Friday, January 22, 2016

Raising the Banner Saga when it comes to Vita ports!

Its a strange day in gaming when a modest indie RPG port to the Vita is the talk of the big gaming sites. Kotaku has a piece on how Sony 'saved the day' in getting Stoic's The Banner Saga Vita version up and running again, while Gamasutra discusses the issues of porting the game from PC.

That's an insightful follow up on the piece from the same site about porting Bastion to Vita, all of which highlights the budgetary and technical difficulties that smaller developers face. It casts a cautionary note for anyone thinking porting is cheap, or easy.

Clearly, with more games failing to arrive on Vita, including Not A Hero, Never Alone, Skullgirls 2 (rumoured, UPDATE: actually some good news has just been promised!), Galak-Z and BroForce, Sony's handheld is struggling to keep up with the march of progress.



The Vita struggles on with five year old hardware and a small but fervent audience, while even small developers have huge mobile opportunities, and the newer consoles are easier to developer for than in the PS3-era. While a bunch of pixels flying around the screen may look low-tech; multi-threading, visual design and coding systems have moved on at pace (says a non-coder, feel free to comment if wrong).

The porting tools in use seem niche and time-consuming. After that, huge optimisation is still required to get a 2016 game running on 2011 hardware. Kudos goes to the porting specialists like BlitWorks and Just Add Water who can get the job done. But its a shame there isn't more expertise, or that Sony isn't taking some responsibility and helping to spread these skills.

It is only the loyalty of the Vita fan base, and a couple of die-hard fans within Sony like Gio Corsi who can help get things done. Be it through crowd funding, emotional support and raising awareness, we're all in this together.

So, well done those still supporting the Vita, and those helping in the background to keep the games coming. But mostly, an annoyingly loud BRAVO to the fans who make enough noise and pay up to ensure developers remain interested in our little handheld.

A final note, remember when a developer cans a Vita version, it usually isn't for lack of trying. So, go easy on them, and try to politely find out what the community can do to help!

Looking into 2016, where do we go from here? Are there enough resources for new, quality, Vita ports, are they worth the developer's time? Are the porting tools transportable? Or are just a few coding ninjas holding the whole scene together?

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