be data compression”

      This is probably the most straight forward. Whether you’re releasing the game digitally or physically, you have less storage available to you on the Switch compared to other platforms so you should more strongly consider ways to keep the game small. This could just mean running a compression algorithm on a group of files but how you store them before compression can result in a larger space savings.

      “forward vs deferred rendering”

      Most games over the past 10 or so years use something called deferred rendering. The main reason is because of lighting. Any time a frame is drawn in a game, there’s at least some amount of stuff being rendered and drawn over by something else. That happens regardless of whether you use deferred or forward.

      However, when you light something in a scene with forward rendering, you can potentially waste time fully lighting and apply bump-mapping to an object that will get drawn over later on in the frame. This becomes more and more of an issue the more objects and lights you have on screen.

      Deferred rendering doesn’t have that problem, it creates a bunch of buffers that allow lighting and other effects to be applied to be done once and only on the pixels that will make it to the final image. The problem is that making those buffers and constantly reading them back uses up a lot of memory space and bandwidth.

      Virtuos is saying that developers should really consider using whether deferred rendering is the right choice for their Switch port since it has less half as much memory space about 1/7th the amount of bandwidth.

      “vertex processing”

      Manage polygon appear on screen and how many you have to move around… more or less.

      “scalable threading model”

      The Switch has half as many CPU cores so make sure you game scales down well.

      “Teams should also start considering Lotcheck requirements from the beginning, especially for features that involve multiplayer or something non-standard, in order to avoid surprises during the final phase of bug fixing.”

      Lot check refers to when a game is submitted to Nintendo for approval for the eShop. Nintendo has documents that spells out what their requirements are so you should consider those requirements from the beginning. If you wait till after you’re code is essentially finalized to look over that, it can potentially hold up release.

      [b]TL;DR[/b]

      The Switch is considerably more limited than the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 so don’t expect to reduce the resolution or frame rate and expect it to run well and look good.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. As a developer I found this very insightful. Basically it all boils down to one rule: plan absolutely everything out before hand. This rule applies to all platforms and genres, but it’s good to see some specifics on optimization and the like.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Starlink is a broken mess. Filled with glitches. Game ending crashes. And the inability to complete the game. These developers should learn how to make a game first. And you wonder why it’s being dumped for 50% off only one month after release?

    Like

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