Bringing Whispering Willows to SHIELD
Whispering Willows is an adventure, horror-themed puzzle game developed by the LA based indie studio Night Light Interactive. Willows started with a successful Kickstarter and went on to win multiple awards including "Best Story" at Casual Connect, "First Place" in the Seattle Indie Game Competition, and "Most Immersive" in the OUYA CREATE Game Jam.
Willows follows young Elena Elkhorn as she embarks on a harrowing journey to find her missing father and discover the secrets of the Willows Mansion. Aiding her journey is a unique amulet she received from her father, which allows her to astral project her spirit into a ghostly-realm and communicate with the dead. Play as Elena to find her missing father, use your astral projection to solves the mansion’s tricks and puzzles, help the lingering souls, and discover so much more in Whispering Willows.
NVIDIA reached out to us after seeing Whispering Willows on the OUYA console. They thought it would be a great fit for their platform, and once we tried out their devices we certainly agreed!
What went right?
We had originally developed the game for the OUYA console, so with the Android support already in place, it made the porting process to the SHIELD fairly straightforward. We also developed it in Unity which makes porting a breeze.
Since we had been optimizing for low level mobile devices, the builds ran perfectly in regards to frame rate, and the graphics and effects looked gorgeous. It was wonderful working with such high performance hardware- we were able to maximize all settings and have a similar build to what we delivered on consoles.
The SHIELD was excellent to bring along with us to conventions. We generally had someone playing Whispering Willows on our main TV, and then a few people playing on the SHIELD and SHIELD tablet. We had quite a few NVIDIA enthusiasts come up and show support. It was also great taking the portable devices into pitch meetings, and showing off Willows on the fly.
NVIDIA provided us with all the hardware we needed to test out the builds. As soon as a new device was on the horizon, we'd get a developer version to optimize the game on it. The team constantly showed us their support with quickly answering questions, and aiding in featured slots on the NVIDIA devices.
We always wanted to support a bunch of languages, and our final game shipped with 10 different languages from English to Russian to Chinese. We had difficulty getting characters to always display properly on console, but with the smaller screen size on mobile, it made it even trickier. Some characters would appear blurry, would be too small to read, or not display at all. After a lot of trial and error we finally we able to get each language to display as clearly as possible.
We were able to successfully and easily add a virtual controller to the touch screen for the mobile versions, and since we had always had physical controller support, the NVIDIA devices in particular were great since they were made for it. We would have loved to add more custom touch screen controls to the game such as touching a location on screen and having Elena walk to it, but we really just ran into budget problems. By the time we did the mobile ports we were running on fumes for cash. In the future we'd love to plan customized mobile touch controls from the start.