Hi all! I’m really excited to give you a little insight into our experience bringing Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved to PS Vita. We’re big fans of the Vita here at Lucid, and we were always very keen to bring the Geometry Wars series to it. The pin-sharp screen coupled with the twin sticks are a perfect fit for the game, so we were really happy to go ahead with the conversion.
We wanted Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved to be the same fully featured experience it is on PS4 and PS3 — capturing all of the varied gameplay and enemies that can be encountered across its multiplayer modes and 100+ single-player levels.
Among the technical challenges we faced, we had to ensure that we could hold a steady 60 FPS (frames per second) even when there were hordes of enemies chasing you down. The Vita’s graphical architecture is quite advanced for a handheld platform, but it is not at the same level as PS4, so our graphics team looked at how we could achieve comparable visual fidelity between the two versions while still keeping the game silky smooth.
One advantage is that the Vita’s display is lower than a 1080p TV, so we did not need to flood the game with as many pixels every frame. This instantly helped to free up GPU (graphics processor unit) time, along with a little CPU (central processing unit) time.
However the complex shaders and lighting wizardry that was used to define the vibrant Geometry Wars world on PS4 was a bit too much for its sibling to cope with, so we had to deploy some developer tricks to achieve similar results, and after a few months, we had something that not only looked spot-on, but also maintained that all-important framerate.
Whilst this graphical work was happening, the gameplay guys worked on the actual playability of the game on Vita. Geometry Wars is all about the way in which the ship moves and responds to the player’s input, so we checked out the way in which the dead zones can affect the movement of the craft and the way it responds. The process is a little different for every platform, but it’s crucial for ensuring that the game always feels just right on each and every device available.
After working through the single-player component, we then concentrated on multiplayer. Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved on Vita still has 8-player competitive mode of the console versions. We used Activision’s Demonware service for this; it’s cross-platform, which essentially allowed us to carry a lot of the same code between various versions of the game.
Things were going well until we got to local cooperative multiplayer… On PS4, you need additional controllers to play Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved with a partner. Obviously, there’s no way to achieve that on PS Vita, so we were initially a little stumped. The easy option would have been to take the feature out altogether, but we sat around and thought about other possibilities.
In the end, we came with a unique two-player co-op format in which players sit opposite one another and play the game simultaneously on the same screen. Player 1 uses the D-Pad to move and the nearest analog stick for shooting, while Player 2 uses the other analog stick for moving with the face buttons to shoot. This combination might seem strange at first, but it’s actually easy to pick up, so you can sit together with your buddy / partner / enemy on the sofa and share a little light Vita relief.
I hope this post has shed some interesting light on how we’re bringing Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved to PS Vita. We are really pleased with the results and cannot wait for you to experience the game for yourselves. It’s also really exciting to announce that the PS Vita version will be free to all PlayStation Plus subscribers as part of July’s Instant Game Collection starting next week, so we hope to see you all posting some astronomically high scores on the leaderboards soon!