I’ve been writing passion articles about the Vita for more than a year and a half now which has only been possible thanks to the hugely enthusiastic fanbase (who keep reading my articles) alongside developers who keep making content to write about. And among those developers, it’s difficulty to find any more enthusiastic than Nitoris Media – makers of the upcoming boxing title Glass: A Boxing Story, who were very eager to tell me all about what they’ve been working on since the start of the year.
I took the opportunity to ask them all about their game, as well as some more specific questions about their thoughts on the state of the Vita; developer relations with Sony as well as any upcoming projects they have planned.
First off, tell me a bit about yourselves! Who makes up Nitoris Media and what do you all do?
Nitoris Media at the current moment is made up of four members – Luis Santos; Miguel Rosario; Emmanuell Gomez and Omar Habbak. My name is Luis and I am in charge of game design/marketing department. I am the one constantly tweeting with you guys and making sure updates on the project are readily available to the Vita community. Miguel is in charge of software engineering department, he has the task of ensuring the game runs smoothly on the Vita. Emmanuel Gomez in charge of the art/animation department, he is in the process of creating the remaining art assets for the project. Our new member, Omar Habbak is charge of the sound/music department. Omar will compose truly great music, I’ve only heard snippets of what he’s working on but I am very excited to experience the final product.
My initial point of contact for the game was a reddit post where you expressed your love for the Vita and desire to build games for the platform. Can you tell me a bit more about why you chose to develop for the handheld at this late stage in its life?
I would first like to thank the Vita sub-reddit community for all their love and support. I must confess it took me some time to muster up the courage and address my intentions. You never really know the kind of response you will get when you put yourself out there. I’m just very grateful it was positive and encouraging experience for me, I’m a proud resident of Vita Island. It’s been a dream of mine and Miguel’s to develop for the system one day. We are fully aware of the finite amount of time in the Vita lifecycle and it was really a no brainer for us to make the jump into development. We felt very confident at the time of making the decision that we can achieve the goals we have set to accomplish.
Aside from people like Gio Corsi, it seems like Sony have all but given up on Vita at this point. Did this public withdrawal of support deter your development?
Much love and respect to Gio Corsi for soldiering on and fighting for the Vita community the way he has. We frankly don’t know Sony stance on the vita platform is, all I can say is indie developers have more than answered the call. The Vita is still receiving great support from Japanese developers and small studios across the globe, so we’re definitely happy about that. I actually want to see AAA development back on the console, it’s one of our moonshot goals. I speak for the team when I say we’re completely open to collaborating with any game studio on AAA efforts for the Vita platform. The community is passionate and there is a market for big scale games on the go, Nintendo proved it with the Switch.
How has the feedback from the Vita community to your project been so far?
It’s been amazing, you didn’t think you get that kind of response from a platform most people consider dead. The community has been nothing but supportive of our efforts, we feel empowered by their response. I have enjoyed reading how much people love their Vita, from personal experiences to ridiculous amounts of physical games some people on twitter own. It’s definitely been a fun experience all around. In the following months as we near release, we will share more content through our developer diary series on our Nitoris Media channel on YouTube.
Onto your game – Glass: A Boxing Story is a boxing game in the vein of Punch Out. What made you decide to tackle this genre?
I actually started conceptualizing the project over two years ago, back then the games title was “Groggy Boxer”. It initially started as a manifesto of how I would make a game for the Vita if I one day could. Over time I kept playing with the idea and it took shape, I showed it to Miguel. He was excited and very supportive of the concept. I’m also a boxing fan, I am a huge fan of the Fight Night Boxing series from Electronic Arts. There are some elements of Fight Night in terms of the variation of punches and how you can string them together in combinations. I always thought highly of the punch out style boxing game, its old school and it’s pretty fun. For us in a way it’s a nod to the past, with aspiration for the future and what’s to come.
Your description of the game bears some similarities to another upcoming Vita project – Patobox. What are you doing to ensure Glass remains unique?
I learned of Patobox from the Reddit community, it seems like a very unique game indeed. A duck that fights, doesn’t get any more unique than that. Our game is aimed at a more mature audience and it’s more grounded in real life struggles and triumphs. We’re expecting the game to garner an “M” rating once it’s reviewed by the board. When it comes to the topic of how unique the game will be. I can only say the main character has a physical disability that will make gameplay interesting for the gamer.
I understand the game is being built in Unity; an engine notorious among Vita fans for poor performance. How has it been working in this so far? Any Vita-specific difficulties?
It’s going well, we’re running the pre-alpha on unity and looking for performance snags. So far we haven’t really hit a hard bump. At the current moment of development we’re working on ensuring that all the assets on screen mesh well with one another.
How has the support from Sony been in bringing your game to the handheld?
We’re still in the credentialing phase with them, we have submitted all our company documentation and are awaiting for a response. Hopefully they will support us on this endeavor, I have heard nothing but great things about Sony supporting developers who want to bring their games to the platform.
How far along in development are you at present?
Development for the game started at the very beginning of this year. So we’re pretty far along the process. We are just proofing the core mechanics of the game before we start laying the ground work for a beta build of the game.
What is the estimated length of the game going to be? Anything to encourage multiple playthroughs?
The length of the game will be determined by the amount of skill you acquire over time, there is no doubt the game will be challenging and in a way the player will be handicapped. So the game doesn’t really have a set length. The team has been taking a look at Punch-Out run through online and it’s amazing to me at how fast people can figure out the patterns of the CPU and finish the games within minutes. We are working on creating algorithms which can help curb this trend. I think the trophies will be a reason why people will want to play again and again. Also the gameplay will be engaging enough for someone who beat it once, and will want to give it a few go rounds more.
Will the game be PlayStation TV compatible?
We never really considered the PSTV for the game, we want to use all the methods of input the Vita has to offer. I don’t know if we can remedy this situation technically, but we will be looking into it.
With the advent of physical indie releases through publishers like Limited Run Games, will you be looking towards a physical release of Glass?
Of course. We love Limited Run Games, they’ve done a tremendous service to the Vita community. I look forward to getting in contact with them and possibly setting up a special edition version of our game for physical release.
Is there a chance we will see more Vita games from you beyond Glass?
This question is particularly interesting. I asked the community about their thoughts on a wrestling game exclusively for the Vita. I still play WWF No Mercy on N64, I think a game with the same look and feel will fit the Vita perfectly. I am also a fan of the Fire Pro Wrestling series, especially their character creator mode and immense move set selection. A marriage of both these games would be an ideal concept for a PlayStation Vita wrestling game. I’ve had discussions with the rest of the team about the possibility of development of a wrestling game once Glass goes gold. Who knows, maybe some time next year you guys will be able to play “Pro Wrestling Vita”.
What are some of your favourite games that you’ve played on Vita?
Gravity Rush, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Fez, Guacamelee, Persona 4 Golden. Currently I am on the second play through with Freedom Wars, it’s truly one of the all-stars of the Vita platform.
Finally – which of Vita models is your favourite (LCD or OLED)?
OLED, I proudly posted my Vita on twitter for all to see. I purchased my unit on launch day and I’ve never traveled without it. The screen has no burn in, the colors still pop like the day I purchased it. It’s the most durable piece of tech I’ve owned, that’s a testament to the build quality of the original Vita OLED model.
I want to thank Luis and the team at Nitoris for approaching me about this interview. You can follow updates on the game via the developer’s Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as their Youtube channel.