Never Alone Game Explores Alaskan Frontier

By John Gaudiosi ( - Mon, Mar 30, 2015

Never Alone, the world’s first game developed in and by Native Inuit Alaskans was designed for PC, Xbox One and PS4. Now E-Line Media is porting the game to the portable NVIDIA SHIELD device and NVIDIA Tablet complete with all of the environmental effects that make this game unique. Sean Vesce, creative director on Never Alone at E-Line Media, talks about the mobile game in this exclusive interview.

What makes Never Alone unique?
It’s an Alaskan Native game and we explore the mythology, the values, and the history of the Inuit. They’re based on the North Slope of Alaska. It’s such a pleasure to work directly with community members to bring this game to market. We’re excited to be on the NVIDIA SHIELD. It’s the first time Never Alone is going to be completely portable so you can take the adventure anywhere you go.

What do you think of how quickly an Xbox One and PS4 game is playable on a mobile device?
We’ve been thrilled with the performance of the SHIELD Tablet. It’s amazing how far the graphical capabilities of handhelds has come since I first began developing for portables years ago. Getting the game running was a snap. It took about two weeks of work from our engineers and we’re just thrilled with the performance.

What’s the storyline in Never Alone?
The game features an Inuit girl and her arctic fox. They’re working together, but are controllable independently, and they mutually rely on one another. Each has their own unique skills and abilities and they go on a fantastic adventure that explores a mythological story from Inuit culture called Kanooks Siouka?. It’s the story of an endless blizzard and the pair needs to find the source of the blizzard and restore balance to nature.

What are some of the environments people will explore?
We explore the entire range in the North Slope, which includes tundra regions, forests, ice flows and underwater caverns. It’s a romp through every possible environment that exists in Northern Alaska.

What have you done to optimize this game for NVIDIA SHIELD and SHIELD Tablet?
We’ve done a number of rendering optimizations to get the game running, but it was quite easy to do. We’re able to feature a game that is comparable in graphical quality to what’s running on the PlayStation 4 complete with the visual effects, transparency, depth of field and all of the affects that we had come to enjoy on the main consoles. We’ve been able to get all that to work on the SHIELD.

What role do weather effects play in this game?
There are tons of weather effects. The game’s main character really is this blizzard that comes in all sorts of forms, but it has many layers of depth. I really wanted to get an atmospheric, moody feel for the game and that really comes through on the Shield.

How did you work with NVIDIA during the development process?
NVIDIA has been great. The support we’ve received as an independent developer has been tremendous. They’ve provided hardware, technical support and a lot of guidance as we went through the porting process.

What are your thoughts about how quickly things are evolving in mobile technology?
It’s about bringing our games to every gaming platform, whether it’s handheld, on tablet, or in the living room on the couch. We want to get our game in as many people’s hands as possible, so supporting NVIDIA is a natural for us.

What are your thoughts on the new NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV device?
It’s just a fantastic experience for the living room. Never Alone has great gameplay, as well as over forty minutes of cultural insights through documentary film footage told in the voices of people from the North Slope. They talk about things that are in the game, so it’s a really good experience to play with friends and family in a living room experience. Android TV and Nvidia Shield is a perfect vehicle for a game like this.

What do you think of Never Alone going from consoles to being playable across NVIDIA devices?
It’s amazing. It’s a crazy, circular loop, but it’s great. Our job as developers is to make sure that as many players can play the game, and getting it on these devices is just another step in our process to bring games to the worldwide gaming audience.