In the previous episode of this series we discussed the anatomy of a Leanback-enabled Android App for Amazon Fire TV, discovering what its main components are and how they are tightly tied to the Media Streaming Interaction Model.
We’ll now take a close look into the first and most basic component of an Android App for Amazon Fire TV: the BrowseFragment.
After we launch our freshly created TV Android App, built using the Android Studio App Wizard, we will encounter an interface that will look very similar to this:
Last week we covered some of the missing documentation in GameMaker with respect to Amazon Fire TV, detailing what you need to know about basic controller detection. This week, as we continue on my building Retroids journey, we will take a closer look at handling controllers.
A well behaved game should handle controllers coming and going during play. This covers cases where a controller loses connectivity due to range or interference, or if the batteries in the controller die while playing.
To accomplish this, the above code needs to be present in the actual game play rooms as well. This could be implemented in a single object that is used in all rooms of the game.[Read More]
The GameMaker documentation gives a general overview of supporting game controllers. Finding details on how game controller support works with Amazon Fire TV proved to be a little more difficult. In the next few posts in the series I will provide the missing information, focusing on:
Let’s dive into basic controller detection.
Using YoYo Games GameMaker: Studio to build PC games that use the keyboard or even a USB game controller is pretty easy and many developers choose to first get their game up and running on their PC. This offers the convenience of easy debugging and very fast edit-build-test cycles. When you want to move to a mobile device or a platform like Amazon Fire TV, however, you are going to have to invest some time to build in proper support for game controller detection.[Read More]
It all started with a bus ride.
Not long ago, I was looking for a project to occupy my time on my bus commute to Seattle. I have experience with a variety of game engines and writing code doesn’t frighten me, but I wanted to use a new tool and get the entire learning experience. Enter YoYo Games’ GameMaker: Studio.
Jesse Freeman previously posted an overview of some of the frameworks available to make your game development for Amazon devices a lot easier. As many of you already know, game frameworks, also known as “engines”, do various amounts of the technical heavy lifting so you can focus on designing fun and engaging experiences for your players. After all, why should each of us write our own code to display and animate sprites, play sounds or handle the touch screen?
One of the engines Jesse covered was GameMaker: Studio. You can download it for free to check it out, as well as the 60-day trial of the Amazon Fire module to target your games for Amazon Fire tablets and Amazon Fire TV devices. GameMaker: Studio is fully cross-platform and other available modules allow you to target iOS, Linux and all game consoles.
If you are completely new to GameMaker, don’t fret! Shaun Spalding, YoYo Games’ Community Manager, has a great series of tutorials to get you going. That’s exactly where I started. You can get an idea what is possible (which is a lot!) by checking out the showcase of games built with GameMaker. I’ll save you the click and just tell you, “Yes, you can build awesome games with GameMaker!” Fast, beautiful games full of juicy particle-spewing, camera-shaking excitement that easily stand next to any other game. This is NOT some pared down prototyping tool or a drag-and-drop toy for kids.
Of course, to do any of that, you have to have an idea and you need to be prepared to write some code. I have a soft spot for TV gaming, so my plan started with building an arcade-style space-shooter for Amazon Fire TV that could be played with a Fire TV game controller – mostly because that’s what I have at home and this began as just a side project for myself.
As I thought about it more, I realized that the world deserves more fun games, and darn it, they deserve MY fun game. To allow as many customers as possible to experience the excitement of my game, it would really be great if it was also playable on Fire TV Stick…with only the remote control. And of course it needed GameCircle achievements and leaderboards. To top it all off, I thought, “Hey, why not support playing on a touch screen too.”
Now I really had a challenge worthy of my long commute.
Over the next few parts, I’ll get into the hard-won details of how I built the remote and controller support, as well as GameCircle features in GameMaker: Studio, complete with sample code you can use in your own projects.
In the first part of this series we learned how easy is to create a new Android App for Amazon Fire TV and how to run it for the first time using the Android Studio Wizard for Leanback-Enabled apps in a matter of a few minutes.
We’ll now deep dive into what the main components of this app are and how they interact with each other.
After we have created a new TV project using the Android Studio Wizard, we can notice that the wizard has automatically included some libraries in our project dependencies.[Read More]
Android is no longer just for Mobile devices. Even if it started as an OS designed for smartphones, it evolved during time. In 2011 with Android 3.0 Honeycomb, specifically designed for tablets, Android scaled up to bigger screens, and this changed the way users engaged with mobile devices. Recently, Android scaled up to an ever bigger screen: the TV.
All of a sudden, Android developers can start thinking about building native Android apps for a new and exciting use case, the 10-foot experience, where users sit down, relax and engage with content specifically designed for their TV.
Amazon Fire OS, which animates all the most recent Amazon devices like Fire tablets, Amazon Fire TV and Amazon Fire TV Stick, is based on Android 5.0 Lollipop. This means that Fire OS is capable of running full-fledged Android apps: 85% of Android apps submitted to the Amazon Appstore just work! If your app relies on the Android framework APIs and related support libraries, there’s a high chance it can run on Fire OS. You can test your APK on our online App Testing Service and discover in 90 seconds if your app is compatible with Fire OS! When it comes to Fire TV, we wanted to make life of developers easy. That’s the reason we decided to fully support the Android Leanback Support library. This make extremely easy for Android developers to deploy native media streaming apps for TV.
Let’s discover how.[Read More]
If you already have an Amazon Fire TV app, the Fling SDK provides both playback control and a synced second screen type of experience where customers use the mobile device as a smart companion accessory. Additionally, a new Remote Install API we announced in November lets customers remotely discover Fire TV apps from mobile devices.
Today we highlight several apps that have chosen to leverage the Amazon Fire TV built-in media playback receiver for Fling. This means your controller app can send supported media content to Fire TV without the need for a specific companion Fire TV application. Your controller application can discover the Fire TV using the publically available unique service identifier (SID)
"amzn.thin.pl" of the built-in receiver and send media content to it.
‘The Fling Media Player on Amazon Fire TV is very stable out of the box and saves a lot of work compared to building a custom media player’ says a developer from Video and TV Cast, an Android mobile app that lets customers’ stream webvideos, online movies, live TV channels and camera roll videos to the Fire TV.[Read More]
Design is one of the pillars of the success of a mobile app, along with the development process and the distribution channels. Defining how the users will interact with your app is as important as implementing the features of the app and integrating an efficient monetization model. Also, when it comes to designing an interface for a new interaction model like TV, a lot of the patterns that work well with smartphone and tablet interfaces needs to be rethought to take advantage of the big screen and the input model provided through the remote.[Read More]
When Laundrapp launched in January 2015 its aim was to revolutionise the laundry experience by bringing the services of the local launderette or dry cleaners direct to people’s doors. A year on and Laundrapp continues to experience rapid growth, offering the service to more and more parts of the UK.
CEO and founder, Ed Relf and Technical Lead, Marcus Smith share their experiences of launching a mobile first app. Ed is an award winning digital entrepreneur and active angel investor with over 15 years’ experience scaling some of the world's most successful disruptive digital businesses and is committed to help drive the next wave of British digital start ups. Marcus has been developing world-class software solutions and apps for over a decade within the finance and consumer sectors. They discuss:
Why it is vital for a startup to understand which marketing activations are the most effective and how by using an attribution platform that tracks consumer interaction in the app and most importantly where they originated from will allow you to take a lean, cost effective approach that delivers the best ROI.[Read More]
UKTV’s Head of Digital Products, Oliver Davies and Senior Front End Developer Owen Evans, shared with us the development strategies and choices they followed when implementing UKTV Play for Fire TV.
On November 3rd 2015 300+ attendees, two tracks about monetization and gaming, 13 sessions, multiple guest speakers and the Amazon Appstore evangelists animated a very successful developer-focused conference: the Amazon Appstore Developer Summit 2015, which took place at CodeNode, London.
The Amazon Appstore Developer Summit focused around unique insights into the Amazon Appstore ecosystem, emerging user interfaces and devices that are driving new user behaviors, like Fire TV and Amazon Echo, and new business models like Amazon Underground and Merch, which are opening up opportunities for customers and the developer community.
Here you can find the recordings of all the sessions, complete with slides, organized by topic:[Read More]
Our App Testing Service (ATS) allows you to test your app’s compatibility on the Amazon Appstore for Android, Fire tablets, and Amazon Fire TV. Today we’ve upgraded our existing Nexus 7 fleet of devices so you can now receive compatibility results for Android 6.0 Marshmallow apps and games.
Simply drag and drop your Android APK into the App Testing Service and in as little as 90 seconds you can receive a detailed report of potential issues that could affect your apps’ compatibility with the Amazon Appstore – including guidance on how to resolve them before publishing. You can view the test results which will include screenshots, logs, CPU and Memory utilization information from actual devices that we run the automated tests on using Amazon appXplorer. We will also detect and flag crashes during the automated tests that will help you identify potential compatibility issues of your app.[Read More]
Unity 5 has some great tools to help build great 2D games for Amazon Fire TV and Fire tablets. Here are two videos that walk you through how to use Unity’s Sprite Animation tools and also how to set up complex Animation States. I walk through the foundation of setting up Sprite animations and then show you step by step how I link up different states such as walking, running and shooting together so you can control them via C#. Check out the videos here:
If you are looking to learn more about making 2D games with Unity for Amazon devices or game dev in general make sure to check out my daily Twitch stream from 9am to 12pm EST.
If you are a first time game developer or a seasoned pro, the Amazon Appstore is the perfect place for your latest creation. Publishing to the Amazon Appstore is free and easy, especially if you are already building Android games. We offer some great tools and services to help make your game more successful like Amazon IAP, Ads, Merch, Underground and our collection of Fire OS devices. Here are some additional links to help you gets started:
- Jesse Freeman (@jessefreeman)
In Dev Chat – Short Answers to Big Questions, our new video series of short videos created by Amazon Appstore, developers of successful apps and games answer your questions in less than 90 seconds.
In this edition, the team behind Zattoo explains how they approach app design for the living room experience, and how building a native app with a single codebase for both mobile and TV has been advantageous for them. They also discuss how they are using Login with Amazon and Amazon’s in-app purchasing to drive registrations and monetisation. All this has driven their results on Fire devices to surpass their expectations. Zattoo distributes live television and catch up services through the Internet to connected devices. Thanks to its rapid penetration in Germany, Switzerland, and other European countries, it is now the largest Internet TV provider in Europe.[Read More]
In part 5 of this multi-part video tutorial series, we’ll go over how to build a simple 2d side scrolling game for the Amazon Fire TV. In the previous videos (part 4) we covered working with input. In today’s videos we’ll go over working with the camera and making it follow a player.
All of these videos are recorded from my Twitch game dev channel which you can watch daily from 9:30am – 12pm EST.
Stay tuned for more videos on building Unity games for Fire TV.
Looking for more information on Fire TV and publishing to Amazon Appstore? Check out the links below:
- Jesse Freeman (@jessefreeman)