BioWare’s Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic remains one of the most acclaimed role-playing games of all time. It also stands out as an excellent Star Wars game. Thanks to the power of new mobile devices, that epic Xbox game is now available for your tablet. Aspyr Media has worked with Nvidia to enhance the RPG using Tegra K1 technology, allowing Shield gamers to get the full console experience complete with controllers. Michael Blair, senior product and sales manager at Aspyr Media, explains how Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic went mobile in this exclusive interview.
What were your goals heading into this game?
Quite simple really: To bring one of the greatest RPG’s ever made to Android with no compromises, and with a control interface that felt native.
What were the challenges of taking this massive console and PC game and bringing it mobile?
App size is always of concern when taking large AAA titles to mobile, but we had that ironed out with our iOS effort of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. For Android, our main challenge was the learning curve involved with the sheer volume of devices available to run the platform, and the Android OS versions that accompany them.
Can you talk about this gaming experience and how it was redesigned for tablets like Nvidia Shield Tablet and smartphone functionality?
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was originally designed for Xbox using a controller. We knew in order for the game to be well received on mobile, we had to nail touch controls. We think we’ve accomplished that with an intuitive system that isn’t overly complicated. One feature of control I particularly like is how we dealt with character movement. The user is not limited to a virtual joystick on screen, but rather can touch the screen anywhere to move the character, thereby eliminating situations where your hand would annoyingly be in the way.
How does this game compare to the console original?
It is the full Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic experience and is identical in every way, with the exception of touch input optimization.
For those who haven't played the original, can you talk about the Star Wars universe gamers will explore in this RPG?
For those who haven’t played the original but are a Star Wars fan, it doesn’t get much better than Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Set thousands of years before the movies, KOTOR is a drama told in the heyday of both the Jedi and the Sith. It’s riveting, and frankly set the standard for many role-playing games that followed.
What excites you about what you can accomplish in mobile gaming today?
The fact that this project was even possible is unbelievably exciting to me as a gamer. There are certain gaming experiences that (in some ways) are even better on mobile. I had a good friend say to me that playing Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic on their tablet was like curling up with a good book. There is an intimacy there that can’t be had on any other platform.
How do you feel you're pushing things forward with this game?
Even as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic shows it’s age, its still pushing the processing and GPU limits of current mainstream mobile tech. Not to mention that fitting a game of this size into a 2GB file was quite the feat. We are working on a number of Android titles at the moment that will share similar goals.
How have you worked with Nvidia on your game?
Nvidia has been a stellar partner from day 1. They’ve provided us with an incredible amount of support in terms of hardware, tech knowledge, and more importantly expertise on a platform that we haven’t had much experience with (Android).
How does your game make use of the latest Tegra K1 technology?
The Tegra K1 tech was one of the only chipsets we were able to allow for settings to be turned on “high” as a default. In essence, if you are on a K1 device, you are getting everything we have to offer in terms of performance and graphical perks. That said, there is more power in the K1 for us to harness so we have plans to expand what Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic can do on devices that use the K1. We are specifically hoping for higher resolution support, which will make the most difference with how the game looks on a small screen.
What are your thoughts on Nvidia Tegra X1 technology?
As a gamer, Nvidia’s latest tech makes me feel like we are living in the “future” with the possibility of full console-like experiences in the palm of my hand. It’s awesome!
What do you see that opening up for game developers moving forward?
I know for us, it gives us the confidence to drive forward and push the envelope in terms of what the platform can handle. I can’t think of a better partner than Nvidia in that regard.
What are your thoughts on the Nvidia Shield and Shield Tablet?
Both are fantastic pieces of hardware. From even the early days of development, the Shield and Shield Tablet outperformed all other devices handily. From a developer perspective, its nice to know you don’t have to “worry” about a specific hardware set.