Donut County: Quick Porting from PC to Nintendo Switch

Each new platform helps expand the audience and engage new passionate gamers for your title. In combination with accurate and timely porting, the well-chosen platform can turn into the key to success for your game in the long-term perspective. In this article, we would like to share some valuable tips on approaching the project of porting your game over to Nintendo Switch based on our experience with Donut County – the fastest turnkey porting we ever did.

Why games like Donut County are best candidates for blitz porting

Donut County, developed by Ben Esposito and published by Annapurna Interactive, is a fascinating and outstanding story-filled puzzle game. The main idea is that you play as a mysterious hole in the ground remotely controlled by a raccoon and try to steal people’s trash and everything else. Industry peers highly rated the game. It got two nominations for the prestigious The Game Awards 2018. In addition, Apple has already named its best apps and games of 2018, and an extremely popular Donut County became the winner in the category iPhone Game of the Year.

The game characteristics well backed the decision to port this game to a Nintendo portable console. The heart of the game is its unique and inspirational story and its stylish and compelling visual component. At the same time, the game isn’t overly complicated in terms of mechanics and extra graphic details. There was no need to rework models, add LODs, or downgrade the graphics. All this made it possible to port Donut County to Switch without any compromises and ensure the gamers will be able to enjoy Donut County with the same performance and framerate as on any other platform of their choosing.

The other reason that made the porting process well determined and predictable was that the Unity engine (Donut County was created using it) is entirely compatible with Nintendo Switch. Nintendo Switch is one of the target platforms for Unity. Some of the significant compatibility and optimization issues that might come up have been considered during the Switch creation stage. This farsighted collaboration between two giants makes porting Unity-made games to Switch relatively smooth in most cases.

How to set up the processes for a short-term porting project

Having different porting projects in our portfolio (check out our recent ABZÛ project), we can say that even short-term projects with highly compatible technologies always have some challenging moments behind the scenes and require solid technical expertise. For publishers like Annapurna Interactive, it is critically important that the external team perfectly meets strict deadlines and ensures a transparent delivery process. So, after the central conception of the project was adopted by the stakeholders, both teams distinctly determined and agreed on the key milestones of the project cycle and definitions of done. In the Donut County case, the terms of the project were rather tight due to the publisher’s decision to release the game on Nintendo Switch together with Xbox in December.

To guarantee the max efficiency of the project execution, Room 8 team applies the agile project management methodology, which is at the core of our collaboration with partners. It is essential to ensure frequent iterations with valuable increments in each delivery. We focused on more critical items first to receive feedback early on in the process and ensure that the result met the expectations fully. The team appreciates Annapurna’s extraordinarily timely and comprehensive feedback that helped ensure the expected result. We cherish the culture of co-creation with the partners, which is impossible without transparency, alignment, and accountability in each stage of the process.  

The biggest roadblocks on the way

Donut County shows excellent performance on the PC/Mac for which it was designed. Still, the possibility of transferring it to another platform in the future wasn’t considered at that time. Therefore, the significant efforts of the project team were applied to platform adaptation: profiling and optimizing game shaders to improve the performance of the game on Switch and to ensure the smooth and enjoyable gameplay experience with the same dynamic mode as on the original console.

Another challenge was the touch and gamepad controls optimization. At the moment we started the porting process, Donut County already existed on the iOS platform and supported the latest version of touch controls. So, to ensure smooth and correct work of both control systems and allow gamers to have the entirely natural gameplay experience either with joy-cons or touchscreen on Nintendo Switch, we worked a lot on controls configuration.

Our experienced QA team did multiple tests to check these different controls as standalone components and the whole system to guarantee the ordinary senses like vibration and others. In addition, we updated the SDK to support the latest Switch platform features.

Store submission support as the final stage of the project

At Room 8 Studio, we provide our partners with qualified full-cycle services and support them through all project stages. The final milestone in the Donut County project was the submission to the Nintendo game store. This process usually takes around a month and requires a detailed description of each game feature for testing purposes. Keeping in mind the release date, we worked closely with the Annapurna Interactive team and succeeded in passing the Nintendo Submission on time.

The bottom line: how to make porting a reasonable investment in unlocking new audiences

For those targeting to reach new audiences for existing titles, porting to Nintendo Switch is one of the best choices to engage passionate gamers in the short term. If your title is successful on the original platform, has simple mechanics and graphics that will not require lots of downgrades, and is made with Unity or Unreal engine – it is possible to port it over to Switch in 2-3 months. Bringing the expertise of an external development team with properly configured processes and pipelines based on industry best practices will help you execute your porting project and turn it into a reasonable investment by acquiring new audiences for existing games while securing your in-house team for new exciting titles.

As a certified Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox developer, Room 8 Studio can offer to port to these platforms and develop games from scratch. The team can support you in all stages, starting with estimating the time and resources required for porting your game over to Nintendo Switch, analyzing all spots that can potentially cause operational gaps and delays, actual delivery, and store submission.

Have a project in mind? Please, contact us using the form below to see how we can leverage our experience to create the game of your dreams.

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Vadim Krayevoy
Head of art division
Vadim Krayevoy