Publisher Paradox Interactive and Turkish developer TaleWorlds have introduced their critically acclaimed PC action role-playing game (RPG), Mount & Blade, exclusively to NVIDIA SHIELD and Tegra 4 devices. The fantasy game, which is set in Calradia during a time of war, offers gamers an open sandbox to explore medieval life. There’s horseback combat, sword fights and epic battles around castles and villages. In fact, the entire PC game experience has been ported to portable for the first time ever. Cem Çimenbiçer, software engineer at TaleWorlds, explains how Tegra 4 has made the impossible possible in this exclusive interview.
What were your goals heading into this game?
We wanted to Port the entire PC game without omitting any features.
What’s the story in this game world?
The game world is a fictional medieval sandbox game. It has clear historical inspiration based approximately on 11th through 13th century Europe and North Africa. As a sandbox, there is no fixed storyline. But the player carves their own adventure by engaging in warfare, joining a kingdom and rising through the ranks or forging their own faction.
Can you talk about the gaming experience and how it utilizes tablet and smartphone functionality?
The main advantage is that many of the menus can be navigated with the touchscreen, making it easier for the player.
What does your game bring new to the genre?
The game is a port of the original, released in 2010. However it brings revolutionary mounted, melee and ranged combat to the Action RPG genre. Additionally, the freeform sandbox gameplay is a reinvention of player experience for the modern era of gaming.
What type of multiplayer is there in the game?
There is full multiplayer support (Internet and LAN) similar to what is on the PC version.
How has NVIDIA helped with the development process?
This was our first Android project, so some of the concepts were alien to us, such as interfacing with Java libraries. NVIDIA helped us by answering most of our queries. We have contacted NVIDIA whenever we were stuck in some technical cases and asked for assistance, and they were glad to help us.
How does your game make use of the latest Tegra 4 technology?
It actually works only on Tegra 4 at the moment. Most mobile chipsets in the market, except some of the most recent ones, would have performance issues while running the actual game. When we publish the game on other chipsets we will probably omit shadows, reduce soldier counts, simplify shaders, etc.
How does this impact the gameplay experience across the platforms you’re targeting?
Since Mount & Blade contains lots of combat and action, it is quite important to get it run with high performance. And for a better feeling, the shaders and other visual effects play an important role. Without these, the game would be less fun to play.
How do you feel you're pushing things forward with this game?
The game is a port, but it's going to be one of the most serious games out there on a mobile platform. It should start drawing the interests of the traditional gamer towards mobile gaming by shedding light on the potential of new, more powerful technology.
What are the challenges of developing for Android devices today?
The most important thing is less Java dependency and better NDK support. For many problems, we still have to interface with Java libraries and it makes some things really hard. And better debugging tools would be very helpful.
How does NVIDIA help with this?
Nsight Tegra VSE is a really nice product and makes doing native coding on Android a lot easier. Though still a little bit rough, it has a promising future. PerfHUD ES was very helpful for GPU optimization too. We couldn't use Tegra Profiler much since it didn't work on prototype Shields that we had, but it looks useful.
What are your thoughts on what can be done with tablet gaming today?
It has seen a huge expansion with the advent of recent technologies that appeal more to game developers who think big and develop ambitious games.
What are your thoughts on NVIDIA SHIELD?
It's very powerful and has actual console-like controls which make porting “real” games possible. Our game needs a lot of buttons and real analog sticks to control it properly. SHIELD is the only mobile Android device that provides a real game controller without any external device.
What excites you about what you can accomplish in mobile gaming today?
Simply the massively increased power of mobile devices. The gap is consistently growing narrower between capabilities of mobile and traditional serious gaming platforms. This opens up mobile as a space where enthusiasts can start creating brilliant games incorporating the additional benefits that mobile brings.
How do you see mobile gaming evolving moving forward?
With a great deal of expansion. In the future, there's going to be very little distinction between what's available on a portable device and what you can get elsewhere, especially compared to consoles. Although PC Gaming remains distinguished in a number of areas.