Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Would Fortnite work on the Vita?

After the Switch release, there's been a decent number of tweets asking Epic for a Vita version. I think they're based on extreme optimism, but really - I don't know, I'm not a coder or hardware guru, I'm asking for a friend. To avoid this being a really short post. Let's have a quick think about it.

Map Size

The key issue is the map size, which is pretty large in Fortnite. Someone worked it out at .7275 square miles. Obviously, the rush job that was Call of Duty kept its Vita maps tiny, as the developers had no time to optimise the game. Killzone Merc has some pretty large maps, but nothing that I can think of that comes close to the scale of Fortnite. And, while Justice for All (mission 1) showed a city flythrough, all the action takes place indoors in more confined spaces.

Could the Vita stream that amount of spatial and visual data, while keeping track of 100 players (briefly)? Of course, if you have a PS4, Remote Play is an option, but would the dual-layer of network code and transmission make players noncompetitive?

Hardware

When it comes to hardware, the Switch version has 4GB of RAM to play in, that's shared between CPU and GPU. The Vita has 512MB of RAM and 128MB of VRAM, which is tiny in comparison. making me think its not really a goer, especially when the Switch's raw speed is over twice times that of the Vita's 444Mhz, effectively allowing it to a lot more processing in a lot less time, (ARM Cortex A9 vs three ARM Cortex A57s cores running at 1GHz, with Maxwell graphics, pushing a theoretical 25.6GB/s throughput).

I'd suggest that's really where the idea falls down, but the Vita can do amazing things, so who knows!


Size and Detail

On the plus side, the game is only a 2GB download on the Switch, so it could easily fit on the Vita and PSN. Drop down the texture maps and reduce the polygon count (if that's beneficial) and it could be a little smaller, given Fortnite is quite low-poly anyway.

Another benefit here is that Fortnite plays using dynamic resolution, but the Switch version already sacrifices a lot of visual detail to get it running at 30fps, so I think the Vita version would look a lot worse. Interestingly the linked article says Fortnite on Switch can drop to 640 x 360, which is lower than the Vita's 960 by 544, but its all the other processing that would eat up meagre resources.

Playability

Assuming that Epic's coding gurus spent a lot of time trying to cram the game onto the Vita, would the results be competitive? Even if they managed a steady frame rate, playing it on the big screen on Switch is great fun. But, in undocked mode, things get a bit tougher with very small targets, very far away. Then again, the Switch is pretty horrible to play FPSes in, it just feels wrong, Vita should feel better.

Still, down the res for the Vita even further and you'd be shooting at air most of the time, which isn't fun. Presumably the game has aim assist for mobile device players, but how much more vague would Vita shots be compared to other players on different platforms?

If someone wants to give it a go, and capture all the optimisation tips from Vita coders past and present, I'm happy to give the results a try? Over to Epic! Hopefully, someone there can try to cram it in, even as exercise in curiosity, and who knows after that.

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