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7. September 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


30. August 2016

 

One of the nice things about moving away from point releases and towards a subscription model is releases come fast an furious.  This is certainly the case with the Unity game engine, which just released the first beta of Unity 5.5.  There a massive number of fixes and API changes in this release and a few new major features.  The big feature of this release is the new line rendering and particle system tools, including new modules for lighting, trails and noise.  This release also saw improvements toimage the physics system, and improved texture importer as well as the C# compiler being upgraded to Mono 4.4 (but not the C# implementation, just the tooling at this point).  Unfortunately the promised Splashscreen tool, enabling you to customize the Made With Unity logo,  got delayed for a later release.

 

 

Here are the new features, taken from the release notes:

  • Editor: New selection highlighting in scene view.
    Instead of showing a wireframe a selection outline is now shown. This outline color can be configured in the preferences of Unity. In the gizmo / annotation window you can select if you would like this behavour, the old behaviour, or both.
  • Editor: Option to run Cache Server locally for quick platform switching
  • Particles: New Modules:
    • Lights Module, for adding realtime lights to particles
    • Noise Module, for adding Curl Noise to Particle Movement
    • Trails Module, for rendering ribbonized trails behind particles
  • Physics: New CapsuleCollider2D
  • SceneManager: Editor SceneSet asset.
    When creating a SceneSet asset in the editor it will save the current list of open scenes so that this set of scenes can be easily restored.
  • Scripting: Built-in support for opening scripts in Visual Studio Code as an external script editor on OSX and Windows. Unity will now detect when Visual Studio Code is selected an external script editor and pass the correct arguments to it when opening scripts from Unity and setup a default .vscode/settings.json with file excludes, if it does not already exist.
  • Shaders: Per-rendertarget blend modes. New shader syntax: "Blend N Src Dst", "BlendOp N Op", "ColorMask Mask N", where N is the render target index (0..7). This feature works on DX11/12, GLCore, Metal, PS4.

 

There were also dozens of fixes, changes and improvements, so I recommend you check out the complete release notes for more details.  They are available, along with the installer, right here.

GameDev News


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.

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