Eurogamer


PS Vita is - for now - very much a hardcore gaming device for hardcore gamers, the developer behind one of its launch titles has claimed.


Sony hopes to expand Vita's audience, particularly among younger games, but for A-Men developer Bloober Team, this will be impossible as long as it current price remains.


"They are getting too greedy at the moment," creative director and vice-president Piotr Bielatowicz told Eurogamer.


"Their message originally was, this is a hardcore console. Then, as the launched approached, they started thinking, okay, maybe we make this attractive to women and casual gamers.


"But, the market will verify this very quickly, because no casual gamer will buy a £280 device with £40 games."


Vita launched this week in two flavours: the Wi-Fi only model is sold for around £230 and the Wi-Fi plus 3G model goes for about £280, although many retailers have aggressive offers.


SCE UK & Ireland boss Fergal Gara told Eurogamer Sony priced Vita "as attractively as we could afford". He refused to confirm it will cut the price this year, but did say Sony will try to improve it over time.


Sony's Vita game pricing has also come under scrutiny. Uncharted, for example, carries a £45 RRP, although you can get it cheaper from most shops.


Bloober's A-Men is a downloadable 2D platform strategy game inspired by Blizzard's Lost Vikings and Lemmings.


It is the Polish developer's Vita debut, and a game its creators freely admit is aimed squarely at hardcore gamers.


This, Bielatowicz said, suits Vita.


"It's a platform for hardcore players, so it's a perfect fit for us," Bielatowicz continued.


"Actually, I believe our game and Vita will have the same lifecycle. It will have an average start because it's expensive and there aren't many titles in the beginning. But, it will have a solid run and a very long lifecycle. It will be like PS3.


"The Wii was like, this. Now it's over. The games have performed poorly for some time now. PS3 is just warmed up and it still has the best two or three years ahead of it."


Gara said it is important for Sony that Vita gets off to "a strong start", but it is more important the console enjoys "a very strong" first year and first Christmas.


"Week one is important, but it's not the whole story."

Eurogamer


You won't see the texture issues that plague the PlayStation 3 versions of some multi-platform games on Vita, one developer with experience of both platforms has said.


The Vita's impressive amount of RAM means it's better able to produce stable, high resolution textures than the PlayStation 3, the creator of Vita launch title A-Men told Eurogamer.


Vita has more RAM than PS3. Vita has 512MB of RAM and 128MB of V-RAM, compared to the PS3's 256MB of system RAM and 256MB of video RAM. Vita also has the advantage of not having to reproduce HD visuals.


"This is great," Bloober gameplay programmer Jakub Opoń, who worked on Vita launch title A-Men, told Eurogamer.


"This is the main drawback for PS3 versus the Xbox 360, because the Xbox 360 has half a gigabyte of RAM, so the texture quality is better in games on the Xbox 360. You can see when you compare two games.


"Vita won't have this problem. This is a really good solution. It tells developers not to think so much about really hardcore optimisation. They can focus on making the game, and not strip the quality of the assets. This is really important.


"Our artists made some really good effects and we have no problems with game speed."


Bloober's A-Men is a downloadable 2D platform strategy game inspired by Blizzard's Lost Vikings and Lemmings.


It is the Polish developer's Vita debut, but is has worked on a number of platforms, including WiiWare, DSi Ware, PlayStation Portable, iPhone, iPad, and, more recently, PS3.


Opoń said despite Vita's RAM advantage over PS3, it is not as powerful as the PS3, which, through the Cell microprocessor, is a heavyweight when it comes to physics, simulations and AI. "It's not as powerful as PS3, which you can see with Uncharted, which is a great example to compare the hardware power."


But: "Vita has so much power in this small device, every player will be satisfied with the things you can do."


Bloober creative director and vice-president Piotr Bielatowicz added: "There is much more computational power in PS3. Obviously you've seen how Uncharted was supposed to look like, and during the development how it begins to look like."


While Vita's power is attracting programmers to the system, Sony has also tried to make making games for it as easy as possible - certainly easier than it was with the difficult, complex PlayStation 3 when it launched in 2007.


"Vita is very easy to develop for," Opoń said. "It's much easier than Sony's previous platforms. The hardware is much more popular. It's the same type of hardware you can find in iPad 2, but twice as powerful. The core mechanism of working on the platform is the same.


"Sony provides a great SDK [software development kit/devkit]. The documentation is really good. Basically, we came up with a port of our engine in three months. It's fast, rapid development on the platform.


"It's easy even to set up the machine on your computer. You just start the installer. I can't say the names, but on some other consoles it takes a whole day, or two days, even, to even set up or build the game.


"For some devkits you've got three USB cables just to plug into your computer. You've got three cables that connect the same two machines, which is crazy.


"Now we get this beautiful console, which is small, and only has two cables. The only problem is you don't have the battery for that [on the Vita devkit], so you need to use the adapter.


"In all other aspects, it's the best we've worked on until now. The easiest one, the fastest one to start just making the game, not struggling with the hardware, with the software provided."


For Bielatowicz, Vita marks an important change in approach to third-party development at Sony, one that moves away from former Sony Computer Entertainment boss Ken Kutaragi's philosophy when he launched PS3.


"It's great now to cooperate with Sony," Bielatowicz said. "When Kutaragi was in charge it was very technologically oriented. It was, 'we create the best possible hardware and deal with it. Figure out on your own how to program it.' For PS3 it might take two weeks for a programmer to just compile a demo. It was so hard in the beginning.


"Now, I believe Sony is more developer oriented. They reach out to us. They organise seminars to train us, to teach programmers and designers features like Near. The support is very swift. The communication is very good. I would say, at the moment, Sony is by far the nicest format holder to work with."


Vita launches in the US and Europe on Wednesday, 22nd February.

Oct 17, 2011
Eurogamer


A new XIII game launches on Mac, PC and iOS systems in November, publisher Anuman Interactive has announced.


It's unclear whether the title, called XIII: Lost Identity, has any connection with Ubisoft's 2003 GameCube/PS2/Xbox "flawed masterpiece".


No gameplay details have been released yet, but we're chasing Anuman to see if we can find out more.


For the uninitiated, XIII started life as a Bourne Identity-esque Belgian comic book series following a mysterious protagonist suffering from amnesia as he attempts to find out what happened to him.

...

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