Indie game, Contrast, took the PC and console gaming world by storm in 2013. Now the adventure game, in which players control a three-dimensional imaginary friend, is a launch title for the new Nvidia Shield Android TV. Sam Abbott, director of marketing at Compulsion Games, explains what’s in store for the more casual Android TV gaming audience when they explore this unique game in this exclusive interview.
What were your goals heading into this game?
Contrast is a passion project. We started Compulsion Games to build it -- and spent a lot of time working on other people's games to get together the funds to make it. Our goal was to create something unique and innovative and, along the way, show the world that small studios don't have to compromise on production value.
What’s the storyline in Contrast?
Contrast is the story of a little girl, Didi, whose absent father is caught up in some serious trouble. Set in a mix of the 1920s and 1940s, you follow both the story of her father's dealings with gangsters, and Didi's struggle to get her family back together.
How do you feel you're pushing things forward with this game?
In Contrast, you play as Dawn, Didi's imaginary friend. Like all good imaginary friends, she's got an incredible power - the ability to move between a 3D world and the 2D shadow world. The mechanic is unique - it's completely free form, so you can be a shadow when you want to be, or run in 3D. The only restriction is that you need light to cast a shadow - and you need to have a shadow to become your shadow. We create a bunch of puzzles and platforming sections where you have to use your shadow powers to advance through the game.
We also think the story is different to what a lot of gamers experience -- it's not a story about saving the world, it's just a story about a little girl, and what fatherhood means to her. It's a real, human story, albeit with some fantastical elements.
Can you talk about the single player experience?
When playing as Dawn, your goal is to help Didi. She's a 10-year-old that doesn't let things get in her way - but most of the time she needs your help to get to where she needs to be.
How have you worked with Nvidia on your game?
Nvidia has been really proactive about looking for a great variety of games for the Shield Android TV. They reached out to us some time back, and we were really happy to get involved. It's really nice to be featured alongside a bunch of great games.
What have they provided in terms of tech that has helped with development?
Contrast was originally released in 2013, as a PC and console title. So, Nvidia has helped hugely with optimization and Android expertise. We couldn't have brought Contrast to the Shield Android TV without their help.
What are your thoughts on the evolution of Android as a platform?
This is our first Android experience, but we're pretty impressed with the Shield. Most of us use Android phones in the office, but there's no way a game like Contrast works on a phone - at least, not without substantial redesign. It seems to fit really well on the Shield, as it's the kind of game that was really made for a controller.
What excites you about Android TV?
Honestly, and this is going to sound super lazy, but I like the idea of an all-in-one device. Not having to switch devices to cast to the TV is nice.
What impact do you think Nvidia Shield Android TV could have within the gaming ecosystem?
It's lightweight, really small form factor, powerful in its own right, and has access to the whole Android ecosystem. The streaming tech is also pretty cool - if you're a PC gamer that has a solid main Nvidia rig, but sometimes wants to play in the living room, it's neat. And the built-in Youtube/Twitch functionality is great. So, if you like your PC where it is, but want to use it on the couch, this could be right up your alley.
What do you see Nvidia Shield Android TV opening up for game developers moving forward?How was it adding controller support to your game?
Contrast already had controller support, so this didn't require a great deal of redesign.
What impact has Tegra X1 technology had on the gameplay experience Shield Android TV users will have?
The biggest impact is that users will have access to games with higher visual quality. We spent a lot of time getting Contrast's visual design right, but it requires a reasonably powerful chip. Without the Tegra X1, we couldn't bring it to Android.