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.
Amazon Fire TV now has a feature called System X-Ray that allows developers to visually track device and application metrics while an application is in use. This is a useful tool for developers and testers, as it gives them pertinent metrics that can help diagnose issues within an app or game.
System X-Ray is available on all Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick devices with Fire OS version 5.0.2 and higher.
The System X-Ray feature is enabled in the Developer Tools Menu dialog. There are three ways to invoke the dialog.
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]
In order to provide a great experience to users, the first thing you have to think about is the user interface (UI) of your app. Designing the UI and UX (user experience) of an app could become a very challenging and time-consuming task, but there are some simple steps that you can follow to make your app look great on tablets.
Mario Viviani, Amazon Technology Evangelist, will be hosting a live webinar as he shares with how to implement solid UI design for Android tablets. He should know! Mario is a former Google Development Expert (GDE) who has done design work for the world’s most popular Android tablets. In this presentation, Mario will explain the relationship between different layouts and fragments; how screen density, screen resolution, display size, and density pixels all work together; and how to also apply that knowledge to Amazon Fire tablets. After this presentation, you’ll not only have a better understanding of how to design UI for tablets, but you’ll understand more about optimizing your Android design for any form-factor!
Join us on July 28th to learn how to optimize your Android app UI and understand Tablet UI basics. At the end of this webinar you will learn:
Want to learn more? Register today to learn how to scale game visuals across different resolutions
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]
Cloud-based subscription software is on the rise and you can now utilize Amazon.com to sell your subscriptions to B2C and B2B customers. Amazon built the platform to extend the convenience in purchasing that is already found on Amazon to these types of products. This service improves your ability to monetize these types of apps, has features to lower cost of acquisition and is now easier to implement. We’ve built out the feature set necessary to handle subscription applications and just released a new update designed to significantly reduce the time and effort required to integrate with your PC, Mac, and web-based applications.
Amazon Instant Access isn’t the same as In-App Purchasing. Instead, it allows you to list and sell your digital subscritpion software on Amazon.com, just like physical items, so customers will be able to find your digital virtual goods through the same technology that drives discoverability and customer satisfaction for everything else on Amazon.com. Product searches and recommendations work exactly the same way for your digital products as they do for any other item on the Amazon website, as do direct product links.
In addition, Amazon Instant Access links your customer’s Amazon.com account with their account in your application, allowing direct delivery of the digital items they purchase. (If they don’t have an account with your application yet, we will prompt them to create one.) From the user’s perspective, delivery is seamless: they shop on Amazon.com, buy your subscription, and then access your software by logging-in. Subscriptions auto-renew and free trials auto-upgrade so there’s no interruption to the service.
The Amazon Instant Access service communicates with your application’s back-end server responsible for managing user accounts, inventory, and entitlements. You provide endpoints for account linking and item purchase/revocation that we will call when customers purchase from your digital catalog.[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]
Spanning both free to air and paid content, UKTV reaches over 42 million viewers per month across its 10 channels, representing around 9% of the commercial TV market in the UK. UKTV Play is the broadcaster’s on-demand suite of products featuring a diverse portfolio of content from four of its channels - Dave, Drama, Yesterday and Really.
While UKTV Play Initially launched on other platforms, the digital team were impressed by Amazon Fire TV’s technical specifications, competitive pricing and the opportunity it provided to expand their audience share, so knew it was a platform they needed to be on and set about creating a Fire TV App.
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, what tools they used during UI and UX design, development, testing of the app, and how Amazon Appstore and Services enabled them during app development and publishing process. Here’s what they shared with us:[Read More]
With Advertise Your App, you can promote your app to millions of users on Fire tablet wakescreens and mobile placements on the Amazon Mobile Ad Network. Getting started is easy: you can create an Advertise Your App campaign in less than 90 seconds, and launch a campaign with as little as $100. And the best part? You only pay when a user clicks on your ads.
We are excited to announce that you can now drive app installs with new interstitial ad placements. Advertise Your App provides two interstitial ad templates: Medium Rectangle and Full Screen Image. Both templates are responsive and will expand to match the size of any mobile device’s screen.
Merely saying “analytics” causes some indie developers to recoil. For others it conjures up a nightmare of services and analysts far beyond the scope of a small team. While true that much of what I’ll call non-creative game design involves using data to predictably cause player behavior, data itself is not inherently evil. In “Understanding your game through data” author Sergey Galyonkin offers an in-depth look at how to put data to work in your game design. I recommend reading it but if you need a little more convincing, read on.
To hopefully assuage any remaining fears, Galyonkin notes up front his discussion focuses on indie game design, not free-to-play optimization. From there the article gets down into practical applications of data in the development process to which I think every game designer can relate. These cover all three phases of a game’s lifespan: preproduction, active development, and postlaunch.
Yes, data plays an important part in preproduction. If it helps to think of it as research then do that but whatever you call it, the concept comes down to figuring out how to get the creative vision of your game in sync with your players. Without getting to far down the philosophical rabbit hole, one of the chief challenges any medium faces comes from the disconnect between the intention of the creator and the interpretation of the audience. Besides recognizing this, steps can be taken to give yourself meaningful guidance on how to get your vision across. Gather intelligence on similarly themed content in other media, play games that share elements of your mechanics, and then assess how the audience reacted in these cases to gain understanding for what you face.
For a small team play testing poses a daunting task. Don’t let that be an excuse not to do it. During development you hold the opportunity to respond to those places that aren’t connecting the intended way before everyone plays your game. This covers everything too, from the high concept level to basic player interactions. Questions to observe include how closely does my intended art direction match the atmosphere players perceive? Where do my game loops lose the player? And how easy is it for the player to understand how to play the game.[Read More]
When creating a build of your game for Amazon Underground, it’s important to make sure that your APK has a unique bundle identifier and an icon with the Underground sash. These two requirements help make your Underground game stand out when installed on a player’s device and also help avoid any installation conflict you may have with the paid version of your game. You can learn more about these requirements from our dev portal here. If you are building a Unity Game, you already know that there isn’t an easy way to create separate Android builds per target. Once you configure the build, it's the same for all Android platforms. To get around this, we are going to talk about a plugin called Advanced Builder which will help you not only automate your different builds but also allows you to write a custom build script to change out icons based on whether it’s an Underground version or a standard one. Let’s get started.
Advanced Builder is paid plugin on the Unity Asset store that allows you to set up individual builds based on target platforms and automate a lot of the tedious build steps. Once you have it installed you can create a new release type for the Underground build. Here you can see I have a Standard build and my Underground Build.[Read More]
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]