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24. December 2018

Xenko 3.1 beta has just been released.   This is the first major point release since the Xenko project went open source this summer.  The primary focus of this beta is reorganizing Xenko to make it play nicely with the NuGet distribution system, although this refactoring has some very cool side effects.  Now you are able to use individual components of Xenko on their own.  For example, if you wanted to use the Xenko graphics library on it’s own, you can, independent of the rest of the Xenko game engine.  This release also moves towards Xenko using .NET standard.

Details of the release from the Xenko blog:

Xenko was always a big proponent of NuGet: since first version, Xenko was distributed as a NuGet package.

However, due to limitations (hello packages.config and project.json!), we were leveraging NuGet more as a distribution medium than proper NuGet packages: Xenko 3.0 is still a monolithic single package and it would not work out of the box when referenced from Visual Studio without using Xenko Launcher and Game Studio.

Xenko 3.0 paved the way by making Xenko compatible with the new project system (game projects were referencing Xenko using a PackageReference).

Today, Xenko 3.1 brings Xenko as a set of smaller NuGet package, each containing one assembly, with proper dependencies:

GitHub

As a result, it is now possible to create a game project that references only the packages you want. Here are a few examples of “core” packages:

  • Xenko.Engine: allows you to use core engine runtime (including its dependencies)
  • Xenko.Core.Assets.CompilerApp: compile assets at build time
  • Xenko.Core.Mathematics or Xenko.Graphics: yes, if you want to make a custom project only using Xenko mathematics or graphics API without the full Xenko engine, you can!
  • Xenko.Core.Assets, Xenko.Presentation or Xenko.Quantum: all those piece of tech being used to build Xenko tooling are also available for reuse in other projects. Nothing prevents you from generating assets on the fly too!

Then, various parts of the engine are distributed as optional packages:

  • Xenko.Physics
  • Xenko.Particles
  • Xenko.UI
  • Xenko.SpriteStudio
  • Xenko.Video

If you don’t reference those packages, they won’t be packaged with your game either. In many situations, it results in a smaller packaged game and improved startup time.

In addition to the above changes, you can take a look at the commit log on GitHub for other aspects that made it into the 3.1 release.

GameDev News


19. December 2018


Amazon have just released beta 1.17 of the Lumberyard game engine, a Amazon developed fork of the seminal CryEngine.  If you are interested in learning more about Lumberyard be sure to check out our previous hands-on video.  This new release contains over 70 improvement, fixes and changes including many quality of life changes, especially in regards to slices (Lumberyard prefabs).

Details of the 1.17 beta from the release notes:

  1. Improved Slice Override Visualization – Now when using the entity outliner, you get a quick visual queue where you’ve made your changes. Changes to a slice entity are now highlighted in orange to notify you at a glance that something has been edited and should be saved or reverted.
  2. WYSIWYG Slice Editing – Manipulate slices by dragging and dropping entities onto each other or pulling them out from a slice to remove them. This more intuitive workflow will help you work faster and accomplish tasks that would have taken several clicks in the past.
  3. Save Dialog Box details on Edits – All details are now presented if you click on the advanced save option. If you’re dealing with many slices, there are now filter controls that help you default to added/removed entities.
  4. Updated Entity Outliner Search/Filtering Options – There are now options to sort alphabetically ascending/descending with additional toggles to scroll to a selected slice and/or expand the hierarchy.
  5. Editor Only Status – Set an entity as editor only and it will not show up in game / at runtime. This is helpful when working across disciplines or teams to drop in markers guiding developers on changes or areas that need lighting addressed.

As well as the following fixes:

Cinematics

The cinematics system has the following fixes:

  • The Track View editor no longer stops working when you use the redo and undo functionality.
  • The redo and undo functionality now works properly in the Curve Editor.
  • The up and down buttons now work properly in the Key Properties dialog box.
  • You can no longer erroneously use quotation marks in the file prefix. Previously this prevented the Render Output tool from generating screenshots and videos.
  • The Simple Motion component is now removed when you remove the Actor component from an entity.
  • The Render Output tool is now disabled when you're in game mode.
  • You can now extend or shorten a looped motion track.
  • Keys on a compound track now report values for subtracks.
  • When you deselect a sequence, it no longer erroneously appears in the Sequence drop-down list.

Slices

Slices have the following fixes:

  • Duplicating slice instance entities is now more stable.
  • Various performance improvements include serializing slices, decreasing the slice save time, and increasing system reliability.
  • Slices now have improved container serialization.
  • The zoom to selection functionality (keyboard shortcut Z) is now unified between the Entity Outliner and the viewport.
  • You can now save slices that have splines with deleted points.
  • Cubemap assets now save properly to nested slices.
  • You can now create an instance from a nested slice within a slice.
  • Component dependency sorting no longer misidentifies objects as being incompatible when a component provides the same service twice.
  • You no longer need to restart the editor to view changes to nested slices.
  • Entering a rotation value in one of the axis fields no longer modifies all of the axes in the viewport.
  • Material and texture asset reference fields are now detectable as an override when you modify these fields from the source slice data.
  • The Thumbnailer component is now self-compatible.

UI Editor

You can now push a new slice instance into a UI slice.

GameDev News


19. December 2018


Following up on the usual Black Friday sales bonanza, Unity are doing another sale on some of the most popular assets in the Unity Store.  One very cool difference to this sale is you only pay for what you don’t own when purchasing a bundle.   So for example, if you own an item in a bundle, the cost of that item is subtracted from the total and you still get the full savings on all of the remaining items in the bundle.  In a world with so many sales, it’s becoming increasingly common to own an item or two in a sale, making the sale much less valuable on the remaining items, so I appreciate this approach.

The bundles include:

The Best of 2018 Bundle

A collection of the most popular assets from 2018, with no over arching theme other than quality.

Procedural Worlds Bundle

A collection of tools from Procedural Worlds, most well known for Gaia, which you can see in action here.

Heroic Fantasy Pack

A collection of 90 fully rigged and animated fantasy characters.

Polygon Library

A collection of 21 model packs from Synty Studios for a wide variety of different themes.

Each bundle is @ 55% off.  The offer runs until the end of 2018, except the Best of 2018 pack which runs until January 6th.  All of the above links contain an affiliate code and help the channel financially should you decide to make a purchase. 

GameDev News


18. December 2018


MakeHuman, an open source character creation software that started life as a Blender plugin, recently released 1.2.0 Alpha 2.  With Manuel Bastioni Labs recently shutting down, MakeHuman has become the primary open source character creation software.  Fortunately it is quite good and is getting better with more extensive community support.  While no longer a Blender plugin, MakeHuman still tightly integrates with Blender, both via it’s mhx format and through a real time communication option.


Highlights of the 1.2.0 a2 release include:

  • The codebase has received a major overhaul to bring it up to date with modern versions of Python and Qt
  • Third party assets can be downloaded from within MakeHuman with a simple point and click procedure
  • There is a completely new Blender integration, with support for socket transfers, IK and Kinect
  • Improved internationalization support for non-ASCII characters (backported)
  • Plugins in user space
  • Plugins activation at runtime
  • Improved tag sorting capabilities, including sticky tag provisions
  • Tags for models (with configurable tag count)
  • Show Name Tags instead of file names in the file loader.
  • Saving model as target
  • Real weight estimation
  • Configurable location for the home folder
  • MHX2 is bundled in the default installation
  • There is a new installer for windows
  • There is a new PPA for ubuntu. This PPA also offers builds of plugins.
  • Using Jupyter for the shell utility, if available on the system (currently not working for MakeHuman windows builds)

You can download the installer for Windows here while a Linux PPA is available here.  If you want to learn more about MakeHuman, be sure to check out the video embedded below.

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13. December 2018


Following a beta release in September, Unity have just released the full version of Unity 2018.3.  The marquee feature of Unity 2018.3 is the new ability to nest prefabs inside other prefabs which will give game developers massive flexibility in how they structure and organize their games and is a feature developers have been asking for since Unity was first released!  Unity 2018.3 also contains major new features to the terrain system which we showcased in this earlier video.  A new GPU powered particle system called Visual Effect Graph is also available in preview format, along with a new isometric tilemap support, HDRP & LWRP improvements, a new Visual Studio Code debugger plugin, improved package manager and settings windows plus much more.


Details of the release from the Unity blog:

Over the years, one of the features we’ve heard you requesting most often has been the ability to nest Prefabs. After conducting numerous interviews, usability tests and research at game jams, however, we found out that a lot of you also needed several other changes to the Prefab workflows. Therefore, we have been improving the whole system with a focus on reusability, control and user-friendliness.

The new Prefab workflows allow you to split up scenes and Prefabs on a granular level. They give you greater flexibility, increase your productivity and enable you to work confidently without worrying about making time-consuming errors.

Continuing our focus on workflow improvements, Unity 2018.3 now has unified Settings windows for Project Settings and Preferences. The new windows are dockable and searchable, which makes it much more convenient to quickly find and change settings.

The default scripting runtime is now .NET 4.x. The old .NET 3.5 runtime has been deprecated and support for it will soon be dropped. Projects that target the .NET 4.x scripting runtime will be able to use the open-source Roslyn compiler.

In this release, we also added a PhysX 3.4 upgrade that comes with improvements to stability and performance as well as support for multiple worlds and C# Job queries.

The world-building 2D Tilemap tool now enables you to build isometric Tilemaps, which makes it easier to create 2D projects such as strategy, tycoons and simulation games.

Unity 2018.3 also ships with an update to the Terrain system, which marks the beginning of a larger overhaul. In this update, our focus has been not only to set the foundation for further improvements with a few tweaks to the UI and tools but also to improve performance. We also added High-Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP) and Lightweight Render Pipeline (LWRP) support.

Unity 2018.3 includes a number of improvements to the HDRP (preview). This version adds preliminary support for VR and multisample anti-aliasing and improves support for PC, Mac, XBox One and PS4. The UI of various Inspectors of HDRP elements is now updated: Camera, Lights, Reflections Probe, and Material. Finally, we added a new lighting model, so you can author more complex materials.

We are also introducing the GPU Progressive Lightmapper in Preview for Windows and several improvements to lighting.

Our new Visual Effect Graph, which ships in Preview as a package, enables you to create beautiful effects using a node-based system that is both easy to use and flexible. Inspired by leading VFX software tools for films, it empowers artists to create stand-out visual effects for games and other projects with millions of particles running on the GPU.

Unity 2018.3 also includes several new features for the existing Particle System. For example, there are Particle Meshes that can now be flipped just like with billboards, Particle Lights that now support Real-time Global Illumination, and the new Ringbuffer Mode, which makes it easier to create persistent effects like footprints or bullet holes by keeping particles visible after their lifetime expires and until they are replaced.

Mobile improvements include Dynamic Resolution Scaling support for Vulkan and Metal, Android AppBundle generation support and faster APK package build times on Android with APKzlib.

For XR, we added Native Support for Daydream Controllers, Haptics APIs for VR controllers, and updates to the AR Foundation as well as XR Performance Testing.

You can read the complete release notes for more details of what is contained in the 2018.3 release.


The following video takes a hands-on and more in-depth look at Unity 2018.3.

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