Uncancelling a PS Vita Port
Hey Citizens of Neo-SF,
As you may know, we just released our game, 2064: Read Only Memories on Playstation Vita, hooray! But you also may know, that getting there was a long and complicated process. Below, we hope to outline exactly what happened.
TL;DR — Limited memory on PS Vita and a complicated codebase led to initial failure after promising initial tests, but advice from our original programmer and hard work from our team, especially our lead programmer Nikki, got us back on track and into your hands!
Porting 2064: Read Only Memories to PS Vita was always something we wanted to do. The development team loves the platform and we really wanted to see our game on it. However, there were many obstacles we needed to overcome to get the game onto the PS Vita and into your hands. We know many of you have some questions, and we hope to answer some of them below.
For its initial release, Read Only Memories was built out on a fairly limited budget. We coded and scripted fast to get the game shipped, leaving us with code that did everything we needed it to; but not in the most practical or optimal of ways. This resulted in decreased performance on lower-end platforms that wasn’t resolved post-launch. After the moderate success of ROM’s initial launch, we decided to put all the money we made back into the game, adding full voice acting (as well as some other new features and script rewrites), re-releasing it as 2064: Read Only Memories. However, with a new engineer taking the helm, the existing performance issues that had been unresolved were only amplified.
Initial tests with the PS Vita at the start of 2064 gave us false expectations. The game ran with minor performance issues and was able to be played through the entirety of the prologue. Being inexperienced with console development, we believed the issues encountered would be easy to fix; however, after months of refactoring the existing codebase, making it both more manageable and improving the original game, new bugs were introduced that resulted in frequent crashing and decreased performance on the development hardware.
To make the intended August 16, 2016 release date, the PS Vita port was put on hiatus to prioritize shipping the game to PS4 and PC with the intention of returning to it post launch. After our engineer was unable to make the code work for PS Vita and another engineer confirming that the port wouldn’t work, we decided to look at the problem from a new angle: rewriting the game’s code from scratch. This was a huge undertaking we agreed to and planned to have fully executed by the end of 2017.
Starting in late June 2017, we began development on Turing Engine. An adventure game framework for Unity and its completion was critical in rebuilding 2064. Rewriting the game’s codebase excited us; not only could we add new features we couldn’t have before, we could optimize the core features and get the performance the original codebase lacked.
Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out. It was planned that by October 2017 the rebuilt 2064 would be in certification. While we had rebuilt the entirety of the game’s locations and minigames, the framework’s scripting and dialogue systems (an essential part to an adventure game) left much to be desired in both functionality and usability. Ultimately, we parted ways with Turing Engine’s engineer in early October, and with three months left in the year we were left with a tough decision to make. After much debate and a last-ditch effort, we decided to take our losses and cancel the PS Vita port.
The public announcement of the cancellation of the port on Sunday, October 22nd was met with a vocal outcry, leaving us feeling crushed and out of options. Luckily, your voices were loud and reached Ted DiNola, the engineer for the initial release of Read Only Memories. Monday morning, Ted reached out to us, agreeing to review and explain pieces of the undocumented codebase. With his assistance and MidBoss’ new and current lead engineer Nikki Lombardo taking on the port from a new angle, we were able to get the game launching once again on the PS Vita by two days later.
It was a big shock, and getting the game to a releasable state befitting of our quality standards still felt like a big gamble. With 11 days, Nikki was able to do the impossible, not just getting 2064: Read Only Memories to run on PS Vita, but getting it to run quite well. We submitted it to Sony for certification together from our hotel room at GaymerX East on November 3rd. With some minor changes (mainly manual and terminology-related issues) we passed certification on November 29th.
We wanted to release the game as soon as possible to make up for the multiple delays and cancellation, but knowing we had eroded your trust in us, another announcement wouldn’t cut it. Jumping on the opportunity of Playstation Experience the following weekend, we teamed up with Sony and our friend and cast member SungWon Cho (ProZD) to do a PSX release for both the PS Vita version and the final content update for 2064. The launch hasn’t gone perfectly; we’re still waiting on Sony to know what’s going on with the EU store, and the JP version is waiting on certification. That said, we’ve been thrilled by the positive feedback and support we’ve received, and we know we’ve made the right choice to deliver on our promise.
Moving forward, we plan on being more transparent with you. Although there’s a lot we’ll want and need to keep secret to not ruin what we have in store, we want to keep you in the loop as much as possible so you know where your support is going and to allow you to share your feedback to help influence the direction of our future work.
We started this journey just over four years ago and we’re nearing the end of our work on this project, but we can’t overstate how much we love and appreciate all your support, feedback and fandom, and we hope you’ll stick with us for what’s next (Stay tuned for more information on the definitive version of 2064: Read Only Memories for the Nintendo Switch in the coming weeks).
— Team MidBoss