Super Icon’s Creative Director on PS Vita Development: It Has Ruined Me

‘I was convinced Sony hated us.’

Posted By | On 02nd, Jan. 2014 Under News


PlayStation Vita hasn’t exactly set the charts on fire, but it has found itself a pretty passionate community among both consumers and developers, and Vita software development has become a profitable niche.

Not according to Super Icon’s Creative Director Richard Hill-Whittall, who was developing Indoor Pub Games Sports World for the handheld.

“Our first Vita development experience has been an interesting one. Personally it has financially ruined me; so many months of development all funded by not taking any wages. Developing a Vita engine, along with a fairly large game (it may seem simple but there is a lot of stuff in Sports World).

During the course of development my relationship with SCEE has been badly damaged, the stress and worry off the scale.

It has also been a really good learning experience, and it has forever changed my approach to development. No more developing and maintaining our own engine, trying to support new platforms and features. From now on it is third party all the way, using development systems such as Unity.”

He did go more in depth about how his relationship with Sony had been damaged:

“Sony TRCs (Technical Requirements Checklist) are in short, a complete and utter nightmare. Again I really feel for Steve, I think his head actually melted at one point due to the extreme levels of pedantry associated with implementing the TRCs. There are just so many eventualities and scenarios you have to factor in to properly implement the TRCs. Also we tackled many of these at the end of the project, when we were both heartily fed-up with the whole thing.

Sony QA was an exercise in frustration too. When you desperately need to start earning money from the game, hitting QA is akin to running into a brick wall. The testing process is slow, and each resubmission adds a few weeks to the time it takes to get the game out. In total it was about two months or so of back and forth with QA before we were approved. One particularly frustrating round was the one where they only found one single issue, a MF (Must Fix) bug, which they found on day-1 of testing. 10 days later they conclude the testing with no more bugs found. Yay we thought, quick fix and we’re sorted. We resubmitted with the fix, and then on day-1 of the resubmission QA found one new MF issue, then no more.

Steve and I were convinced by this point that Sony hated us, and they were never going to let Sports get through!”

It sounds like a rough experience, the sort of horror stories one used to hear about working with Microsoft back in the day. Hopefully this is just a one off and not a trend.

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