Porting Raji: An Ancient Epic to Mobile: A Discussion with Nodding Heads Games

The handheld gaming market has experienced a significant increase in popularity in recent years, thanks to the success of consoles like the Nintendo Switch and the new Steam Deck. While smartphones already have their own library of games, they lack the ability to run AAA or popular indie titles smoothly due to hardware limitations. To overcome this issue, developers often make the effort to create dedicated versions of these games for mobile devices. Nodding Heads Games, a developer based in Pune, accomplished this with their recent collaboration with Netflix, bringing their critically acclaimed game Raji: An Ancient Epic to Android and iOS.

Gadgets 360 spoke with Avichal Singh, co-founder and game director, and Paras Chaudhary, the lead programmer at Nodding Heads Games, to learn more about the process of porting the game. Singh mentioned that they had always planned to release a mobile version of Raji, which was developed using Unreal Engine 4. Although the core visuals and gameplay mechanics remain the same across all platforms, the control scheme and user interface were modified to provide a smooth touch-screen experience.

Developing a game for mobile devices comes with its limitations, but Nodding Heads Games took inspiration from the Nintendo Switch version of Raji to optimize the performance for Android and iOS. They made several iterations of optimizations, including reworking the levels to reduce the GPU load, downsizing textures to save memory, and rewriting parts of the code to optimize CPU usage. The team also added options for FPS limits and graphics quality to cater to devices of varying specifications.

One of the challenges the team faced was reducing the overall download size of the game to comply with the 2GB limit on app bundles on the Google Play Store. Sing explained that they managed to reduce the size from 4GB on the Nintendo Switch to 1.8GB on Android while maintaining the quality of the game.

This achievement raises the question of whether today’s mobile devices are capable of running Nintendo Switch and older PC games with proper optimization. We have seen successful ports of games like Sid Meier’s Railroads! and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic to mobile devices, proving that it is possible with the right optimization efforts.

As for the availability of Raji: An Ancient Epic, Nodding Heads Games has chosen to release it exclusively on Netflix as part of the platform’s expansion into gaming. Netflix Games offers subscribers a collection of mobile games at no additional cost. This move aligns with the growing demand for mobile gaming in India, where there is easy access to 5G internet and affordable smartphones.

Raji: An Ancient Epic on mobile includes all the content released by Nodding Heads Games, including the Enhanced Edition update with full Hindi voiceover and localization in various Indian languages. Although the game currently focuses on action-adventure gameplay, the studio hinted at future projects and encouraged fans to follow their social media handles for updates.

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