SHORTLY after their work was done on the mammoth project that was Driver: San Francisco, technical experts from games studio Ubisoft Reflections were packing their bags for Casablanca.
Experienced members of the team headed to the Ubisoft offices in Morocco to assist in the development of titles for the PlayStation Vita. The high-powered Sony handheld arrived in Japan in December and is set for launch in Europe and North America this month.
The Casablanca team was working on games such as the Vita version of platformer Rayman Origins, and select staff from the Newcastle office were dispatched to optimise the games for the new platform. Staff also worked directly from the Newcastle office with the Japanese developers Q Entertainment on their Vita instalment of puzzle game Lumines: Electronic Symphony.
Director of technology Michael Troughton said: “Some of our most senior guys have built up huge amounts of expertise in terms of dealing with new technology and they helped out with improving the player experience. They were able to get up to speed pretty quickly and make a big contribution.”
The Vita boasts features such as a high-performance CPU, a rear touch pad, a front touch screen and cameras on the front and rear, as well as features such as motion sensors and a gyroscope. Troughton admits the device is “an impressive piece of hardware” and that users can “expect a lot of higher-end games coming out on this platform”.
The firm’s Driver: San Francisco was a long-term project which boasted features such as the ability to “shift” between cars as well as a realistic portrayal of the city by the bay.
The studio is working on a range of projects at present which it is unable to disclose, but Troughton said its plan was to diversify and apply its experience more widely.
He said: “We still have a strength in terms of our experience with vehicles.
“The studio’s been well known for that over the last 15 years, but we’re trying to diversify now and use that technical knowledge in a range of areas.
“At the end of last year we helped out on the Just Dance 3 project, basically creating the PlayStation Move version from scratch. In a very short period we were able to port the Wii version on to that platform.
“In terms of new technology, we’ve had some involvement with projects on the Wii U in the last few months.
“We expect to work on a number of projects on a range of platforms. We’ve got some exciting ones we will be able to talk about a little later.”