How we adapted the hit mobile game's addictive touch mechanics for couch-based play
In November 2014, we launched Bruce Lee: Enter the Game for iOS and Android, and on the Amazon App Store. A few months and 8 million downloads later we got the chance to port the game to the new Apple TV.
One of our most popular titles, Bruce Lee is an action packed side-scrolling beat 'em up that puts the martial arts legend's signature moves at your fingertips. We knew a big screen version would be great fit for Apple TV, as long as we could translate the original's easy-to-use controls and fluid fighting mechanics to the new platform.
Keep reading to learn more about how we did it.
Input Device and Controls
The biggest challenge for the design team was finding the best way to map the mobile version's touch-based control scheme to the new platform. In the mobile version, players swipe to attack and tap to move, and we wanted the Apple TV version to have the same responsiveness.
The Siri remote's touchpad is its most accessible input, so we decided to use it for the game's most important actions—attacks— and worked our way back from there, carefully considering each action's importance in the game before settling on a control method. For example, jumping up in the air is an important action that requires a clear input so we assigned it to a click, but jumping down from a platform isn't as important so we assigned it to a less precise downward flick.
We also wanted to use the remote in a way that made sense, and felt natural for both new and seasoned Bruce Lee players. We tried several landscape orientations, but in the end a portrait orientation just felt more intuitive, and more comfortable. Especially during intense gameplay. The scheme we shipped with meets all of our initial goals with very few compromises, and that's something we're very proud of.
-André, Game Designer
Navigation and Content
While the Bruce Lee design team worked on the the controls, the development team was busy adapting the navigation system.
Most of the games we make here at Hibernum are for mobile or the Web, so we're very used to designing touch-based, and mouse & keyboard navigation systems. But Apple TV is more like a console, with a focused navigation system that only lets you have one on-screen element selected at a time.
We quickly discovered that we'd need to adapt our navigation system to address a bunch of issues, e.g., the many ways of describing interactive elements and where they’re located relative to each other on screen, scrollable lists not having selected states, and so on.
The upshot is that our UI toolkit now includes navigation methods for mobile, Web, and console. And we make sure to implement them in new projects from the get-go.
We also had to change the way we deal with downloadable content. Apple TV has a highly volatile cache, which makes it unreliable for storing downloaded asset bundles. So we updated our asset bundle manager to accommodate on-demand resources. The process was pretty straightforward, but very rewarding since we’ll be able to use that functionality for future iOS and tvOS projects.
-Benoit Dupuis - Technical Director
We're happy to report that the port was a complete success! Bruce Lee: Enter the Game – Unchained Edition was released on the App Store the same day Apple launched the new Apple TV. Players can now experience on giant screens using the Siri Remote, or any MFi controller.