The Swapper

A Sci-Fi Puzzle Platformer

 

Facepalm Games

Curve Digital

“Much like Portal, The Swapper is a puzzle game I’ll be talking about for years to come.”
– Cyril Lachel (Defunct Games)

The Swapper Pre-Orders Hit PSN July 22

Worldwide Launch Set for August 5 on PS4, PS3, and PS Vita

LONDON — July 18, 2014 — Independent publisher Curve Digital and its development arm Curve Studios are proud to announce that the award-winning indie puzzle game The Swapper will be available for pre-orders Tuesday, July 22 through the PlayStation Network (PSN).

Playing to the strengths of PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Vita, The Swapper is every bit as compelling on consoles as it was on PC The console release is also a cross-buy on PlayStation—allowing players to purchase once and play on all current PlayStation consoles without spending any extra cash.

The Swapper was originally developed by Finnish indie studio Facepalm Games and released to wide critical acclaim in 2011. An atmospheric indie puzzle game set in the furthest reaches of space, the game lets the player wield an experimental device that can clone the player character and swap control between the character and its “doppelganger.” Dropped into a world as mysterious as the workings of the device itself, The Swapper is about exploration and craft: All of the art was constructed using clay models and everyday materials—lending a truly unique look to the game.

The Swapper was by far our most challenging port. It’s an interesting case because although the game plays as a 2D platformer, there’s actually a lot going on visually,” says Amanda Allen, Production Manager at Curve Studios. “Keeping the experience exactly the same is crucial when bringing a PC game to console systems. This doesn’t always mean creating an exact copy of the original, but it does mean determining what makes the game great and working with the hardware to preserve those features.”

The hardware muscle of the PlayStation 4 gave Curve an early start. “The PS4 is way more powerful than the PC requirements for the game, asserts Allen. “Thanks to that and the hard work of our very experienced tech team, we were able to hit 60 frames per second (fps) in a matter of days with unchanged textures and advanced visual effects. I’m proud of the fact that compared to the PC version, The Swapper on PS4 is as good if not better—because it’s running on the biggest screen in the house.”

PlayStation 3 & PlayStation Vita
The PS3 and Vita versions took significantly more work. Current gen consoles are still going strong after nearly eight years on sale. However, as PC hardware progressed incrementally, consoles remained in 2006. The result was that the PS3 version was plagued by large drops in frame rate, at least in the first months. While everyone knew that 60 fps on the PlayStation 3 wouldn’t be possible, the team wanted to make sure that the game ran at 30 fps and that the player had a consistent experience across the board.

The obvious solution was to remove some of the lights. However, since most lights are placed to subtly guide the player in a certain direction (or aid with puzzles), avoiding major changes was the only way forward. The solution was to go through key areas of the game and examine how every light was affecting speed, then plot a path that addressed performance while keeping the overall lighting setup seemingly intact.

“Working through the game like this is a great example of how we convert games to older hardware with the minimum impact on the experience,” concludes Allen, Curve Studios. “It’s tempting to just ‘turn off’ features when faced with lower frame rates, but going through the game in more detail and working out where the main performance bottlenecks are means we’ve ended up with a game running smoothly while still looking great.”

Controls: From Mouse + Keyboard to Analogue Sticks + Buttons
When converting games to console systems, Curve pays special attention to controls. Everybody knows this particular game industry truism: A bad control system can absolutely ruin a great game. Often, things that seem obvious don’t work out when you take mouse and keyboard controls and transfer them to a joystick.

Early on, the team noticed that some of the puzzles in The Swapper relied on accuracy that was harder to emulate with a controller. After playing through the game multiple times, it was obvious that the player’s attention was diverted from the puzzle solving to struggling with the analogue stick. “The joy of The Swapper is in working out solutions to puzzles, not fiddling with controls. Our community asked how we were going to make the console versions as ‘accurate as a mouse’—to which our standard reply was, ‘We won’t—because ultimately a mouse is a more precise tool,’” says Richie Turner, Tech Director at Curve Studios. “Our goal was to ensure that players would be immersed in the game world and story, rather than worrying about the controls.”

The studio then tried swapping controls around and experimented with different ways of creating and shooting clones using the controller and the Vita—but Curve ultimately solved this problem through a simple gameplay addition: Rather than focusing on the accuracy of the controller, the developers instead doubled the slow down of time while the player was creating a clone. By doing this, players have much more time to make a selection. They also added acceleration to the stick movement, letting players make precise movement without feeling out of control.

Transition Time
The Swapper is our last big PlayStation 3 game,” says Rob Clarke, PR and Marketing Manager at Curve Digital. “The fact that PlayStation 4 take up has been massive doesn’t mean that we didn’t do our very best on PS3 and Vita; we invested tons of development time to eek out truly eye-opening visuals and performance from the hardware. I think players will be in awe of the current-gen versions of The Swapper—and elated by what we were able to achieve on PS4.”

Key Features

  • Challenge: Fiendish puzzles with solutions that are only ever a few steps away
  • Isolation: Classic sci-fi atmosphere inspired by the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Solaris
  • Wonder: A world built out of clay
  • Mystery: Narrative design from Tom Jubert—writer behind indie hits Penumbra and FTL

The Swapper has won numerous awards and accolades, including PAX 10, IndieCade and Indie Game Challenge. 

Press kit
http://curve-studios.com/press/sheet.php?p=The_Swapper 

Individual assets
Screenshots (web)
PS4 http://imgur.com/a/liwdc
PS3 http://imgur.com/a/xHHKo
PS Vita http://imgur.com/a/zSP2J

Screenshots (download)
PS4 https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/9186800/The_Swapper_PS4_screenshots.zip
PS3 https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/9186800/The_Swapper_PS3_screeenshots.zip
PS Vita https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/9186800/The_Swapper_VITA_screenshots.zip

About Facepalm Games
Facepalm Games is a tiny independent game developer based in Helsinki, Finland that is composed of two full-time staff members and two freelancers. The studio believes the video game landscape is still largely unexplored, and aspires to create games that are wholly original to the medium. Facepalm’s first game is The Swapper—a sci-fi puzzle platformer that is supported by Indie Fund, featured in the PAX10—and holder of numerous awards and accolades, including IndieCade and Indie Game Challenge. To learn more about Facepalm games, please visit http://facepalmgames.com

About Curve Studios
Curve’s mission is simple: Develop and publish great video games. Their office in central London is home to a bunch of talented and passionate people who’ve been making games for a long time and want nothing more than to continue to do so. Curve works with some of the biggest and best development partners in the business on a mix of original IP and large, well-established franchises. The studio also develops original games—including the critically acclaimed indie platformer, Stealth Bastard. To learn more about Curve Studios, please visit http://curve-studios.com/

Sci-Fi Puzzle Game The Swapper out today on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita

Facepalm Games and Curve Digital Bring the Award-winning Game to Sony Formats as a Cross-buy Title and their Last PlayStation 3 Project

LONDON, UK – 05.08.2014 — The Swapper – originally created and designed by Facepalm Games – is out today in North America and available to play on the PlayStation 3, 4 and Vita. The game releases in Europe on August 6th and in Sony Asia territories later this month.

The Swapper was ported to PlayStation by developer Curve Studios and published by its publishing arm, Curve Digital. It marks the third PlayStation title published this year by the Curve Digital team, and the 9th PlayStation indie title overall, making Curve one of the largest indie publishers on PlayStation formats. It also marks the final game the company are working on for the PlayStation 3.

“We’re really happy with the final result of The Swapper on all three formats, and a lot of technical work went into making the PlayStation 3 version as smooth and good looking as it is.” said Curve Digital Managing Director, Jason Perkins.  “We plan on releasing a lots more PlayStation games, and with the amazing take-up of PlayStation 4 and Vita in the last six months, we’re going to focus our efforts on making the best games possible on those systems.”

Originally an award-winning PC game, the PlayStation version of Facepalm’s game has already received critical acclaim, currently holding a PS4 Metacritic of 85. As a cross-buy title, purchasing the game on any of three PlayStation formats will immediately grant access to the game on all three systems.

About Facepalm Games
Facepalm Games is a tiny independent game developer based in Helsinki, Finland that is composed of two full-time staff members and two freelancers. The studio believes the video game landscape is still largely unexplored, and aspires to create games that are wholly original to the medium. Facepalm’s first game is The Swapper—a sci-fi puzzle platformer that is supported by Indie Fund, featured in the PAX10—and holder of numerous awards and accolades, including IndieCade and Indie Game Challenge. To learn more about Facepalm games, please visit http://facepalmgames.com

About Curve Studios
Curve’s mission is simple: Develop and publish great video games. Their office in central London is home to a bunch of talented and passionate people who’ve been making games for a long time and want nothing more than to continue to do so. Curve works with some of the biggest and best development partners in the business on a mix of original IP and large, well-established franchises. The studio also develops original games—including the critically acclaimed indie platformer, Stealth Bastard. To learn more about Curve Studios, please visit http://curve-studios.com/