Whispering Willows is a beautiful but haunting game that has just launched on Google Play for Android TV in addition to phones and tablets. It is an adventure style game built around the protagonist, a teenage girl who is looking for her father. This girl has the ability to project her spirit out of her body that allows her to overcome various obstacles that block her physical form.
I got a chance to talk to David Logan, the creator of Whispering Willows, about the game and about their support for Android TV.
How did you come up with the idea for the game?
I’ve always been interested by the supernatural, and since there weren’t a lot of games featuring ghost protagonists, I wanted to explore those mechanics more. I connected with writer Kyle Holmquist and we quickly made the game about astral projection and the duality of the spirit and human forms. Most of our team went to college in Chico, CA where there was a particularly famous haunted mansion called Bidwell. That was a huge inspiration to us as well as the history between the natives and white settlers, and the dual nature of those stories.
What do you hope players get out of it?
We want players to get immersed in the experience, and walk away with a memorable story, one that they’ll keep thinking about after they’ve finished playing.
I see this game has been in development on other platforms for a while. What led to the decision to target Android?
We originated on OUYA and Steam. Since OUYA is an Android console, it made sense for us to target both Android TV and Android mobile. We were approached by companies like NVIDIA who specifically wanted us to support their platforms.
This game supports Google Play Games achievements, why doesn’t it support Google Play Games cloud saves?
That was an oversight on our part. Our save system was created in such a way that it saves to a master game file (which has tons of other information besides save data), but not individual save files. To implement cloud saving means we’d have to restructure our entire save system, which didn’t seem worth it to us, although would have been a great feature to add.
What led to the decision to target Android TV?
Android TV made perfect sense coming from the OUYA background, especially since the game was already played with a controller.
How much time was put into optimizing for Android TV?
Not much at all. By the time we got to Android TV the game was already running almost perfectly.
Have you played the Android TV variant? How does that experience differ from the mobile version?
I personally always prefer larger screens and controllers, so any experience that offers that is better for me. We definitely designed this game with a controller in mind originally, so it’s actually proven a challenge for mobile controls. Players have already shown discontent for the original touch screen controls we implemented, and we agree they could be much better. We’re already looking at ways we can improve them, to patch as quickly as possible.
How much testing went into Android TV?
We had a few variations – Amazon Fire TV, and NVIDIA SHIELD TV. We made sure the game ran well on both of them.
What percentage of Android users (can be a rough estimate) are using Android TV?
Probably 30% of our sales on Google Play are Android TV, the other 70% are phone variations.
Have you noticed a difference between Android mobile players and Android TV players?
It’s only been a few days since launch, but overall seems like we still have just as many hardcore mobile players as we do TV players. I think the hardcore players mainly use bluetooth controllers though over touch screen.
If you were going to create another game for Android, would you want it to support Android TV?
Definitely. If we create a game that’s for Steam and other consoles, then we’ll definitely make it support Android TV.
What would you say to game developers who are on the fence about Android TV support?
If you’ve already developed the game with Android in mind, and especially if you’re already using an engine like Unity which makes porting simple, it’s an easy decision to increase revenue.
What’s next for Night Light Interactive? Any new projects?
We currently are working on a couple of different ideas. One is a puzzle platformer called Nomad, and we’re considering a sequel or expansion to Whispering Willows if this one does well.
The game is currently 50% off as part of a launch sale until September 9th. If you’re interested in playing this, you might want to take advantage of this opportunity.