After long and painful discussions in the Game Oven office, we made the tough decision to delaying the launch of Bounden on Android.
The problem in a nutshell:
In the Vine above are 7 devices all running the same compass app (ironically named Steady Compass) on Android. Yet, all compasses indicate that North is somewhere else. Unfortunately, this has nothing to do with electromagnetic fields confusing the compass; it has everything to do with the diversity of hardware inside these devices.
We have been developing Bounden for Android alongside its development on iOS, and have tested the game on a number of devices. It was only a week ago that we started expanding our list of test devices, after we quickly discovered that:
a) some devices had ‘broken’ gyroscopes that didn’t work on all axis,
b) that some devices were faking gyroscopes by mixing and matching the accelerometer data with compass data, or
c) that some devices did not have a gyroscope at all.
These are all major problems for our heavily gyroscope-precision based game. We weren’t just testing on low tier devices, by the way. Popular devices like the Samsung Galaxy S4 are problematic as well. We’re not the only ones though – after posting the Vine, we got an enormous amount of response from other developers recognizing the problem. For the user, buying an Android phone means you can choose between hundreds of different devices and pick the one that fits you best. For developers, the fragmentation on Android is frustrating: you can develop an app for one phone, but you can never be sure it will work on another Android device as well. With Bounden, we are pushing Android devices to their limits, using every sensor there is to guide the way people move together. Doing such novel things with a device means running into some problems, especially on Android.
Releasing Bounden on these devices would be catastrophic. Imagine finding out the game doesn’t work on your device after spending $4… We want to avoid this scenario at all costs.
Releasing Bounden on Android
At this point, we are left with one option: whitelist Android devices one by one and release the game when we feel good about the list. We don’t want to release on too few devices, nor do we want to release the game on devices on which the experience of playing Bounden is jeopardized by the hardware. Unfortunately, the Google Play Store doesn’t allow us to filter on ‘good gyroscopes’, which means our only option is to test the game, on every Android device we can get our hands on, so that we can release Bounden as soon as possible.
We promise a simultaneous release which we cannot deliver, and for that we feel sorry and stupid. We ask anyone with an Android device to hold on a little longer – or even help us finding out whether it works on your device – until we can guarantee that we can give you the game we think you should play.
(Let us repeat that: if you have an Android device, we need your help. Shoot us an email to receive an Android build of the game and help us find out if it works properly on your device. Be sure to mention the model of your phone in your email!
UPDATE: We got an amazing amount of response, thank you so much!! Bounden is now available for Android. Check out this post for the full technical story.)