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Party Warmers: Third-parties welcome Vita with smiles

Monday, 5 March 2012 06:09 GMT By Johnny Cullen

Johnny Cullen talks to Ubisoft, Namco Bandai, Square Enix and more about their experiences with PlayStation Vita.

Contributors involved with the article

Stewart Gilray, studio head, Just Add Water

Hideki Teramoto, game director, Ridge Racer

Toshiyuki Nakanishi, producer, Touch My Katamari

Ryoto Niitsuma, producer, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3

Boujemma El Hiba, Ubisoft Casablanca producer, Rayman Origins

Yuichi Tanzawa, director, Army Corps of Hell

First-party Sony teams like Studio Liverpool, Evolution and Sony Bend has taken to Vita like a duck to water with their respective projects, but there’s also been strong support on the third-party front for the system.

Activision and 2K are bringing versions of Call of Duty and BioShock respectively; Hideo Kojima is working on Vita versions of the MGS and ZoE HD Collections; and Capcom has pledged to bring Street Fighter x Tekken to the system – but there’s more from Captain Capcom for Vita in the form of launch title Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3.

According to producer Ryoto Niitsuma, bringing the fighter over to the handheld from consoles wasn’t too much of a challenge.

“The spec of the Vita hardware was really technical and we already had the MT Framework engine, so bringing the game over wasn’t as difficult as we thought it’d be,” he told VG247.

“That said though, we spent a lot of time coming up with ideas in the tight schedule. We had to understand what the PS Vita was capable of and maximize its features, which we had great fun in doing.”

Vita has gone through some changes since it was first shown to developers as a PSPgo like device. One developer suggested the dramatic makeover was inspired by advice from studios lined up to work on the handheld.

“[When] it was still in the prototype stage, we knew roughly what power it was going to have and what functions it was going to have to a degree, but [Sony] still hadn’t thought through it completely,” said Just Add Water studio boss Stewart Gilray, currently working on Oddworld: Strangers Wrath HD and Oddworld: Munch’s Odyssee HD.

“So [Sony] was asking developers to give ideas, to say, ‘what would you do if you had this kind of hardware?’ And I’m aware of other developers around the world who’ve been involved a lot earlier than I was and some of the feedback they gave Sony did actually alter some of the aspects of the machine. So it’s changed since 2010, but the thing we started to think about was the touch stuff, the panels and things.”

Army Corps of Hell.

While coming to grips with a new platform is usually tricky, Vita makes it easy to get off with a flying start, according to one Square Enix-based developer.

“It is always going to be hard work trying to develop on a new platform that you are not yet familiar with but the PS Vita is incredibly easy to develop for and the system did not get in the way of our ideas for the game at all,” said Yuichi Tanzawa, producer on Army Corps of Hell.

“This meant that ultimately the feeling of excitement at how advanced the Vita is as a games machine far outweighed any trouble we had. The development team’s amazed reactions when the final dev kits arrived and we saw the quality of the colour on the OEL display was particularly memorable.”

One of the most exciting aspects of Vita is the unique hardware: Features like the touch-screen, touch-pad and SIXAXIS. But while games like Rayman Origins used some of these bells and whistles, like touch-screen, it wasn’t able to utilise other features for a very simple reason.

“For this project, we had two main objectives: Make Rayman Origins part of the launch lineup for PS Vita and offer PS Vita players the same game experience that Michel Ancel brought to home consoles,” said Boujemma El Hiba, producer at Ubisoft Casablanca who handled development on the Vita version.

“While we are excited that we are able to utilize the touch screen and the Near function, but we really had to keep the core of the controls and game intact. We will surely plan to take full advantage of the PS Vita capabilities in our future projects.”

Just Add Water has also been experimenting heavily on Vita’s main features in bringing over HD versions of Oddworld: Strangers Wrath and Oddworld: Munch’s Odyssee to the handheld. One of the experiments to date for Munch utilises the touchpad.

“Munch is further along than Stranger’s at the moment. We’re actually doing some prototyping of the control aspect on Munch. For example, in the original game, you’d press L1 and one of the face buttons to do different gamespeak commands,” said Gilray.

Rayman Origins.

“We’re actually doing a rear touchpad interactive kind of gesturing for different gamespeaks. For example, you’d hold down the left side of the back panel and you’d get an overlay that’d pop up with three different options and you just select one of those three options from the back panel and gamespeak that way.”

Ridge Racer game director Hideki Teramoto is also keen on the hardware’s non-traditional capabilities.

“We wanted to incorporate the camera function for players to communicate. For example, after an online race players could take a picture at the winner’s podium. Basically we wanted a feature where players’ smiles could be captured by the camera.,” he said.

Its worth noting that some of the games coming to Vita are those that came to home consoles from the outset, such as Ultmate Marvel vs Capcom 3 and Rayman Origins, a game which initially seemed to have muffed on release in November, but has since performed better. As Niitsuma already explained, it wasn’t too difficult to bring UMvC3 to Vita, but Rayman had a unique thing going for it then and still does. Arguably, with the time I’ve spent with it so far, Rayman actually suits Vita a lot more than it does the PS3 or 360. Surprisingly, there wasn’t too much sacrifice in bringing it over to the handheld, according to El Hiba.

“Developing on a new hardware is always challenging, especially during a Launch period,” he said. “Fortunately, PS Vita’s performance and architecture made it pretty straight forward.

“Of course, we have been confronted with technical issues when bringing Rayman Origins from home consoles to PS Vita, but we always found a solution where we could preserve the high quality level of the main version. In fact, PS Vita players will have a very similar visual experience as the main versions – 60 FPS, impressive graphic quality – thanks to the amazing PS Vita screen.”

The debate on whether Vita can be a relevant device in a mainly-mobile world has been a hot topic since the hardware’s announcement, and will stick in the mind for months. Both Namco developers we spoke to offered analogies when asked to give their thoughts.

Ridge Racer.

“Personally, I look at the relation between cell phone and mobile gaming markets as manual sports cars and automatic family cars, which have co-existed in the automobile market. Wouldn’t you agree that both entities can be enjoyed by the same player?,” said Teramoto.

Touch My Katamari producer Toshiyuki Nakanishi compared the two offerings to the wide variety of restaurants which exist comfortably side-by-side.

“There was a time when dedicated gaming devices, which provided a good variety of light-hearted fun at a much cheaper price than other entertainment, was the top dog. These restaurants were widely popular, but now there are mobile games which has become a rival and provided an even simpler and cheaper service,” he said.

“One way to rival the fast food service [of mobile games] would be to make [traditional] games simpler and cheaper, but I think dedicated gaming devices should pursue the needs of customers which can not be satisfied by the IOS and Android mobile platforms.

“The light-hearted and low-price fast food has its benefits and I acknowledge its popularity, but there are also times when I want to gather friends to enjoy the fun times or enjoy delicious food that fast food can not provide. Because each has its own benefits and needs, even when one side is heavily favored, I believe that neither party will disappear.”

On a more grounded level, Army Corps director Tanzawa-san told us that dedicated gaming devices, like 3DS and Vita, can still find a middle-ground between consoles and PC.

“I personally think that with the increasing diversification of the environments in which users play games and the time they have available to play them, portable games consoles occupy a position somewhere right in the middle between PCs/home consoles and the mobile platforms, being more casual than the former but still offering a deeper and richer experience than the latter,” he said.

“I would personally like to carry on making games that combine the best aspects of both, with the quick to play ease of access seen in the most successful games on moblie platforms and also the ever evolving richness found in games for consoles.”

Touch My Katamari.

So with their first games out of the way for Vita, where do the developers go next? Tanzawa-san said he’d like to make an action game purely based off the rear touch pad as main controls, while Nakanishi said he’d like his next game to focus heavily on Near as the main aspect instead of merely an “added feature” but insists the main work right now is on additional stages for Touch My Katamari as DLC.

Ridge Racer on Vita will, according to Teramoto-san, have one “special” event coming up that will be announced in the near future. The kicker being that it “doesn’t mean DLC”.

And for Niitsuma-san?

“Looking forward, we want to work more with the network aspect, and the PS3-compatible features. We didn’t have time to do as much as we would have liked with these areas, so this is something we want to concentrate in the future.”

Vita launched in late February with over 30 games available at launch.

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4 Comments

  1. Dragon246

    And the fools at Nikkei said that devs were pulling out of vita. Its a gamers handheld.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. tenthousandgothsonacid

    Dtsuios? Where’s your spellcheck Johnny? :)

    #2 3 years ago
  3. tenthousandgothsonacid

    That’s better, where’s my sub-editing fee btw ;)

    #3 3 years ago
  4. Johnny Cullen

    In the post, old-fashioned style.

    #4 3 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    Remember the awesome mods for GTA 4 and San Andreas that let you run amok online as a member of the po-po? Well, dust off your taser and load up your gun, because it’s coming to GTA 5. The new mod for GTA 5 is currently in alpha and can be downloaded at palmbeachgames.com. You […]

  • Indie shoot ‘em up Project Root comes to Xbox One, PS4 and PSVita

    Project Root is a self-proclaimed rejig of the shoot ‘em up genre that was released on PC last year, and it’s finally coming to consoles. Combining free-roaming elements with the usual business of shooting things, Project Root was released this week for Xbox One, PS4 and the PSVita.

  • You can now bet on eSports online, starting with League of Legends

    If you’re getting bored with sticking a pony on the races, you can expand your gambling horizons at Unikrn where you can watch esports streams and get a little action on the side. The new platform was set up by Rahul Sood – previously the general manager of Microsoft Ventures. At the moment, customers are […]

  • Has Watch Dogs 2 been leaked?

    Ubisoft employee, Julien Risse, may have inadvertently confirmed Watch Dogs 2, thanks to his online CV over at LinkedIn. Videogamer.com spotted the slip up, in which Risse lists Watch Dogs, the DLC Bad Blood, and Watch Dogs 2 on his profile. Creative Director Jonathan Morin has already talked about his ideas for improvements for the […]

  • GTA 5′s Trevor makes his Jackass debut, complete with leopard-print knickers

    YouTuber Abstract Mode has shared his vision of what Trevor Philips’ life might have been like, had he not been completely batshit crazy. Watch Trevor get mauled, run over, and hit by a train, before taking a majestic swan-dive into someone else’s pool at the climax. Thanks, Kotaku.

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 season pass will cost you £35

    Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 isn’t released until November 6, but you can already hand over your cash for the Season Pass. The Season Pass is available for pre-purchase on Steam for £34.99, and will cover four DLC packs – although the details we have on the content are limited to ‘exciting’ at this […]

  • GTA Online’s cheating assholes are no match for this player’s vengeance

    Think you’re smart for using invisibility and infinite ammo glitches? You need to be taught a lesson, sucker. You can have all the hacks you want but if your GTA Online game is weak, you’ll still get your ass handed to you. As this fool discovered when attempting to hassle another player. There’s a fair […]

  • PS4 sales help Sony’s games division swing to profit

    Sony’s PlayStation business has made an operating profit of 48.1 billion yen ($404m / £261.5m) in the past 12 months. That’s thanks to stellar sales of the PlayStation 4 and PS Plus, even as sales of the PS3 have stalled and the company wrote off costs for the PSTV and PS Vita. The profit puts […]

  • New patch for Dirt Rally gives co-driver’s attitude a tune-up

    Dirt Rally gets a new patch three days after release on Steam. On Monday, we reported that the newest Dirt game has popped up on Steam’s Early Access and is available to pick up for £24.99, as well as giving you an eyeful of tasty screenshots. The patch – released yesterday – fixes some issues […]

  • New The Witcher 3 screenshots show combat, exploration and general carousing

    New screenshots released on the official facebook page for The Witcher 3 show Geralt annihilating a winged beast, out and about in the world exploring, and living the life of Reily amidst a bustling feast. We were already treated to some glorious screenshots a few days ago, but these new ones are in-game and give […]

  • Destiny: 14 things you might have missed during House of Wolves intel drops

    Destiny: House of Wolves does a great deal more than just slap some new content on the existing game structure. House of Wolves changes Destiny in a lot of interesting and very welcome ways. Bungie showed off many of these changes in its livestream, and let both me and Arekkz come and have a look […]

  • Scratch that cyberpunk itch with Technobabylon on May 21 – new trailer

    Technobabylon more like Wrecked-yo-babbling with my smooth flow about how good Wadjet Eye games are. I don’t know y’all, it’s clock off time and everything feels like a reach. Wadjet Eye makes pretty good adventure games – award winning, in fact. The latest project to spring forth from the benevolent, sheltering hand of the label […]

  • Skullgirls 2nd Encore brings exclusive new features to PS4, Vita in northern summer

    Skullgirls, the little indie fighter that could, is getting another crack at it. Skullgirls 2nd Encore is the second re-release of the one-time troubled 2D versus fighter from lab Zero Games. Having survived the shut down of its developer and collapse of its publishing contrast, Skullgirls re-emerged as Skullgirls: Encore, adding in a ton of […]

  • Danganronpa series generates “impressive” sales for Vita exclusive

    Danganronpa is selling quite nicely, thank you, says NIS America. Danganronpa is a series of murder mystery visual novel puzzlers in a similar vein to games like 999. Two of these have been released for Vita in the west – Trigger Happy Havoc and Goodbye Despair. Speaking to MCV, NIS America CEO and president Takuro […]

  • I have no idea what is going on in J-Stars Victory VS+ but I kind of like it

    In this J-Stars Victory VS+ trailer, we see – uhh. Well. We certainly see some things. Look y’all, I was a massive weaboo in high school, but that was back in the dark ages when we had to take out Manga Entertainment VHS tapes from dingy little specialist rental joints that were literally underground, and […]

  • Please just watch this terrific trailer for Toren

    Toren is the kind of game I dream about when I drift off to sleep at night. This indie puzzle adventure strikes a spark in my little soul in the same way as Ico and Tequila Works’ Rime do. Mysterious, almost ethereal fantasy setting – check. Chance to actually walk around in that setting – […]

  • Play classic MS-DOS games on your own tweets

    In today’s episode of “what will they think of next”, someone’s figured out how to post playable versions of classic games in tweets. For some time now, Twitter has allowed you to embed various forms of media in tweets, most noticeably YouTube videos, simply by pasting a URL into the compose field. Turns out this […]

  • VR: Unreal Engine to add HTC Vive support

    The biggest digital PC game distributor and the most popular game development engine have both backed VR. It’s going to happen. An upcoming Unreal Engine 4 update will expand the development suite’s support to the HTC Vive, Valve’s VR headset. In this glorious new future where work on one of the most important engines in […]

  • WWE 2K15 PC supports modding

    WWE 2K15 may be the series’ PC debut, but it’s already getting into the spirit of the platform. WWE 2K15 does indeed support mods on PC, 2K’s Marcus Stephenson has confirmed. @ElementGamesTV you can. Now buy. — Marcus Stephenson (@stephensonmc) April 28, 2015 As Destructoid points out, this opens the door to all sorts of […]

  • Overkill’s The Walking Dead coming to PC, PS4 and Xbox One in 2016

    Overkill’s The Walking Dead is one step closer to your grasping little paws. Overkill’s The Walking Dead will be published by 505 Games, Overkill parent Starbreeze has announced. 505 also published Payday 2, Overkill’s previous title, so the two companies have established a working relationship. In a press release, the publisher said the co-op title […]

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 pre-orders net Advanced Warfare DLC

    Buy Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 for later, enjoy bonus Advanced Warfare content now. Blacks Ops 3 is being supported by a rather cunning pre-order incentive even more likely to get you to lay your cash down sooner than you might otherwise. Gamespot reports a Black Ops 3 pre-order will receive a couple of […]

  • Steam Game Ban system lets developers determine who to block

    Steam users can now be blocked from individual games by their developers. Steam has always supported multiplayer bans for disruptive users, but a newly-implemented system allows developers to ban users from individual games using their own anti-cheat systems. Game Bans are enforced by Valve, but are enacted at the developer’s request and discretion. This change […]

  • Far Cry 4 devs matching Red Cross donations up to $100K to aid Nepal earthquake victims

    Far Cry 4 developer Ubisoft Montreal will match any pledges made to The Red Cross up to $100,000 to aid Nepal after the 7.8 earthquake struck the area in and around Kathmandu in Nepal. According to Ubisoft: “Having spent the last few years working on Far Cry 4, a game heavily inspired by Nepal and […]

  • Tales of Zestiria retail listing notes September release date, PS4 version

    Tales of Zestiria is coming west in northern autumn, and while it’s confirmed as a PlayStation 3 release, a Dutch retailer has it listed as coming to PS4 as well. Of course, listing it for PS4 could also be a typo, not that I would personally know about that sort of thing, really. However, according […]

  • Official mod tools for Total War: Attila are now available

    Official mod tools for Total War: Attila are now available and you can grab the new Assembly Kit as a beta through the tools menu via your Steam library. The Creative Assembly said the tools will be “immediately familiar” to modders of Rome 2 and Shogun 2, but the new version is the most “extensive” […]

  • How to get level 34 Ascended Raid gear in Destiny: House of Wolves

    Watch: two videos showing you how to get level 34 raid gear and a shopping list of what you need. One of the big changes that House of Wolves is bringing to Destiny is the chance to upgrade your weapons and gear to level 34. In these videos Arekkz Gaming shows you how to use […]

  • Destiny: House of Wolves puts PvP back in the spotlight

    Destiny PvP players, your time has come to shine. New Crucible maps. New Crucible rewards. And the glorious wonder of Elimination mode. Destiny: House of Wolves puts PvP front and centre. When Destiny was first detailed, one of the things Bungie stressed was that there’d be something for everyone. If you wanted to play solo […]

  • Destiny: Trials of Osiris – everything you need to know in one video

    The Destiny: House of Wolves embargo has lifted, and with so much information floating around pertaining to Trials of Osiris, it can be overwhelming. Thankfully, Arekkz Gaming tells you everything you need to know in one video. In the video above you will be informed of how the 3v3 Team Deathmatch event works, how you […]

  • Destiny: House of Wolves – watch a Trials of Osiris match from start to finish

    With the release of Destiny: House of Wolves looming, players will soon be able to participate in the new 3v3 Team Deathmatch event in The Crucible, Trials of Osiris. Below is a video featuring an uncut, complete match from start to finish. In the video, Arekkz Gaming gives you a breakdown of the mode and […]

  • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood – here’s what your PC needs in order to run it

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is out next week, and Bethesda has today released the PC specs for the standalone title. MachineGames has made some tweaks to the system requirements and have included both minimum and recommended specifications. Minimum OS: 64-bit Windows 7/Windows 8 Processor: Intel Core i5-2500 @ 3.3 GHz / AMD FX-8320 @ 3.5 […]

  • Destiny: Trials of Osiris – watch the livestream reveal right here

    Bungie will be showing off Destiny’s new 3v3 Team Deatmatch Trials of Osiris today, and you can watch the Twitch stream right here if you like. It kicks off at 11am PDT/2pm EDT and will feature community manager Deej and design leads Lars Bakken and Derek Carroll. More will be revealed on House of Wolves […]

  • May Xbox Games with Gold: Mafia 2, CastleStorm: Definitive Edition, F1 2013

    Microsoft has announced the free games Gold members will be able to pick up through Xbox Live. On Xbox One, Gold users can download CastleStorm: Definitive Edition for the month,and Pool Nation FX is being offered for an additional month. Starting May 1, Xbox 360 Gold members can download Mafia 2 through May 15, and […]