These days, amazing things are being done on mobile by very small teams. In the case of the new console-style party game Bombsquad, which is a fast-paced and fun cross between Bomberman and Mario Party, Eric Froemling was able to create this game by himself. Gamers who have the new NVIDIA SHIELD tablet or other Tegra K1 devices will experience an enhanced version of the game that brings even more explosions and special effects to the gameplay experience. Froemling talks about the new game in this exclusive interview.
What were your goals heading into this game?
With BombSquad, I simply set out to make the most fun party game I could for groups of people to play and to make it as accessible as possible, whether that means playing on a tablet with several controllers, playing over a network with several phones, playing between a phone and a PC, or some wacky combination of all that.
Can you talk about the gaming experience and how it utilizes tablets like Nvidia Shield Tablet and smartphone functionality?
BombSquad is all about multiplayer and works best on a controller, so the NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet is a perfect fit. Aside from being able to crank the graphics to their max, a nice benefit on the SHIELD Tablet is being able to play 2 player multiplayer with one person using the controller and one using touchscreen controls.
What does your game brings new to the genre?
The game is very physics-based which makes the experience unpredictable and often humorous. For example, in a capture-the-flag match, one player can pick up the flag, and then another player can pick up that player, and so on…and before long it turns into a giant human pyramid/tug-of-war/shouting-match. My neighbors probably hate me.
What excites you about what you can accomplish in mobile gaming today?
As a solo indie developer, I’m excited that we seem to be arriving at a sort of “sweet spot” where the power of mobile hardware is lining up well with what someone like myself is able to produce. I’m not a AAA studio, so naturally I have to keep my experiences somewhat small and focused. But it no longer feels like mobile is placing any extra limitations on top of that. I just create what I’m able to create, and the hardware can now handle it. It’s very liberating and very exciting.
How do you feel you're pushing things forward with this game?
So many mobile games are purely solo experiences. Between controller support, networking support, bluetooth, etc., there’s so much hardware available that can be used to create shared in-person social game experiences. That aspect of things is under-utilized and I want to push it as much as I can.
How have you worked with NVIDIA on your game?
NVIDIA has been very supportive both in terms of hardware and support and promo opportunities; they are very focused on making Android a platform for serious gaming and it’s been great to work with them.
What have they provided in terms of tech that has helped with development?
NVIDIA has set me up with early testing hardware as well as feedback. Their dev-tools, especially with the K1, have been very exciting in the amount of introspection that is now possible. Also, their documentation and guides have been a great asset in terms of getting a game up to speed with controller and/or TV support on Android (in general; not just for NVIDIA SHIELD).
How does your game make use of the latest Tegra K1 technology?
Previously, I had Desktop settings for my graphics when running on Mac/PC as well as Mobile settings for Android/etc. With the Tegra K1, that has changed; I’m not running with the same higher-bitdepth surfaces, post-processing effects, etc. on the K1 as I am on the PC version. I’ve even had enough graphical headroom to tweak my explosion effects and “crank them to 11” with extra bits of smoke, debris, and other destruction-y goodness.
How does this impact the gameplay experience across the platforms you’re targeting?
It feels more unified now, and will allow me to push experiences further since I’ll have to devote less time and effort to splitting out mobile-specific vs. PC-specific functionality.
What are your thoughts on NVIDIA Tegra K1 technology?
I love the fact that it makes the mobile world feel like the PC world with the same API support, GL extensions, etc. It “de-fragments” things because I can start to share more code and techniques, instead of having to use mobile-specific versions of things.
What do you see that opening up for game developers moving forward?
The sky is the limit. It’s exciting to be reaching this point where as a mobile developer you no longer need to ask “what do I need to strip out to make this run.” Instead it becomes “what can I add to make this better?”
How do you see Android TV opening up new opportunities for game developers?
I'm quite excited for the local multiplayer opportunities that will open up with Android TV. There’s so much creativity in the indie games space in mobile and I’d love to see more of it focused on the scenario of four friends sitting on a couch. I’m hoping Android TV will make that demographic more accessible and financially viable for developers.
What are your thoughts on the NVIDIA SHIELD and SHIELD Tablet?
Out of the devices I’ve used, I respect both the NVIDIA SHIELD and the SHIELD Tablet for “feeling” like serious gaming devices first and foremost. As an example, I can sing the praises of the analog sticks on the SHIELD Wireless Controller. Being a giant geek, I’ve built a test app to graph how accurate and responsive controllers’ analog sticks are, and the SHIELD Tablet controller is the first one I’ve seen on mobile that matches or exceeds console controllers.