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Never Alone ventures onto NVIDIA Shield Android TV

By John Gaudiosi (gamerlive.tv) - Mon, Sep 28, 2015

E-Line Media and developer Fair Play Labs have brought the unique puzzle platform game, Never Alone, to Android devices, including NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV. Originally created by Alaskan developer Upper One Games for PC and next gen consoles, the game puts players in control of Iñupiat girl Nuna and her Arctic fox companion as they traverse the frozen landscapes of Alaska in the hopes of restoring balance and ending the eternal blizzard.

The game’s spread out over eight chapters and blends Alaskan Native folklore into stores like Blizzard Man, the Little People, Manslayer, the Rolling Deads, and the Sky People. There’s also a co-op gameplay mode that allows each player to take control of one of the characters. Christian Sanchez, producer and lead engineer at Fair Play Labs, explains how NVIDIA Tegra X1 technology opened up new visuals for the game in this exclusive interview.

How have you worked with NVIDIA on your game?

From the development point of view, we got a dedicated engineer that helped us with all our NVIDIA-specific questions and helped us with internal support of the Unity 3D engine. They've also been extremely supportive on the publishing is in terms of supporting the launch, sale and marketing of the game.

What technology did NVIDIA provide that helped with development?

The help was beyond anything we got before, including recompiled custom Unity runtime to support specific Shield features like Linear Color Space support and solve internal bugs like post-processing render target issues we had when there were too many post-processing effects.

What are your thoughts on the evolution of Android as a platform?

Android started as a phone operating system, but faster and faster is becoming an entertainment hub. Also, the increase in performance has been amazing through every iteration. The current Shield platform, for example, let us have our game on par with PS4, Xbox One, and PC platforms, which is especially significant for a game like Never Alone where aesthetic experience and atmosphere are so important. The gap between classic consoles and new Android devices is closing, and sooner rather than later, we'll see that most people will have one of these devices connected to their TVs.

What excites you about Android TV?

The raw power and the huge amount of content that is available right now for the platform. Also, we can see how the portfolio of games is increasing every day. Initially, it was just half-ported mobile games on the platform with just a few games optimized for controller, but the Shield initiative is changing that. Every day, more and more games are coming from the console world to the Android market. Never Alone is just one example of this.

What impact do you think NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV could have within the gaming ecosystem?

The NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV can be considered the first "real" Android gaming console. There have been some Android consoles out there, but this is the first time that the performance and power of that console is comparable with a dedicated classic gaming console. This has made Android a target for a more mature gaming audience, not just casual players.

What do you see NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV opening up for game developers moving forward?

This opens up the eyes of high-end and AAA game developers to consider Android as an actual target for their games, not just for their companion apps.

How does your game take advantage of NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV functionality?

Never Alone has a really high visual quality that would be hard to achieve if it wasn't for the NVIDIA SHIELD processing and graphics power. Also, this game would have been quite difficult to develop for a touch-screen device, so targeting platforms that support controller-only games was a must.

What impact has Tegra X1 technology had on the gameplay experience SHIELD Android TV users will have?

It’s provided higher frame rate, higher resolution, and overall way better games like Never Alone.