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11. November 2016

 

Bonus Tools is a set of extensions for the Maya 3D application that miscellaneous new functionality in the form of a collection of plugins and scripts.  They have been released annually since 2014 and yesterday the 2016 edition was released.  

Bonus Tools is a free collection of useful Maya scripts and plug-ins. After installing Bonus Tools, an additional pull-down menu will be added to the end of the main Maya menu. This new menu provides easy access to a variety of tools and utilities for daily use. The Maya Bonus Tools menu mimics the layout of the standard Maya menu sets. Each sub-menu contains a number of related tools. Each of these can be torn off and floated just like standard Maya menus.

 

Unfortunately I couldn’t find a handy list of new functions available in the 2017  Bonus Tools release.  The following video however contains a walk through of the new functionality in action:

 

Maya 2017 Bonus Tools can be downloaded here.  I suppose it goes without saying that Maya or Maya LT is required.

GameDev News


10. November 2016

 

In just a few hours the theme for the Unreal sponsored November #ue4jam is going to be announced.  The game jam starts today and runs until November the 13th.

 

Details from the announcement thread:

THE RULES

  • We will announce the theme on the November 10th stream, when the jam officially kicks-off.
  • Make an amazing game by yourself or with a team (up to 5) around the given theme in Unreal Engine 4.
  • Submit a download link to the Submission Thread (link incoming) before midnight on the night of November 13th/ morning of November 14th including the following:
    • Team Name
    • List of Team Members
    • Name of submission (Please format it with your team's name attached ex. TeamName_GameName)
      After you post your submission, PM me with the email addresses of your team members (up to 5), the name of your team and the name of your project. That makes it easier to get in contact with everyone, so make sure to send that info over!
  • A small panel at Epic will judge entries on the following criteria:
    • Unique use of theme
    • Fun factor
    • Overall Visuals
  • Detailed rules to come!
  • All submissions will be featured in a highlight reel posted to our YouTube and shown on Twitch.


THE PRIZES
The top 3 submissions will receive an Epic Swag Box with all sorts of goodies, a "Game Jam Finalist" forum badge, a featured playthrough on the December 1st Twitch stream (Sorry for the wait, American holiday the week before!), as well as a highlight on Unreal Engine launcher!


HOUDINI LICENSES
In addition to the Epic Swag Box, each member of the winning teams will be receiving 1-year of Houdini Indie (including the Houdini Engine) provided by SideFX. This amazing tool can be used with UE4 through the official Houdini plugin.


AIPD KEYS
Also in addition to the Epic Swag Box, each member of the winning teams will be receiving a free copy of AIPD. You will have a choice of Xbox One, PS4 or Steam keys.
Happy developing, and good luck!
Theme Announce Countdown
Submission Deadline Countdown

GameDev News


9. November 2016

 

Unity have just released another patch, this one 5.4.2p4.  This patch consists entirely of fixes, listed below.

Fixes
  • (845815) - Animation: Fixed an issue where Legacy animations could not be previewed.
  • (830110) - Asset Pipeline: Fixed a regression where AssetDatabase.SaveAssets won't save changes made to a prefab inside OnPostprocessAllAssets.
  • (none) - Audio: Fixed a panning issue with spatialized sounds.
  • (829898) - Build player: Reverted the change, which saved relative paths for build target but introduced issues for targets that needed to browse for folders instead of files (webGL, etc).
  • (824011) - Editor: Fixed a crash in RectTransform because it would send messages on the loading thread.
  • (none) - Graphics: Fixes a memory leak when using the GI visualizers in the scene view.
  • (832368) - IOS: Fixed an input reset in editor when iOS device without Unity Remote is selected
  • (834172) - IOS: Fixed issues with iOS Input.touchPressureSupported incorrectly reporting false.
  • (839037) - iOS: Build and Run now doesn't clean Xcode project for Append builds.
  • (836165) - Mac Editor: Fixed a crash when using Build and Run for iOS projects.
  • (843181) - Mac Editor: Fixed editor hanging if app was already running in Xcode 7.x when using Build and Run.
  • (819998) - OpenVR: Fixed a crash in certain conditions when checking if device is available.
  • (818159) - OpenVR: VRDevice.isPresent now works correctly when HMD is occluded from base stations.
  • (819092) - Shadows/Lights: Fix for dark lightmap when changing sun shadow strenght in mixed mode.
  • (829379) - VR: Fixed a crash when switching between VR mode and non-VR mode with image effects applied.
  • (817835) - VR: Fixed VRSettings.renderViewportScale when single-pass stereo rendering is enabled.
  • (821570) - Windows Store: Fixed a crash in multi scene system caused by internal managers being garbage collected.

The patch can be downloaded here.

GameDev News


9. November 2016

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Welcome to the GameFromScratch.com tutorial series covering the BabylonJS HTML5 game engine.  The home page of the series is available here.  For each tutorial in the series there is both a text and video version available.  In this post we are simply going to introduce the BabylonJS engine, the scope of this tutorial series and discuss why you might want to use the Babylon engine and also some of the alternatives available should you decide not to.  If you’ve already decided on using the BabylonJS game engine, jump forward to the next tutorial.

 

BabylonJS Overview

I’m not going to go into a great deal of detail on the functionality included in BabylonJS as I have already featured this game engine in the Closer Look game engine series.  Instead we are going to take a quick top level look at the engine features.

 

Why Choose BabylonJS

So, why is the BabylonJS game engine a good choice for you?

  • Open source (Apache 2 license) and free to use
  • Full featured 3D game library (scene graph, physics, particles, models, sprites, etc)
  • Compatible with most modern WebGL browsers
  • Excellent tooling, including level editor, Unity exporter, model converters
  • Good documentation, samples and other learning materials

You can read the full feature set here.

 

Why Not Choose BabylonJS?

So we mentioned a number of Babylon’s strengths, but why would you *not* choose to use BabylonJS?  Well, beyond the fact you may not like how they implement things the biggest reason all comes down to your priorities.  WebGL performance isn’t on par with desktop OpenGL or even OpenGL ES, so there is a bit of a performance penalty at work here.  While HTML5 applications can be wrapped to run as applications on various mobile devices, again there is a price to be paid, in both performance and labor.

At the end of the day, personally, I think a lot of it comes down to your primary target.  If you are creating a browser game first and foremost, I recommend working in a browser native library such as BabylonJS.  This has the most direct workflow, is easiest to debug, etc.  If on the other hand the browser is just another target for you you are probably better off working in a game engine that also targets HTML5, such as Unreal or Unity.

 

Alternatives to BabylonJS

Shockingly there aren’t actually a ton of HTML5 3D game engines or frameworks like BabylonJS.  The most direct alternatives are:

 

By no means is that an exclusive list, but it does represent some of the most common 3D engines with WebGL as their primary target.

In addition to these engines several 3D engines offer HTML5 as a target including Unreal, Unity, Godot and many more.  The primary challenge with these options is the generated code is often illegible, acting almost identically to a compiled binary.  So if things don’t work right you are dependent on the engine developer to fix things.  Or if you wish to use a native browser feature, you are again dependent on the engine developers to support it in some form.

 

Enough overview, lets jump into the technical details.  I am aiming to keep each tutorial somewhat short and concise, both text and video versions.  Stay tuned for the first tutorial covering getting BabylonJS up and running.

 

The Video

Programming


8. November 2016

 

SketchUp is among the easiest modeling applications available today.  While used heavily in the architectural industry, several game developers have made a place for SketchUp in their art pipeline.  You can read more about the new release here.  Some of the key new features include:

  • improved 3D graphical performance
  • higher quality and faster transparencies
  • high DPI support
  • smart offset tool
  • perpendicular snapping
  • improved rectangle tool
  • tables (spreadsheet data)
  • improved DWG support
  • extension manager

 

You can see a video of the new functionality available in SketchUp 2017 embedded below:

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