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21. August 2016

 

Facebook used to be an absolute powerhouse in the game publishing space before mobile games became so dominant.  Many now gigantic companies like King got their start on Facebook as did many of the most popular mobile IP (Candy Crush, Clash of Kings, etc.)  So it should come as no surprise that Facebook is keen to become a bigger player in the gaming space.  This is doubly true considering their multi-billion dollar purchase of Oculus.  The approach they have taken is however somewhat shocking. 

 

Earlier this year Facebook launched the beta of their Facebook Arcade, a downloadable client for playing several of their most popular games.  It seems that Facebook is intending to morph this service into a more Steam like service.  One part of this strategy is a newly announced partnership with Unity that will enable Unity developers to publish directly to Facebook’s new service.  From the Unity forum:

Sign up to be a closed-alpha partner! Unity is partnering with Facebook to lower the cost and friction of bringing your games cross-platform, with the power to reach over 650 million people who are already playing Facebook-connected games every month. With over $2.5B paid out by Facebook to game developers last year alone, Facebook will be selecting developers building in Unity 5.4 to join as closed-alpha partners to test a new export functionality within the Unity editor. With this new functionality, Unity developers will be able to easily publish their games onto a brand-new Facebook PC gaming distribution platform to help drive additional growth and monetization.
Sign up here (fb.me/FBUnityAlpha) by August 31, 2016 to help us test and provide feedback on an alpha build of the new functionality we're in building into the Unity editor. Don't miss this opportunity to help shape an exciting new venture that we're investing in and reap the benefits of being an early partner*.
* Once selected, closed-alpha partners will need to agree to the the following minimum requirements:

  • Sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA)
  • Use the alpha build and report bugs in order to help make this a better product
  • Once you've built your game for the new Facebook PC platform, submit it to Facebook for review

Please share any questions you may have in this forum thread.

 

Details of this new service are quite scarce.  Given the requirement to sign an NDA to sign up, it seems likely it will remain that way.  As loathe as I am to link to them (the TMZ of tech “journalism”), TechCrunch currently have the most details available:

Facebook was apprehensive to reveal details about the specs and plans for the PC platform, but here’s what we know from talking with Facebook and Unity:

  • It will run on different types of PCs, not just Windows like the Games Arcade test
  • The desktop platform provides a distraction-free gaming environment uncluttered by other Facebook features like the News Feed
  • It will support the traditional casual Facebook games, mobile games ported from iOS and Android, and Unity says it will likely support more “immersive” hardcore games like you typically see on Steam or consoles, as there’s no plans for a limit on genres or specs right now
  • It will offer discoverability so gamers can find titles to play
  • Facebook will provide a revenue split for game publishers, though it’s unclear if it will deviate from the industry standard 30% it’s used in the past

So basically Facebook appear to be launching their own marketplace to compete with the likes of Steam with both casual games and an eye towards more hardcore games in the future.  If you are interested in signing up you have until the end of August.

GameDev News


11. August 2016

 

Unity have released another patch for the Unity game engine.  Composed primarily of fixes, the only new improvements in this patch are removal of the 16GB limit on Windows and an update to Oculus plugin 1.6.

From the release notes:

Improvements
  • Linux: Removed 16GB total memory limit.
  • VR: Oculus Plugin updated to version 1.6.
Fixes
  • (811963) Android: Audio - Fixed glitches on GearVR when Best Latency is selected.
  • (746248) Android: Buildpipe - Don't check for passwords if exporting project.
  • (746248) Android: Buildpipe - Don't merge manifests if exporting project.
  • (797965) Android: Editor - Added a workaround for AAPT sometimes crashing for no good reason.
  • (808817, 805086, 801150) Android: Fix for clip() in ES3 shaders on some Adreno devices
  • (813681) Animation: Fixed a crash that happened when disabling a gameobject during animation-triggered physics callbacks.
  • (813105) Animation: Fixed an issue where an assert that couldn't be acted upon was popping in the AvatarMask inspector.
  • (813805) DX11: Fixed some drivers crashing when using GPU skinning and tessellation shaders happen to be set up.
  • (none) Editor: Fixed the inspector UI for some Renderers where Light Probe and Reflection Probe options were not displayed correctly.
  • (none) GI: Fixed performance regression of LightProbes.GetInterpolatedProbe API.
  • (814402, 811236) Graphics: Fixed image effects being rendered twice when the camera is instantiated from prefab or copying another camera. This issue was player only.
  • (809995) IL2CPP: Corrected an exception during code generation with the NPOI library.
  • (807653) IL2CPP: Fixed IPEndPoint on IPv6 network.
  • (813962) IL2CPP: Generated C++ code properly for two structs that contain arrays of each other as fields.
  • (815722) IL2CPP: Prevent a stack overflow during code conversion which can occur for mutli-dimensional arrays with generic types.
  • (812570) IL2CPP: Properly marshal delegates when they are fields of a struct.
  • (818102) IL2CPP: Renamed the types.h file to be il2cpp-string-types.h to avoid the possibility of is conflicted with a user-defined header file.
  • (809864) IL2CPP/PS4: Fixed the exception "System.Net.Sockets.SocketException: System call failed" which can occur when UDP sockets are used.
  • (805892) IL2CPP/XBoxOne: Prevent the C+ compiler from crashing while compiling the IL2CPPCompilerCalculateTypeValues.cpp file for some projects. This file was just too large in these cases, so IL2CPP will not generate multiple smaller files instead.
  • (817335) iOS: Fixed iOS 10 simulator crash.
  • (808536) iOS/IL2CPP: Fixed an error in generated C++ code due to duplicate extern declarations when an extern method in C# is overloaded.
  • (735709) Linux: Added fall back to NET_WM_ICON for custom player icon.
  • (816514) Linux: Don't unnecessarily clear mouse position.
  • (810964) Mono: Properly locate the libMonoPosixHelper.dylib file in the editor on OS X when it is used.
  • (820523) OS X: Fixed HTTPS support for WWW/UnityWebRequest when Mac App Store receipt validation is on.
  • (772640, 817337) Profiler: Fixed GPU profiling showing "N/A" for most draw calls, instead of associating with proper objects.
  • (813763) UnityWebRequest: Fixed errors in console when downloading texture.
  • (none) UnityWebRequest: Fixed memory leak and possible crash when doing mulpiple request using the same object
  • (817745) VR: Fixed possible crash on shutdown.
  • (818044) WebGL: Fixed compressed build files (.*gz) creation if they already exist.
  • (796508) WWW: Fixed occasional crashes in il2cpp projects.

 

The patch is available for download here.

GameDev News


28. July 2016

 

Unity 5.4 is finally here.  A major feature of this release is improved graphics with better multithreaded rendering, GPU instancing, texture arrays, computer shaders and more.  VR has been improved as well and one major usability issue is Retina is finally supported, but high DPI support on Windows is for a later date.  IL2CPP, their intermediate language to C++ compiler is now available on Android in this release.

UNT_news_2016_07_blog_B

A summary of new features in 5.4 are:

  • Graphics & rendering performance improvements:
    • Better multithreaded rendering
    • Fewer draw calls with GPU Instancing – available on Windows, OSX, Linux, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One
    • Improved low level graphics features: texture arrays, compute shaders, and more
  • For Artists:
    • Thanks to sizing controls, a new trigger module, and better lighting with Light Probe Proxy Volumes (LPPV) particles are now more customizable.
    • In-engine support for motion vector rendering
  • VR Improvements: more built-in multiplatform VR support and better performance
  • IL2CPP for Android is now an officially supported platform (previously it was labeled ‘experimental’)
  • The editor now supports Mac Retina displays (Windows HiDPI support is in the pipeline) and we’ve added a zoom-able game view function (OSX & Windows)
  • Cloud Build setup is now available from the within the editor.  
  • Performance Reporting is now fully integrated in the editor, 1-click activation without plugins or code
  • A major Analytics feature update with raw data export, Heatmaps, Live Stream, and Ads data in the dashboard
  • In-App Purchasing now supports the Amazon Appstore
  • Web Player and PS3 Build target options have been removed along with iOS 6 support (we now support iOS 7.x and above)

 

There are a ton more details of the release available here.

GameDev News


27. July 2016

 

Immediately following the release of Unity 5.3.6, we begin the patch cycle all over again with the release of Patch 5.3.6P1.  One again this patch is primarily a bug fix release, it also saw the Oculus Rift SDK updated to version 1.6.

 

From the release notes:

Improvements
  • VR: Updated to Oculus version 1.6 .
Fixes
  • (811596) - Asset Management: Assets added using AssetDatabase.AddObjectToAsset will no longer change their name when the project is saved.
  • (803481, 807275) - AssetBundles: Fixed an issue where calling Resources.UnloadUnusedAssets while loading an AssetBundle with AssetBundleRequest.LoadAssetAsync caused an error & stopped the asset from being loaded properly
  • (812396) - Audio: Fixed a crash when/after building for standalone with empty project with several audio clips.
  • (807653) - IL2CPP: Fixed IPEndPoint on IPv6 network.
  • (791844) - iOS: Fixed an issue where InputField.onEndEdit was called from an active InputField.
  • (815735) - iOS: Names for new iOS devices when selecting Unity Remote device.
  • (759719, 759191, 733920) - Mono: Corrected a number of possible hangs with SSL sockets when the Unity Editor entered and exited the play mode. These hangs often showed up in the AuthenticateAsClient method.
  • (810551, 810692) - Networking: ReliableFragmented channel stops working after client has disconnected, then reconnects.
  • (764330) - OS X: Fixed Screen.currentResolution.refreshRate being always 0.
  • (813872) - Particles: Fixed an issue where playing the scene with more than 270 particle prefabs caused a crash.
  • (none) - Windows Store: Fixed a potential crash on Xbox One when retrieving advertising id.
  • (none) - Windows Store: Fixed a rare deadlock when recursively calling InvokeOnAppThread and InvokeOnUIThread many times
  • (none) - Windows Store: Fixed an assert that happened on startup on Xbox One in debug builds.
  • (808700) - Windows Store: Fixed touch screen keyboard input not working on UWP.

GameDev News


22. July 2016

 

Somewhat recently Unity announced new pricing that didn’t exactly make Unity developers the world over cheer.  Then a few weeks later, they announced newer and much improved pricing.  Part of this new pricing included the ability to make the Unity splash screen optional in the Pro version and “customizable” in the Basic version.  They said:

The new splash screen will read “Made with Unity” in all editions of Unity – no more mention of “Personal Edition”. You will also be able to customize it with your own (blurred) background image and your own company logo in addition to the Unity logo. This feature is coming, but give us a bit of time to perfect the technical aspects of it before we release it. The customizable splash screen will be available in all versions of Unity, but can be completely turned off in Unity Plus and Unity Pro. We’ll have a blog post with further details later.

Well later is here and that blog post has arrived.

As you saw in our recent pricing announcements, part of our new structure allows you as a Plus or Pro subscriber to disable the Splash Screen feature of Unity. In addition to this we wanted to provide a set of simple tools to let you display a co-branded splash screen with animation, for those of you that do wish to use them.

As we still require Personal Edition users to show a Unity splash screen for now, these tools will also be available and become the default method of showing the Made with Unity splash. The tools are still in development, and are currently aimed to be part of Unity 5.5. Check out the video above for what they look like in practice, and please provide us with feedback in the comments below.

 

They also included the following video demonstrating the tool:

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