[Interview] VD-Dev talks IronFall – StreetPass support, tech details, and lots more
Despite only releasing a single off-screen image from the project thus far, VD-Dev is already turning heads with IronFall. The new 3DS eShop game, a brand new third-person shooter with Gears of War-styled gameplay, has caught the attention of many for its seemingly-impressive visuals. The attention thus far is deserved – VD-Dev is the same team which managed to bring a full open world to the DS (see C.O.P. The Recruit).
We recently caught up with VD-Dev co-founder Fernando Velez to learn more about IronFall. For our full interview, read on below.
Can you provide our readers with a brief overview of IronFall? Is there a story players will experience throughout the campaign?
IronFall is a third person shooter for the 3DS, taking place in a near future, where some troubles are coming from outer space… Throughout the campaign, the player will experience a story where he will not only have to fight against the invaders, but he will also need to use his brain.
It might be too early for VD-Dev to talk about specifics, but can you touch on any of the gameplay systems/elements that are being included?
First of all you will have to take cover in several ways if you want to stay alive. We will also be using the bottom screen of the 3DS and his touch panel to resolve some mechanism. DS means dual screen, so sometimes the action will also take place on both screens, too many games are using the second screen for gameplay.
IronFall is already drawing comparisons to the likes of Gears of War. Is it fair to say the two offer somewhat similar gameplay styles?
IronFall will offer gameplay like a Gears Of War game, so if you like Gears Of War, Iron Fall is a game for you, but shooting for hours can quickly become boring, so we’ll add some mini games / mechanism in the scenario that you’ll have to success.
Has the team decided on a particular control scheme? Additionally, has any consideration been given to the possibility of supporting the Circle Pad Pro?
We don’t want players to be disappointed by controls, so we’ll include several control schemes, you’ll be able to choose the one that best match your way of playing.
At VD Dev our preference goes for a stylus control, because you have a aiming precision like as a mouse.
We have read on various forums that players would appreciate a Circle Pad Pro control, requests from our fans are very important for us, so we are proud to announce you that we are working on the circle pad pro integration in the game.
Will IronFall support local or online multiplayer? And on another note, are you looking to take advantage of the 3DS’ capabilities such as StreetPass?
IronFall has no support for online multiplayer. We are a very small team and were working on the game since more than 2 years now, that will be too much work for us now. But if the game is a success we could start working on this features. The game will have StreetPass capabilities, we are still working on it.
Can you speak about some of the technical specs behind IronFall? We’ve been hearing some rumblings that 60 frames-per-second is targeted, as an example.
60 frames per seconds is our goal. Shooters offer better playing experience with this frame rate. With the engine we can reach 60 frames per second with and without stereoscopic view.
But if frame rate drops we don’t want to sacrifice the amount of IA, and graphics we have on screens, just because of the stereoscopic view (sometime we have to draw 3 screens, 1 for the left eye, 1 for the right eye, and 1 for the bottom screen where action will also take place sometimes. So maybe we will add a feature that allows in REAL TIME, the player to switch from 60 FPS with the 3D slider pushed down, or 30 FPS with 3D slider pushed up (no need to go to some menu).
Does IronFall run on its own unique engine? If so, can you discuss some of its capabilities?
The engine used in Iron Fall is called the ‘Big Bang Engine’. Its an engine we have programmed from scratch and is optimized for the Nintendo 3DS. It took us several months to write (days and nights), and is written fully in assembly code, using all the ARM optimizations we know. We also have written our own graphics driver for communication with the 3DS GPU to get the best of the handled graphics processor (well at least we hope) . The engine has many features, more on this will be shown on a video available on the 28 October.
VD-Dev is comprised of a very small team. How many staffers are working on the game at present?
When we started the project more than two years ago, we were only two. Fernando VELEZ was coding, and Guillaume DUBAIL was doing graphics. Frederic ZIMMER has joined the VD Dev team a few weeks ago and will help us finishing the game. Fred was Technical Lead on Watch Dogs, with a big experience on AAA games, and also a friend of mine (we went at school together), so now we are going to have a lot of fun doing games together.
This is VD-Dev’s first independent project. What motivated the company to make and release a title without the involvement of a publisher?
In one word, freedom. When you work with a publisher you have financial resources but you have constraints like deadlines etc… and you have no control about what will be included in the game. Being indie developer is a dream, you are free to do what you want, you want to spend 2 month on an algorithm, you can, you have no satisfaction with some aspects of the game, no problem you can rewrite the code, no matter how long it takes. On the other hand being indie is a lot of financial sacrifices, we are taking risks and hope we will be rewarded for all our hard work.
How’s it been working with Nintendo thus far?
Nintendo has a very good technical support, very reactive and qualified.
They respect their developer and are always ready to help you, it’s a real pleasure to work with them.
The shooter category is most definitely underrepresented on the 3DS, with developers/publishers choosing to go with other genres instead. Why do you think that is?
We really don’t know. When we see players excitation about IronFall we think that a shooter has its place on the 3DS. The 3DS players are more mature than we can think, the success of resident evil has shown that.
How did VD-Dev arrive at the decision to create a third-person shooter for the 3DS?
Well just because its our favorite kind of games. And we thought that we could have a lot of fun doing a third person shooter, while adding our own features.
VD-Dev always seems to pull off impressive technical feats on hardware. How does the team manage to get so much out of Nintendo handhelds?
We are coding a lot of thing in assembler and we take all the time needed to do things well.
No matter how long it takes, we are always fighting against every ‘cpu cycle’ lost. Now that we are indie we want also to spend all the necessary time on gameplay, controls etc… To have a good technology and a solid gameplay.
VD-Dev previously stated that the studio has no plans to develop for Wii U. Could you see that changing at any point in the future?
We have to finish IronFall on the 3DS, that takes us all our time, the Wii-U seems to be wonderful maybe be we’ll work on it one day.
Assuming IronFall is successful, would you like to turn it into a series with additional releases on the eShop?
If IronFall is successful we want to listen what players like or don’t like about the game, and if they want more we could realize their wish.
Last but not least, are you looking to have IronFall ready for launch at any particular timeframe?
The game will be released when we’ll have 100% satisfaction about it, spring 2014 should be a possible release date.
Many thanks to Fernando Velez for taking the time to answer our questions. Be sure to keep IronFall on your radar!