With the recent release of Nintendo Switch, more and more developers are getting involved in porting their games to the platform. But you probably know that there’s a big difference between developing games for other consoles and developing them for Switch. For this reason, many developers are wondering how to best approach porting their games over to the new console from scratch. Here is how to make the process as painless as possible with these tips on porting games to Nintendo Switch.
Optimize your game for the Switch hardware
Porting games to the Nintendo Switch is a growing trend that has proven successful as more developers are releasing their games on the platform. The Nintendo Switch porting process is straightforward and doesn’t require much-specialized knowledge.
The first step is to optimize your game so it runs properly. When porting games, it’s important to realize that you’re dealing with a different set of hardware than what you used previously. Due to various technical reasons, Nintendo Switch ports can have input latency issues that don’t occur on other platforms. This is an issue with most third-party titles and is not exclusive only to Nintendo Switch ports.
Use existing assets whenever possible
Provide a PC, Mac or Linux build. This will allow the Nintendo Switch porting company to directly compare their work with the original game. If they’re unsure of how something should work, they can consult the original developer. Keep in mind that you’ll need to provide a separate controller configuration file that tells the developers which buttons on the controller map to which keys on a keyboard.
Take advantage of the Switch’s unique features
When you’re porting a game to Nintendo Switch, it’s important not only to optimize your game and make sure it runs well on the system but also that you take advantage of the console’s features. One of the best features of Nintendo Switch is its ability to support local multiplayer gaming. If your game supports local multiplayer, then it should work great on Nintendo Switch. Another feature that makes games stand out on Nintendo Switch is motion controls like shaking or tilting the controller instead of using buttons. Be sure to use these controls when they are appropriate in your game. It’s also a good idea to make use of HD Rumble as this can create tactile feedback that players can feel in the controller.
Keep file sizes small
Keeping file sizes small is essential when porting games from PC to Nintendo Switch. The Nintendo Switch has a maximum size of 1GB per file, while most PC games are much larger than that. If you’re not aware of the file sizes, you could accidentally create a scenario where players have to download gigabytes of data before they can even play your game. If you’re going to be using Unity as your development engine, make sure it’s fully updated before beginning and switch off all unnecessary assets to keep the file size down.
You’ll also need to compress any audio files into formats compatible with Nintendo Switch, such as Ogg Vorbis or Opus.
Use Unity or Unreal Engine
Setting up your game in Unity or Unreal Engine 4 is the first step of porting. The Nintendo Switch SDKs are available on the Nintendo developer website. Once you have downloaded and installed these, you can create a project in Unity or Unreal Engine 4 that will then be able to export as a .nsp package. Make sure that your game has been configured and optimized before exporting.
Support both Joy-Con controllers
When it comes to porting games over to Nintendo Switch, one of the most important things is getting your game working with both Joy-Con controllers. This is important not only because the controllers are intended for multiplayer gameplay, but also because they allow users a variety of movement and control options. It’s worth noting that although there is no restriction on how many players can use each controller, gamers can only attach two at once. If you plan on supporting four players in one game, then you’ll need four Joy-Cons per console to accommodate all players.
Test on a variety of devices
There are many devices that the Nintendo Switch can be tested on. This includes:
- iPhone, iPad, Android phone or tablet
- Macbook Pro (Touch bar)
- Windows 10 tablets
To test Nintendo switch ports, it is necessary to have a device with a screen resolution of 720p. To test games on a Windows tablet, you must purchase a USB cable connection and an HDMI adapter. The Nintendo Switch porting developer will then plug the tablet into their monitor with an HDMI cable and set up their game files in Visual Studio.
Get feedback from players
Porting games is a complicated process and it can be hard to tell if your game will work on the Nintendo Switch. Testing your game with players is a great way to get feedback on what needs to be fixed before you spend time and money porting your game. You must take the time to develop a player-centric mindset as this will save you headaches in the future when players give feedback about how they want the game to work.
Additionally, don’t be afraid of asking other developers who have successfully ported their games to Nintendo Switch how they did it so that you can better understand the steps needed for success.
Release early and often
Release your games early and often. The Nintendo Switch platform is very new, so it’s important to release games on the console as soon as possible because many people are still waiting for their first Nintendo Switch game. The sooner you release a game on the console, the sooner you’ll be able to take advantage of its popularity and sell more copies of your game. Remember that when you port games to Nintendo Switch, it will cost more time than if you were porting a game to PS4 or Xbox One. The sooner you have a Nintendo Switch port available, the easier time you’ll have attracting publishers and developers to sign up with your company.
These tips will help you port your game over to Nintendo Switch. Whether you are planning on tackling all of them right away or just focusing on one at a time. There is always something that can be done to get your Nintendo Switch port underway.