The tvOS Contest winners: Excellence in gameplay

by Thomas So on Apr 27, 2016

Part of the fun of hosting the Apple TV App Challenge was not knowing what to expect…what would devs come up with? It turned out that with the Contest, which was for full-featured apps and had a deadline of March 31, the submissions were dominated by games, many of which clearly took months to build (as games typically do).

Here’s the rundown on the Contest winners:

Dungeon Tiles: $25,000 Grand Prize winner

Judges were blown away by the quality of Dungeon Tiles, a game that pairs 2048 mechanics with RPG sensibilities. The game was built by Takashi Iyoda, who traveled all the way from Japan to participate in the Contest Showcase the weekend of April 16-17, so we were able to award the Grand Prize to him in person.

Dungeon Tiles is a fun and sophisticated game with knock-out graphics that really lent themselves to the TV screen. The gameplay is deceptive, in the best way: when users start playing the game, it seems simple, but it gets more challenging quickly.

To play, the user swipes the controller in order to align tiles: swords on top of dragons slay them, and dragons on hearts deplete life. Users accumulate gold as they play; the numbers inside the matching tiles add up to formulate the users’ attack strength. Dungeon Tiles also has a rotating two-player mode that allows for more strategy.

In terms of graphics, Iyoda-san used a function in the development tool which mimics a Bezier curve in order to make the movement effects smooth.

Dragon Tiles

Game creator Iyoda Takashi used the Bezier curve when designing the graphics for his winning game, Dungeon Tiles

Iyoda-san told us he loves creating simple, elegant games. “I think everybody should have games they can use easily,” he said.

He is planning on submitting Dungeon Tiles to the App Store by early June and has yet to determine how best to use rewarded video so that users will receive in-app currency after watching an ad.


AppLovin CTO John Krystynak with Grand Prize winner Iyoda Takashi

Spiders of Mars: $5,000 Port winner

While there were lots of great submissions for the Ports category of the Challenge, in the end, a port of Spiders of Mars, by Dustin Adair, won.

Judges were particularly impressed with how well the controls worked with Spiders of Mars. “Getting the controls right on Apple TV takes time and thought,” said Basil Shikin, VP of Engineering at AppLovin and a judge, “Spiders of Mars’ creator clearly took the time to make the play irresistible.”


Ports category winner Spiders of Mars

Indeed, Dustin shared the following tip for developers porting from iOS to tvOS. “Be aware of changes you will have to make when porting to Apple TV’s controller,” he said. “It’s very intuitive in terms of tilt input, but remember that your input is limited to tilt, the touchpad, and the play/pause button. The menu button always has to be used for menu interaction.”

He added that developers looking to port iOS to tvOS should push the visual quality with higher poly counts, characters, and textures. “Since you’re not developing for older legacy devices, you can afford to take advantage of the higher performance that is offered by Apple TV,” he said.


AppLovin CTO John Krystynak with Ports category winner Dustin Adair

Congratulations to both Iyoda-san and Dustin. We’ll keep you updated on when their winning tvOS apps hit the App Store, and we’ll continue to feature other winners and finalists here on the AppLovin blog.

Thomas So is a software engineer at AppLovin.