Disclaimer: Our parent company, Enthusiast Gaming, is an investor in Addicting Games and Little Big Snake. The following developer quotes about the process of porting the game to Nintendo Switch were provided exclusively to Nintendo Enthusiast.
Ideas behind creating Little Big Snake
What started with a fun idea created in Flash has rapidly become one of the most popular games in South East Asia, reaching #1 organically in Indonesia. The team of Little Big Snake shares how it went from a simple io game to something played daily by over 500,000 users in 21 languages.
Dmitri Gusarov, Lead Game Designer and Co-Founder
I was very passionate about playing browser games. But in many cases there was no progress, no achievements; the results were not saved anywhere. In addition, I wanted to play a game with friends. Therefore, I got the idea to make a game about a snake in which people can play together in groups — receive achievements, titles, and keep their records. In addition, I wanted to make such a world richer, add other creatures: slugs, bubbles, and jujas. And while we were working on all these features, we came up with many other interesting solutions that make our game unique.
Andrey Kuzmin, Co-Founder
We spent a year and a half on creating the basic version of Little Big Snake, and on December 31, 2017, we first uploaded the game on one free American portal with .io Games in order to test the functionality on live people. In the game back then there was not even a store, no sounds, not much else, just core gameplay. And then the game began to spread fantastically quickly. After one-to-two months, millions of people around the world had played it; we were full of rave reviews. People could not come off and played for days, and we ourselves spent a significant part of our time playing the game. Here we realized that we urgently need to develop success, add features and platforms.
How long it took and major hurdles from switching from Flash to Unity to mobile
Igor Shcherbak, Team Lead
From the very beginning of 2019, everyone began to seriously talk about the impending death of Flash. Our task was to choose an alternative to this technology and transfer the entire game to it as quickly as possible. There were several criteria for choosing:
- Cross-platform, including at least WebGL and mobile
- Minimum entry threshold, good knowledge base, documentation and engine support
- Large community
- The presence of a good base of third-party services on this technology
We studied several game engines and eventually settled on Unity, which meets all our requirements.
The first problem was that none of us had ever dealt with either C# or Unity. It was not possible to find ready-made specialists for adequate time and money, and we had to study this technology from scratch and comprehend all its subtleties. It was very interesting, and at the same time difficult, like everything new. I had to read smart books on the basics of C#. Coped! With Unity itself it was already easier, the benefit of documentation, training, and ready-made examples in abundance. By that time, we had found a good specialist who helped us understand many of the intricacies of the engine.
Around the end of spring 2019, we began to port the core of the project, the main classes and managers. The approaches in Flash+ActionScript and Unity were fundamentally different in some ways, and we had to adapt as we developed. For example, we had our own UI system on .json prefabs, quite advanced, supporting inheritance, inclusion, overrides, and included a separate editor. Unity has its own prefab system, similar in functionality, and we had to manually transfer all the UI to this system. Boring and painstaking work, but subsequent work with the UI has been greatly simplified.
The next challenge was the lack of direct socket connections for the WebGL version. Flash supported socket on all platforms, including browsers, while everyone else used WebSocket. The problem was compounded by the fact that for some time we had to support both types of connections, since a smooth transition from the Flash version to Unity was supposed. We had to teach this to our C++ server. Coped!
In the course of development, a certain number of restrictions specific to the WebGL platform surfaced. For example, restrictions on working with sound, complete lack of debug, (Everything is fine with Flash on all platforms.) problems with copying/pasting text in WebGL, and many others… Our guys also had to torment themselves by porting shaders from Flash AGAL to Unity. Coped again!
After about four months of hard work by our small team, we launched the WebGL version on Unity. While there was a lack of functionality (sounds, smiles, chat), in general the version showed good performance. It was possible to finally exhale and say with confidence that we coped with the task! Two weeks later, we launched a full WebGL version and started to finalize the version for mobile devices. This mainly concerned the adaptation of UI, mobile controls, optimization, and screwing up various services for advertising, shopping, sharing, etc. In parallel, the development of a new unique observer mode was conducted, where any player could see how real game titans play!
On November 15, 2019, this happened and we completely switched to Unity on all platforms, and Little Big Snake took off on mobile devices around the world.
Aspirations on getting to Nintendo Switch
Alexandr Yazynin, Art Director
I have both versions of Nintendo Switch, and I use Nintendo Switch Lite every day. Many great games have been bought and completed, especially from indie developers. But the main thing for us is that our game is very well suited for this console both for controls and for the family audience of Nintendo — funny, dynamic, competitive, and kind games. And since the game is popular on desktops and mobile devices, there is every chance to repeat the success on my favorite console from Nintendo.
Bill Kara, Addicting Games – CEO
It has been incredibly exciting to watch Little Big Snake evolve and grow from Flash to Unity, from desktop to mobile and now possibly Switch. The greatest reward any game developer can hope for is that their game is enjoyed and played by millions of players around the world. I remember playing games on the original Nintendo, and having one of our titles actually being used on a Nintendo Switch is our goal for 2020.