Executing a multiplatform launch can be challenging, and lack of bandwidth is a common hurdle to launching a game on multiple platforms.
We sat down with Navegante’s lead programmer Rodrigo Fernandez and lead producer Anahit Fernandez, as well as Roll7 technical director Andrew Brechin to get a behind-the-scenes look at their experience on Greak: Memories of Azur and Rollerdrome.
In this Q&A, they discuss why they chose to launch on multiple platforms and provide practical advice on how to ship successfully.
Let’s start with the fundamental question: Why would you want to consider multiplatform games, and what does “multiplatform” mean to you?
Andrew Brechin: Multiplatform is the best way to get your game into the hands of the most players. I like the idea of playing on my 120hz 4k TV and then playing on the go with my handheld.
Anahit Fernandez: To us, multiplatform means that the game is available on PC, consoles, and mobile. As an indie studio, doing a multiplatform launch is a way to reach more players and expand the game’s audience. It also increases the potential opportunities to gain exposure from each platform holder.
When you begin your game creation journey, do you think about platform right up front, or begin creating first and then determine the best platforms for your title based on the outcome?
Andrew: At the beginning of development and during the greenlight process, we have ideas on what platforms we want to release the game on. Initially we do our development on PC. Once we obtain a publisher, the platform list is refined, then we know the minimum and maximum specs which are essential from the beginning of production.
Anahit: In our case, we first understood very well the game that we wanted to create. Also, after participating in several events, we listened to where our players suggested they wanted to play the game on.
How do you set up your project for multiplatform development? What do you plan ahead of time knowing that you have multiple platforms to target?
Andrew: We have our own build tool that updates the Unity settings for each platform. One button click builds the executable the same way on any machine, keeping the builds constant. This is then used by our automated build system that can build all six platforms and deploy for testing. This is essential for us when working with this many platforms.
For each platform, we decide what the best texture resolution is to scale the source graphics down for the screen resolution supported by the platform. This scale becomes a part of our process when adding new objects.
Rodrigo Fernandez: For the technical aspect, we made sure we set up different branches where we could work on each platform-specific content. Our publisher also provided a compliance team to assist us during the certification processes as well as an experienced QA team for each platform.
Do you maintain unique code bases for each platform, or do you try to maintain one code base?
Andrew: Each project has its own single code base. We try to keep any platform-specific code in their own classes and use conditional assembly when building to activate each platform. During our build process we can copy platform files into the project to keep everything compartmentalized (support files, packages etc).
Rodrigo: We have a single code base with the core gameplay systems and set up branches for each platform-specific features and Unity version.
It was extremely important to isolate systems for files, input devices, video, achievements, and localization to avoid mixing code between platforms.
How do you handle platform optimization? Is it part of the core production phase or a dedicated phase after production is complete?
Andrew: During development, it was critical for us to keep the FPS on PC close to 60, as this was the main platform the team was working and testing on. Throughout the project, we kept an eye on console performance through developer analytics and added tasks into the sprints to stop it from lagging too far behind.
For each milestone, the last week was focused on bug fixing and polishing only, and some optimizations were also done here, where needed.
In the last six months (pre-alpha) of development, we hired an extra senior generalist engineer to focus on optimizations and shaders for our lowest platform, which would cascade improvements on all platforms.
Rodrigo: We used the Nintendo Switch™ as our base for platform development, which allowed us to run monthly builds to test the performance and avoid future issues.
Before we started the submissions for platform certification, we dedicated additional time to optimize Greak: Memories of Azur so it could run at 60 FPS on all platforms.
Using the Unity Profiler, Frame Debugger, and Dynamic Resolution were key to achieving this on the small window that we had planned for optimization.
How do you ensure a consistent gameplay experience across all your target platforms, specifically for players that do choose to play on multiple platforms?
Andrew: All platforms use the same gameplay code. Any differences would be in the input settings, thresholds, dead areas, and vibration. This ensures the same game feels right to play on each platform based on their controller.
Rodrigo: We tried to go the extra mile on each platform to ensure the best possible player experience. For instance, we worked on features like key-binding, ultra-wide monitor support, and graphic options for the game’s Steam version. For the Nintendo Switch, we added a UI scaling option on the settings menu. For the PlayStation®5 version, we used the haptics and new attributes of the controller, and for Xbox, we added the Smart Delivery feature.
When do you start planning the marketing for a game’s release?
Anahit: In our case, Greak: Memories of Azur took part in some events after the game’s announcement, but the development of the marketing campaign started six months before the game launched.
What is the most important aspect of a game’s marketing strategy?
Anahit: We believe that one of the most important aspects of a game’s marketing strategy is the collaboration with platform holders to get additional exposure with players.
It’s also very important that the game’s messaging should be very clear and to make sure to understand your audience’s interests.
The big takeaways for multiplatform developers are to predict and preempt potential costs and challenges, optimize the player experience on each platform, and plan to maximize market potential across all available platforms.
Want to know more? Read our new e-book to learn the five foundations for successful multiplatform games. We also invite you to share your tips for success with other users in our Made with Unity forum.
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