Developer 11 Bit Studios has worked with NVIDIA on multiple games over the years. Now the Warsaw-based studio has brought its innovative new adventure game, This War of Mine, to Android TV. The game twists the concept of gameplay by putting people in control of ordinary citizens caught in the grips of war, rather than playing the traditional role of a combat soldier.
“Our philosophy is to look for new gameplay ideas, new areas of storytelling, and mixing up gernes to bring something new,” Pawel Miechowski, senior writer at 11 Bit studios, said. “And with This War of Mine the idea was brought by our CEO Grzegorz Miechowski, who came up with an idea of a serious game, made for a mature gamer; a game that was supposed to give a perspective of war as seen by civilians, not by soldiers -- and this is something quite unusual in games. Our goal was to create a serious experience about civilians in war.”
Miechowski said there’s no traditional storyline in the game. This War of Mine is a nonlinear experience, where the player is the narrator.
“In the game your goal is simple -- to survive a war, to make it to the end of a siege that your civilians got stuck in,” Miechowski said. “How you do that, is completely up to you. You will face challenges like lack of food, medication, and bandages. You'll need to leave your hideout and go scavenge in the night and look for necessities. You'll make lots of decisions that will determine further events. For example, what do you do if your people are starving and you can steal food from an older couple? What do you do if you need water? Do you steal it or trade food for it? Please keep in mind your people will react to every single thing you do. They may get depressed, or even suffer a nervous breakdown.”
The game is heavily based on reality, so the characters are just ordinary people like a lawyer, a fireman, and a math teacher. Moreover, the character models are based on the development team. 11 But Studios scanned themselves into 3D models because they wanted to achieve a feeling of ordinary people.
“We developed this game to prove that games can be mature forms of storytelling, designed and made for mature gamers, like Papers, Please or Gods Will Be Watching, and another step in the process of maturation of games,” Miechowski said. “Every decision you make has consequences. That’s what surviving war looks like for civilians. It causes you to carry heavy burden and that's why This War of Mine is very emotional experience, and a very engaging one.”
NVIDIA helped 11 Bit Studios adapt the game for Android TV. According to programmer Szymon Jablonski, the NVIDIA Developer Forums were an invaluable source of information, and frequently helped the team solve issues.
“As a developer, we know that even the greatest frameworks and libraries need their community to become truly useful in commercial production,” Szymon Jablonski said.
Programmer Robert Przygoda pointed out that this studio had experience working with NVIDIA to add PhysX to Anomaly 2 for Shield Portable.
“NVIDIA surprised us with NVIDIA Shield Android TV,” Przygoda said. “Implementing controller support went smoothly, thanks to our experiences with Shield Portable. The Android TV Developer Guide was a great help not only in improving the graphics over other small screen Android devices, but also in redesigning the user interface (UI) to enhance the specific big screen TV experience.”
Jablonski said Android Works offered great debugging and profiling tools, which helped the team implement its rendering system for This War of Mine. The game engine uses NDK, so good plug-ins for Visual Studio were important to the team.
“For many years, the Android OS has been one of our main targets for our games,” Jablonski said. “It’s nice to see that the number of good tools and high level libraries dedicated to game development is still increasing.”
With the powerful NVIDIA GPU, Jablonski said the team was able to implement cooler graphics and effects for the Android TV version, which is very important for the quality of a gaming experience on a big screen.
This War of Mine was originally designed to play with mouse and some keyboard shortcuts, so porting to touch control went quite smoothly. But when the team implemented gamepad support they discovered that it offers a new experience for users. It changes the way the user is connected to the game characters.
“The most exciting thing about Android TV is that we can easily transform our mobile game to look like a console game,” Jablonski said. “We still develop our application for Android, but our thinking and capabilities are quite different. With powerful hardware, big TV screens, and gamepad support we can offer gamers new experiences.”
The key to bringing mobile games to the big screen is processing power, and the Tegra X1 has plenty of that.
“We think that using GPU features will become standard in mobile game development,” Jablonski said. “With Compute Shaders creating AI systems based on neural networks, fluid simulations and other computationally-intensive algorithms will be possible.”
In addition, Jablonski hopes that NVIDIA Shield’s game streaming technology will change the way people think about discovering and playing video games. He sees huge potential there for Android TV.