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7. settembre 2016

 

One of the biggest challenges that app developers face these days is discoverability.  You can spend all the time and money in the world developing the next great game, but if nobody finds it, nobody will play it.  This new program is aimed at promoting Unity developed games on Samsung’s store.  The catch... your application must be made with Unity and you must agree to at least 90 days of exclusivity with Samsung.

 

So, what does this exclusivity buy you?

  • 4 weeks of banner promotion in the Galaxy Apps stores in US and Canada, targeting 30K installs/month (this is an average and not guaranteed)
  • Collapse within the Top Games category after 4 weeks, continued banner promotion possible based on performance
  • Push notification issued to the Galaxy Apps user base during the exclusivity period
  • Galaxy Gifts carousel inclusion for the duration of the exclusivity
  • Social networks, Samsung Developers website and newsletter promotion
  • Trade show presence

 

If they hit that 30K average installs, it certainly could be a worthwhile program for many.  I am not sure how far their reach actually is.  My personal phone is a Galaxy S6 and I’ve gone to the Samsung store exactly... never.  Perhaps I am the exception, but I don’t think I am.

 

You can read more about the program here.

GameDev News

6. settembre 2016

 

Been interested in checking out GameMaker Studio?  If so, now might be the perfect time.  They are currently running a Humble Bundle that represents a pretty massive amount of savings.  If you’ve never experienced them before, Humble Bundles help support charity, in this case Doctors without Borders, where you can choose how much you want to pay and how you want your funds directed (split between the Developers, Charity and Humble themselves).  By offering a bit more you can access higher level tiers which give even more rewards.

From a developer perspective, right now paying any amount gets you a license to GameMaker: Studio Pro and a half dozen GM authored titles, including two with full Source Code.  If you pay more than $6.82 (currently) you get a half dozen more games, 4 of which include source code, as well as the HTML5 publishing module.  If you pay $15 or more you also get the Android, iOS and Windows UWP publishing modules as well as 3 more games with source code.  For some perspective, here are the current prices on Steam:

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So yes, this represents a very significant amount of savings.  Other than featuring it in my Game Development guide for Parents I have done very little with GameMaker over the years.  It has however been used to make several successful titles, so it’s not a tool to be dismissed out of hand.

 

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If you were, or expect you ever will be, interested in GameMaker, this is perhaps the single greatest opportunity you will have to get on board cheaply, while also helping a great charity.  The bundle is available for the next two weeks, having just started a few minutes ago, so you have some time to decide!

GameDev News

6. settembre 2016

 

There is an entire area of 3D modelling known as architectural visualization, or ArchViz for short, that have long been used by architects to help design buildings and help customers visualize the end result.  Many major CAD packages have archviz functionality built in, but Blender is not one of them, or at least wasn’t.  With the upcoming Blender 2.78 release, there is a plugin called Archimesh that brings much of this capability to Blender.  So… why should you care as a game developer?  As you will see shortly, this can also be used to help rapidly prototype 3D game levels as well.  So without further ado, let’s jump right in.

 

There is a video version of this tutorial available here and embedded below.

 

Getting Started

 

As of writing, the Archimesh plugin isn’t available in the normal Blender distribution.  If by the time you are reading this you are using Blender 2.78 or later you should be good to go.  If not, you will need to download the most recent test release available here.

 

Next you need to enable the plugin.  With Blender loaded select File->User Preferences or hit Ctrl Alt U.

Select the Add-Ons tab

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In the search field type arc

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Click the checkbox beside Add Mesh: Archimesh.

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If you dont want to do this every time be sure to Save User Settings before closing the preferences window:

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We are now ready to make use of Archimesh.  Feel free to close the settings window.

 

Designing A Room

 

Now that we have the plugin enabled, let’s get started.  First let’s get started by drawing some walls.  This is done easily enough using the grease pencil.  In the 3d view (I’m using top view), draw the room outline.  ( D + LMB + Draw ), like so:

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Now in the Tools ( T hotkey ) menu, locate the Archimesh tab:

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Scroll to the bottom of the tab and locate the Room from Draw button.

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You’ve also got the option to have it generate a Ceiling, Floor and to close the room in ( close any gap in your drawing with a wall ) or not.  I selected Floor then clicked the button.  Here is the result:

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Now in the properties (N) panel you can make tweaks to your generated room.

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Here you can set the thickness of generated walls and you can also add or remove the floor and ceiling after the fact.   Here i’ve set the wall thickness to 0.120.  This is required so we can add doors and windows later.

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You can modify each individual wall, including curving it, raising it to a peak, changing the length, etc.

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And the results of these various settings:

wall

 

Creating your room is that simple.  Now we can refine our room.

 

Adding Detail

So rapidly creating walls and floors is certainly nice, but a little dull no?  Well don’t worry, that’s not the extent of Archimesh’s functionality.  If you take a look in the tools panel you will notice several other options.

image

 

Let’s go ahead and add a door.  Place the cursor where you want the door to be created.  This pivot point is relative to the bottom of the door, so place it low near the floor and along a wall, like so:

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Now you can either add the door using the button in the Tool menu, or via the Shift + A hotkey, then Mesh->Archimesh->Door:

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Tada, a door.

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You will notice there are several options and styles to choose from in the Properties panel:

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These settings appear to only be available on creation however, so be sure you have the door configured in a way you like before moving or modifying it.  Windows can be created using the exact same process.

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Once you are done however there is one last step to perform.  You basically have to “Cut” the window and door from the room.  Don’t worry, it’s easy.  In the Tools panel, with the Room selected, select the Auto Holes button.

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Now the appropriate holes will be cut into the wall.  You will also notice that the mesh hierarchy has changed as well:

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And essentially that’s the process in a nutshell.  There are other very cool features in here, such as Stair creation:

StairGif

 

There is also the option to show detailed measurements, automatically create roofs, built in props like lamps and book shelves and more.

At the end of the way, it’s just creating mesh objects for you too, so you can quickly jump in adding details using traditional techniques like extruding.   There are some missing features.  Ways to link multiple rooms together easily, the ability to create interior walls automatically, but these are easily worked around. 

 

The Video

Art, Design

6. settembre 2016

 

The following is a recap of major events in the world of game development for the week ending September 6th, 2016.  I do a weekly video recapping the news available here with this week’s video embedded below.  This post is a collection of links mentioned in the recap.

 

The Video

GameDev News

1. settembre 2016

 

Xenko, previously known as Paradox Engine, just released version 1.8 of their C# powered cross platform 2D/3D game engine.  If you want to learn more about the Xenko game engine, I previously featured it in the Closer Look series, as well as this tutorial series

 

Perhaps the biggest new feature of this release is a new UI Editor.

UIXenko

This new editor enables WYSIWYG UI editing directly in the editor and comes with several controls and gives you the ability to edit properties such as color, layout, etc.

 

The UI editor isn’t the only new feature of this release.  Other features include:

  • multithreaded rendering and Vulkan support
  • addition of Prefab Model, an optimized model with baked textures and merged geometry reducing required draw calls
  • SSAO rendering – Scalable Ambient Obscurance
  • Cel shading rendering model, enable “toon”"

 

There are also several fixes and changes from the release notes:

     
    Enhancements
    General
    • Added a DebugConsoleSystem to be able to print basic debug information in game.
    • Added Utility methods FindChild and FindRoot to Entity.
    • Animation blend trees can now be created in script. The AnimationBlend pre-built script shows how to do it easily
    • Updated Roslyn to 1.3.2
    Assets
    • Yaml scene files now encode entity and component references in a much more compact way
    • Yaml serialization order is now following class declaration order
    Audio
    • Game studio side: added hard limits in Compression ratio, also now it is using a slider.
    • Added SetRange in SoundInstance to be able to set play range, it also enables seeking.
    • Added Position property in SoundInstance to be able to know the position in time of your playing instance.
    • Added PlayAndForget to AudioEmitterSoundController to play many instances of the same sound rapidly.
    • Added RequestedAudioDevice in AudioSystem to allow game code to select audio devices (Windows only for now).
    • AudioEmitterComponent now contains a dictionary of sounds that can be used from the emitter, those can be set from the Game Studio directly!
    • Game Studio sound preview now uses the internal engine, this means that you can directly preview the compression rate!
    Graphics
    • CommandList can now compiled and executed
    • Constant Buffers are now uploaded in a single GPU Buffer and set with offsets on platform/API that support this mode
    • D3D12: reduced number of API calls
    Game Studio
    • About Page accessible from Menu–>Help–>About.
    Input
    • Added preliminary controller vibration support with Input.SetGamePadVibration
    Particles
    • Particle rendering now uses the improved multithreaded pipeline, significantly speeding up the vertex buffer building.
    Samples
    • Several samples have been removed. Particles and Physics samples have been greatly reduced and merged into only two, which allows the user to check more features with a single sample.
    Issues fixed
    Physics
    • Procedural models can now be used as a source to generate convex hull shapes.
    • We are now using the github version of Bullet Physics and actively cooperating with the project.
    • Fixed ColliderShape cached matrices computation.
    Game Studio
    • Credential dialog will now save the credential settings when closing.
    • Credential dialog will not appear if you checked “Do not ask again”.
    • Fixed hang when launching a Linux game remotely.
    Breaking changes
    UI
    • The UIComponent expect a UI Page in place of the previous Root Element property.
    • Most dependency properties were changed into regular C# properties, except the ones that are attached properties (such as the Column and Row attached property of a Grid).
    • In desktop, TouchMove event is also raised when no mouse button are pressed.
    • Default style of the UI has been removed.
    Audio
    • Removed Play with boolean argument from SoundInstance, instead the same behavior will be achieved by using PlayExtended or Play.
    • Renamed IsLooped into IsLooping.
    • Deprecated: GetSoundController, AttachSound, AttachSounds, DetachSound, DetachSounds. Please add sounds now from the AudioEmitterComponent
    Physics
    • Collision.Contacts is now an HashSet so access by index is not possible anymore, please use foreach or iterate them instead.
    VR
    • Added audio, status and re-center support for Oculus Rift.

    Known Issues

    • On Linux, when switching the underlying Graphics Platform, rendering will not occur. Delete the cache, local and roaming folder on the Linux host and restarting the game should fix the issue.
    • Linux Mono has some issue with the new effect compiler (since 1.7.5-Beta). Please use the “remote compiler” in the “package properties” (right-click on the package in solution explorer), or use Linux CoreCLR in the meantime.

 

Xenko is available as a free download here.

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YoYoGames Autumn Sale -- GameMaker Half Price
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25. November 2015

 

YoYo Games just announced their Black Friday Autumn sale, with GameMaker and most exporter plugins available at half price.  From the announcement:

The leaves are falling and so our prices as we reveal our Autumn Sale! Get up to 50% off various GameMaker: Studio products and export modules!

Check out our awesome Autumn savings below!

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Click here to buy now!

 

Interestingly, GameMaker is also on sale on Steam, but completely different price points!

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With Professional being cheaper on Steam, while the exporter plugins are much more expensive.  Very odd.

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