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Nine Dots Studio engaged with our studio to enhance their ambitious RPG, Outward. The collaboration focused on creating patches for PlayStation and Xbox, along with a full Outward Definitive Edition port for the Nintendo Switch. 


Outward presents a unique blend of open-world exploration and survival mechanics, set within a fantasy realm where players are not heroes but ordinary figures striving to survive. This project was particularly challenging due to its demanding technical scope involving extensive optimizations and bug fixes across multiple gaming platforms. 


Before the project began, Nine Dots Studio received quite a few requests from their audience, specifically those who wanted a way to play Outward on the go. Additionally, the original developers wanted to get their foot through the door and release their first title on a Nintendo platform.

This, combined with the massive Nintendo Switch suggested a new direction. Many gamers only use Nintendo Switch as their primary gaming hardware, which implied potential for new audiences for Outward.


The development team at SneakyBox faced complex technical hurdles during the optimization and porting of Outward to various platforms. Key challenges included:

  • User Interface Optimization. The game's architecture, particularly the user interface, was initially a significant bottleneck. The architecture made it difficult to improve the UI's responsiveness without extensive rewrites, which were not feasible within the project's time constraints.
  • Environmental Optimization. Specific scenes and environments within the game suffered from performance issues due to the high number of elements visible at once. Traditional methods like occlusion culling were initially counterproductive, leading to even slower performance.


These were some pretty big technical challenges that required thinking outside of the box and rethinking how certain areas of the game work. Here’s our thought process behind it:

  • Selective Architecture Optimization. Instead of comprehensive architectural changes, the team focused on critical areas needing immediate improvement. For the skills menu, which caused the game to lag significantly, they redesigned the UI's functionality to reduce delay. Other areas received targeted optimizations to enhance performance without extensive redevelopment.
  • Manual and Strategic Optimizations. Where automated tools like occlusion culling did not yield the desired improvements, the team manually adjusted the visibility of object groups based on the player's position, significantly reducing redraws and improving frame rates.

Additionally, SneakyBox team implemented a more nuanced approach to object and texture management, which included:

  • Reducing texture resolution and increasing compression to decrease the overall game size from 25GB to 6GB.
  • Implementing shader variant stripping and adjusting asset unloading between scenes to optimize memory usage.
  • Revamping the LOD system to deactivate certain levels of detail that were unnecessary, refining how and when different LODs were triggered to improve graphical performance.
  • These solutions not only tackled the specific issues but also enhanced the overall stability and experience of playing Outward, ensuring a smoother experience across all targeted platforms.

Now you can venture outward (pun intended) and experience the game on PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and Nintendo Switch.


Game Engine: Unity 2020.3.45f1

Languages: C#

IDE: Visual Studio

Assets used:

Photon - networking

ReWired - controller support

Addressables - asset management system

NodeCanvas - visual behavior authoring framework