Pushing It: Developers Talk About Taking Their Games To The Next Level For iPad With Retina Display

When the new iPad, iPhone 4S, and iPhone 5 hit store shelves, so did some awesome games that took advantage of the much beefier hardware. Infinity Blade 2, Sky Gamblers, and Lili (to name a few) are solid examples of good release day games that also operated as showpieces. We’ve yet to see this kind of game for iPad with Retina Display, or “iPad 4," but don’t sleep on the device — a lot of game makers are telling us that they’re looking to capitalize on the beefier, more powerful GPU.

How? With updates. We reached out to a bunch of devs earlier this week about the new, new iPad and its supposed beastliness, asking specifically if they’ll be doing anything to their games to take advantage of the hardware in the context of an overall product range that won’t benefit from this update. Their answers are telling; there’s a lot of excitement about the possibilities of iPad 4 right now.

Glenn Corpes, Topia World Builder, Forum Username: GlennX

“iPad 4 certainly encourages bigger shaders and new effects. When iPad 3 was released it was a positive discouragement from pushing iPad 2 / iPhone4S to the limits. To achieve 30FPS on Topia in iPad 3 retina, we had to drop the cloud shadows from Topia and put several plans on hold. For example, rim lighting on the soft parts of the landscape, bump mapped water etc, etc. This stuff will be explored in future updates.

“iPad mini will not be a problem as long as it really does turn out to be at least equivalent to iPad 2, I guess i’ll find out if this is the case next week."

Jamie Jackson, Foursaken Media, Forum Username: Foursaken_Media

“There are a number of factors why it will be difficult to update our existing games to take full advantage of the iPad 4’s power. For one, we are a small development team (of 4), and it is difficult to justify updating existing games – at least at first – for only a small fraction of our user base. Our current games have already been developed for 3 tiers of hardware (low gen iPhone 4/iPod Touch 4g, iPhone 4s/iPad 2, and the iPhone 5/iPad 3), and are bloated with 3 levels of textures, model qualities, and other things. Adding in a 4th set of assets would be even more cumbersome, not to mention time consuming considering current assets weren’t built with the power of the iPad 4 in mind. When you take into account that there is going to be an influx of iPad Mini users which wouldn’t even be able to take advantage of anything new built specifically for the iPad 4, it becomes even more difficult of a decision to rationalize, at this time at least.

Now, building upcoming games to take advantage of the new hardware is a completely different story, and we look forward to creating our newest titles with higher poly models, bigger textures, and better effects from the beginning in order to take advantage of the power of the iPad 4. It is a completely different story to scale down, as opposed to scaling up, and if we are going to be harnessing the power of the best devices, we really want to build games with those devices fully in mind, not just tack on a few extras “just because."

In the end, creating new content is one thing because it affects everyone with the game, but developing new tech, or reworking older/existing games to take advantage of new devices doesn’t necessarily have the same impact or benefits for both players and us as developers, considering the time it can take. These kind of decisions do suck because we’d love to sit down and make all our previous games much better with every new device, but if we kept doing that every year we’d never be making any new games. It’s a tough balance when it comes to updating vs. new developments, especially in the mobile market!"

Nathan Vella, Capybara Games, Forum username: Capy_Nathan

“Even though this is out of Capy’s realm, I think it’s important to note that leveraging new Apple devices is really an effective way for developers to get their game out there and drive revenue. Every time you leverage a new piece of tech, or support a new Apple device, you’re putting your game in a more desirable tier for all the new device owners."

“On Sworcery, we saw huge boosts in sales numbers every time we released at, or near a device launch when leveraging their unique features. If you’re a 3D-pushing, balls-to-the-wall engine iOS studio, you’d be throwing away money not pushing your engine to the next level for the device."

Jani Kahrama, Secret Exit, Forum Username: Frand

“The 4th gen iPad is again a great balance of performance vs. screen resolution. Developers tend to have the option of either adding effects or running at full resolution at full frame rate, and the general response from TA readers seems to favour resolution and speed. On the 4th gen iPad neither need to be compromised."

Josh Presseisen, Crescent Moon Games, Forum Username: JoshCM

“In Paper Monsters we’re trying anti aliasing to start and see where it goes. We’ll have a lot of testing to do once we get an iPad 4 to see what it can truly handle.

We also want to see what the customer reception is for the iPad – it looks like it can handle truly console quality stuff."

Luke Ryan, True Axis, Forum Username: luketrueaxis

“Every new iDevice is supposedly a beast but it’s not long before it seems slow. The iPads have been a little underpowered for their resolution though. For True Skate, we will have to try setting the shader quality to full and turning on FSAA and see if it can take it."

Simon Flesser, Simogo, Forum Username: Ninjagorilla

“Adding little pieces of exclusive eye-candy is always tempting, but we find it important that our games largely feels equal no matter what device you are playing on. It’s not nice to feel that you are playing an inferior version of a game, so we want to avoid that as much as possible."