MEET THE DEVELOPER
Grid: From console to mobile
A cutting-edge racing game that was designed specifically for consoles couldn’t possibly run on a device that fits in the palm of your hand. Right? Wrong, according to veteran studio Feral Interactive, which hasn’t just translated the experience to mobile with Grid Autosport, but re-imagined it with new controls and eye-popping graphical enhancements.
“Adapting a racing game of this scope and quality for iOS meant extensive planning long before development began,” says Edwin Smith, Feral’s head of design. “What we kept clear in our minds from beginning to end was that we didn’t just want to get the game working on iOS – we wanted to get it just right.”
So the team, which started small and expanded to more than 30 contributors, determined that the game needed to look as good as, or even better than, its console predecessor. That meant a focus on better textures and resolution. The Xbox 360 version of the game ran in 720p, but the iOS iteration now runs in 1080p with high-res reflections and particle dust, all at a steady 30 frames per second.
Feral also focused on the controls, which make or break any racer. You can steer your favourite cars with gyroscopic tilt or via a virtual wheel on-screen. The former option was particularly challenging to polish as the team needed to fine-tune for any unintentional motion, for example on players' morning commutes on the train.
“I can confirm that the tilt controls have been tested daily on a bumpy Victorian train line,” Edwin jokes. “Our controls challenge has a happy ending, which is that I’m now faster playing Grid on iPhone than I ever was playing it on console.”
So did Edwin think bringing a horsepower-pushing console game to mobile would be possible? “To be honest, yeah! I did think it was possible. But I never thought we would be at the forefront of making it happen,” he says.
“The first time the idea popped into my head was 10 years ago, when I got my hands on the original iPhone. I brought it into the Feral office on launch day and insisted we could make apps for it. We were busy with Mac games at the time, but 10 years later it’s now an iPhone X in my hand, running Feral games that look even more impressive on iOS than they did on Mac.”