Frying Master and My Bakku Pakku for PSVita being featured in Wireframe's Magazine!

One of the developers who joined the Vita’s growing homebrew community was Vagelis ‘LazyOx’ Oganesov, who’s currently making My Bakku Pakku – a mash-up of Super Mario and Katamari. “I picked up a PSP because of the homebrew but, well, it’s old, so I decided to pick up a Vita,” Oganesov says.

Initially purchasing the system for emulation purposes, he changed focus after discovering a few homebrew titles made using his engine of choice: Unity. “I’ve always been a creative person, and when I discovered Unity was working on Vita, it just clicked. Unity equals game. Make the game, put it on Vita.”

Before My Bakku Pakku, Oganesov started out with a smaller project called Frying Master – a re-creation of Mario Party’s Sizzling Stakes minigame, in which the player has to fry all six sides of a meat cube before the time runs out.

With this first game under his belt, Oganesov decided to move on to a more advanced project. “I’m primarily a mobile developer,” he tells us. “I’m used to the process of optimising my games, but when [I started on My Bakku Pakku], it was running at 15 frames per second.”

Having previously worked on SouzaSim, a mobile racing game, Oganesov brought experience of optimising for handheld formats to the new project.

All the same, the early stages of My Bakku Pakku’s development proved challenging: even with a visual style designed around the Vita’s GPU, slowdown persisted in early builds. “I know if you have real shadows, not baked shadows, [lighting] effects, and a high-resolution image, it’ll start lagging,” Oganesov says. “But on Vita, I couldn’t find why.”

Theoretically, a simple 3D platform game should have worked perfectly well on the Vita, but the addition of Katamari-style physics – where the player pushes a sticky ball around a map, collecting objects – proved troublesome for the system.

“After I designed the original graphics build, when I was originally testing the game, I didn’t have any objects,” Oganesov recalls. “It was running fine, flawless. I started putting in objects, and it would just slow right down. I thought it was bug-related! I was constantly, like, ‘Why?’ The graphics are so simple: there’s no lighting, there’s no nothing! I’m literally hitting my head against the wall.”

Since having a lot of objects on screen was a key focus of My Bakku Pakku’s design, Oganesov focused his energies on optimising the game for the Vita’s hardware. “In the game, you pick up objects, they disappear, and they fill your backpack,” he explains. “The problem was CPU usage… but it plays well now.”

It’s still a work-in-progress title, but Oganesov has hopes for My Bakku Pakku beyond a curio on a hacked system – the ambition is to bring the game to other mobile formats should it work out well on Vita. It’s proof that, in a realm known for its piracy and other nefarious dealings, there’s also something wholesome and positive emerging from the handheld hacking space.

This is also included in the wireframe magazine issue 27 which can be downloaded for free here.