[Interview] This War Of Mine for Android TV

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The game This War of Mine, which had previously been available on Android tablets and Android TV, has just made the leap to supporting phones. This is great for players and fans of the game, and the developers, 11 bit studios, want to celebrate with a limited 50% discount on new purchases. It can be purchased on Google Play for $6.99 and played on any or all of the three device types.

Although this is a game about a war, it is not an ordinary FPS (first person shooter). It doesn’t deal with military conflicts, but instead the everyday lives of the people who continue to live in a war-torn area. It’s a game that provides an interesting perspective about the lives of others.

The game focuses in particular around the Siege of Sarejevo. This was an incredibly long siege, lasting from April of 1992 to the very end of February of 1996 as part of the larger Bosnian War. Over the 1400 days, civilians in the city had to use dwindling resources and try to survive even while a war went on around them. By the end, over 5000 civilians had died among many more soldiers.

"Evstafiev-sarajevo-building-burns" by User:Evstafiev, Mikhail Evstafiev - Photo by Mikhail Evstafiev, first uploaded to en.wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Evstafiev-sarajevo-building-burns.jpg#/media/File:Evstafiev-sarajevo-building-burns.jpg
Evstafiev-sarajevo-building-burns” by User:Evstafiev, Mikhail Evstafiev – Photo by Mikhail Evstafiev, first uploaded to en.wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Commons.

This week I interviewed Karol Zajaczkowski from 11 bit studios about the motivations behind the game and why the originally brought it to Android TV.

On The Game’s Origin

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What was the inspiration for designing this type of game?

The idea was born in Grzegorz’s mind, one of the creators of 11 bit studios. He was reading some articles about civilians trying to survive a war and he thought it’s a great theme for the game. He proposed this, and immediately everyone caught this vibe.

I’ve read the Siege of Sarejevo in the Bosnian War was one key source of inspiration for this game’s background. Why did you choose this conflict?

Balkan wars are really well documented, and that’s why it was a great source of informations for us. There are thousands of documents, books, diaries, documentaries and other materials, that can give you a valuable information. We wanted to make the game as realistic as possible, and that’s why we wanted to gather the information directly from the people, who have experienced it.

In researching history for this game, what surprised you the most?

I think the fact, that no matter which year it is, when the war starts and you are in the middle of it, then all “achievements” of civilization don’t matter. If you are fighting for survival, you don’t need smartphones, internet and fancy cars. You need food, medicine and shelter. It looked like this 70 years ago and it’s the same today, despite all the changes in our lifestyle.

Social commentary on war always seems to be relevant. How influential have you expected the game to be?

We didn’t want to make any judgements, but only show the war like it is. Without decorations or any fancy mumbo jumbo you may know from Hollywood blockbusters. If in the end it gives you a new perspective on conflicts, then it means we did a good job.

If you were to summarize the point of the game in one sentence, what would it be?

War can happen anywhere, anytime and it’s hell for everyone involved.

How big is the team? How did you divide up graphics, music, and programming?

Our studio is around 40-50 people, but not all of them were involved in TWoM. Depending on the stage of the project, the team had from 12 to 20 some people, with split more or less 1/3 for each: design, graphic and programming. There were also some additional people, like marketing, pr, business and etc.

On Supporting Android TV

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What made you decide to support Android TV?

We are big fans of new technologies, so we try to suport all the new inventions that are out there. We have a long history of close cooperation with Google, wchich resulted in bringing all of our games to the Android platform. With Android TV we are reaching a new level of it.

How much time went into developing specifically for Android TV?

It was a few weeks of extra work for us, but we are certain it was worth it.

How does the experience differ on a TV compared to a phone or tablet?

It allows you to experience the game like on consoles. You have a big screen, controller suport and new UI, different from the one you can see on mobile devices. All of this allows you to get even more attached to the story happening on your screen.

Have you noticed a difference in how the game is played on a TV compared to a tablet?

Many people play on tablets on their way home/school and etc. , which sometimes doesn’t allow you to really sink into the game, as you don’t want to miss your stop. With Android TV it’s different, as you play at home and you can dedicate yourself in 100%.

Has support for Android TV affected installs?

We can see there is interest in our game on that platform, which again proves, it was a right decision to make.

On The Platform

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What advice would you give to game developers who are on the fence about supporting Android TV?

Such consoles are getting more and more popular and it’s always good to be an early adopter of new technologies. It gives you better starting position later on, when the race really starts.

What is your least favorite thing about Android TV?

For us the necessity to implement the controller suport was the biggest obstacle, as we didn’t have this planned before, so it was a lot of additional work.

What is the biggest thing you’re hoping to see added to the next version of Android TV?

It would be great to get even more powerful hardware, that would allow us to create even greater games.

What’s next for 11bit Studios? Do you plan to build another game, or add more content to This War is Mine?

Well, we are waiting for the release of This War of Mine: The Little Ones, but in the meantime we are already working on our next game, which will be even bigger than TWoM. Unfortunately I can’t reveal much more at the moment, but you can be sure it will be something big!

Conclusion

This War of Mine has plenty of great reviews and it is a high quality game. If you were on the fence about buying it before, the current 50% discount on the Google Play Store is a great time to buy it.

Nick Felker

Nick Felker

Nick Felker is a student Electrical & Computer Engineering student at Rowan University (C/O 2017) and the student IEEE webmaster. When he's not studying, he is a software developer for the web and Android (Felker Tech). He has several open source projects on GitHub (http://github.com/fleker)Devices: Moto G-2013 Moto G-2015, Moto 360, Google ADT-1, Nexus 7-2013 (x2), Lenovo Laptop, Custom Desktop.Although he was an intern at Google, the content of this blog is entirely independent and his own thoughts.

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  • Kawshik Ahmed

    Great Interview

    • NF

      Thanks. It’s a high quality game and I wanted to bring attention to how there are great games for Android TV.