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October 21, 2020
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Converting a Mobile Platformer into a Good PC Platformer

by Amir H. Fassihi on 09/09/14 05:13:00 am   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Shadow Blade, a Ninja action platformer game was released on the AppStore in January this year and it was received very well (mobile version trailer). The game used intuitive touch controls on mobile devices with an optional support for a virtual gamepad. However, our team were mainly PC game lovers and we had released two PC titles before Shadow Blade (Shadow Blade was our first mobile experience) and so we always envisioned how the game would play on the big screen with keyboard and controllers where the roots of the platforming genre come from. After a few monts passed from the mobile release and one major update, we decided to bring Shadow Blade to PC with one major goal: Modifying the game as much as possible so that it becomes a high quality PC platformer game! the last thing we wanted was to do a direct port of the mobile game for the PC audience.

We launched the game on Steam Early Access in July and are working on it at the moment to make sure it gets tuned well for the PC platform.

The following is a description of the challenges we faced and the decisions we have made so far in this journey to convert the good mobile platformer into a respectable PC title.

Shadow Blade: Reload

Shadow Blade: Reload for PC

So what have we changed so far?

1 - The Name

We obviously started with the name first, Shadow Blade: Reload, to stress on the fact that this game is an enhanced remake of the mobile version of the game and not a simple port.

2 - Controls

The obvious changes were the support of keyboards and gamepads but two other main changes were made:

  • We used gesture controls on touch devices to navigate the Ninja through the levels and that kind of control has its limitations, however, on the PC, a gamer has quite a lot more control on the input. An example is complete control over the navigation of the character while jumping. For this reason the controls for navigating the character and specially the jumps where changed quite a lot in order to let the PC gamer control the Ninja as he/she wishes.
  • Another aim for the mobile version was to use swipes and taps only and stay away from button HUDs as much as possible. For this reason there was always a limitation on the number of inputs and we were never able to add Shuriken throwing to the mobile version. With various buttons to use on PC, we added the missing mechanics like throwing Shurikens and dashing while on the ground.

3 - Level Design

  • Size: With the average play session time of the mobile audience, having very short levels were a necessity for the original game. The un-interrupted allocated time of the PC gamer led us to work on larger levels, on average the size of the levels on the PC are three times the size on mobile.
  • Architecture: With more controls on the PC, the level layout and challenges needed to be redesigned to increase the difficulty level and provide the necessary fun for the more hardcore audience.

Level LayoutSize of the Levels on PC are three times the size on Mobile

Our level designer, @mld70121, will soon write a detailed article about the various changes we made in level design for the PC version.

4 - Graphics

Another obvious choice was to enhance the graphics, we focused on the following:

  • Adding dynamic shadows and numerous light sources
  • A deferred rendering pipeline
  • Enhancing texture size
  • Adding various post process effecs like Bloom and HDR
  • Increasing the object count in each level (added many little props)
  • More particles and enhanced particle quality

5 - Game Configuration

Configuring graphics, sound or controls is not very much important on mobile games but this is a huge aspect of PC games. We had to provide full configuration capabilities for SB:R.

6 - Point System

The point system on the mobile version was rather simple. You earned points based on your level finish time, number of orbs collected and the number of secrets found, all summarized in a 3 star system. On PC, we added much resolution to the point calculation which included stats like enemy kills and different type of kills and we got rid of the 3 start system totally.

7 - A Level Editor

A very important aspect of the PC ecosystem these days is the interaction between the community and one major feature for platformers is the ability to make your own levels and share them with the community. For this reason, we worked on a brand new in-game level editor to enable the gamers to make their levels, play them and share them via Steam Workshop.

Level Editor
In-game Level Editor

8 - Full Steam Integration

In order to better support the Steam PC gamer ecosystem, we added Steam Leaderboards, Achievements, Cloud Saving, Workshop Integration and Full Controller Support.

9 - Local Co-op Race Mode

Multiplayer and PC, why not. Shadow Blade is a speed run type platformer and a race mode where you could challenge your friends next to you on the couch (assuming you are an early adopter of this setup) proved to be a very good fit. We spent quite some time implementing this feature since this was not designed and thought about during the development of the original mobile game.

10 - Story Campaign

We never focused on the game story for the mobile version and it was basically a one liner. However, from the early feedback we got, we found out that on PC and not while hanging from the handles in the train, gamers are very much more into the mode of following a story and reading every detail about the game world. For this reason we worked on a brand new story from the ground up to be included in the game story campaign.

11 - Comic Book

We followed a comic book style story telling for the game story campaign and this will result in a stand alone digital comic to complement the game package also.

Comic Book

12 - Three Difficulty Levels

The PC audience ranges from die hard platformer fans to people interested in the game and not necessarily very interested in the genre. For this reason we came up with three difficulty levels for every game level. The level layout and challenges are quite different in each difficulty level and this proved to take a considerable amount of time from the team.

13 - A Revised Game Tutorial

More controls and more options and complexity on the PC meant that the tutorial levels that were designed for the mobile version did not work anymore so we had to completely redesign and implement the tutorial levels and the way we provide various playing information to the gamer.

14 - More and more and ...

Finally what we are doing is adding more of whatever we can, more levels, more enemies, more environment styles.

A Note About the Game Media

Apparently the game media are very much against mobile titles that get simply converted to a PC title and sold on Steam, which seems reasonable to some extent since many times these games are minimally ported to simply run on a PC and playing them is often quite tedious. Convincing the media that we are re-making this game to fit the PC platform has proved to be quite a challenge for us!


This journey of converting Shadow Blade from a good mobile game to a respectable PC title has proved to be quite challenging and it is a work in progress at the moment. We are definitely learning a lot in this process and it is quite tough and fun. We hope this information can be helpful for the developer community and we are looking forward to share more from our experiences as we proceed towards the full game release. 

If you are interested in this subject and promise to send us good insight and feedback about the game, we would be more than glad to send you a game key to try it out, just drop me an email at amir at deadmage . com.

Shadow Blade on AppStore:
Shadow Blade: Reload on Steam :

Follow the development here: @DeadMageStudio

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