Porting to consoles as an indie team

Porting to consoles as an indie team

You’ve been waiting for it, and it’s almost here: Mages of Mystralia is launching on consoles. Bringing Mages of Mystralia to PS4 and XBox One was a first in developing for consoles for most of the team, and we’re very proud to be part of this adventure.

The official release date on PS4 was announced last week. Mark the day: August 22, 2017. Read more about it on PlayStation’s blog. The Xbox One version is in the final certification stages, we’ll confirm the release date soon. 

For an indie studio, porting a game to consoles isn’t a small matter. Each platform has specific requirements and its own certification process. It’s also a huge challenge to work on porting to two consoles at once, especially considering the size of our team and the small number of programmers at Borealys – there’s only three. (Shout out to our technical team for their hard work and dedication!) This is why we couldn’t release the console versions at the same time as the PC one on Steam; we wanted to ensure that players got an optimized version for their favorite consoles.

As much as technical requirements for consoles were a challenge for the team, we are extremely proud to bring an indie game to these new platforms. For those of you who don’t know, porting to consoles goes a little like this:

  1. Get a Dev Kit
  2. Make the game compatible with the new system
  3. Get approved for launch on console
  4. Debug, optimize, and debug again until the game meets the specific technical requirements for each system
  5. Send the game for certification on each console
  6. Fix everything needed to pass certification (this can be two or three back and forth or more)
  7. Release on new platform (and celebrate!)

Two of our programmers, Bill Christian Tyros and Vincent Bilodeau, spearheaded the process. They got to think the architecture of the game in a way that would allow it to be carried to different platforms. For example, they had to consider the different ways players save their game on each device. It may seem trivial, but you need a way to save your progress. And each platform handles this in its own way. In their words, “it was a good challenge, and especially rewarding when everything worked.”

According to them, if we could narrow it down to just two words, it would be “performance” – PCs are usually stronger than consoles, so we had to optimise at every step, they say – and “learning”– there isn’t a lot of open resources for console development, like there is for game engines and PC development. This means that they had to dig through official documentation, rely on trial-and-error, and figure it out along the way. What’s great is that it brought the studio members closer together. We got to face and surpass a new challenge as a team and bring our game to new heights.

Until next time, join us on Discord or leave us a tweet at @BorealysGames or @Mystralia.