The Ascent Dev Talks Challenge Of Balance Between Xbox One And Xbox Series X/S Development With Cross-Play

Neon Giant co-founder Arcade Berg talks about the delicate balance done in cross-gen development with a small team with added cross-play.

Posted By | On 16th, Jul. 2021

the ascent

Near the end of this month, we’ll get a chance to try out The Ascent. It’s been one of the more striking indie games coming this year, a cyberpunk title steeped in neon as an isometric RPG. We’ve seen quite a lot of it at this point, and like so many games right now, it’s cross-gen. In this case, across PC and the Xbox consoles on the market. By and large, it’s the standard, but that doesn’t necessarily means it’s easy, especially for a team as small as Neon Giant.

Speaking with Windows Central, Neon Giant co-founder, Arcade Berg, talked about a variety of things such as working on a big project with a small team of only 11, as well as their experience with Unreal Engine. He was also asked about what it was like striking a balance across multiple hardware. Berg details some of the challenges you face in this cross-gen phase with consoles, essentially ‘forcing’ an old system to play a new game, which creates challenges that aren’t there for the PC version. When you add in cross-play, that also puts up a host of other things you must consider such as what can and cannot be scaled back.

“So we are basically forcing the old Xbox to run a very new game, and it takes a lot of brute force. So there are definitely things we asked to pull back a bit. But the trick is that we can’t pull back on anything that affects gameplay because we have cross-play. So if Xbox One wants to play with Series X, they need to have the same game, right? Even if we pull back on maybe some physics effects or something that only the Series X can afford, but that’s just ‘sexy, you can’t have less enemies. It’s like ‘On my screen, there’s eight!’ or ‘Oh, really? I only have two,’ we can’t do that and that’s the challenge.

“That’s a lot of what we’re working on. Now, close to release, how much can we bring up the lower end? Because it also runs on very, very humble PCs, but it’s just completely different architecture between PC and consoles.”

Berg does go on to say, however, that just getting the basic cross-play function to work has not been too difficult, stating, “Getting it running, it was actually easy. I’ll give credit to Xbox for that. Because that’s something they provide in their software. And the challenge is the optimizations and making sure that you can play on parity that we’re playing the same game, even if mine is maybe a bit sexier because I have a beast of a machine.”

The Ascent will release on July 29th for Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One and PC, with preloads now being live on Xbox systems and the Microsoft store. For an extended gameplay walkthrough of the game, you can check that out through here.


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