12. August 2012

 

This post over on the gamedev forums at reddit caught my eye.  User @Mattrix has released a framework for creating 2D games using Unity with code only.  This effectively turns Unity in to a runtime only; it makes almost zero use of the tools provide with Unity and in many cases completely re-invents things Unity already does, such as texture packing.

 

At first glace you may be thinking “Why?  Isn’t that remarkably stupid?”

 

Well, not really.  To a certain degree, you are already cludging Unity a bit when you are working in 2D as it is, it certainly is designed as a 3D toolset.  Consider this though, if you want to create a game for Android and/or iOS and you want to use C#, what are your options?  Well, basically that leaves MonoGame or Unity.  MonoGame is certainly a good choice, but there is a major downside…

 

A 400$ price tag.  You see, in the end you either need monotouch or mono for android, which are 400$ a piece. ( God I wish Xamarin would reconsider their pricing! )

 

Or you can go with Unity, which is a licensed version of mono, with a complete game library built overtop and the exact same price tag.  Even better, just a few months back Unity made both Android and iOS versions completely free ( I know I got my licenses then ).  So, if you want to take a code heavy approach and avoid the higher level tools, but prefer to work in C#, Futile is certainly worth checking out.

 

He has included full source for a sample game, that you can see in the following video:

 

He has also provided a 10 minute as well as an hour long video tutorial on getting started.

 

 

I might play with this if I get a bit of time.  If you are interested in checking it out, this is the website and the source code is available on github.

 

Regardless to it’s final usefulness, it’s an interesting idea and it’s cool that he shared it.

News, Programming

8. August 2012

I just finished publishing the GameFromScratch 3D Engine round-up.  This is a guide to the top game engines in use by game developers today, that are available to be licensed. There are a total of 20 engines on the list, and for each one it includes the platforms it runs on, the platforms it can target, the price, sample games, the books available if any, key websites ( generally the forum and wiki or documentation pages if available ), programming language supported and example games published with the engine.

 

I have a similar round-up in the works for 2D game engines, which I hope to publish shortly.  Additionally, I have already published a similar document for HTML5 game engines.  I made the horrific mistake of authoring the guide in Word ( what was I thinking!??! ), and as a result the fonts are a little wonky in Chrome.  Hopefully I can find and kill this annoying trait.

 

If I made any mistakes, or I missed a key engine, please let me know.  Hopefully you find the 3D engine round-up useful!

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2. August 2012

 

I don’t often get excited about unreleased products, and up until this point I have never gotten all too excited about a Kickstarter project ( although I really look forward to a possible Planescape sequel! ), especially a hardware package that sounds too good to be true.  “The first truly immersive virtual reality headset for video games” is pretty ambitious.

 

Then I read the quotes:

 

  • "What I've got now, is, I honestly think the best VR demo probably the world has ever seen"
    John Carmack, id Software

  • "Needless to say, I'm a believer... We're extremely excited here at Epic Games to get the Unreal Engine integrated with Oculus"
    Cliff
    Bleszinski, Design Director Epic Games

  • "I think this will be the coolest way to experience games in the future. Simply that... that big"
    David Helgason, CEO Unity

  • "I’m really looking forward to getting a chance to program with it and see what we can do.”
    Michael Abrash, Valve

  • "It looks incredibly exciting, if anybody’s going to tackle this set of hard problems, we think that Palmer’s going to do it. So we’d strongly encourage you to support this Kickstarter.”
    Gabe Newell, President and Owner Valve

When it come to video game name dropping… that’s a pretty impressive list!

 

Now about the device itself:

occrift

It’s called The Oculus Rift  ( ugh ) and its tentative specs are:

Head tracking: 6 degrees of freedom (DOF) ultra low latency
Field of view: 110 degrees diagonal / 90 degrees horizontal
Resolution: 1280x800 (640x800 per eye)
Inputs: DVI/HDMI and USB
Platforms: PC and mobile
Weight: ~0.22 kilograms

 

Perhaps most important, and the thing that got my interest, it’s coming out of the box with Unity and Unreal engine support.  That could move it from being a fringe curiosity, to being a device with an actual future.

 

Ultimately this all came about from their kickstarter campaign, attempting to raise 250,000$ to make developer kit’s available.  Well, that goal is WAYYYYYYY passed, and as of writing they are pushing the million dollar mark. A pledge of 275$ or more got you early access to the device and the SDK, although they are sold out, so I don’t know why I bothered mentioning that! Smile 

 

That said, pledging 300$ or more gets you:

EARLY RIFT DEVELOPER KIT + DOOM 3 BFG: Try the Rift for yourself now! You'll receive a developer kit, perfect for the established or indie game developer interested in working with the Rift immediately. This also includes a copy of Doom 3 BFG and full access to our Developer Center for our SDK, docs, samples, and engine integrations! (Please add $30 for international shipping)

 

300$ really isn’t that much, well within reach of many indie developers.  Of course, it’s a pretty big long shot, although if you are working with Unreal or Unity in the first place, the Oculus Rift really isn’t that much of a risk.

 

What do you think?  Is this the future of gaming?  There were some rumours that next Xbox was going the VR route.  I also seem to recall reading Steam had something in the works too ( ironically, Michael Abrash, who was quoted, was the person I believed was leading the effort).  Personally though, it makes me sick… literally.  I have tried a couple of VR rigs in the past, and beyond a few minutes play I start getting dizzy.  Let’s hope that doesn’t hold true with the Oculus Rift. Oh, and that’s a terrible name.

News ,

10. July 2012

Well, sorta.

 

Autodesk just announced the Scaleform is now available as a Unity3D plugin, or as a standalone mobile200px-Scaleform_logo SDK.  More importantly, it’s available at a price tag of $295 a platform. 

 

Scaleform is used to create UIs for games using the Flash toolset, including ActionScript.  If you’ve played a game in the last year, chances are you’ve seen Scaleform in action.  It powered such titles as Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Civilizations, Warhammer 40K, Skyrim and more.  A partial list is available here.

 

Up until now, buying Scaleform has been a tricky proposition.  Autodesk had no available pricing, so you could only really get it embedded in existing game engines like Unreal, or directly negotiate with Autodesk ( can you say ouch? ). So while 300$ may seem like a look, especially considering Unity starts at 400$, it is still a massive value compared to before.

 

Scaleform for mobile

 

For more details head on over to the Autodesk Gameware website.

News , ,

18. June 2012

 

unity

By way of this reddit posting, some interesting news about Unity 4 was posted and then removed.

 

 

So what can we expect in Unity 4, according to this article?

  • DirectX 11 support
  • Improved Flash exporting
  • External forces, bent normals and automatic culling of particles
  • dynamic obstacles and avoidance navigation
  • optimized UnityGUI performance and memory usage
  • dynamic fonts across all platform using HTMLesque markup
  • remoute Unity web player debugging
  • new project window workflow
  • iterative lightmap backing
  • refined component based workflows
  • extensible inspectors for custom classes
  • improved cube map importing
  • geometry data improvements for huge memory and performance savings
  • non triangle meshes, render points and lines.
  • search, live preview and asset store directly from project window

 

And perhaps most interesting of all, a preview of deploying to Linux.

 

They also promise a faster turn around development cycle on version 4 than they had on version 3.

Personally I am kind of underwhelmed.  With Flash/Nacl support, is Linux support really a big deal?  Otherwise its nowhere near as big of a release as the prior 3.x releases.  The DirectX 11 support should help PC versions of Unity games get closer to CryEngine and UDK in graphical fidelity.

 

I do wonder if they will offer upgrade pricing for the version they gave away earlier this year?

 

What do you think, if this is real are you excited by the new features?

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First Unity 4 book added to Unity book list
9. December 2012

 

Things have been ultra quite on the Unity book front, perhaps the market was over saturated with books.  Today however I have added the first new book in a couple months and the first book covering Unity 4, Beginning 3D Game Development with Unity 4 by Sue Blackman.  If that author or book title sound familiar, they should, Sue already released the book Beginning 3D Game Development with Unity, the very first book on the list.

 

Now the catch… the book’s release date isn’t until March.   All the same, it’s nice to see some Unity 4 books starting to show up on the radar.

 

As of right now, I don’t have Table of Contents information to share, but the following is the book description from the publishers website.

 

Beginning 3D Game Development with Unity is perfect for those who would like to come to grips with programming Unity. You may be an artist who has learned 3D tools such as 3ds Max, Maya, or Cinema 4D, or you may come from 2D tools such as Photoshop and Illustrator. On the other hand, you may justBeginning 3d Game Development With Unity: All-in-one, Mult-platform Game Development want to familiarize yourself with programming games and the latest ideas in game production.


This book introduces key game production concepts in an artist-friendly way, and rapidly teaches the basic scripting skills you'll need with Unity. It goes on to show how you, as an independent game artist, can create casual interactive adventure games in the style of Telltale's Tales of Monkey Island, while also giving you a firm foundation in game logic and design.

  • The first part of the book explains the logic involved in game interaction, and soon has you creating game assets through simple examples that you can build upon and gradually expand.

  • In the second part, you'll build the foundations of a point-and-click style first-person adventure game—including reusable state management scripts, load/save functionality, a robust inventory system, and a bonus feature: a dynamically configured maze and mini-map.

  • With the help of the provided 2D and 3D content, you'll learn to evaluate and deal with challenges in bite-sized pieces as the project progresses, gaining valuable problem-solving skills in interactive design.

 

By the end of the book, you will be able to actively use the Unity 3D game engine, having learned the necessary workflows to utilize your own assets. You will also have an assortment of reusable scripts and art assets with which to build future games.

 

So, if you are looking for a Unity 4 book, consider checking out this one.

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