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14. November 2012


Ok… is it engine release day? 


Anyway, again the title says it all, CryEngine 3.4.3 was released today.  If you are un-aware, CryEngine is a 3D game engine like UDK or Unity, which is available for free to get started ( 20% royalty on shipped titles ).  In addition to the FarCry series of games, Mechwarrior Online is powered by CryEngine.  If nothing else, this engine is capable of creating extremely pretty games!


Top Features:

  • Dedicated Server
  • Revamped Launcher menu
  • Sandbox Welcome screen, link to docs & smart open
  • Terrain precision/smoothing improved
  • Many tweaks/fixes/cleanups to the Sandbox UI
  • SSAO improvements
  • Improved SSR
  • Terrain shadow casting support
  • Box projected cubemaps
  • Improved DX9 support for Environment Probes


Other than the briefest look, I haven’t looked all that closely at the CryEngine SDK.  Therefore I have no idea if this is a big release or not…  dedicated server sounds like a handy addition…



Anyway, you can read full details here.


You can download it here.


14. November 2012

Title pretty much says it all, Unity 4 is now available.  Not a huge shock given the beta release announced two weeks ago.


The key new features are:

  • Direct X 11 rendering
  • New target platform: Flash
  • New target platform: Linux
  • Updated image effects including
    • New water shaders and prefabs
    • Render to texture effects
    • Full screen effects such as Depth of Field, Color correction, lens effects, etc. (Pro only)
  • Shuriken particle system
  • Lightmap Baking
  • Mobile profiler (Pro only)
  • Cross platform font rendering
  • Hardware cursor api
  • New project browser with fast integrated search


Unity Pro is priced at 1500$.

Unity “Base” is still free.

iOs, Android and Flash are each 400$.  Linux appears to be included in the base package.

No details given on upgrade pricing.



For more details click here


My personal 2cents, it doesn’t really look like a full version upgrade to me.  The new targets were announced in 3.x, at first glance I’m not really seeing any reason to upgrade.  What do you think?


13. November 2012

In this world of cheap mass market cross platform game engines like UDK and Unity, the barrier of entry to creating a polished game have never been lower.  Except of course when it comes to art that is.  Take a quick look at GameFromScratch's 3D application list for an idea of what kind of prices we are talking about here.  There have been a few options on the lower/cheap end with Blender and the GIMP being the two most popular free options.  There are a few other options, like the MacOS only Cheetah, the now-defunct Silo or Shade Basic available for a hundred dollars or so.  The next jump up is to applications like Modo and Cinema4D, both with a price tag nearing or over the 1000$ mark.  From this point we jump drastically to the various Autodesk applications, all with a price tag in the many thousands dollar range. 


Simply put, if you are creating your first game, perhaps a mobile title on a truly indie budget, if you don't like Blender or aren't breaking the law, you are pretty much screwed.  Sorta.


Autodesk Maya actually has an incredibly interesting option available.  You can now license Autodesk 3D Studio Max or Maya 2013 for 90 days for a price of 199$.  Yes, that is a full commercial license, so you can ship a game and make money on a 90 day license.


1. What are Autodesk 3ds Max and Autodesk Maya 90-day fixed term licenses?
90-day fixed term licenses*, sometimes referred to as “project licenses,” are fully
operational, commercial licenses of Autodesk 3ds Max 2013 or Autodesk Maya 2013
software that enable a license holder to use the software for a period of 90 days only.

2. Can an Autodesk 3ds Max or Autodesk Maya 90-day fixed term license be used
for commercial purposes?
Yes, unlike the free, 30-day trial which can be used for evaluation purposes only, you can
use a 90-day fixed term license of either Autodesk 3ds Max 2013 or Autodesk Maya 2013
software in production for commercial purposes.


You can read the complete FAQ here (PDF LINK).  You cannot renew the license, so be sure that you can complete your project in 3 months or you will need a full license.  You can however also get a 30 day trial of either Max or Maya ( which you can't ship using ) to get started, giving you a total of 4 months to create your game.  


That covers you on the 3D side, what about Photoshop?  Well, you have options there too…  The Photoshop CS suite normally has a price tag around a 1000$.  A while back, Adobe started offering their software on a subscription basis for about 50$ a month.  Interestingly enough, since then they have started offering Photoshop for as low as 20$ a month ( with a year commitment ), or for 30$ a month on a pay as you go basis.


Also like Autodesk, they offer a 30 day trial.  Therefore, if you are able to create your game in less than 4 months, you can legally use Photoshop and Maya (or Max) for a total price of 289$ ( 199$ + 30$ x 3 months, + 1 month trial ).  


Four months might not seem like enough time, but it is actually a reasonable development window for a typical mobile game, especially if you are working full time.  Hopefully your game will then be successful enough to justify and pay for full licenses for both products.  Another interesting side effect of both license structures is they give a credible ( and affordable ) pathway for pirates to go legit if they are using pirated software.  


13. November 2012


Almost exactly one year ago today, I wrote this post discussing the impact a change in leadership at Microsoft had on all our lives.  The TL;DR version was, two senior VPs at Microsoft went head to head over the future of the company, one lost ( J Allard, father of the Xbox ) and one won, Steven Sinofsky.  Well, as of today, it is looking like Microsoft picked the wrong horse!


Simply put, after shipping Windows 8, Steven Sinofsky announced his departure.


This can have a pretty profound effect on future directions at Microsoft.  The fallout from J Allards departure were pretty massive.  From a developers perspective, lets see…  XNA has been axed.  Windows Phone 7.x has been axed.  Silverlight has been axed.  The Courier tablet was axed ( imagine the difference the world would have seen if Microsoft entered the tablet market *before* the iPad??? ). We now have Windows 8 as the target for every device, the Windows Store ( I have a feeling this one is an accountants decision, not Sinofsky’s ).  There have even been some micro-level changes as a result.  We have the increased focus on C++ and JavaScript at Microsoft, and the decreased focus on .NET.


What’s going to come next?  Who knows actually… and that part is kind of scary.  Agree with his decisions or not, Sinofsky got stuff done and had vision.  Is there a leader remaining?  It’s certainly not Ballmer, that man has been making epically stupid knee jerk decisions since taking the helm.  ( 34 billion for Yahoo?  8 billion for Skype?  )  I really don’t know what is coming next, but I will tell you one thing… up until about 8 months ago, I held Microsoft stock.  I sold it and if I held it today, I would be on the phone to my broker now.


That’s the shame too, as Microsoft has managed to recruit some of the best A-list programming talent in the world.  Too bad they can’t do the same thing for their management.  Then again, you aren’t going to fix management at Microsoft when you have an idiot at the helm… they tried that once bringing Ray Ozzie in and Ballmer pushed him out.

General Totally Off Topic

10. November 2012


RIM is hard at work on Blackberry 10 and they continue to focus heavily on making sure there is plenty of software available at launch.  Now they are targeting game developers with the newest promotion.


Got game? Get Rewards.


The BlackBerry Got Game Port-a-Thon starting on November 16th is a 36-hour event dedicated to helping you get your gaming apps launched for BlackBerry 10. Since it’s a virtual event, participating is simple and hassle-free. You just register and log in from the comfort of your own space. You bring your existing gaming apps or build new gaming apps for BlackBerry 10, and we’ll have experts on hand around the clock to help you get your gaming apps up and running on BlackBerry 10.


So, why would you want to?  Well of course other than supporting an additional target, there are additional incentives:


Getting your apps into the BlackBerry App World storefront before BlackBerry 10 launches means that you can be among the first to benefit from the universe of app-hungry customers out there. You’ll also get rewards for porting and building.

  • Get one or two gaming apps approved – $100 per eligible app.
  • Get between two and five gaming apps approved – $100 per eligible App and one (1) BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablet
  • Get between five and ten gaming apps approved - $100 per eligible App + one (1) BlackBerry PlayBook tablet + FOR THE FIRST ONE HUNDRED (100) QUALIFIED PARTICIPANTS ONLY one (1) Dev Alpha Device
  • Get more than 10 gaming apps approved - $100 per app + one (1) BlackBerry PlayBook tablet + FOR THE FIRST TEN (10) QUALIFIED PARTICIPANTS ONLY one (1) Dev Alpha Device + trip to Game Developers Conference in San Francisco March 25-29, 2013


So, port 10 apps over you get 1,000$ a Playbook and a dev Alpha device.  Of course, if you were looking to port your game to Blackberry OS 10, having the resources available on demand could prove invaluable.


I have a Playbook myself and have long since intended to look into game development on this device.  I really want to see RIM bounce back this generation for a number of reasons.  First, they are really moving in the right direction from a developer perspective with good developer tools ( WebWorks and QNX ), sponsoring projects like the Gameplay SDK, the next generation of software and hardware seems to be really good and finally, they are in my own back yard, I live probably 45 minutes away from their world headquarters.  Oh, and I own RIM stock, so I suppose I should mention that.  Then again, indirectly pretty much every Canadian owns RIM stock.


So… go RIM.


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