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Abstraction Games on how Ark: Survival Evolved is possible on Switch, not missing content, tech tidbits

Posted on August 19, 2018 by (@NE_Brian) in News, Switch

One of the more surprising Switch announcements this year was Ark: Survival Evolved. There weren’t too many who expected the game to come to Nintendo’s console, especially with solid performance. But thanks to the porting work from Abstraction Games, Ark: Survival Evolved is indeed happening, and based on the little footage we’ve seen, it looks pretty good.

Abstraction Games head of production John Day was asked how Ark: Survival Evolved is possible on Switch during a recent episode of Fragments of Silicon. Day started out by explaining:

“Well, I mean I guess we can go into kind of the technical finer points of it. You’re absolutely right. The Switch does not have the horsepower of a high-end… or even a PS4. It’s not actually particularly close to that. But as I said before, we are an engineering company. We have extraordinarily smart people who do very technical things very, very well and so by doing things like procedurally reducing meshes on assets and dynamically scaling the resolution in intelligent ways and things like that, we can manage some of that performance.”

Day was also asked if the Switch version will be the full Ark experience, to which he confirmed is the case:

“I’m unaware of any significant features or content that Ark: Survival Evolved Switch is lacking or otherwise. I’m pretty sure it’s pretty much that game. As I said, seeing as it’s on the Switch we have had to make a couple of adaptations to ensure… I mean not only in terms of things like performance but also in terms of controls and user interface and things like that.”

Next, when asked about the resolution and frame rate for Ark: Survival Evolved on Switch, Day stated:

“Ultimately, the target is not as much about saying, ‘Okay, we need to be this resolution at this frame rate.’ It’s that we go, ‘We need to have this feel in quality of the user experience at these points in the game.’ It’s pretty easy to be like, ‘Oh we’re going to do an upscale to 720p at 30 Hz at least, everywhere we can, but better than that when we can, and worse than that when we have to.’ You have to understand, even Breath of the Wild dipped below 20 frames at certain points in the game. It’s just that you don’t notice because of the way that they’ve handled it. So I think that we’re trying to rather than be like, ‘Okay, here’s a frame rate benchmark – hit this or else,’ I think it’s more like, ‘We’re looking at this thing holistically from a qualitative standpoint.’ I guess there’s a range of parameters within there that seem to work depending on what the context is.”

And on the topic of whether adjustments have had to be made to the levels and geometry:

“As I said, we have done some procedural reduction of some of the meshes and things like that. And there are a couple of other tricks… there are some others, I won’t bore you with the technical details. I think we’re trying to find places where we can ease the demand on the system without compromising the quality to the player. I think there are a lot of places where we can reduce the number of triangles in a given asset, and it doesn’t really look significantly different even though it’s got way fewer of them in it. So there are opportunities like that.”

Day confirmed that the resolution is scaled sometimes, and there are plans to use the touchscreen on Switch. Development is nearly finished, as it’s “very, very far along” and the team is in the “very final stages of getting that done.”

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