Dead Space 3's executive producer defends PC's "straight port"
The news that the PC version of Dead Space 3 would be a straight port from the consoles - lacking any fancy PC-specific bells 'n whistles - was not received warmly. Speaking to Shack News, Visceral Games' executive producer Steve Papoutsis talked about the backlash. Turns out he's a bit miffed.
"It's confusing to me that this question even comes up," Papoutsis said, when asked about the lack of PC optimisation. "It's by no means any less important to us; it gets a lot of attention. The PC is a very different platform. As developers, you want to deliver an experience that's as similar as possible on different platforms."
"In Dead Space 2, I felt we made some great strides in terms of controls, responsiveness and even the visual improvements we got into it. We continue to evolve our games as we develop them, but we certainly don't target PC as something that's going to be significantly different. We aren't trying to create disparity in the experience that our gamers enjoy; we want to make sure everyone's having that same experience."
Surely he's missing point. Dead Space 3's PC version will exist in a market where developers regularly put at least the bare minimum of effort into playing to the system's strengths - and that includes EA titles. Just look at Battlefield 3 with its expanded maps and fine selection of graphics options. The pre-order price for Dead Space 3 is £40, putting it at the top-end of new release price points. To hear that people are troubled to find it won't support DirectX 11 - a feature offered by most AAA "ports" - shouldn't be cause for confusion.
"At our studio, we've always made console games," Papoutsis continued. "The biggest thing is we want to make sure the quality of the experience is consistent across all platforms so we don't have one userbase saying it's better on their system."
"The fact that we're allowing you to control the game with a mouse and keyboard immediately makes the game feel different. Working with the community, we found some people wanted to map the controls a little differently because of disabilities and we supported that [in Dead Space 2]. It's a confusing question and I hope my answer brings a little bit of light to it. We seem a little bit discredited for the amount of effort that goes into it, quite honestly."
"We want it to be great on all systems, that's our approach."
I suspect part of the problem is what's not being said. Yes, missing higher-res textures and DirectX 11 support is a bit galling, but the real concern is that platform parity often translates to a terrible PC user experience. Offering rebindable keys is great. But will Dead Space 3 run at a capped framerate? Will it offer any real meaningful graphics options? Will alt-tabbing out of it cause the game to throw a tantrum?
Port has become a bit of a dirty word in PC gaming. Dead Space 3 could well avoid all these pitfalls, but without knowing specifics, it's understandable if people are assuming the worst. We've been burnt before.