The developers of “Bullets per minute” on the lack of haptic feedback and game optimization for the console
In its transition from PC to consoles, Bullets per minute (BPM) has undergone quite a few changes. Still, while the development team has some ideas on how it could be used, haptic feedback from the DualSense controller will not be supported in any way.
BPM is an old-fashioned shooter (in the vein of earthquake) with a fresh musical touch. The basic premise is that you can only perform certain actions – like cocking a shotgun, squeezing a firing trigger, or standard dodging – by syncing them to the percussive heavy metal soundtrack.
This tenure – which requires that you always fight to the beat of the music – has led many to compare BPM to a mashup of Loss and Guitar Hero. However, there’s a rogue-like element here as well, with you exploring procedurally generated dungeons that have random enemy locations and unpredictable loot.
In short, Bullets per minute generously samples a number of different genres and influences to create a unique experience. So it’s no surprise that he managed to muster such a dedicated fan base when it launched on Steam in September 2020.
To optimise Bullets per minute for consoles
With rave reviews and a thriving community, it was only a matter of time before BPM made the jump to PlayStation and Xbox. Indeed, a console port of the game comes out this Tuesday, October 5.
The original developers, David Jones and Josh Sullivan, actually oversaw this new version. The UK-based duo, known collectively as Awe Interactive, explained how they optimized their game for the various platforms in an exclusive interview with News week.
Describing how they started the process, Sullivan said, “When we were developing BPM first of all, we weren’t quite sure how we were going to distribute it. We knew we wanted to make this game, but we didn’t define an appropriate approach.
“At the time, we weren’t sure if this would be a PC-only title, or if it would also be available on consoles. We explored the idea of debuting on GamePass and make it a PlayStation exclusive, but in the end we stuck with PC for launch. We plan to port it to consoles later on. “
When they finally managed to translate BPM on PlayStation and Xbox, they realized it was a bit more work than they expected. In particular, Sullivan had to adjust the lighting effects for each dungeon in the game.
Developing this, he said, “It was really important for the consoles because there were so many system resources being used that didn’t need to be. And it really impacted our performance. So went through every last room and checked the lighting. It comes out really good, I can’t tell the difference and it works so much better now. “
Speaking of which, aiming for a consistent frame rate was another big priority for the developers, especially since the game revolves heavily around synchronizing your actions into a millisecond. Jones clarified, “It’s important for a specific reason actually, which is that the higher our frame rate, the more accurately we can track your button input.
“We wanted a super responsive game so that you could perfectly synchronize with the beat of the music. It’s technically playable if it’s running at 30 frames per second (FPS), but it needs to be as smooth as possible. consoles, we ran it at stable 60 FPS most of the time. “
However, there are apparently a few combinations of elements that can reduce this a bit. For example, when paired with an ability that makes all of your shots explosive, a shotgun can have a huge impact on frame rate. With these two elements used together, you suddenly unleash huge amounts of flaming particle effects in any given image.
Jones continued, “So this frame is obviously going to be slightly more expensive than the ones before and after. We made a decision at that point. Do we cut the cool element, or leave- Did we lower the framerate a bit? And we decided to go with the latter because, in my opinion, I would happily take a less than perfect framerate if I get an interesting option as a player. “
Ideas for haptic feedback in Bullets per minute
Awe Interactive was unable to make all of the desired changes to the console port. Namely, they had to give up all their ideas on how the haptic feedback of the PlayStation 5 controller could be integrated with BPM.
Jones said: “We wanted it to be hard to hit the adaptive triggers if you were out of the beat and then easier when you were on the beat. That way we could subconsciously force the beat of the music on the beat. reader. “
Meanwhile, Sullivan shared how haptic motors (which enable immersive vibrations in the DualSense) were allegedly used. “We could very easily define the rhythm through these vibrations, because the haptics are so precise, and that would have been super cool.”
Unfortunately, these ideas never made it into the console port as they weren’t developed specifically for the PS5, but for the PS4 instead. Jones explained, “These parts of the API (Application Programming Interface) just don’t exist on the PlayStation 4, so you can’t do that unless you’re a native app, which BPM is not. “
For those who don’t know, a native application is software that has been developed for use on particular hardware. In the case of a video game, this means that it will have optimized performance and the ability to use the unique features of the console. For example, Astro’s playroom is a native app for the PS5, allowing it to take full advantage of the DualSense controller.
On the other hand, Bullets per minuteThe console port is currently for the PS4 and Xbox One. As such, it cannot use any of the DualSense features. Coming back to that point, Jones said, “For people wondering, that’s the short reason it’s not there. We’ve had some ideas for using haptic feedback, but we’re not yet a. native PS5 application. “
Get a helping hand from the Yooka-Laylee Team
Porting a game to consoles is not, however, a purely technical exercise, as developers will have to take other factors into account as well.
Developing this, Jones said, “There are some aspects of optimization that are pretty fun if you are a programmer. It depends on your state of mind. We found it easy and fun on the code side, but there are other things. that you need to do to get certified.
“This is the job that we as freelancers don’t want to do. It’s a different job, where you have to make sure that every language is supported, that every display resolution is supported. and that all the metadata is correct. It’s all the boring stuff that we don’t want to get involved in, and that’s why we looked for a partner to help us. “
Ultimately, Jones and Sullivan reached out to Playtonic Friends, which is the small publishing arm of Yooka-Laylee Playtonic developer.
Looking first and foremost as a partner rather than a big business, the company hasn’t taken too many games since its inception in February. Instead, it focuses on delivering a tailor-made service for a small handful of interesting developers, finding out exactly what they need and then taking care of it.
In the case of Bullet per minute, Playtonic handled most of the certification process for the console version. Jones continued, “Once we knew we were going to port to PlayStation and Xbox, we realized it was going to take a long time, so we approached Playtonic because getting certified on a console is actually a ton of work. .
“They also helped with the financial triage, covering things like porting costs, marketing costs, translation costs, and scorecard costs. What are the four things you need to ship a game? independent on console. “
In general, the duo Awe Interactive is very complimentary about the role of Playtonic. Sullivan said: “We are just a team of 2 people working on this game so we had very limited time. They helped us out tremendously and even pushed the PC version of the game, despite the fact that they can’t stand profiting from it. They don’t release this version and have no incentive to promote it, but they did. It never felt like a trade deal, but a relationship. “
The fruits of this partnership will soon be accessible to all, because Bullets Per Minute (BPM) arrives on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on Tuesday, October 5.