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Flipping Death: Bringing unique 2D puzzlers to Nintendo Switch with Unity

, April 27, 2018

What does Zoink Games mean when they refer to Flipping Death as the spiritual successor to their previous hit game, Stick It to the Man? They’re referring to the fact that both games are puzzlers with a unique mix of innovative physics and 2D and 3D art. The two games also share supernatural themes, off-the-wall humor and quirky characters. Finally, like Stick It to the Man, Flipping Death will be released to several platforms, but Nintendo Switch fans of Stick It to the Man, in particular, are eagerly anticipating its release this year.

“The Nintendo fan base has always liked our games,” says Rasmus Jarl, the lead developer on Flipping Death. “I’m not sure if it has something to do with the fact that players can take the game with them wherever they go or what, but those are the users that are most excited.”

Documentation made the switch smooth

While the team has prepared for release on Xbox, PC, Steam and PS4, Jarl says that the Unity-Nintendo partnership made development for Switch particularly smooth.

“Nintendo puts special effort into making sure Unity feels like a first-party platform,” he says. “The submission process is smooth and intuitive. And the documentation is comprehensive and clear. Unlike some other documentation, which can be dry and complicated, the Switch one feels like it was written for humans, and it includes a lot of examples so you can understand the context.”

A little bit extra in the way of support

In addition to the documentation, Jarl says that support from both Unity and Nintendo is excellent.

“Not only is the Nintendo documentation great, they also have their own community people who share their insights and provide us with solutions. It’s a mix of third-party and first-party support where you can feel that they put in more effort in making it a complete experience for developers,” he says.

Pluses and minuses of optimization

All in all, Jarl says that the documentation, support and ease of the workflow were top-notch, and there were no major issues optimizing for Switch.

They had to make some tweaks to the controllers and work a bit more to accommodate the HD Rumble feature, for example. They also implemented their own systems to perform some extra culling in order to accommodate the lower performance in Unity.

On the other hand, Jarl says that it made testing easier because it’s hand-free. People didn’t have to sit at the developer’s desk to test-play, and in fact, they could even take it home with them.

“Even though Switch was the lowest performance-wise compared to the other platforms we released to, it was the one the team enjoyed developing for the most, and the one players are most excited about,” says Jarl. “It just felt like one more phase of the workflow in Unity.”

Interested in developing for the Nintendo Switch? Register on the Nintendo Developer platform for access to Nintendo developer tools and resources.

A well-oiled machine

In addition to Stick It to the Man and Flipping Death, Zoink have been using Unity to create games like Zombie Vikings and Fe since 2011, and they have a well-oiled workflow and pipeline.

“We feel very comfortable working in C# in Unity. In contrast, C++ is a big beast with a lot of safety issues and low-level things you have to deal with. With Unity, we can work fast and focus on key areas. If we had to change to another engine, I’m quite sure, we would be a lot less productive and not able to change things as quickly as we do in Unity,” Jarl says.

You can learn more about how Zoink Games created their latest puzzler in the Unity for 2D Flipping Death case study. We also interviewed Zoink Games’ creative director Klaus Lyngeled at GDC, see our live show episode here: