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PennysBigBreakaway 5

There have been so many amazing games released this year, tons of which run exceptionally well on the Steam Deck and a lot that don't. However, there have been only a handful of games that run better than I expected on the Deck, and Penny's Big Breakaway is one of them. Sure, it isn't the most detailed game, but a fully 3D game that is running at 60 or 90 FPS with extremely low battery drain? That's insane, and reviewing it was such a pleasure.

Recently, I had the chance to send some questions over to the game's developer, Evening Star, and asked about some of the techniques they used and if they had to do anything they did to get it running so well on Deck after three years in development. I wanted to learn about some of the techniques they used, and I am so happy to have gotten some answers:

How Penny's Big Breakaway Was Optimized for the Steam Deck - Q&A

The answers to our questions were provided by Hunter Bridges, the game director at Evening Star. I also want to thank Hunter and Evening Star for taking the time to answer my questions, as well as Tara Bruno PR for the opportunity to ask them.

I first asked about the techniques they used to optimize Penny's Big Breakaway. I am still stunned by how well it runs, so I was very curious about what they did:

You really can't beat the classics! We employed a combination of asset logging (e.g. How many triangles in a scene? How many game objects?), CPU profiling, and GPU profiling. We were launching across PC, Steam Deck, and Consoles, so we spent a lot of time having everybody test the game out, finding performance hot spots, profiling them, and addressing the bottlenecks.

It definitely helped that our art style and development ethos were already very lean!

Hunter Bridges

With that in mind, I did ask about these being tested on the Steam Deck during development, and of course, they were:

Yes, we had a couple of Steam Decks in the office we were testing on.

Hunter Bridges

After that, I was curious if there was anything that was specifically implemented or changed to accommodate the Steam Deck directly. And to my surprise, there was a solid amount of work put in:

Yes! When we first tried the game out on Steam Deck, the performance was smooth, but we were getting spontaneous frame hitches. It turned out that the way we were handling Vsync and frame rate regulation behaved a little differently on Proton than it did on native Win32/DirectX. Christian had to dig into our frame rate regulation code to make it more robust, and ensured it worked properly on Steam Deck.

Hunter Bridges

I was also a bit curious if they needed to cut anything or make any sacrifices to get it so well optimized. And it seems that they had to get closer to release to keep it performing well:

I think the biggest challenge we had near the end of the development was scaling the quality and quantity of the VFX so it performed well. There were quite a number of VFX that we had to redesign, such as the Shock Emitters and the Fire Walls.

Hunter Bridges

With that, we now know a little more about how they got the game to run so well! I am still floored by how wonderfully it performs on the Steam Deck. It's easily one of my favorite platformers to play portably, and I can't recommend it enough!

Penny's Big Breakaway is available on Steam right now for $29.99 and is rated Verified. We also reviewed the game and gave it a Best on Deck rating since you just have to open and run the game to enjoy it optimally!

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Noah Kupetsky
A lover of gaming since 4, Noah has grown up with a love and passion for the industry. From there, he started to travel a lot and develop a joy for handheld and PC gaming. When the Steam Deck released, it just all clicked.
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