Android TV is still a brand new platform and currently there is only one official consumer device running on it, the Nexus Player. In the months ahead though there will be more devices from other OEMs that will be be made available, so Google has been taking a keen focus on showing developers how to set up Android games for the Android TV platform in preparation. They highlight a few things in the Android Developers blog about optimizing design changes for the living room based Android device. Skyforce 2014 from Infinite Dreams, a popular free game for Android in the shoot-em-up genre has been re-imagined for Android TV and Google is using this release to bring attention to some details to consider when adapting an app or game for the Android TV platform.
Some of the obvious notes that developers may want to pay attention to is re-mapping their touch based control configurations to the gamepad that would be used with Android TV products, in this case the Nexus Player, but also figuring out the mapping of touch controls to a simple remote just in case gamers would rather use that instead. Another detail which is greatly illustrated by Infinite Dreams with what they have done to Sky Force 2014, is the reconfiguration of the gameplay orientation to fit the TV platform better. The game is played in portrait mode on phones and tablets, but Infinite Dreams decided that redesigning the UI for Android TV to be played in landscape mode just looked better overall, and this is something that other developers should take note of. Adapting a game or app for the wide view of a TV screen ensures that it will look its best on such a large display.
Multiplayer and monetization are other aspects which Google lays out in the blog post, as the TV can easily be seen as a great platform for multiple players. With Sky Force 2014, Infinite Dreams has baked in some multiplayer goodness allowing for more than one player on screen, something that wasn’t available in the original Android version of the game and is now capable because of the wide field of view they developed for the Android TV version. This also makes sense when choosing to adapt their game for Android TV as it supports connection for multiple controllers, and with the bigger screen multiplayer gaming is much more enjoyable. Sky Force 2014 will also be changing their pay model up for the Android TV version, replacing the free model and included IAP’s with a try before you buy type of system that lets you play the first couple of levels for free, and then buy the full game for $4.99. While things will be different from app to app, these are good points of interest that all developers should consider, even if they don’t all fit what they want to achieve with an Android TV adaption of their apps and games.