Thursday, December 17, 2015

So yeah, about Banner Saga on Vita...

You may remember Gio Corsi coming on stage at last year's PSX and announcing that the gorgeous, critically-acclaimed, Kickstarted strategy RPG The Banner Saga would be coming to PS4 and Vita in 2015.

It did not.  Stoic posted an update over the summer that their console ports were taking longer than expected, but I'll be honest - I figured they were just focusing on The Banner Saga 2 too much.

That's not what happened.

Yesterday, it was announced that The Banner Saga will drop on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on January 12, 2016 - that's not too far away at all!

But no mention of the Vita version.  The Vita version, man!  I mean, I was hyped to have it on PS4 but we all know I would have ignored that in favor of a Vita release.  I'm dying for a western strategy game on Vita - I'm dying for XCOM or Darkest Dungeon or, sure, this Banner Saga thing I've heard so much about, but... nothing.

No word.

But soft!  What light through yonder window breaks?  It is the east, and actual honest communication from a developer is the Sun.  And this was no little "yeah, Vita version can't work, sorry - but now it's coming to smartphones!" crap like 17-Bit pulled back in August - this was a real explanation.

The very same day the Xbox One and PS4 release date was announced - later that afternoon - Stoic's technical director took to the company's forums for a development update, and clearly laid out what happened.  The short version?  They trusted the wrong company, and that company fucked them over - along with me, personally.  Those bastards.

Here's the post:

"PlayStation Vita 
Hello, followers of the Banner Saga!

Many of you have been asking for status updates on the Playstation Vita port of the Banner Saga. Now that we've completed porting and the certification process for Playstation 4, I thought I'd take a moment to bring my head above water and provide some information.

Our console and Vita porting has been more expensive and time consuming than we had originally expected. We started the porting process only a few months after the initial launch of Banner Saga on PC. In fact, we started console port development work at the same time we started iOS and Android development. I performed the initial proof-of-concept porting myself, to determine what our technological approach should be. Once this was complete, I hired 3 different porting companies to do a 1 week prototype for a fixed price. Of the 3, one of the companies exceed the others in performance by a wide margin. As a result, I decided to hire them to work on the PS4, Xbox One, and Linux ports, and they got underway. Their deadline for completion was November 2014.

The porting company made good progress at first, but suffered some internal personnel turnover which slowed the project. The first deadline was missed, but progress steadily continued. We were able to show a hand-on playable demo of the Banner Saga running on PS4 at the Playstation Experience in Las Vegas, December 2014.

In January, the porting company hired additional programmers and took on the contract for performing the Playstation Vita port. The deadline for completion was July 2015. Over the subsequent months, the porting company suffered more personnel turnover, and the project limped along. Finally, in May 2015, the company folded, went out of business, and failed to complete the project. All of the expenses sunk into that project were lost, with no realistic way for us to recover them.

Over the next few months, we scrambled to find another porting company that was able to pick up the porting where it was left off. Fortunately, we found a great company who has been able to exceed our expectations in every way. They started work in August, and now, 4 months later, we have the Playstation 4 and Xbox One ports completed and ready to launch.

The side effect of this is that we have had to put the Playstation Vita port on the back burner. I have been excited about the Vita port since day one, and I would love to see the Banner Saga running on my own Vita. The realities, however, of a very small team and a limited budget, put an immutable check on the speed of our progress. Stoic is composed of only 4 full time internal team members, all of which are currently working 100% on Banner Saga 2. Our initial budget for porting to Vita has been burned by essentially having to pay twice for the console ports. Once we can recover the substantial costs of initial console porting, we can consider our strategy to move forward with Vita.

One of the most positive results of all this, is that since the Banner Saga 2 shares the same engine with Banner Saga (albeit an upgraded, enhanced, and more featureful version of the engine), all of the porting work so far is directly applicable to our next game. This means that porting should be much, much faster than initially.

Thank you very for your patience and support!"
Not too long after, Stoic took to their Twitter account to gauge interest:

The replies of fans (and Stoic) to that single post is... heartening.  Stoic come across as honest, earnest folks who would really have loved to have the game on Vita, and got really shafted by the porting company.

But here's hopin'.

Oh man.

Oh God.

I need some assurance.  Tyler.  Tyler Sigman.  Assure me.

What a nice man.

And now, speaking of Vita, I'm off to play more Bastion.  Or maybe try out Metal Slug 3 (it's super-cheap this week!).  Or maybe Nuclear Throne. 

Probably Bastion.

Thank God for Bastion.

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