“In-your-face functionality and immersion” Why Sharkmob chose PS5 as Vampire Bloodhunt’s lead platform
One of the best things about Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodhunt, at least in terms of the game’s initial wow factor, is its presence only on the PS5 and PC and not on any of the previous generation consoles. This has allowed it to at least technically push the bar of the genre, with all the bells as whistles leaving older platforms behind.
To learn more about this decision, I sat down with Technical Director Anders Holmquist at Sharkmob Studios. While there, I wanted to delve into the specifics of some of the technologies present in Bloodhunt, as well as the decision to switch to Easy Anti-Cheat from their previous internal software.
VG247: This game is coming to PS5 on PC and it has been said in previous interviews that these platforms are currently taking center stage. Why choose the PS5 as the main option as opposed to other contemporary consoles?
Different: I think the PS5 is the market leader at the moment, and Sony has really, really good tech – especially for an open-world game like Bloodhunt, where you can’t load the entire map at once and have to stream parts of the city in and out . And I think for example the [UI] Improvements made on PS5 – You can do some really clever stuff with it just to make streaming fast enough.
VG247: In what ways does the PS5 technology built into the hardware affect the average gaming experience for your typical gamer, in ways that are meaningful to their own experience?
Different: I think there’s a lot of in-your-face functionality with the lights on the controller, and the adaptive triggers make it that much more immersive. You feel like you’re in the game, I think a lot more than playing with a mouse and keyboard (which is a bit static in comparison).
So I think that makes a big difference, and then the performance on the PS5 is generally pretty impressive, to be honest.
VG247: You’re using AMD FSR technology, right? This allows for a number of different performance modes for players to choose from. Tell me how important it is to have that in your game?
Different: I think in general there are a lot of nice super-sampling techniques that make a big difference in what kind of resolutions you can have and how well you can get the game to run. It also helps give players the choice of how they want to improve visual quality or just performance.
At the moment, since chip shortages and hardware upgrades aren’t always available, it also opens up the game for more machines and people to play it. We hope to have an even bigger impact with things like this in the future. Maybe some cool stuff is coming.
VG247: I wanted to talk to you about the mocap technology used in Bloodhunt. How does the technology used here – where you can scan a variety of different clothing items and other assets into the engine – directly set the game apart from its competitors?
Different: I think we have an interesting problem, which is that we’re an almost realistic game. We’re set in the real world, with real people, and that brings with it expectations of how they move and how they behave. And then there’s the very supernatural element of vampires. So the question is; How do you make that feel realistic while still having that supernatural element? I think motion capture really helps with that: it allows us to do the kind of scenes and animations that really push the envelope. It really reinforces the feeling that this vampire could actually be real.
I would say a lot of studios are starting to use motion capture a lot.
VG247: Is it just the looks? Or does it come down to ease of use or other factors?
Different: Yes I think it gives you a lot of freedom and control over the animations and you can produce a lot of very high fidelity animations. Mocap used to be a bit wobbly. It’s like you’re recording someone doing a nice jump and then you load the data and it was like their leg just flew into space. It’s gotten to a point where you can make really nice things.
You can see the motion capture data instantly in-game in Unreal Engine, see if it looks good or not, and you can take another shot and say “okay, but try jumping like this” instead.
VG247: Why choose Unreal for Bloodhunt over other engines?
Different: There are many, many reasons for this. When we started I looked at several engines and Unreal was the closest to what we were used to. It’s a very mature engine that’s a bit more based on a traditional triple-A development style. Unity, for example, has a very different flow in the way you work with it – maybe a bit more difficult to work with very large teams. So from that point of view, Unreal was a very good fit.
VG247: During early access, there was an issue with the anti-cheat software originally developed for the game. What prompted the switch to Easy Anti Cheat and what did the team take away from the situation?
Different: We had an internal anti-cheat that worked quite well, to be honest. But anti-cheat is always a very touchy subject and I understand why. Especially nowadays it’s gotten to the point where anti-cheat needs to be running at the kernel level because if it’s not, all the cheats will run and it won’t see them.
So it depends on a lot of trust. You give a lot of access to an anti-cheat and what we saw from early access was that at least in the West people weren’t very used to it and it made them nervous and we can understand that.
So after Early Access we had a long discussion about what we could do. And I think the conclusion was at the end, just to make the community feel comfortable going with something they knew and had seen before. I really like Easy Anti Cheat, I’ve known these guys since they started a company. And yes, it was probably the right choice, but it wasn’t an easy one.
VG247: Judging from your answer, I assume you stand by the original anti-cheat for its effectiveness.
Different: Yes, I think they were both very effective anti-cheats basically. I think there are a few on the market that work quite well.
VG247: It sounds like there has been a general push to include many technical advances in Bloodhunt? Was that an original intention with this game from the start?
Different: No, no, absolutely not. It didn’t start like that. Just when we started the company, we had much more modest ambitions. What we realized very quickly was that we’re not very good at not being ambitious, it’s kind of, it’s kind of what we do.
We joked about that all the time. We were like the worst indie in the world because we were really bad at saying that’s enough or that’s good enough. We always wanted to move things forward.
If you’re in the mood for more Bloodhunt interviews, you might want to check out our chat with the game’s art director about why ex-Division developers chose Prague for Vampire Bloodhunt’s stylish setting. Alternatively, you can check out our beginner’s guide for help getting started with the game.
https://www.vg247.com/vampire-the-masquerade-bloodhunt-ps5-tech “In-your-face functionality and immersion” Why Sharkmob chose PS5 as Vampire Bloodhunt’s lead platform