A rhythm game for mobile platforms isn't unheard of, but a rhythm game for mobile platforms using Unreal Engine 3 (UE3) technology to combine exciting battles with awesome music from some of Japan's top composers? Leave it to the creative minds at iNiS and Square Enix to pull it all together in “Demons’ Score.”
“We were planning ‘Demons’ Score’ as a high-quality mobile title that can compete against consumer titles,” said Takashi Tokita, Senior Manager in Square Enix's Mobile Business Division. The first step was finding a development partner, and Square Enix found a likely candidate in iNiS, creators of “Gitaroo Man,” “Elite Beat Agents” and “Lips,” some of the most memorable rhythm games ever made.
Selecting a game engine and target platform was the next step. When “Infinity Blade” came out, Tokita said, “We were strongly impressed,” and iNiS had previous experience with the Unreal Engine and knew their way around the toolset, making the choice an easy one.
As “Demons’ Score” took shape, the iNiS team found Unreal Kismet and Unreal Matinee invaluable for managing gameflow and enemy spawn timing according to Satoshi Akamatsu, Team Lead, Core Middleware Technologies. UE3’s mobile previewer also provided a quick way to check progress on target mobile devices.
“Our expectations for Unreal Engine 3 were very high, and we wanted to reach ‘Infinity Blade’-level quality,” Akamatsu said, adding that the preview tools helped with reaching their gameplay and visual goals.
UE3’s wide variety of toolsets proved especially useful for the 3D portion of the game, Akamatsu said, while the command-debugging system and source control access enabled the developers to customize the engine and enhance it to suit the unique needs of a rhythm-based fantasy combat game.
While developing such a distinct title presented some challenges, Tokita said mobile game developers looking to produce high-end, realistic graphics would find, "Unreal is the way to go." He added that mobile games often use a lot of sequential data for elements such as cutscenes, and the Unreal Engine toolset provides a huge advantage in efficient content pipeline production and management.
iNiS and their development partner Hexa Drive found working with Epic on the iOS version very satisfactory, especially with regard to the Unreal Developer Network (UDN) and regular engine updates. They also praised Epic Games Japan for their kindness and helpfulness.
The only thing limiting the power of the Unreal Engine and tools is the hardware of the current generation of mobile platforms, Tokita said. “If the evolution of mobile devices continues at its current speed,” he said, “We'll be able to develop high-quality games with much more visual impact in the very near future.”