Oddworld Inhabitant’s Xbox game, Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath, is making its mobile debut courtesy of developer Square 1 Games. The hybrid first-person/third-person action game is making use of NVIDIA Tegra 4 technology. Stephane Jacoby, CTO of Square 1 Games, explains how NVIDIA technology enhances the game in this exclusive interview.
What were your goals heading into this game?
Our goals for Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath was to bring some of the highest-end, sophisticated graphics to mobile, all the while providing the most accessible mobile FPS implementation seen to date.
What’s the story in this game world?
The game details the adventures of Stranger, a fearsome bounty hunter. Throughout the game, Stranger pursues and captures outlaws in order to collect bounties. The goal is to ultimately earn enough moolah (in-game money) to pay for a mysterious life-saving operation. One of the most notable features is the "live ammunition" system, which is ammunition made of living creatures like fictional insects and small mammals, each with different uses and effects against enemies.
Can you talk about the gaming experience and how it utilizes tablet and smartphone functionality?
Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath provides a new paradigm for the FPS genre on phones/tablets. Through simultaneous use of touch, gestures and device motion, it attempts to take mobile FPS controls to a new level of accessibility.
What does your game brings new to the genre?
Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath defines itself as a hybrid of two principal genres: third person platformer and first person shooter. With seamless transitions between the two modes of play, it makes for a very fun and non repetitive user experience.
What excites you about what you can accomplish in mobile gaming today?
With the advances on mobile hardware, it seems that the barrier between mobile and home gaming is getting smaller and smaller. We are truly excited to be able to bring what would have been considered "high end" home experiences to users' pockets.
How do you feel you're pushing things forward with this game?
We feel Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath truly pushes things forward on two fronts. From a controls standpoint, we feel it has succeeded in encapsulating highly complex control mechanics into very simple and accessible mobile mechanics without stripping the game of its functionality. From a graphics standpoint, the game fully utilizes every CPU and GPU cycle and feature to render some of the most complex and beautiful real time 3D graphics seen onmobile devices (in production) to date.
How have you worked with NVIDIA on your game?
We've worked with NVIDIA in large part in the realm of NVIDIA device compatibility and specific targeting like optimization for NVIDIA chipsets.
What have they provided in terms of tech that has helped with development?
NVIDIA provides excellent debugging and profiling tools the PerfHUD ES suite. This enables us to visually debug graphical routines and quickly locate performance bottlenecks.
How does your game make use of the latest Tegra 4 technology?
Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath makes use of very many OpenGL ES 3 features (or ES 2.0 extensions) that were not available on previous iterations of the Tegra chips. This includes full scene shadow mapping, depth based post processing effects such as depth of field, fog and bloom. The power of the Tegra 4 allows the game to run fully unhindered at the same framerate as that of the console version without any visual reductions.
What are your thoughts on NVIDIA Shield?
Project Shield is an interesting offering in the fact that it offers users with an Android device on steroids, while also allowing over-the-air play of PC games. Its design as a dedicated handheld with TV connectivity does allow it to truly emulate the console experience in a single package without need to purchase any additional accessories.
What does Shield open up for your game?
Shield opens up the possibility of targeting console users with a true console experience without compromise. Its performance allows for extremely fluid gameplay and all the while ensuring that the original graphics are completely intact from its console counterparts.
What are the challenges of developing for Android devices today?
The main challenge in developing high end graphical applications on Android is creating an application that can run well across multiple chipsets, Android distributions, etc. It is a lot like targeting the PC market in this regard and means that developers need to be very conscienscious of each devices facilities capabilities and limitations. This often results in many different implementations of the same feature targeted to each device family (especially in the realm of graphics)
How does NVIDIA help with this?
Our relationship with NVIDIA ensures that the best possible results are obtained across their device family and their input is invaluable in this regard. However the back and forth nature of the relationship also allows for NVIDIA to utilize our software as an extension of their test suites, ensuring that production devices are as bug free as possible (which makes life easier for everybody).
What are your thoughts on what can be done with tablet gaming today?
We're almost at the point where modern console experiences can be brought to tablets.
How do you see mobile gaming evolving moving forward?
That is a million dollar question, however there does seem to be a clear dichotomy forming between the heavy volume free to play games and the premium high end applications. We hope to see more core gamers embrace mobile gaming as it begins to offer experiences comparable to home PC/console experiences.