XSEED encountered an evil mythological beast in 2016. It was the mightiest thing they had ever beheld, and its name was ‘PC port’. Between its jaws was their beloved, well received title; Little King’s Story.
XSEEDs initial attempts to calm the creature backfired – they pushed it into anger, and every patch sacrificed to the malevolent beast did little to appease it. Little King’s Story stopped and started on PC – it stuttered frequently, the frame rate fell to the floor in specific areas, and for many the game was completely unplayable. But XSEED had a shield to shelter behind; the game is an absolute stunner and a pure joy to play on the Wii, so when the game did run on PC, it was clear to the players that this was a game worth fighting for.
But the dragon could not be reasoned with, and XSEED’s shield was beginning to disintegrate. Players on Steam could only take so much, and the negative reviews regarding the games performance began to flood in – dragging down its overall rating and having a damning effect on sales. XSEED had to do something. They needed a hero, and they found one.
Peter Thoman, also known as Durante.
Thoman is a Witcher of the gaming world; he took his sword to the beast plaguing Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut, and bested the dragon looming over Dark Souls. In both engagements he was successful – allowing adjustments to be made to Deadly Premonition’s locked resolution, and smoothing the clunky frame rate and similar resolution issues in Dark Souls. But he didn’t stop there. Thoman continued to update these fixes so as to cure other ills – tackling anti-aliasing errors, adding addition depth of field and blur effects, and curing errors in which pixels would be offset at higher resolutions. Durante killed the dragons, burned the bodies, and scattered their bones across several continents so they would never rise again – and then, in their place, he summoned helpful guardians whose sole aim was to please players.
Late in 2016, XSEED approached Durante and told him about their menacing ‘PC Port’. They needed a hero, and had heard truly great things about the legendary Durante. He didn’t need too much convincing. He had heard, “good things about the game“ despite it “not really [being] my genre. Still, I was intrigued to see what was wrong with it, and delighted at how Ken was able to provide me with the source code for the game without too much bureaucracy.”
That’s right, XSEED handed the keys to their treasured tomb over to Durante quickly. Such was their need to be free of the foul demon. Entering the sacred crypt, Durante was amazed at the vast underground network of tunnels filled with gold gameplay and gorgeous graphics – but something was wrong. He examined the ancient writing scrawled on the dungeons walls and jotted down some notes; “I quickly figured out that the largest issues with the port were overall performance, intermittent stuttering, and a whole host of issues with the 60 FPS mode, and decided to tackle these in order.”
Durante set to work, implementing caches, analysing and optimising the 60 FPS mode, and improving the graphics and launcher options. The nearby townspeople grew curious as to what Durante was up to, and on a daily basis they congregated outside his cabin, listening to the sounds of hammers against nails and saw blades against wood. XSEED identified the interest, and provided Durante with a platform on which he could express his views and detail his project on completion.
On a mild February afternoon in 2017, the noises stopped. Durante wiped the sweat from his brow, and pulled the ‘PC Port’ optimisation machine out of his tiny cabin. With the help of XSEED, they assembled the machine at the entrance of the beasts lair. They waited quickly in the nearby brush, and watched as the giant, grumpy animal peered out of the darkness. Then it happened. Durante muttered the sacred words, and there was a blinding white flash! When the blinding light had faded the creature was gone, and inside the machine was, Little King’s Story. Safe and sound.
Within Durante’s framework, Little King’s Story would never be taken by the demons that plague PC ports again. The townspeople celebrated Little King’s Story’s return; it’s improved frame rate, its lack of stuttering, and it’s much improved visuals. They clambered over one another to purchase the new port, and flocked to social media and Steam reviews to share their experiences of the new and improved title. Days later, Durante took to the prestigious XSEED Tumblr stage erected in the centre of the town square. He spread his arms and told the crowds how he created his marvellous machine, in a long speech which you can read for yourselves here.
So ends this fairytale: a heartwarming story about a developer struggling against a particularly difficult ‘PC Port’, and their willingness to think and act outside the box. XSEED could have left the game in its sorry state, as so many other developers do, but they had the courage to push on and fight against the evil spirit haunting their brilliant Wii title. They should be applauded for their ingenuity and openness, celebrated for their dedication to their player base. Handing over the keys that unlocked the door into the ancient chamber within Little King’s Story could not have turned out better.
Raise you swords for Durante, raise your shields for XSEED, and go and play the much improved Little King’s Story on Steam.