[Interview] Daybreak Games talks DC Universe Online on Switch: tech performance, challenges, cross-play, updates, much more
Posted on August 4, 2019 by Oni Dino(@Oni_Dino) in Interviews, Switch eShop
Have there been any technical challenges in porting DC Universe Online to Switch? Has anything needed to be changed, be it graphically or in terms of content?
Bowers: We certainly had to utilize some compression in order to have the experience that we wanted and to make it perform.
Mueller: Like optimizing. We want it to look really good, but we also want 40 people to be able to play together.
Bowers: It was definitely a balancing act to find the sweet spot. We certainly had a little bit of tweaks there, but we were also able to take – I should say – Atlantis is actually on here, and that was actually our kind of test map, because after we sunset the PS3, we built Atlantis knowing that the bar was PS4, and we pushed it pretty hardcore. So we were like, “Well, if Atlantis runs – if we can get that to run, we’re probably in okay shape.” And so that was the first real test: can Atlantis just run? Seeing that running definitely let us know we were on the right track. As far as anything else like UI and stuff, we really didn’t have to do much. Because we have always developed console first, everything just really worked, and so we didn’t feel like –
Mueller: Well there was one thing – purple.
Bowers: There was a shade of purple that didn’t just work out, so we had to change the shade of purple for some of our [text].
Mueller: We had to change like one line of code to make the purple a little bit brighter. That’s what was really great about doing Switch. It gave us an opportunity to just improve the game all over. While engineering was working on getting it working, [we took] design and art work, updating character models, making them new and fresh. The Big 6 mentor characters all got updated. Lots of other ones like Shazam got updated. We’re just gonna continuously make them look current-gen, make them look like – if you’re a comics fan, I’m sure you understand – they look different over time. What Wonder Woman looked like 10 years ago is different from today. Close your eyes and you think of her now, you imagine her in Greek armor, and in our game she was wearing the star-spangled swimsuit.
So we’ve been able to take the opportunity to – across all platforms – improve how it looks, improve how it plays. I feel like especially on Switch, modern gamers have a certain expectation of like, “I shouldn’t have to figure things out. If it’s a good game, you’re gonna show me a new feature that you’ve developed.” If there’s a waypoint on the map – that’s something we added very recently – because nine years ago, no one thought about, “Oh, there should be a little diamond in the world that shows me where to go and how far away it is.” And we saw that in other games, and we were like, “We should just put that in DCUO.” Just making sure the game evolves with the market, with the community, with what people are expecting, and also the brand.
What is one of your favorite things about this game?
Bowers: I will say that one of my favorite things right now is just with all the updates that we’ve been doing to the iconic characters—some of the updates for those have been pretty awesome. Seeing Circe get updated was a big deal. Getting armor that befitted her. Starfire – I mean, her hair alone. I think seeing the visual progression from where we started to where we are now is continually impressive to me. Our art team is phenomenal. To me it’s always about creating a space where our team is able to make amazing things and put them in the game, and to me that’s the success of the game and that’s what I love.
Mueller: For me, it’s moments like this – standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Robin or Batman. That’s my character. That’s what I would look like if I were a part of the universe. I dreamt about that as a kid. I loved playing MMOs growing up, so combining those two things into one. People are like, “Oh wow, you’ve been working on this project for nine years. Do you want to do something else?” I’m like, “No, why would I? This is amazing!” I can’t think of anything else I would rather do – create these experiences for other players.
And lastly, is there any message you’d like to say to the Nintendo community specifically?
Mueller: For me it’s just it’s free-to-play. It’s a fully-featured MMO. You’ve got nothing to lose. Just try it.
Bowers: Yeah, just get in. Be a part of it. It’s like the perfect time to start or to start over.
Mueller: The sooner you get in after launch, the better names you’ll be able to get!
When it goes to the handheld mode, are there any issues with the size of text or anything along those lines?
Bowers: When you’re holding it, it seems like it would be scary, right? But when you’re holding it right here (about a foot from your face), it feels right. It felt fine. We didn’t make any adjustments.
Mueller: I was worried about the system where we print a lot of the dialogue and stuff in here. I was worried that might be hard to read. Nope! It went pretty easy.