Virtuos, alongside Panic Button Games, is one of the leading lights in the field of handling ports to the Nintendo Switch.
The company has been involved with titles such as Dark Souls: Remastered, L.A. Noire and BioShock: The Collection, and clearly has a solid understanding of what’s required to get demanding multiformat titles running well on Nintendo’s system.
In an interview with Japanese site Automaton Media – translated by Nintendo Everything – Virtuos staffers Andy Fong and Lukas Codr spoke a little about how the company handles its work on Switch. According to Fong, Virtuos’ team in Shanghai is made up of 40 programmers, while its Chengdu branch has 20 programmers, all focused on Switch-based work.
Fong also explains how the company handles optimisation work for the Switch’s docked and handheld modes:
GPU clock speeds are twice as high in TV mode. To make up for this, the resolution in handheld mode is typically lower. For example, if the resolution in TV mode is 1080p, and handheld mode is 66% of TV mode, then it should be 720p when handheld.
In our experiences thus far, it’s easy to pinpoint where performance is going smoothly or poorly in TV mode. However, in order to cover all our bases, the QA team is constantly playing the game in both modes – collecting and comparing performance data in both. Generally speaking, the game’s performance will decrease in TV mode when there are a lot of transparent particle effects or heavy post-processing effects. However, this is not always the case, so we need to test the entire game out. Our goal is to deliver equivalent visuals in both modes, outside of the resolution. Therefore, we do our absolute best to optimize both modes as much as possible.
Finally, Codr gives us reason to be excited about the future as he notes that the studio’s developers are always “levelling up” as they work on new projects:
The majority of companies in the business of porting games to the Nintendo Switch have been progressively improving their techniques. At first, projects usually involve simple and safe optimizations. The reason is that developers are still in the midst of researching the new platform and learning its strengths and weaknesses. Our engineers and artists continue to level up from all of their experiences working on multiple projects. We’ve learned a lot of skills and have a lot of knowledge under our belt now, so I’d say we’re several levels higher than less experienced teams.