Patches 1.3.0 - 1.3.3 | Switch Version | A New Space Game
Another couple of months have passed since our last update on Kickstarter, and we just wanted to let you know what has happened and what we’re up to.
Patches 1.3.0 to 1.3.3
Our team has been busy squashing some 40+ pesky bugs and adding some tweaks on PC, Xbox One and PS4 (Patches SIEE 1.02 / SIEA 1.03 – SIEE 1.06 / SIEA 1.07). The highlights include:
- Added special "retro graphics" option that is unlocked after finishing a Hardcore Mode run
- Improved target locking and auto-aiming behavior
- Some performance improvements on the regular Xbox One and PS4
- Increased camera range in action freeze
- Added the possibility to toggle the visibility of the game logo in Action Freeze mode
- Added a gamma correction option
You can find all the latest changelogs on the EVERSPACE forum.
Launching on Switch
It wasn’t part of our Kickstarter, and we didn’t expect that we might be able to pull this off. But, EVERSPACE – Stellar Edition has finally landed on Nintendo Switch – WOOHOO! Now, you can play your favorite roguelike space shooter wherever and whenever you want.
When we first had a look at the technical specs of the Switch console, we thought we wouldn’t be able to port EVERSPACE to it as it already took quite some effort to hit 30 FPS on the regular Xbox One without lowering the quality of the game too much.
Of course, on Switch, we are looking at 720p instead of 1080p, but the GPU wasn’t even the biggest bottleneck. In fact, it’s the CPU. It does run on a similar clock speed, but it has got fewer cores than the Xbox One, and we expected this to be a show stopper.
Still, this wouldn’t have caused us such a headache if EVERSPACE wasn’t focusing so heavily on combat. Things can get pretty messy with lots of enemies chasing and shooting at you with dozens of projectiles flying around while dashing through a dense field of asteroids, which can mean anything between a slight scratch to instant death on collision for you or any of your opponents. Imagine how much calculating it requires.
So, apart from tweaking the PC/console UI as reasonably as possible (we know the text is quite tiny, but we're counting on the good eyes of a younger audience), optimizing visuals for the lower GPU, beyond what Unreal Engine 4 does for you automatically when compiling for Switch (which is already a great starting point), we spent quite some time on optimizing the performance of the moving actor blueprints as well as batching all moving projectiles.
This got us close to hitting 30 FPS most of the time, but the loss in overall quality compared to the standard console version was pretty obvious. Thankfully, Epic Games made some significant performance improvements on Switch in Unreal Engine, and we saw an overall performance gain of approximately 25% after migrating the entire project to UE4.20. With that performance boost, we were able to significantly improve the quality while maintaining 30 FPS almost all the time.
Another major challenge for us was the tight memory constraints of the Switch console, which utilizes 4GB of RAM that is shared between CPU and GPU. A big chunk of this memory is required for textures of all kinds. We didn’t want to adjust our art style for the Switch version, so we took a lot of time to look at individual assets and see which textures we could sample down without too much compromise. We also rewrote parts of the texture loading so that textures are streamed in on-demand instead of residing in memory for the whole game session. This also helped us with loading in the music, which was another big chunk of memory consumption. There are still a few places where we could do more optimizations, but we will keep looking into that for a future patch.
Finally, we also spent quite some time on optimizing the controls for Switch as it is more challenging to play a 6DOF space shooter with Joy-Con controllers. As player skill sets can vary quite a bit, we also added a slider to alter the level of aim-assist to anyone’s liking.
A New Space Game
As with the launch on Switch development of EVERSPACE has officially come to an end, we'd like to thank all of you again for your glowing support. Of course, we know that many of you would have liked to see that we add more content and features to the game, but we feel we already reached our commercially reasonable limits with Encounters, and we had to move on to our next project (that's the good news!).
So, it’s time to let you know that we’re working on a new space game. It’s a little too early to unveil any details other than that we’ll stick to what we are best at, but it’s not going to be another roguelike space shooter. However, we’re still planning to throw some challenging risk-reward mechanics at you and to have lots of surprises for you in our new game.
As the scope of the new title is much larger than EVERSPACE, we ramped up our team quite a bit. On our Facebook page, you can read more about the fine talents who joined our veteran team. It also gives you some hints about the direction of our new game.
As this will be our last update on Kickstarter for this year, we wish you all a relaxing winter holiday as well as a good start into a prosperous and happy new year!
All the best,
Michael and your dedicated ROCKFISH Games Team
This time, we’d like to draw your attention to Castronauts, an indie game from INERTIA Game Studios, that hasn’t been on Kickstarter but looks like a giga ton of space fun when playing with your friends on PC, Xbox, PS4 and Switch. Imagine FTL and Overcooking had a lovechild!