For the last 4 weeks, Iain Gillespie and I have been working on a little project in our spare time.
We made it as something to keep us off the streets, and also for something to use as an entry for the Edge Online - Get Into Games 2013 competition.
Why one or two players? Well, there are two characters and roles to play in the game. One character is on a bike, and needs to dodge stuff. The other character is on a moving platform and must shoot things to clear the road.
One is controlled by the keyboard, the other by the mouse.
SO, you can either go HARDCORE and play it by yourself, or you can SHARE THE LOAD and play it with a friend (which is the best way).
The ‘making the game’ was the primary focus, with the competition being used as a catalyst and milestone. Of course, we’d like to do well in the competition, but we didn’t want to feel too restricted to ‘making a game just for a competition and trying to win and being all AWESOME and people loving us for the rest of time and yes I know I haven’t punctuated any of this sentence but that’s the point’.
I’m becoming a huge fan of small development cycles now. Rugby Skills Challenge 2013 was about 4-5 weeks of development, and this has been another 4 weeks. It’s small, refined, and we only concentrated on the things that it really needed to be in orde to deliver the experience we wanted and to a quality level we’d be happy with.
We’ll see how it goes and might consider doing a more complete version in the future, but for now, we’re SUPER chuffed with what we managed to do in such a short space of time.
Also, massive thanks to Sabrepulse for letting us use his music in the game. You should totally buy the First Crush EP, it’s pay what you want.
Anyway, I’m off to play Bioshock Infinite.
Before leaving Unity I was lucky enough to get to work on something very exciting that they are cooking up over there; doing some level design on the new learning content that Will Goldstone and his team have been busy creating for a little while.
Some of the content they are creating is aimed at teaching you Unity in context with the ways in which you might create gameplay mechanics for specific games/genres.
The first batch of content is based around a stealth game and has recently appeared on the Unity Asset Store for download. Lucky for me it’s the project that includes that aforementioned level designed that I was involved with.
As it’s for a game based around Stealth there had to be a lot of consideration taken for potential routes the player could take and balancing the ‘threat’ and ‘progression’ windows.
It’s a fairly short level, but I made sure that the level had points in which the player could use as a break point, so that they knew that they were safe from previous threats, and could asses the new threats ahead of them.
If I get an okay from the Unity folks I’ll do a more in-depth explanation about the level design…
Anyway, take a look if you’re interested, I think Will and his team have done an amazing job with this. (Especially the battle bus, which I had NOTHING to do with)
Oh hey there.
It’s a well known fact of life that sometimes you just don’t get around to finishing things. I for one should know, I’ve got 3 projects sat on my computer waiting to be finished, but yet I started another one. Why? Well, this particular game was an idea I’ve wanted to make for a while. It’s not a huge project, it’s not a groundbreaking project…it’s an achievable project that’s going to scratch a massive itch I’ve had for the last 18 months - to get something out onto mobile stores.
There’s nothing like a deadline to get you working, but we all know that self imposed deadlines are too easy to move. This project has a self-imposed deadline, but it’s one that was decided based on the fact the game has close ties to a sport, and an upcoming sporting event would be the perfect time to release it. I don’t want to spend days/weeks doing promotion, I want there to be some ‘natural’/cultural reason that would lead people to it without me asking. A sporting event is the perfect opportunity for that.
You see, I’m making a rugby game. Why a rugby game? Well, I’m a massive fan of rugby, and there’s a distinct lack of rugby games currently available, so why not?. This particular project started out as an experiment in creating ‘flick kick’ style controls, which very quickly turned into a prototype, which then turned into an experiment in different game modes. I quickly realised that this could be a project that could very realistically be achieved…so I decided to finish it.
I set myself a goal of finishing it by the end of January, which is what I’m working towards now.
Because it’s supposed to be a ‘one-man’ project in a short time frame, I’m doing 90% of the game myself, including art and UI, which admittedly isn’t something I’d every apply for as a job, but I can manage! The only area I’m getting help is with the stadium model, which is being created by Chris Pope.
90% of the code base is complete, and I’m now in the process of completing the art side of the game, and beginning playtesting and bug fixing. The initial launch will be iOS, and depending on whether it’s worth it, I’ll look into doing a build for Android at a later date.
Here’s where I’d like a little extra help, from you.
Sports stadiums have sponsor boards running around the edges of the pitch. Now, I’m obviously not allowed to use REAL sponsors, and I don’t have the tim to come up with incredibly witty puns on well known sports brands, or the time to dedicate to doing the art.
So I thought, “why not populate it with games?”. I want those to be indie games, and I’d like them to be your indie games.
You know what, it doesn’t even have to be games, it can be anything you’re working on.
What do you need to do?
A 512 x 128 banner image.
Send me a link/email (therussmorris[at]gmail[dot]com.) to where I can get hold it (whatever format you prefer)
Send me a website and or twitter account
Do it by Jan 31st.
What will I do?
I’ll put it in the game. The banner will appear on the adverstising hoardings, and a link to your website/twitter will appear in the credits.
If you create something, you can send it to therussmorris[at]gmail[dot]com.
If you do, that would be awesome. Super awesome.
Have a good day!
You can see the video here…. LUUG 9 Video
Continuing on from the initial ‘Highlights from LUUG…’ post last month, here’s the latest version!
It’s difficult to write a highlights package for an event you presented at without making out that you’re bragging, but luckily there was lots of other stuff to talk about, including our most successful ‘open mic’ session to date, which is something that we are looking to build on for the future. I’ll try and give as much detail for those that talked, so for those of you that were present, it gives you a chance to follow up on any ideas that you had about the things that were discussed.
I’m going to start with discussing the open-mic slots… so here’s what happend with those.
Open Mic sessions
We had our most successful open mic sessions since we began to introduce them, clocking up about 30 minutes of showcasing and general chat about what people were planning on doing.
Bertrand Nouvel showed off the upcoming ‘True Type Text For Unity’ package, which is likely to be available on the Asset Store very soon! You can find out more about it through the website.
Rob Stringer opened up discussion about his ideas of rewarding those that want to contribute to his Galaxy Seed project based on their contributions. The idea is that people will be rewarded credits, the amount of which depends on the work contributed. If the game makes a profit, they are rewarded their share of the profit based on the number of credits that they hold.
You can find out more about Galaxy Seed by either looking at the previous ‘Highlights Of LUUG…’ post, or by contacting Rob directly via email (rob dot stringer at parabolicgames dot com)
We were also treated to some musical compositions from Ben Macdougall. Ben has worked on several commercial projects, and is interested in working in video games in the future. The demonstration he showed offered a great insight into the diversity of Ben’s skills, and I have no doubt that he’d be able to contribute something to whoever is looking for a composer. You can contact Ben via email at benmacdougall AT gmail DOT com , and you can check out his portfolio HERE.
I decided it was time for me to step up and provide a talk this month, and I tried to deliver something that focussed on those areas that aren’t discussed too often. Namely, xCode provisioning profiles, iOS distribution through TestFlight and internal profiling using xCode.
I tried to make everything I talked about in context with the development of Spring Break Hero, a game I had been working on PLA Studios over the last few months.
I’ll outline each section here briefly, but I’m hoping to document some of the sections in a bit more detail, particularly the TestFlight stuff…
Spring Break Hero for iOS.
I went over porting the original Super Spring Break Speedboat Hero SD Beta, a web game that we developed, and decided to port over to iOS. The talk focussed on how, even under the challenges of porting a project that wasn’t entirely optimised for Unity, we were still able to get a build of the game running just over 2 days.
After working out the differences between dynamically typed and statically typed variables, and using the life-saving #pragma strict, I went ahead and started statically typing all those problem areas.
When it comes to Unity developers, like myself, who have come from a design background and have learnt to programme and code through Unity, you might not understand the more ‘technical’/’proper programming’ things, so this is one area that you might have an issue. I know I certainly did.
This is a huge area that people really struggle with. Even the most seasoned veteran can have issues when it comes to setting up certificates, provisioning profiles, and the different between development and distribution profiles, so I tried to focus on the 3 steps you need to take, and the importance of doing these in exactly the right order.
The most important thing you need to be able to do is get everything done in the correct order.
The main three steps involve creating a certificate request form on your machine through Keychain. You then use that request form to create a certificate in the provisioning portal, which is then used as the certificate for your provisioning profile. Doing any of these in the wrong order just messes things up. It sounds obvious, but when you’re in the web of provisioning profiles, it can really mess you about.
Xcode internal profiling.
Getting your game running on an iOS device is one thing, but really understanding how it is running is another. There are two main things that you can do here; one gives you information about how the device is dealing with your game, the other looks at how your game is dealing with the device.
The first thing to look at is Activity Monitor, which can be access in Xcode after you’ve built your game. Using the toolbar, you can use Product > Profile, which will build your game and open up a window, in which you can select various tools to profile your game.
For the most part you can get away with using Activity Monitor. This will allow you to take a look at memory usage, CPU usage, and system loads. It visualises areas of high memory usage, which is useful. For a general look at how the device is dealing with your game, it’s useful.
The other side of things, is the internal profiling, which can be enabled inside of Xcode.
You will need to ‘ENABLE_INTERNAL_PROFILER’ inside the iPhone_Profiler.h class in xCode. It will then send out detailed information to the debug window.
You can see detailed information on how your game is performing, which is the main key difference to something like activity monitor, which allows you to see how the device is dealing with your game.
Getting the stats for how much time is being taken with rendering, physics, or even checking if the CPU is waiting for the GPU to finish. It’s incredibly useful when looking at improving performance, and the general areas that your game might be causing issues.
Test Flight distribution.
The third key issue with iOS development, is how to get around distribution and testing.
Simply the best way to deal with this is to use TestFlight.
TestFlight is free, and offers over-the-air distribution of the games you are making. It handles most of the fiddly stuff, mainly the UDID retrieval from the user’s device, meaning that all people really need to know how to do is respond to an email.
Once you have the UDIDs, you are free to create distribution lists, so you can supply specific builds to specific users. For example, you can have a list purely for clients, so you can make sure they get access to the games that are nearing completion/ specific milestone builds, and you can send the builds that might not be considered ‘reliable’ to your dedicated test team.
Emails are sent to users on lists when new builds are uploaded, and as the developer, you can check to see what builds users installed last, or whether they’ve bothered to open the email.
Installation is handled automatically, with users just needing to click an icon of the games they have access too, and they will be on the device, ready to play. I’d love to know how this actually works…but for now I’ll just assume it’s magic.
As previously mentioned, I’m aiming to write some detailed documentation on how to get this running with very little fuss…
So that was about it for LUUG9! Thank you all for coming. Incredibly excited for the next one, and I’m VERY excited for the quickly approaching 1 year anniversary!
See you soon.
The last 12 months have been excellent. I was lucky enough to be asked to join the wonderfully talented guys at PLA Studios, who offered me an opportunity to not only develop games, but have a massive say in what those games were. I got to continue teaching at South Bank university, building on from the work and fun that I had with the second year group that I taught the year before.
Most of the students had decided to use Unity as their engine of choice for their third year project, having used it in our 3D Level Design module. Being involved in the first major individual project for most of the students is a special experience, and I hope that I’ve been of some help to them along the way, not only with the Unity side of things, but also in terms of bashing out design theory, documentation and general professional practice.I’m really looking forward to the end of year show, I’ll be very proud of them all.
The last 12 months have also seen the conception and growth of the London Unity User Group (LUUG), which I co-organise with Jasper Stocker.We’ve had very pleasing attendance figures, and we’ve been lucky enough to secure inspiring Unity developers to not only show off their amazing projects, but discuss their own personal experiences using Unity. It’s a real community feeling, and there’s often a few sore heads the morning after.
All of this has played a pivotal role in allowing me the opportunity to join a company, and more importantly, the individuals who have provided me with a platform that I’ve tried so hard to launch my career from.
Unity was a catalyst to allowing a self-proclaimed game designer the opportunity to learn the intricacies of game development in a manner that was accessible and intuitive. I had a blast during the first few weeks of developing Starlings, and that kept me learning new things every day.
I’m going to be joining Unity Technologies as a Product Evangelist, so essentially my job will be to grow and communicate with the community, and with such an amazing community, and one that has played a huge part in allowing me to be in this situation, how could I not be excited?
As I write this I’m on the plane over to GDC, gearing up for my first week of work, and my first experience of the USA.
I’m incredibly excited.
See you soon.
What better way to see out January than to reconnect with the Unity community.
It was our eighth London Unity User Group last Wednesday (at the time of writing!), and whilst I can’t speak for Jasper, I’m sure he’ll agree that we didn’t think that LUUG would be the success it has been so quickly. From the very first meeting we’ve seen a steady increase in attendance, with the regulars that sometimes can’t make it having their seats filled with new attendees.
The biggest news over the last month has been the release of the developer preview for Unity 3.5, which includes our first look at the Flash exporter. The clever folks at Unity HQ decided that the best way to get us testing this new feature was to make a competition out of it. Over the Holiday period. Excellent.
So, we took time out from our time out with the families and leftover turkey to create something for ‘Flash in a Flash’, which is what we made the main topic for this months LUUG.
We sent out the call to invite those who had entered the competition to show their projects and offer their experiences, and the call was bravely met by LUUG regulars Cat Burton, Mike Renwick and QuickFingers.
Cat Burton - Find Heidi.
Cat did an excellent job of explaining the iterative nature of game development and design. Sometimes the initial ideas, whilst on paper might seem the best way of marrying form and content whilst taking into account strict time constraints, can sometimes come crashing into the brick wall of logical gaming sense. A hamster in a ball is a great way to get around the need for any complex animations, until the player needs to jump that is.
A quick redesign and a favour from a friend later and Cat was well on the way to creating a cute game of love, cats and mice.
We also got a nice insight into the importance of testing and user feedback during the early stages of game development, which might be one of the most important messages delivered on the night.
You can read an in-depth blog post into developing ‘Find Heidi’ as well as links to playable builds HERE.
Follow Cat on twitter here.
Mike Renwick - Spitfire.
Mike took a different approach to working with Flash, mainly by ripping apart an older project and shoe horning it through the Flash exporter, piece by piece. It might not have been a complete success, but what we saw of Spitfire looked very interesting. A comic book inspired player feedback system, supported by controls that look tight and fun. The real shame here is if Mike never goes back and finishes it off, because I for one would love to have a go!
Follow Mike on twitter here.
QuickFingers - Covert.
Born out of a love for Deus Ex key code systems and reading mundane emails for subtle clues, Covert is a remarkable piece of work for such a short development period, which isn’t surprising really, coming from QuickFingers.
Play Covert Here.
Follow QuickFingers on twitter here.
Jasper Stocker - Hot Wheels
Jasper discussed how the Hot Wheels game was built, the lessons learnt and how much fun it was making it. Covering the basics of implementing analglyphic 3D in Unity and using Flash with Unity to allow the game to use AR binary markers to steer the car.
Many of the challenges facing the project involved allowing it to be fun while easy enough for a kid to play it with the AR marker. He covered the physics, setup and tricks he used in implementing a loop the loop, jump and wrecking ball. Along with useful tips on building racing games in Unity, putting experience before simulation.
You can follow Japser on Twitter here.
You can play the Hot Wheels game here..
Open Mic Sessions
We also had a couple of ‘open mic’ presentations from members of the group. One in particular was Rob Stringer’s ambitious ‘Moon-em-up’, ‘Galaxy Seed’. I’d promised I would update you all with the details for Rob, and he wanted to extend his thanks, as well as offering contact information…so I’ve pasted it below.
I want to say thanks for the positive and honest feedback that many of you gave after LUUG, I really appreciate it. Here are a couple of links for a more cohesive idea of what Galaxy Seed is and the game’s story:
You can also play the current version in it’s glorious (but ugly, buggy and short) form here: Windows - http://bit.ly/x4pGAo Mac - http://bit.ly/wwqJmI
If you want to help in the production of the game, or just have some questions about it, feel free to get in touch email@example.com.
Since the event, and the original writing of this blog post, Unity have announced the winner and runners-up of the Flash In A Flash Competition. Huge congratulations to Cameron Owen, who’s ‘Tail Drift’ claimed first prize. Our very own ‘quickfingers’ was amongst the runner-up awards, with Covert, which you can play by following the link further up in this post.
You can see ‘Tail Drift’ and all the runner-up games by clicking here.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
This is where I work.
When I graduated last year , I had a plan; get a job.
I got work pretty quickly, and whilst it was very good work, it was freelance or short term contract work. I was looking for something permanent, something that would really give me an opportunity to test myself. I applied at numerous large studios, but making rocks and barrels wasn’t what I wanted to do. The dream was to join a startup studio, one where I would get a real oppertunity to design.
A few months ago I got a call from PLA Studios and it was obvious that the opportunity I wanted had arrived. I’m one lucky SOB.
please check out our website www.plastudios.com
Follow us on Twitter @plastudios
I feel bad, really bad. There’s two reasons for feeling like this. The first is that I haven’t had time to blog about anything (despite there actually be really cool things to talk about lately) and secondly for not posting about the previous London unity3d users group event. It was another great evening, with some interesting talks from the guest speakers, and some lively discussion over a few pints afterwards.
The success of the first two meetings has convinced us that there are many, many people based in and around London to jusify holding an event, and even at the early stages of these events we’re already queuing people up for future talks.
This month the London unity3d user group event takes place on the 23rd June at London south bank university.
Begin Pasted Text from meetup.com
We’re back, and we’re in the same place as last time. As with previous meetups, LSBU will be hosting us.
We always aim to provide content for both the new and experienced Unity user, and this month we’ve managed to secure two great speakers.
Rapid AR development with String Augmented Reality for IOS.
Mike Renwick will demonstrate how to use String’s Augmented Reality plugin to set up a simple scene in Unity3d, and show some of the ways that it could be used for interactive applications and games for iPhone and iPad2. Augmented reality is essentially overlaying 3d objects on a real-world view, in this case, the device’s camera, making the object appear to be part of the scene. String is a lightning-fast, lean plugin that can be tightly integrated with Unity3d for quite spectacular results.
Mike worked with String to help produce an interactive AR toy for their initial application showcase, available free on iTunes http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/string-augmented-reality-showcase/id417606536?mt=8 ,
Follow Mike on twitter @runonthespot
Check out his blog here » http://www.darkquadrant.co.uk/
Preloaded is an independent games studio that makes casual and social games on all platforms. They have worked with some of the brightest and best people in the industry, ranging from broadcasters and production companies, to galleries, museums, educators and enlightened brands.
Preloaded will talk about the challenges of getting paid to create Unity games and showing us ‘under the bonnet’ of their forthcoming Unity project, which is being developed for a major UK broadcaster.
Follow Preloaded on twitter @preloaded
We’re super excited about each of these talks, as they represent two areas that we haven’t yet covered in our London Unity3D user groups.
Once sessions have finished we’ll head to The Ship on Borough Road, as usual.
Look forward to seeing you there.
This Friday is the first meet up for the new London Unity Usergroup. It’s an event that myself and Jasper Stocker have been organising, and we’re very pleased with the way it’s shaping up.
The idea is to provide inspiration and advice to both new and experienced users. In order to achieve this we’ve managed to bag two very exciting guest speakers. One is quickfingers, who is well know amongst the Unity community, and the other…well, that would be the kind folks from the Unity UK office!
On top of this, the kind folks over at Packt Publishing have supplied us with copies of Unity books to give away!
If you’re in or around London and you’re interested in Unity3D in any way, then I suggest you come along, who knows what could happen….
Follow us on Twitter
I’ve always been a believer that the early days of learning game design and development should be like learning a musical instrument…you practice by playing the stuff you listen to. So why not practice game development by making the stuff you play? Then, when you’re good at the basics, you can move onto your own stuff… I really think one of the worst mistakes you can make in the early days is to get carried away and try to make ‘Left 4 Dead’ when you don’t even know how to make Pong…
On the flip side to that, it’s always fun to have small pet projects when you’re bogged down with all the difficult stuff. Creating something basic, with a quick turnaround is a good way to give yourself a quick pat on the back.
So, In order to help some of the newcomers along, I’ve attempted to show how easy it can actually be to create a game in Unity…by recreating one of my favourite games, Elektroplankton.
I loved Elektroplankton on the DS. It was a great mix of quirky and retro-chic…with a nice bit of music generation thrown in. So, for a few hours over the last few weekends I’ve been playing around with recreating the core mechanics. I don’t really have enough time to create proper beats and hooks, so it’s just placeholder sounds. Anyway, Here it is, and it’s called ‘beatLines’.
In order for it to be of any use to people, I’ve provided the source code, so you can see how it was made, and go about making your own changes. I’ve commented on most of the lines to give a good idea of how it all works, so hopefully you can work it all out.
Whilst the game is under 200 lines of code, which is a 1/3 comments, it still isn’t the best way in which to make something like this…why? Well, I wanted to cover some things that might become useful in your future developments. The main things that are covered here are…
Turning scripts on or off
Assigning objects to GameObject variables at run-time.
Setting min/max int values
Basic input from left and right mouse buttons
Referencing static variables from scripts attached to other objects
So, for example, each time we click on a waypoint, we change the position it faces. We are in fact loading a new texture. We would be better off actually using one texture and rotating the object to actually face the desired direction. If you want to experiment with optimising the code further, then it’s all setup for you, otherwise it can act as a nice reference point to see how you can do certain things…
It’s desperately crying out for some really cool beats, because at the moment it’s just placeholder sounds. If you want to add your own stuff, go ahead. Alternatively, if you’d like to contribute some sounds, then give me an email.
Sounds provided by http://www.superflashbros.net/as3sfxr/ (thanks to @iainlobb )