FuturLab talks about bringing its game to a wider audience and building credibility as an indie.
When Velocity 2X originally released for the PS4 and PS Vita, it was not only hailed as one of the best indie games on the platform but arguably of all time. FuturLab is now bringing that brand of Metroidvania action to various platforms including the Xbox One, PC, Linux and Mac OS X with its upcoming port. What can other platform users expect besides the same awesome gameplay though?
GamingBolt spoke to FuturLab’s managing director James Marsden and technical director Hussain Sheikh about porting Velocity 2X to other platforms and outlined a few things that can be expected. As it stands, there may or may not be some disappointment as far as some things are concerned (*cough*co-op*cough*) but there’s still plenty to look forward to.
"We’re in this for the long haul, creating quality, building credibility. That’s a hard task for an indie, so when Sierra got in touch to ask if we’d like to partner with them, it made a lot of sense."
Rashid K. Sayed: Several months ago, you told us about how Sony fosters talent, which is what prompted you to opt for the PS4 and PS Vita at launch. What motivated you to bring Velocity 2X to Xbox One and other platforms in 2015?
James Marsden: We hadn’t considered taking Velocity 2X to Xbox One or PC until Sierra got in touch at the launch of Velocity 2X on PS4/Vita. We worked with Sony because they believed in our vision – in taking a risk with us. Their belief in our vision paid off for both of us.
We’re in this for the long haul, creating quality, building credibility. That’s a hard task for an indie, so when Sierra got in touch to ask if we’d like to partner with them, it made a lot of sense. We have a shared goal of seeing Velocity 2X enjoyed by as many people as possible.
Rashid K. Sayed: What are your thoughts on Microsoft’s indie policy lately, especially given the so-called changes to their parity clause?
James Marsden: Honestly we haven’t paid much attention to it. Part of the benefit of working with a publisher is that we no longer have to focus on anything but the game. We deliver to Sierra, and they handle the correspondence with Microsoft.
Rashid K. Sayed: The reception to Velocity 2X has been quite good, earning awards for its design, gameplay and visual design. What are your thoughts on this and how is it motivated you to improve on the base experience?
James Marsden: We’re delighted with the response to Velocity 2X of course, and we won’t be doing anything to the base experience because it doesn’t need it. We don’t fix what ain’t broke. We’re focused on creating faithful ports on PC and Xbox One, and on creating another great new game.
Rashid K. Sayed: What changes will Velocity 2X see on the Xbox One, PC, Linux and Mac OS X in terms of gameplay improvements?
James Marsden: Velocity 2X on PC and Xbox One will be a faithful port of the PS4 version, with Keyboard + Mouse support on PC.
"We have no plans for co-op at this time. Of course, once the game is released, if it’s wildly successful then we can take a look at whether it makes sense to develop further."
Rashid K. Sayed: Will the PC version see a significant boost to the visuals or different graphical options?
Hussain Sheikh: PS Vita was our lead platform, and from a visual point of view we achieved everything we set out to do. It’s important to acknowledge that the art style in our game is the result of an artist’s quality of line and choice of colour, not polygon count. Whilst a platform needs a certain amount of processing power to achieve all the lovely post-processing effects in Velocity 2X, turning the dial up on more processing power means nothing – the art is beautifully consistent.
Rashid K. Sayed: Will there be any additional content for Velocity 2X in time for the release of the Xbox One version? Have there been any discussions for adding new challenges or levels to the game at some point?
James Marsden: Velocity 2X for Xbox One and Steam will have our Critical Urgency and Dual Core DLC packs bundled with the game. In addition it will have an exciting daily challenge feature as part of the Daily Sprint Pack.
Rashid K. Sayed: Thus far we’re also wondering about the addition of co-op to Velocity 2X. Will that be happening at any point in the future?
James Marsden: We have no plans for co-op at this time. Of course, once the game is released, if it’s wildly successful then we can take a look at whether it makes sense to develop further.
Rashid K. Sayed: If not split-screen or co-op play, can we look forward to some kind of online competitive play in Velocity 2X for the future?
James Marsden: The new daily challenge feature will allow players to challenge their friends to a speed running competition with a different remix level daily utilizing leaderboards for the competitive play.
"A brand new game! The idea is thrilling, the gameplay is delightful, and the art is off the charts stylish in my opinion. It represents everything FuturLab stands for in the games industry."
Rashid K. Sayed: The Metroidvania approach has fared you well for both Velocity and Velocity 2X. Will you be following the same gameplay model for future releases?
James Marsden: We deliver quality, irrespective of genre. As a studio we chase the idea that excites us the most. Surge Deluxe is another example of an innovative design executed to a very high standard (one of the five top rated Vita titles in 2014), and that’s a completely different genre. You can expect that we will continue to learn as much as we can about what players enjoy, and build on our experience each time.
Rashid K. Sayed: What’s next for the studio after bringing Velocity 2X out for other platforms?
James Marsden: A brand new game! The idea is thrilling, the gameplay is delightful, and the art is off the charts stylish in my opinion. It represents everything FuturLab stands for in the games industry. I’m very excited about it!
Rashid K. Sayed: How difficult was it to bring Velocity 2X to the Xbox One? Did the Xbox One’s eSRAM pose any technical issues?
Hussain Sheikh: As we mentioned before, PS Vita was our lead platform. It was certainly a challenge to get it running at 60fps on Vita, but that meant that most of the frame rate related challenges were already resolved. Hence the port to Xbox One was smooth sailing in terms of the frame rate and we didn’t have to do anything particularly interesting with eSRAM.
"We are extremely excited at the prospect of having our game in hands of a wider audience. We have taken every care to preserve the core experience on the new platforms and are confident that the title will win people’s hearts again."
Rashid K. Sayed: The game is confirmed to be running at 1080p at 60fps on the Xbox One. What kind of challenges did you guys come across when aiming for that standard, compared to say, the PS4?
Hussain Sheikh: See above.
Rashid K. Sayed: In our last interview for the PS4 version of the game, you spoke in great length about the PS4’s GPU. What is your take on X1 GPU and how does it tackle up against its competitor?
Hussain Sheikh: We believe that both PS4 and Xbox One are beasts of machines. Both GPUs boast computational speed in excess of 1.3 Teraflops. That is a lot of computational power and we believe that once the developers start utilising the machines to their maximum capacity, the battle will not be won through graphics, but actual gameplay and content.
Rashid K. Sayed: Are you using the extra processing power offered by the Xbox One CPU? [Microsoft recently released the 7th core for the developers in its latest SDK update]
Hussain Sheikh: Not at the moment.
Rashid K. Sayed: Is there anything else you want to tell us?
Hussain Sheikh: We are extremely excited at the prospect of having our game in hands of a wider audience. We have taken every care to preserve the core experience on the new platforms and are confident that the title will win people’s hearts again.