Developer Panic Button has ported multiple big games to the Switch over the past year. Doom, Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, Rocket League, and the upcoming Warframe are among the titles the studio has somehow translated to Nintendo’s less powerful console. These Doom Switch developers recently took to Reddit to reveal how they do it.
Nailing down the contract has been a bit different for each title. Studio Head Adam Creighton said in the AMA that they approached Bethesda about a “bunch of things” and that eventually led to them porting Doom and Wolfenstein 2. As for Warframe, Creighton said that someone introduced them to Digital Extremes and they hit it off well enough that porting the game “made sense just from that standpoint.”
Rocket League was a bit more complicated. Panic Button also worked on the Xbox One and PS4 Pro versions, which helped set the groundwork for the Switch port. Creighton worked in the background to get the Switch version made since, at the time he met with Psyonix, the console hadn’t yet been announced.
Crunching the data to make it work on the Switch is the big obstacle when porting titles down. Rocket League was especially tough, given that it had to hit parity with the other consoles for cross-play. Technical Director Andy Boggs stated that they have to reduce size of the files and sometimes that means cutting quality. However, he also went to say that they are always looking for new ways to compress without sacrificing quality.
“Graphics is always a big one, but audio is too,” he said. “People focus a lot on graphical issues when talking about games, but if the audio quality isn’t up to snuff, that’s really immediately obvious to players, so we spend a lot of time on that too. In the course of a port, you wind up touching just about every aspect of every system in some form or another.”
Boggs explained that they take a few months seeing how the game works and then prioritizing each’s focus. For some, it’s framerate. For others, it’s resolution. It all depends on the game, according to Boggs, but they “always try to get as much as possible.”
But these ports aren’t always up to snuff with their counterparts, as our reviews for Wolfenstein 2 and Rocket League have pointed out. When prompted about these issues by Reddit user PRbox, Creighton responded by saying that, while a challenging process, they “want the experience to be good overall” and push for post-release performance patches. Although it’s not the most direct response, it helps give insight on how these developers make the seemingly impossible possible.