10/22/2014 | 03:40 pm | 0 comments

GOFA Dev Diary #2 (2014) - "Approaching Google Play"

Or: How Galaxy on Fire - Alliances got ported to
the biggest mobile platform in the world

Galaxy on Fire - Alliances
After a successful 10-month stint as an iOS exclusive, GOFA has now blazed onto Google Play as well.

Today is the day! Galaxy on Fire - Alliances celebrates its worldwide launch on Google Play! Supporting a four-scale number of Android-powered smartphones and tablets, plus all iOS devices from iPad 2 and iPhone 4S upwards, our flagship title can now be downloaded onto more than 90% of the mobile devices currently in circulation! Needless to say, this is a huge milestone for us... but also one that didn't come without effort. The biggest challenge we had to face was the handling of the sheer multitude of differing devices running on Google's incredibly popular and wide-spread operating system. While the range of potential iOS devices, which a new app might support, is still rather clear and manageable, you'll quickly find yourself lost in a waaayyyy bigger amount of devices on Android. For our developers, this brought forth a number of hard-to-overcome obstacles, as our lead developer Malte explains.

Galaxy on Fire - Alliances by Deep Silver FISHLABS
Our developers made sure that GOFA looked absolutely splendid on Android's manifold resolutions and screen sizes.

"Making sure that Galaxy on Fire - Alliances supports the majority of Android's manifold resolutions and aspect ratios had been a huge challenge for our team," he says. "During the development it occurred quite often that one and the same shader rendered differently on differing devices. On some devices we even experienced shader compiler crashes, even though the code per se had been legit. Fixing this issue and making the shaders run properly on all devices required a lot of hard work and extensive testing." The same goes for the texture compression on Android. Due to the fact that there are a lot of different texture compression formats on that platform -- most of which are not supported by all devices to the same degree -- our developers often "had to become a little inventive in order to achieve the same results on Android as on iOS."

Galaxy on Fire - Alliances by Deep Silver FISHLABS
The star systems controlled by the Top 30 alliances on Android. Since the map had obviously not been populated too much directly after the game went live, we added this screenshot with hindsight.

As you can imagine, testing the game has also not been a walk in the park. According to the respective entry in the Google Play Developer Console, the Android porting of Galaxy on Fire - Alliances runs on more than a thousand devices! Although we have quite a few testing devices on our disposal, it had of course not been possible for us to do a full playtest of GOFA on every single tablet or smartphone on the list. Our tester Levin explains how our QA team handled this task. "First," he says, "we analyzed the buildup of the Android market and identified the most frequently used devices. This enabled us to cover about 40% of the market with less than a dozen tablets and smartphones. Then, we went on to look at various devices, of whom we knew from the Android porting of Galaxy on Fire 2 HD that they'd be particularly prone to performance problems and other errors. Here, we tested the game with particular care to make sure that it would run smoothly on these 'problem childs' as well. Based on these learnings, we then added more devices to the list, on which we did not test the game ourselves but whose settings and capabilities were similar to the ones of devices we used in our testing sessions. This procedure helped us to identify and correct the most curcial issues on a huge array of Android devices and deliver a pretty good and stable softlaunch version."

Galaxy on Fire - Alliances by Deep Silver FISHLABS
A selection of high-end Android smartphones and tablets capable of running Galaxy on Fire - Alliances.

Well, everybody. As you can imagine that was quite a strenuous effort. But we're more than confident that it paid off. The Android version of our flagship title is finally out on global scale and we're looking forward to see thousands and thousands of Android gamers sign up to our new game servers over the course of the upcoming launch weekend. So get your fleets in motion! Let's make the Android servers as crowded and vivid a place in the galaxy as the iOS servers. You can download GOFA for free from Google Play via http://bit.ly/GOFA-Android-Worldwide.

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