I recently had the opportunity to talk with Joshua Clausen, one of the members of Reloaded Games. Reloaded is the company behind HAWKEN, a free to play mech shooter that recently released on the Xbox One. You can check out our interview below.
Andrew: We should probably start with introductions. What’s your role at Reloaded, and how long have you been with the company?
Joshua Clausen: I’m a producer on HAWKEN, and I’ve been here for nine years now. I started as a GM and then went into databases and infrastructure. When HAWKEN came along I had the skill set to be able to do something with it.
Andrew: So, moving on to HAWKEN, how would you describe the game in your own words?
JC: It is a class based, team based mech shooter. Originally it was designed to be an Xbox Live Arcade Game, that’s what the original founders had in mind. So it’s always going to be a very compact play experience, and focuses very much on the gameplay itself.
Andrew: What sets the game apart from its competitors?
JC: For me it’s always been the movement, the art style, and the fact it’s a pure mech shooter. I find myself mildly annoyed with other FPSes now not having the dodge move, I love that thing.
Andrew: How long has the Xbox One port been in development?
JC: We had the very first builds running in September/October. We had done the PS4 version as the initial port to get it running first, as that ends up being easier for most port projects.
Andrew: How’s the experience developing the Xbox One version of the game been?
JC: For the Xbox One it actually went fairly smoothly, the hard stuff ended up being the UI. It absolutely just blew up on us in November of last year, and we hit the point where we didn’t know if the existing UI was going to work at all. We started on an entirely new UI stack, went down that route and then came across the original UI programmer for HAWKEN. He had just come off a project and was “hey, sure, how about this”. He was able to turn around the entire UI aspect of the port. We did it in just two weeks, there was a lot of legacy code and he knew it.
Andrew: Has there been any particular high or low point when it comes to porting a PC game to the Xbox One?
JC: The nastiest part of most of these things ends up being the UI. So many projects dash themselves on the rocks of “wow, that was a totally unexpected way the UI was done”. It just doesn’t work to get d-pad input, the efficiency is just really low, or there’s a really old version of Scaleform for instance. It’ll be jittery, clunky, and we’ve had to fix all kinds of stuff with Scaleform at the source code level.
Andrew: Is there anything Microsoft could improve about the process of porting games to the Xbox One?
JC: The second hardest part – the non-ui stuff – was the friends and party management. It was a really tricky set of systems, and the documentation is a sometimes little bit older. Like handling multiple users on certain controllers, for example. It can be a hard problem. In our case the game’s party system on PC had a bit of a paradigm in a lot of ways with how the Xbox party systems work. It was like a giant logic puzzle to find out if we could still support the way the PC was gonna be working and at the same time do things right for the Xbox.
Andrew: Were networking and parties easier on the PlayStation 4?
JC: We did find it easier, yeah. Granted, there’s always snafus and stuff, and we do know that the PlayStation 4 is moving towards a model much more like what the Xbox has, so I’m sure the same problems will come up. The Xbox One is more comprehensive, it’s just a complex piece. It’s necessary complexity in a lot of ways, but yeah.
Andrew: Thank you for your time.
JC: Yeah, thank you.
It was really interesting to get to talk to Josh and hear about some of the things that have to be done to bring a game to the Xbox. If you’re a developer who would like to speak to MSPoweruser about your experience bringing your game to the platform, feel free to contact us.
If you would like to check out HAWKEN on your Xbox One, you can find it on the Xbox One store here.
Did you find anything in the interview interesting? Let us know in the comments below!