When Phoenix Labs got down to develop Dauntless again in 2015, it needed gamers to have the ability to play collectively it doesn’t matter what platform they have been on. It knew one thing like that was uncommon within the business, however it needed to attempt to make it work.
“Really early on, as early as 2015, Dauntless had Xbox and PC versions playing together for development reasons,” Phoenix Labs CEO Jesse Houston mentioned. “It’s easier to do, but it wasn’t compliant in the least. The controllers worked together and that kind of stuff.”
Houston joined GamesBeat’s Dean Takahashi to speak in regards to the realities of crossplay and managing a dwell service through the first day of GamesBeat Summit 2020. One matter they touched on was how Phoenix Labs grew Dauntless (a free-to-play multiplayer motion sport about looking big monsters) steadily over 5 years.
“As we ramped up work on the console versions, we wanted to achieve this vision of playing with your friends on any platform,” Houston mentioned. Dauntless was introduced in 2016, had closed betas in 2017 on PC, after which moved to consoles in 2018. Houston emphasised that the sluggish development of steadily including extra individuals to their playtests and betas helped put together them for an official crossplay launch.
“It helped our own confidence in our development methodologies and our ability to keep a premium experience, knowing that we’d been running a live service non-stop for so many years,” he mentioned. “Transition from our own platform to Epic’s platform and other consoles was more of an iteration rather than publishing it for the first time.”
Crossplay is changing into extra of an business customary with main video games like Call of Duty: Warzone, Rocket League, and Fortnite all letting gamers compete throughout PC, PS4, PC, and even cell in some circumstances. The course of is difficult even for main studios, particularly an unbiased one like Phoenix Labs who solely has round 50 staff.
Houston mentioned that it’s been troublesome to navigate how completely different firms deal with certification, comparable to platform holders like Microsoft and Nintendo. Working with completely different platforms to verify the builds are precisely the identical, one thing more and more necessary in crossplay, has been a months-long “trust-building” train. Dauntless launched on Nintendo Switch in December, solely including extra complexity to managing the dwell service.
Above: Jesse Houston (left) of Phoenix Labs lays out how his studio was all-in on crossplay from the beginning with Dauntless.
Working in Unreal has helped, as Houston says Epic Games has expanded the engine’s toolset for dealing with crossplay by way of their work on Fortnite. They’ve been good at “adding those elements to vanilla Unreal,” he mentioned, including that Epic Games has paved the best way for crossplay typically with their work on Fortnite.
Houston additionally mentioned the shortfalls and roadblocks they’ve run into whereas making an attempt to push crossplay in Dauntless, principally having to do with coordinating income, tech, and logos with a number of firms for the primary time. Phoenix Labs’ plan with Dauntless has been all about crossplay although, so that they by no means doubted their finish purpose and can proceed to put money into it.
“We can see that Call of Duty and a lot of big players are starting to see the value of it. Platforms are opening up,” he mentioned. “I think we’re going to see a lot of folks shipping games with crossplay.”