Tangledeep developer interview

Yesterday Tangledeep got its biggest update yet on the Nintendo Switch. Two new DLC packs – Legend of Shara and Dawn of Dragons – are now available. The Legend of Shara DLC pack is free for Switch owners.

We caught up with lead developer Andrew Aversa to ask about this latest update in our second Tangledeep developer interview. He also confirms that Tangledeep Switch sales now account for 50% of the game’s revenue – up from 23% last time I spoke with him.

Tangledeep Developer Interview with Andrew Aversa

1. Why did it take so long to bring updates and patches to the Switch version?

Two reasons. First, when we created the Switch version, we made the decision about halfway through to “fork” the codebase. This means essentially having two totally separate projects, even though the code is mostly similar. That means every update on PC had to be manually written again in the Switch project.

However, in developing this latest update, we “merged” as much as we possibly could, making it MUCH easier for us to release future updates on both platforms.

The other reason is the Nintendo QA process. Every patch must be checked by Nintendo which can take up to 30 days. If you fail for any reason, you have to start the process again.

There’s not much we can do about this, except for make our own development more efficient. But that’s what we did now!

2. What made you decide to offer Legend of Shara free to Switch owners?

Mainly because we wanted to give back to our amazing Switch community. The game was priced $5 higher on Switch because of the extra work it took to port, and because it had some unique Switch-only UI and features.

But we know that because it took longer to update the game, our Switch players were not getting the same experience at the same time as the PC community.

By making “Legend of Shara” free instead of $8, the game is now an even better value – and has way more content than before!

3. Did you face any new challenges in developing these two DLC expansions for Switch?

As I mentioned, we took this opportunity to merge as much code from the PC version to Switch as possible. That meant ‘catching up’ on many things we did on PC which weren’t done on Switch, and vice versa.

Part of that was also doing more optimization for the game. With Legend of Shara, there’s way more data: new maps, dungeons, items, monsters, NPCs, and text.

So a challenge was figuring out how to speed up loading and optimize in-game performance to make it smooth to play. I’m really pleased with the results.

4. Early on, a save corruption bug on Switch impacted some players. How were you able to resolve that with player feedback?

It was really hard. Even some official first-party Nintendo games have had some save corruption issues.

On PC, we can just ask people to send their save files over to us via email, but this is impossible on Switch. We had to use raw debug data sent by their hardware to try and guess at the problems, without seeing the save files themselves!

As of this patch, we’ve implemented as many protective measures as possible to ensure this doesn’t happen. We’re also in better shape to fix more issues in case they do pop up.

5. Do you have any more plans for additional DLC for Tangledeep?

We’re not planning new paid DLC at this time, but we are planning new free content for both platforms.

6. The Switch version accounts for 50% of all revenue for Tangledeep. Is that number still growing?

As you might imagine, we had the highest sales for the game in the months around and after launch. But what surprised me is that even our lowest Switch month (Sept 2019) was still pretty good, and we’ve actually had higher sales since then, which I think means good word-of-mouth is continuing to spread.

By supporting the game as we’ve done for over a year, I hope we’ll keep earning those recommendations.

7. What’s the weirdest problem you’ve had to solve during the last six months developing Tangledeep DLC for Switch?

There’s some ‘shader’ code we used for special visual effects in the DLC. We wanted to display a moving parallax background where the texture gradually shifts. On PC this worked fine, but when we first ported it, the results were… interesting. Here’s a GIF.

Tangledeep developer interview funny bug

8. Any games you’ve really enjoyed playing on your Switch?

Absolutely, I’ve actually been really into collecting physical Switch games for the last 6 months or so. Some of my recent favorites have been River City Girls, Collection of Mana, and Fire Emblem Three Houses, which I’m playing now.

On the digital-only side, I was really happy to play Romancing SaGa 3 localized into English officially. I’ve been wanting to play that since middle school!

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