Tag Archive for: C#

RMC Primer: Everything Virtual Reality (VR)

Category: Industry News, RMC News     |     Tags: C#, Games, Mobile, Unity3D

RMC Primer: Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality is here. Since 2016 we can play high quality experiences.

In my previous article Finding Your Next Unity3D Job I overview what companies want in prospective candidates and outline where you can search for available positions. And in Get a Job In Game Development, I discuss the specifics of a programming career in the games industry

The games industry spans myriad platforms. Historically, PC (Commodore, Amiga, Dos, Windows, Mac, Linux) through the 70’s and 80’s led the medium. Consoles (Atari, Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Microsoft) and handheld (especially Nintendo) brought the first game-specific hardware to consumers. The 2007 release of the iPhone brought the critical masses to the device that would launch more games per year than any other platform before it. People who ‘never play games’ started to play, and continue to play today. The primary leader of advancement each year has been ‘better graphics’. Visuals are important to the marketing, promotion, and experience of playing video games. While the history of that technology spans decades, the number of other major technology advances is relatively small.

Its a short list. Here are the most significant paradigms in video games:

What is VR?

Virtual reality (VR) is a computer technology that uses software-generated realistic images, sounds and other sensations to replicate an a real environment or an imaginary setting, and simulates a user’s physical presence in this environment to enable the user to interact with this space. The essential hardware is a VR Headset.

Visuals

Visuals are at the essence of VR.

If all humans had just one eye, we would see still see robust visual information. But compare that to 2 eyes. Our 2 eyes look in the same general direction at the same objects. However, the offset position of our eyes (inches apart) and the unique angle (looking in slightly towards the nose) give us much more information than one eye could give. Through stereopsis we sense depth, perspective, and motion at a more profound level.

In traditional software development, visual content is designed for one screen of output (e.g. computer monitor or TV). This is essentially a one-eyed perception of the world within our games. For decades, we have adapted to see those worlds as realistic.

The perceived psychological distance between our ‘self’ and our ‘game’ collapses. The subtleties of where we are sitting, how we are sitting, and the angle of the screen are insignificant. In one-screen gaming, we are not ourselves, we are the screen.

However, the essential difference in VR is the simultaneous output of 2 high-resolution, high frame-rate screens. For the first time in the virtual gaming world we are gaining the same benefits of stereopsis in the physical world.

In VR gaming, we are no longer our game screen, we are ourself.

Input

Traditional gaming input devices include keyboard, mouse, controller (joystick/gamepad), and more recently gesture and voice. VR can and will embrace those devices too.

Primary Inputs

  • Headset – the position, angle, and acceleration of your head are input.
  • Motion Controller – The position, angle, and acceleration of your hand(s) are input.
  • Gamepad – Traditional console game controllers are also popular.
  • Others… (Magic Leap)

VR Challenges / Solutions

VR Platforms

While there have been attempts at VR in the past, 2016 marks the relevancy of VR to the mainstream. The cost, quality, and distribution are finally here. Some are already released and before the end of the year, all the known devices will be released.

Top Platforms

  • Vive – Highest price, best hardware
  • Oculus
  • Playstation VR – Lower price non-mobile with massive distribution potential (with 40 million PS4’s sold as of October, 2016)

Others

VR Software

Forever, we as game players waited for the right hardware. Its here. Now the game development industry is scrambling to provide us content.

Games

Movies

  • The Wild West of VR Narrative ( link )

Experiences

Uses For VR

Entertainment is the primary usage for the VR we see today, but telepresence, healthcare, and education have massive potential too.

Education

  • LifeLique (Life Like) – Interactive 3D models for STEM learning
  • Virtual Reality Meets Education ( link )

Developing VR

Apple has yet (October 2016) to announce specific plans for VR/AR, but the major game development platforms are embracing VR. Some more quickly and completely than others. Here are a few leading options.

 

Resources

  1. Big Storage Is The New Reality In Virtual Reality ( link )
  2. Investing in VR Could Kill VR ( link )

Unity3D Architectures: Entitas

Unity3D Architectures: Entitas

Unity3D is a powerful suite of tools (Project IDE, Code IDE, run-time) for game development. In Unity3D Game Architectures I present six different techniques for setting up your game. Depending on the size and maturity of your team, you are probably using some form the archtectures presented there. I recommend checking that article out first, then read below.

A newer architecture called Entitas  was presented at Unity’s Unite Conferences (2015 and 2016). I saw the most recent presentation and recently made time for a deeper dive to learn the basics.

I created a few projects. The full source is linked at the end of the article

  • Entitas Template – An ideal starting point for your next Entitas project
  • Entitas ‘Pong’ – I started with the template and created a simple, complete game

While making those projects, reading documentation, and dissecting other freely available Entitas projects, I learned a lot.

Entitas for C# / Unity3D

Entitas is a super fast Entity Component System Framework (ECS) with a version created specifically for C# and Unity3D.

As the creators explain — Entitas is open source. Internal caching and blazing fast component access makes it second to none. Several design decisions have been made to work optimal in a garbage collected environment and to go easy on the garbage collector. Entitas comes with an optional code generator which radically reduces the amount of code you have to write and lets you write code that is super fast, safe and screams its intent.

Here is an excerpt from my Entitas Pong game.

//  Create human player
Entity whitePaddleEntity                     = _pool.CreateEntity ();
whitePaddleEntity.AddPaddle            (PaddleComponent.PaddleType.White);
whitePaddleEntity.AddResource        ("Prefabs/PaddleWhite");
whitePaddleEntity.AddVelocity          (Vector3.zero);
whitePaddleEntity.WillAcceptInput   (true);

Entitas Structure

Diagram Fundamentals
  • Entities – Hold Components – E.g. PlayerEntity
  • Groups – Hold groups of Entities (as a query optimization) – E.g. BulletGroup
  • Components – Hold public variables ( Has no methods) – E.g. VelocityComponent
  • Systems – Query entity/components ( Has methods to do logic ). Most of your code is here, typically acting on one or more groups. E.g. VelocitySystem
  • Controllers – Monobehavior that bridge the ‘unity world’ with the ‘ECS world’. E.g. InputController

Example:

The InputController (Monobehavior) listens for Unity.Input on Update. When the phone’s screen is tapped, the InputController creates an InputEntity, each with an InputComponent with data regarding the tap The InputSystem (ISystem) processes once, only when new InputEntities exist, and it updates the PlayerEntity‘s VelocityComponent. The concept of Velocity is processed separately to update the game properly, etc…

Note: Entitas Components are NOT Unity Components (aka Monobehaviors). Think of an Entitas Component as serving ANY (one) of these roles;

  • Simple data storage – e.g. myComponent.score
  • Events – myEntity.WillDestroy(true) which functions something like myEntity.SendEvent (new DestroyMeEvent());
  • Visual things – e.g. myComponent.view.gameObject with some standard Unity renderers attached

Visual Debugging

entitas_systems_v1Systems

entitas_pools_v1Entities

Performance

Based on data provided by the creators we see impressive run-time performance.

Unity vs Entitas. 1000 objects with 2 components;

  • Memory: 9x (2.9 MB vs 0.32 MB)
  • CPU: 17x (105ms vs 6ms)

Entitas is MUCH faster due to its many 0ptimizations: Entitas…

  • Reuses Entities
  • Reuses Components
  • Caches Groups
  • Index Components

Compared to a typical Unity game architecture, ECS processes logic only when processing is necessary. The Entitas system architecture and query system allows me to mix ‘processing’ strategies. For example with 100 characters onscreen I can;

  • Move all characters every monobehavior.Update()
  • Move half one one frame and the rest on another frame
  • Move only those who have a changed position
  • Etc…

Evaluation

Pros

  • FAST performance
  • Data-binding is implicit (OnEnityAdded/Removed/Updated, OnComponentAdded/Removed/Replaced)
  • Querying is fast, efficient, and opens your mind to new ways to think about your game.
  • ECS embraces Single Responsibility Principle (SRP) ( link )
  • Testability*
  • Code sharing (use C# on client AND server)*

* These features are greatly enabled because the UnityEngine.* classes are separated by-design from the bulk of your Entitas game logic. Testing UnityEngine.* has historic challenges. Running UnityEngine.* on server is either undesirable or impossible depending on your technology stack.

Cons

  • Developing with Entitas is easy, but refactoring has challenges (see Growing Pains below)
  • Best to START your project with Entitas
  • Best to FULLY embrace your project with Entitas (Rather than use Entitas partially in your game)
  • Collaboration takes effort between Entitas and existing code (e.g. AssetStore code)

Neutral (Things to get used to)

  • With Entias you may have MANY more class files
  • Entitas uses code generation (its optional, but I always used it).
  • You feel like the bulk of your Entitas code is disconnected from Unity. I consider this a PRO, but it takes some time to get used to. Ex. Its standard practice to NOT store your character’s position on the gameObject.transform.
  • Everything can access everything. There is a more ‘global’ state. Ex. your enemy’s code scope can fully access your hero’s health. The creators see standard OOP-based gaming structure as ‘little boxes’ (encapsulation) that you must break with every major refactor and game feature added, so instead there is much less emphasis on these ‘little boxes’ in the Entitas paradigm.

Growing Pains

Fixing compilation errors

The (optional) Enttias code generator is based on runtime reflection. The project has to compile before you can generate. This is not an issue when you creating new components, however when it comes to changing or deleting components, your code might stop compiling. Here is a list of recipes how you can avoid bigger hassle while changing and deleting components.

Ex. I stored the position of a character as float x, y, z. Then later changed it to a custom Vector3 class implementation. In a project without code generation your IDE’s ‘Rename’ or ‘Find-Replace’ functionality makes this pretty straight-forward. However, not all of the previously generated code will respect your refactor and a bit (30-60 seconds) of manually changes will be needed. Then once the project compiles again (you can use the Entitas code generation menu option to clean up the code again. I don’t have a suggestion on how, but improving this workflow is highly desirable. For now we have some helpful workarounds.

Use this advice to speed the process when doing the following tasks;

  • Renaming component fields
  • Renaming components
  • Adding new fields to a component
  • Removing fields from a component
  • Deleting a component
  • Renaming pool names

Resources

  • Official Entitas Homepage ( link )
  • Official Entitas Examples ( link )
  • My Entitas Template ( link ) – Use this as a starting point for your next project
  • My Entitas ‘Pong’ Game ( link ) – I started with the template and created a simple game

 

RMC Primer: Get A Job In Game Development

Category: Industry News, RMC News     |     Tags: C#, Games, Mobile, Unity3D

RMC Primer: Get A Job In Game Development

A career in video game development is challenging and rewarding. But getting into the industry is not easy.

As reported in the Guardian, the game development industry makes $60bn a year [2014]. It is an industry that’s bigger than Hollywood, that dwarves the music business – and an increasing number of young people want to work in it. Hundreds of universities throughout the world offer degree courses in computer games programming and design.

It is a good time to join. With the arrival of digital distribution, games now have a bigger audience than ever; they are beamed directly to our phones, PC, consoles and tablets.

In my previous article Finding Your Next Unity3D Job I overview what companies want in prospective candidates and outline where you can search for available positions.

As a tangent on the same subject, below is a quick overview of working in the industry with a decided focus on programmer roles, my chosen career.

Game Development Careers

Here are the common roles on a small (5-10 person) game development team.

Roles

  • Producer – Owns the ‘product’. Decides what features to add.
  • Project Manager – Owns the ‘process’ and timeline. Decides if time exists to add the desired features.
  • Artist – Creates concepts, production art, and animation. Decides how the game looks.
  • Tester – Plays the game, reports bugs. Decides what needs improvement.
  • Programming
    • Programmer – Codes the tools for the team and the gameplay for the end-users. Decides how the game works.
    • Lead Programmer – Lead the programming team responsible for creating all the computer code which runs and controls a game. Produce the technical specification of the game and managing the overall code development process

Larger teams may have more specific responsibilities in departments (and roles); Backoffice (Accounting, HR, Marketing), Art (Concept Artist, Animator), Audio (Music Composer, SFX), Programming (Engine programmer, gameplay programmer), Game Designer, Level Designer.

Programming

Let’s compare the skills required for programmer and Lead Programmer. Typically a ‘Lead Programmer’ was first a ‘Programmer’ earlier in his/her career.

I choose to divide the lists into 3 areas; the technical skills (fostered by education), the personality skills (less trainable), and the social skills (how we interact with others).

You can see that as a programmer advances in his career, the lead position requires many social skills to excel.

Required skills (Source: CreativeSkillset.org)

Programmer

  • Tech
    • be able to programme in C++, C and other programming languages
    • have specific platform experience, e.g. Wii, PlayStation, Xbox
    • have a good knowledge of game play
  • Personality
    • be systematic and highly organised
    • be creative and possess problem-solving skills
    • be able to work to deadlines
  • Social
    • have good communication skills
    • be able to work on your own initiative and as part of a team

Lead Programmer

  • Tech
    • have a hands-on knowledge of all programming roles
    • have advanced programming skills
  • Personality
    • be able to resolve conflicts and solve problems
    • be able to multitask
    • be creative and innovative
    • be composed under pressure
  • Social
    • be a team player and a leader
    • be approachable and listen to what people need and want, both from other disciplines and within your own team
    • be able to communicate your ideas and vision to the programming team
    • be able to inspire and motivate the programming team to ensure that everything gets fixed on schedule
    • have excellent people skills with management and communication, including tact and diplomacy

Advice For Career Planning

I choose to divide employee effort/value into 3 areas; the product (what is being created), the process (how it is created), and the people (who is creating it). Here is some advice;

Focus on ‘Soft Skills’ – Programming is important. Its ‘the’ core skill to develop, but once you set that ball in motion, shift your focus to other ‘soft’ skills. Everyone is a great programmer. It doesn’t set you apart as dramatically as other areas of improvement. Many will disagree with my point of view. Many product-centric employees believe that doing more development, in less time, with less lines of code is the only goal. As a people-centric and process-centric philosopher, I recommend instead to focus on the soft skills; EQ (Emotional Intelligence Quotient), social graces, communication, language, personal habits, interpersonal skills, managing people, leadership, etc. that characterize relationships with other people.

Focus on Learning – Create a virtuous cycle of meeting the requirements of your assigned job description (typically focused on ‘product’) while also raising quality of the process and bolstering your people skills. For more info, see my previous article Ultimate Path Learning. I contribute high quality Free Unity / C# Video Tutorials for new and veteran developers to build community and sharpen my knowledge and communication skills.

Pick Your Moment – Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba advises to pick your moment. Your strategy must change as you age.

  • Age: Childhood – Be a good student.
  • Age: 20’s – Follow a mentor. Go to a small company — you learn the passion, you learn the dreams, and you learn how to do lots of things at any one time. Make mistakes.
  • Age: 30’s – You have to think very clearly if you want to work for yourself. If you really want to be an entrepreneur. This is the ‘mid-game’.
  • Age: 40’s – You have to do all the things that you are already good at.
  • Age 50’s – Work for the young people.
  • Age 60’s – Spend time on yourself. Its too late for you to change.

Focus on Passion – Use your early years to try EVERYTHING professionally, then settle into the things that are a fit for your strengths, your interests, and your passions. For more info about my passions including teaching and charity see my previous article Playing For Good.

Consider Your Mid-Game – Over your career (ex. 40 years of work) you will likely hold many different positions and many different companies. You may start as a Game Tester, then become a Programmer, then Senior Programmer, then a Lead Programmer which is generally  most advanced role in that specific career track. For the excellent and ambitious that might happen in the first 10 or so years. So what then do you do for the next 30 years of your career? There are endless layers on top of the value offered within that track, but other opportunities are calling too. The biggest mid-game (i.e. mid-career) question is do you want to lead people, or do you want to stay solo. Consider your strengths and interests. As your answer becomes more clear you can steer your growth and progression to fit that goal.

Avoid ‘Rockstar’ Programmers – These are programmers that 1. are extremely efficient and deliver results and 2. are isolationist and self-serving. There are countless definitions for this type of worker, but let’s stick to definition for now. There is nothing ‘wrong’ with working that way per-se, but when a company actively hires rockstar programmers (through the language of job descriptions and the practice of the recruiting process) it is a red flag. The company may value end-results more than process and may value product more than people. As a job-seeker, be cautious of joining such a team unless those qualities match your career goals. A Rockstar coworker may indeed raise the quality of the product, which is good for you and your portfolio. But a teaching, sharing, collaborative programmer will help you build your own toolset more dramatically which IMHO is more important to your career. As a job-recruiter, be cautious of hiring such a candidate as he/she categorically will not thrive within a people-centric environment and the rest of your team may be impacted as well.

Short Interview About My Career

I have 16 years of experience in video game development [2015]. My roles include; founding team member of Neopets.com, owner and consultant at Rivello Multimedia Consulting (portfolio), and senior programming positions at leading game studios (LinkedIn).

What education do you have?

I decided between studying computer science and graphic design. I graduated with a B.A. degree in Media Studies (graphic design + multimedia). In the first year of my career I changed from an artist position to programmer. I have been a programmer since.

What was your career path?

Game programmer and founding-team member of a gaming startup which grew from 5 people to 180 in 8 years. Managed a team of 12 game developers. Left that company to start another company as a consultant for 8 years. Now, I’m a full-time employee again, as a Unity game developer.

Did you expect to end up in this field?

Ending high-school in 1995 I dreamed of working in video game development. At that time that meant working for one of the biggest companies. Then the internet bubble came and went, mobile phones came and stayed, and democratization of game development made indies a reality. Its a totally different industry now.

When you are interviewing young candidates, what are you looking for?  What advice can I give students so that they stand out?

When hiring for a small team, end-to-end game development experience and social skills are priorities. I like to see a side-project the candidate completed at home handling the game design, development, (simple art), and really succeeding in the polish of the input as well as the feedback to the user. A candidate really impresses who can speak clearly about his or her goals on that project, who can defend the choices made during design and development, and who can take criticism on the completed project. A student should get experience working with people (customer service, retail at a store, etc…) anything where communication is critical so they can speak their mind, listen actively, and demonstrate putting the needs of others first in conversations and meetings.

Are there any programming packages or languages you like prospective candidates to have experience with?

As a web developer I recommend learning some client platform (e.g. HTML5/JS/CSS) and some server platform (e.g. Ruby). Typically members of a team will focus on one or the other, but knowing some of both will help you collaborate with more compassion. Young game developers are advised to learn engine-level programming (e.g. C++) and gameplay-level programming (e.g. C#) for the same reason. I’m learned to program outside of academia, so my focus is mostly client side (Unity with C# most recently which serves me well).

Many students are interested in studying business.  Do you think programming/technology based skills are becoming essential in this area of study?  If so what types of skills?

For business-people the required technology has changed. It went from nothing required, then in the 90’s Microsoft Office was the core skill, then in the 00’s learning to program webpages was the buzz-topic, now I think commanding social media channels (for marketing purposes) may the the latest tech area that business people are encouraged to learn. I’m not sure of the answer, but I’d say if you don’t ‘do’ tech in your job, but you work with people who do, then you want to gain as much expertise as possible on the tech that your coworkers know. This builds rapport/understanding and improves the efficiency the feedback loop between your requests and the tech teams responses.

One of my students ask me to forward this question J. How important is it to have solid mathematical skills in this field?

You can be an excellent programmer without historical interest or excellence in mathematics. Becoming comfortable with ‘logic’ as a concept has been more relevant to me than specific mathematics. Some exceptions where math directly helps my game development are trigonometry for 2d and 3d tasks (collisions, path finding, camera) and statistics for understanding creating controllably-random level generation and AI routines.

Removing cost and skills constraints, what software packages would you encourage future programmers to learn?

For game development. Learn to model simple 3D in Maya, animate it in Maya, texture it with Photoshop, import into Unity3D (or Unreal), and create a simple, complete game with it. The goal is workflow, not polished final product.

What software packages would you encourage future programs to learn that are accessible?

Unity3D. Its extremely popular and accessible (free and cross platform). Other engines exist and the popularity of tools changes, but competency or expertise in any one package is my recommendation. 

If you were to pick a languages to teach students today.  What language would it be and why?

C++ and Java have VAST resources available online and in academia. They are great for learning the fundamentals. C# is great too. From a learning perspective, you want a language with core features such as class based inheritance and strong typing. You can compile and run small demos for free online via Tutorialspoint.com and others.

Resources

  1. Find your ideal job fit (Sokanu.com)
  2. Is It Worth Getting A Degree In Game Development (IGN.com)
  3. How To Get A Job In Game Development (TheGuardian.com)
  4. Be Organized (GettingThingsDone.com)
  5. Evaluate Your Progress (Forbes.com)
  6. Invest In Your Personal Development (Glen Lopis)
  7. Raise Your Own Standards (Jack Zenger)

Unity UI: Overview – Part 1 of 3

Category: Quick Tips, Standards & Best Practices     |     Tags: API, C#, GUI, Unity3D

I’ve been lucky to focus the past years on Unity and C#. Much of my demos, full-games, and tutorial are here RivelloMultimediaConsulting.com/unity/. If you have any comments or questions, I’d love to hear from you. Twitter.com/srivello.

Traditional Unity GUI Solutions

Unity is an amazing ecosystem for game development. For years, even big fans of the tool have been critical of the 2D/GUI/Text systems offered. Unity and the Unity community have launched various competing GUI systems (both immediate and retained) but the lack of features and lack of consistency leaves much to be desired. Luckily the amazing Asset Store (See my articles one, two, and three) of 3rd party tools and components has dutifully filled the needs of many devs.

Maintaining robust state (e.g. button) and handling adaptive layouts with Unity Legacy GUI was always very challenging. – Me

Older Options

  • Unity GUI (Immediate): This has been renamed to ‘Unity Legacy GUI’ to limit confusion with UI in Unity 4.6.x. The Legacy GUI will continue to be available and will remain as the recommended solution for Tools development (creating new windows and panels within Unity Editor). It requires developers to program the GUI in a loop that runs repeatedly.
  • NGUI (Retained): By FAR the most popular solution in recent years. There are alternatives in the asset store, but this is the most prevalent. Designed by a fantastic developer Michael Lyashenko with extensibility, flexibility, and power in mind — this project excels. It will still be popular for the future too because so many projects and teams are already at home with it. In 2013, Michael was hired by Unity to lead development on Unity UI for 4.6.x. He has since left the project, but his positive impact on the structure of the new solution is obvious.

Unity UI 4.6.x

This is the ‘New GUI’ for Unity. It was released publicly in 2014 after a long private and public beta period. I feel that Unity really wanted to get it right. And I think they have done a lot to guarantee adoption and success. Due to the complicated history of the GUI within Unity, the naming of the new system was/is debated. Perhaps some day in the future we’ll just call it ‘the’ UI of Unity and the other options will fade away. Before we’re sure of that, let’s take a look at the system. It is great.

I am pleased, and frankly shocked that Unity UI is available in the standard (free) version of Unity. – Me

Unity UI Features

  • Fast and flexible workflows: The workflow feels very at-home within Unity. Want to render text with a font? Drag a font from your OS into your project and *boom* its immediately available for run-time usage. No more need to ‘convert’ fonts to bitmap fonts. Its just as easy with images too. You can reskin any of the existing components too using your own graphics.
  • Low memory allocations and high performance: With batching, texture atlasing and the new canvas component, we’ve come up with the optimal solution to allow your UIs to execute quickly on GPUs. Draw calls are kept low and performance remains high across all supported Unity platforms and device resolutions.
  • Easy multiplatform deployment: Intelligence about the sizing (and resizing) of the app as well as layout groups (see below) helps greatly.
  • Unique animation capabilities: Use the existing (awesome) ‘Animation’ panel to animate ANY public property of your UI. Listen for UI events (e.g. button click) and react with transitions to new layouts or new scenes.
  • Intuitive Layout Tools: Laying out and resizing elements is easy with the new Unity UI. Design detailed layouts using the Rect Transform layout tools, and automate grids of UI elements with our built-in components.

Each element that can be laid out (text, image, etc…) is considered a component. The list of current components is finite, but any developer can create their own components from existing components or from scratch. We expect the list of built in components to grow — both from Unity and from the community.


UI_Main

Main UI Components (as of Unity 4.6.1)

  • UI Canvas: This is the required hierarchy root-parent to all UI elements. You can have multiple in the scene. It comes in 3 flavors; Overlay (flat HUD), Camera (tilted HUD), and World Space (speech bubble that follows your character through the scene). ( Docs, Video )
  • UI RectTransform: ( Docs, Video )
  • UI Button: ( Docs, Video )
  • UI Toggle: ( Docs )
  • UI Image: ( Docs, Video )
  • UI Text: ( Docs, Video )
  • UI Input Field: ( Docs)
  • UI Slider: ( Docs, Video )
  • UI Scroll Rect: ( Docs, Video )
  • UI Scrollbar: ( Docs, Video )

Supporting UI Components (as of Unity 4.6.1)

Common ‘How To’ Tasks

  • Designing UI for Multiple Resolutions: ( Docs)
  • Adaptive Layout: ( Docs)
  • Creating UI from C#: ( Docs)
  • More: ( Docs)

ANCHORING

flexible-anchoring

Take advantage of simple visual tools to anchor UI elements. The UI element maintains its anchored position regardless of changes to parent size or screen resolution. Want to anchor different elements relative to different positions on the canvas? No problem.

ADAPTIVE RESIZING

smooth-resizing

You can set UI elements to stretch along with the parent rectangle, or to maintain fixed margins inside it. In addition, each side of a UI element can be anchored individually, allowing you to set up sophisticated layouts without scripting.

ANIMATING UI

get-animated

Animation plays a key part in your new UI workflow for creating dynamic layouts with slick transitions. Animate any part of your UI layouts, from bouncing buttons to animated material properties for detailed motion.

What’s Next?

With each minor and major update of Unity I expect vast bug-fixes and new features with the UI system. It is very stable and ready for use already. So start experimenting! I am already working on a few upcoming posts that will explore the system in more depth. If you want to see me cover something in particular, add a comment beneath this page.

  • New Unity UI (4.6.x): Unity UI Part 2 of 3: Demo – Basic UI (Source code + Video) [Coming Soon!]
  • New Unity UI (4.6.x): Unity UI Part 3 of 3: Demo – Combining UI w/ Frameworks/Architectures for scalability (Source code + Video) [Coming Soon!]

Unity – Tools Of The Trade

Category: Quick Tips, RMC News     |     Tags: AssetStore, C#, Review, Unity3D

As always, RivelloMultimediaConsulting.com/unity/ will be the central location for deep articles and tutorials, Facebook.com/RivelloMultimediaConsulting (like us!) will engage the growing RMC+Unity community, and for the latest opinions and cool links follow me at Twitter.com/srivello.

Unity3D is a powerful suite of tools (Project IDE, Code IDE, run-time) for game development. The Unity IDE is great for integrating your assets and code, setting up your scenes visually, and tweaking parameters through the powerful Inspector window. While Unity ships with a very capable code editor, MonoDevelop, serious developers prefer more powerful tools.

Here is a list of the must-have tools for Unity development.


unity_tools_600_200_banner_visual_studio_v1

Name: Visual Studio – Code Editor (Various Versions, Free to $499)

Competitor: MonoDevelop (Free), Xamarin Studio (300-1000$ / yr)

Details: Microsoft Visual Studio is an integrated development environment (IDE) from Microsoft. It includes a code editor supporting IntelliSense as well as code refactoring. Built-in languages include Unity’s C# as well as C, C++, and more.

Pros:

  • Development Environment – Focus on creating value and accomplishing task quicker with a clean, fast and powerful development environment.
  • Semantic Code Analysis – Semantics (references, declarations, etc…) not just syntax are analyzed as you type. This allows for better refactoring.
  • VisualSVNSubversion integration (GIT too)
  • Great Navigation – New ways to travel around your code, including peek.
  • UML Diagram Built In – Improving architecture through modeling

Showcase Video:


unity_tools_600_200_banner_resharper_v1

Name: ReSharper ($185 for personal, $310 for a whole team)

Details: ReSharper is a renowned productivity tool that makes Microsoft Visual Studio a much better IDE. Thousands of developers worldwide wonder how they’ve ever lived without ReSharper’s code inspections, automated code refactorings, blazing fast navigation, and coding assistance.

The ultimate Agile tool is ReSharper. It is the one thing for C# developers that removes fear of change. Refactoring is just so damn easy that change isn’t scary. – Jaco Pretorius of ThoughtWorks

Pros:

  • Analyze code quality – On-the-fly code quality analysis in C#, VB.NET, XAML, ASP.NET, ASP.NET MVC, JavaScript, CSS, HTML, and XML. ReSharper tells you right away if your code contains errors or can be improved.
  • Instantly traverse your entire solution  – Navigation features to instantly traverse your entire solution. You can jump to any file, type, or type member in no time, or navigate from a specific symbol to its usages, base and derived symbols, or implementations.
  • Eliminate errors and code smells – Instant fixes to eliminate errors and code smells. Not only does ReSharper warn you when there’s a problem in your code but it provides quick-fixes to solve them automatically.
  • Enjoy code editing helpers – Multiple code editing helpers including extended IntelliSense, hundreds of instant code transformations, auto-importing namespaces, rearranging code and displaying documentation.
  • Safely change your code base – Automated solution-wide code refactorings to safely change your code base. Whether you need to revitalize legacy code or put your project structure in order, you can lean on ReSharper.
  • Comply to coding standards – Code formatting and cleanup functionality is at your disposal to get rid of unused code and ensure compliance to coding standards.
  • More features… including generation of common code, extensible templates, internationalization assistance, and unit test runner.

Showcase Video:


unity_tools_600_200_banner_unityvs_v1

Name: UnityVS ($99 for personal, $249 for a whole team)

Details: UnityVS is the missing ‘glue’ between the Unity IDE and the Visual Studio code editor.

Pros:

  • Connect Visual Studio’s debugger to Unity to debug your scripts. Put breakpoints, inspect and modify variables and arguments and evaluate complex expressions to fix bugs promptly. Without UnityVS, Visual Studio is just a powerful yet decoupled code editor.
  • UnityVS is packed with productivity features: code snippets, wizards, tool windows such as the Unity project explorer. UnityVS sends the Unity console directly to Visual Studio.
  • A short list of essential features.

Play Unity and use breakpoints. At the breakpoint you can inspect AND EDIT the live values of any variable. If that doesn’t convince you to purchase UnityVS, you are insane. – Sam Rivello, RMC

Showcase Video:


Unity Asset Store – RMC Packages

Category: Quick Tips     |     Tags: AssetStore, C#, Review, Unity3D

As always, RivelloMultimediaConsulting.com/unity/ will be the central location for deep articles and tutorials, Facebook.com/RivelloMultimediaConsulting (like us!) will engage the growing RMC+Unity community, and for the latest opinions and cool links follow me at Twitter.com/srivello.

Unity Asset Store

Unity3D is a powerful suite of tools (Project IDE, Code IDE, run-time) for game development. A fantastic way to accelerate Unity & C# learning, empower development, and even make some money using the Unity Asset Store.

  • 1. In my previous article “Introduction To the Asset Store” we see a complete Intro to the Unity Asset Store including how you can Fund your Indie Game Development by creating assets. Now let’s hear from some key developers who have published successful content.
  • 2. In my second article Unity Asset Store Case Studies, several veterans discuss their success with the store.
  • 3. Now, below is the list of the Asset Store Packages created by us at RMC. Enjoy!

ASSET STORE PACKAGES

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Unity Asset Store – Case Studies

Category: Quick Tips     |     Tags: AssetStore, C#, Review, Unity3D

As always, RivelloMultimediaConsulting.com/unity/ will be the central location for deep articles and tutorials, Facebook.com/RivelloMultimediaConsulting (like us!) will engage the growing RMC+Unity community, and for the latest opinions and cool links follow me at Twitter.com/srivello.

Unity3D is a powerful suite of tools (Project IDE, Code IDE, run-time) for game development. A fantastic way to accelerate Unity & C# learning, empower development, and even make some money using the Unity Asset Store.

In my previous article “Introduction To the Asset Store” we see a complete Intro to the Unity Asset Store including how you can Fund your Indie Game Development by creating assets. Now let’s hear from some key developers who have published successful content.

You can checkout all of the AssetStore packages we at RMC have created and then explore the case studies below from 3rd-party developers.

Case Studies

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Name: Android Game Examples (Various)

Category: Complete Projects/Templates

Publisher: Lemo Dev (Denmark)

With 4 years experience in Unity, the team at Lumo Dev first created game examples in c#. Due to demand the product is also available in Java. Lumo found that new developers may not be sure where to start when planning a complete game, so their game templates help accelerate the learning process. The team confides that they too learn greatly from others’ work too.

Throw your product out there! Don’t wait until you created the best product before getting it out. Later, you can always go back and redo stuff, but the important thing is to get experience. – Lumo Dev Team


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Name: Camera Path Animator / BuildR

Category: Editor Extensions/Animation

Publisher: Jasper Stocker (Hong Kong)

Jasper Stocker’s most popular product is Camera Path, but since its success he shifted focus. He now specializes in creating procedurally generated content. He has 5-6 years of experience so far with Unity.

I offer tools in a single (programming) language so I didn’t have to maintain two codebases. C# is dominant. I use every time. It’s a bit of a no brainer.

Q: Advice for Unity Game Developers?
A: Learn to extend the editor. It’s pretty simple and you can make some really powerful tools. You can get rid of a lot of boring work by automating it. You can also make things designers might use the make levels more dynamic.

Q: Tips for Asset Store Devs?
A: Work hard to make something robust and test the hell out of it. Try to break it by acting like a bored 5 year old.


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Name: Plates Pack Collections (Various)

Category: Textures & Materials/Tiles

Publisher: Fabio Carucci (Italy)

Fabio has 3 years experience with Unity. He creates collections of materials/textures/shaders. He estimates he has spent 100-150 hours learning Unity, doing R&D for his assets, and creating them.


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Name: GameDraw FREE / GameDraw PREMIUM

Category: Editor Extensions/Modeling

Publisher: Mixed Dimensions (Jordan / USA)

Mixed Dimensions has 5+ years experience with Unity development for many platforms (Web/IOS/Android/Windows/Mac). Lead, Muhannad confirms that his popular plugins have been downloaded thousands of times and his team continues to update the leading products every month. His tools depend on (and include) existing libraries such as LZMA, ClipperLib, and Poly2Tri (all Managed .NET).

Focus on mobile games and create something that has a need. – Muhannad from Mixed Dimensions.


Many Thanks

I am grateful to these developers for sharing some of their experiences.

The Unity Asset Store

Category: Quick Tips     |     Tags: AssetStore, C#, Review, Unity3D

As always, RivelloMultimediaConsulting.com/unity/ will be the central location for deep articles and tutorials, Facebook.com/RivelloMultimediaConsulting (like us!) will engage the growing RMC+Unity community, and for the latest opinions and cool links follow me at Twitter.com/srivello.

Unity3D is a powerful suite of tools (Project IDE, Code IDE, run-time) for game development.

A fantastic way to accelerate Unity & C# learning, empower development, and even make some money using the Unity Asset Store.

Asset Store

The Unity IDE offers an Asset Store. If you haven’t yet familiarized yourself with the Asset Store, this is the best time to dive in.  You’ll find nearly everything a game developer could wish for– complete template projects, models of every shape and size, countless textures and materials, an extensive set of code libraries, hours of professional music and sound effects, and a broad selection of editor extensions to bring new functionality to Unity.  Best of all, we’ve gone out of our way to make sure that these offerings are both affordable and covered by a common, easy-to-use license without legal complexities such as royalties.

I think of the store like a (sometimes free) bag of temporary art while I work. More rarely, when tackling a technical challenge I check the store to see if another developer has solved my needs and created a code library. The naming for an asset store ‘item’ doesn’t seem standardized, but when I say 3rd party code-library, package, or plugin I mean the same thing. I mean a collection of code or visual/audio art which augment the IDE itself and/or enable richer development.

Something remarkable, and quite different than the Flash community, is that these packages can actually add functionality to the Unity3D IDE itself. New first-class menus, panels, UI Gizmos, etc… It is truly amazing.

To see our work, You can checkout all of the AssetStore packages we at RMC have created for some examples and then continue reading below to learn an overview about the store.

Unity Technologies, the creators of Unity3D share the revenue from every paid purchase made. My opinion is that this revenue stream for the company helps them support the free version of Unity. More developers using Unity creates a larger pool of asset store contributors and purchasers.

Finding Asset Store Content

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From within the Unity IDE (Menu -> Window -> Asset Store) or through your web browser online you can shop in the store. Search by product name or developer name, see featured items, or simply browse based on popular categories.

Categories Include;

  • 3D Models
  • Animation
  • Audio
  • Complete Projects
  • Editor Extensions (My Favorite!)
  • Scripting
  • Textures
  • & Much more…

To research this article, I scoured the community thoroughly, interviewed top developers on their favorites, and tested out many plugins to build the definitive list of the best asset store content for developers. Here is are the Essential Unity3D Plugins / Packages. All are compatible with both free and pro versions of Unity.

But who is it that is making this great content? Well, there are many prolific contributors.

Asset Store Contributors

As successful developer Daniel Sklar of ProfiDevelopers explains, the Asset Store is successfully being used all over the world. After many years in game development, his team has gained a lot of experience which they pass on in the form of well designed assets. Greener teams can save time and money by using existing content.

 asset_store_banner_case_studies_rmc_in_post_banner_v1

In my Unity Asset Store Case Studies article, several veterans discuss their success with the store.

Unity Partnerships

More recently, Unity Technologies has partnered with asset store contributors to market some key packages. These projects may be developed outside of the core company but get favorable promotion, marketing, and exposure.

Popular Unity Partnership Packages

  • Everyplay! is a newer addition to the store. This innovative service is a complete solution for monetizing, acquiring and engaging users. Everyplay enables users to share their best gaming moments directly from within the game as video!
  • With Kii, game developers get a fast and scalable back-end, powerful analytics and game distribution services, so they can focus on the stuff that matters — the game experience.
  • GameAnalytics automatically takes care of all the basic tracking/analytics needs for your game. All you have to do is interpret the results.
  • PaeDae is how you monetize your game with in-game advertising without breaking its cohesive gameplay experience.

Unity 1st Party Packages

As developers we typically see new features added to the Unity tool itself. You download the latest version of the IDE and checkout the release notes to see what new features are available. However, a second way for Unity Technologies to distribute non-essential functionality is through the asset store. These 1st Party Packages include complete game projects, assets for learning how to use Unity, as well as for testing your existing projects.

Popular 1st Party Packages

Selling Asset Store Packages ($$$)

For years, insiders have know that Unity Devs can make a living from Asset Store. The Unity development community is now larger than ever. Larger audience = larger earnings.

An inspiring article on the Unity Blog explains how we can all Pay for our Indie games via Asset Store work. Although it isn’t easy, making a living through the Asset Store has been possible for at least two years. It all depends on your expenses, the appeal and pricing of your product, the competition, your skills and what you are willing to sacrifice (more on that later).

Using Asset Store To Fund Your Indie Game

  1. Stay alive by some means during the early days. Game design consulting was ideal for me. I could do it one day per week.
  2. Design your game early on to know its technical needs and requirements (later you will want to identify all kinds of synergies in order to minimize cost).
  3. Build some game generic features or content that will be part of your game. Make these modular and possible to “productify”.
  4. Sell your content in the Asset Store and use the earnings to fund your game.

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This approach has many benefits:

  • Starting making revenue DURING the production of your game.
  • Learning opportunities: Support, business and economics, marketing strategies, teamwork, collaboration, etc…
  • Network with other Asset Store developers
  • Encourage modularity in your codebase
  • You may FIND existing Asset Store packages that save you time.

Promoting Asset Store Packages

Maybe you’ve created a great 3D model or an editor extension for Unity, but now it’s sitting at the Asset Store shelves and gathering dust. What can you do to sell more and fund your game and your life with your awesome asset? A few really successful publishers have shared their promotion tips and we cooked them up into this advice.

Here are the 10 commandments of asset promotion

  1. Plan  : Keep your audience notified of milestones and updates to maximise interest and retention
  2. Make demo videos : We love videos to learn quickly what your package does and why its great.
  3. Find out where your customers are : You can’t promote everywhere, so make your effort count.
  4. Use Forums : There is already a special place to interact with your audience.
  5. Tweet : Promote virally. Include a URL too.
  6. Sign up for 24 Hour Deals : Apply for additional promotional power via Unity Technologies.
  7. Tweak your Pictures : Your promotional pictures (text-copy, etc…) should be clear, concise, and attractive.
  8. Consider paid campaigns on Google and Facebook : These networks are cheap provide fast metrics.
  9. Consider time zones : You capture a wider ad market when users are awake and at their computers.
  10. Stay involved : Harness the power of feedback loops with your existing/potential audience.

Great! After you launch you can promote your work and easily embed your asset store package into websites like this;

unity_asset_store_sample_embed_v1

My Asset Store

In my 13+ years as a pro game developer, community involvement has always been important. Involvement in groups, conferences, and open source projects helps me stay connected, teach, and learn new things. Its for these reasons, more than just profit that I’m interested in the Unity Asset Store.

Here are the in-progress diaries of a few packages.

  • uMOM – Unity Manager of Managers, game framework (link)
  • uEventDispatcher – Unity messaging/observer framework (link)

Others of our work are complete and live.You can checkout all of the AssetStore packages we at RMC have created and then explore the case studies below from 3rd-party developers.

I encourage everyone to get involved as a consumer and potential contributor to the asset store. It is an incredibly powerful way to take advantage of the powerful community around Unity.

GDC 2014 – San Francisco

Category: Corona, Current & Past Events, Events, RMC News     |     Tags: C#, Games, Mobile, Unity3D

GDC_banner_v1Game Developers Conference 2014

After years of consulting success, I am shifting goals for the next phase of my career.

I am now actively seeking a full-time position as a Unity3D Game Developer. 

I have deep experience in game development; more than 13 years of professional work. I absolutely live and breath gaming. I love it. I have much to offer my next team — everything from game concept creation and development, through to launch — and I am very excited! Here you can learn about my skills and experience ( RivelloMultimediaConsulting.com/forecast/ ) and contact me ( RivelloMultimediaConsulting.com/contact/ ) to setup a time to talk — before, during, or after GDC.

1. GDC Goals

  • Geek Out! – As a lifetime video game fantastic, I am incredibly psyched to see some great sessions about my favorite games of 2013/2014.
  • Promote New Opportunities — I am seeking a Unit3D Game Developer position. There are so many bright teams creating with passion and innovation.
  • Connect to the community — While American, I have worked internationally for many years.
  • Plug-in to the presenter-scene — I’d like to get a feel for who is talking, how, and about what subjects. My focus is mobile. And the mobile space, while growing, it is still marginalized at GDC. As an experience public speaker (360|Flex, Adobe Max, Adobe Camp Brazil, FlashForward, FITC, LA Games Summit, Montreal Game Summit, RIA Adventure Cruise, Rich Media Institute, … ) I would like to speak at GDC 2015 and Unite 2015 next year. There are some session I will attend — more to experience the speaker himself/herself than to see the content.

2. GDC Social Schedule

I’m excited to meet new contacts and reconnect with old friends during GDC. Outside of the conference sessions, I’m excite to block out time for more fun.

Are you hiring? Want to to talk about great video games? Or just explore amazing San Francisco?

Update: The event has ended. Thanks to all the great people I met.

Suggested Meeting Places GDC is huge and it can be hectic to meet on site. Here are a few nearby locations within walking distance of the event’s Mosocone Center. Note that 20,000 people attend GDC and everyone needs to eat. Long delays! Also, some of these businesses have multiple locations, so the address is included.

3. GDC Maps

GDC_Moscone_MAP_v1

Figure 1. Moscone Street Map

Figure 2. Moscone South Hall Map

Figure 2. Moscone South Hall Map

Figure 3. Moscone North Hall Map

Figure 3. Moscone North Hall Map


4. GDC Session Schedule

This year’s conference is full of great sessions about AAA and mobile gaming goodness. Here are some topics of special interest.

Unity3D MVCS Architectures: StrangeIoC 2

Unity3D is a powerful suite of tools (Project IDE, Code IDE, run-time) for game development. In Unity3D Game Architectures I present six different techniques for setting up your game. Depending on the size and maturity of your team, you are probably doing some form of those. I recommend checking that article out first, then read below. In Unity3D MVCS Architectures: StrangeIoC (recommended reading before continuing) we dove deep into the great, free framework. I also explored an idea I had for an extension called PropertyChangeSignal. Here is more;

PropertyChangeSignal

To aid my work with StrangeIoC, I created a few classes that function together to reduce the workload. I call this the PropertyChangeSignal. Again we saw above that signals are used for many things. Speaking from a model’s perspective for every property (variable) you want to update in your model you may need SEVERAL signals. That is fine in my demo above with exactly one property, but imagine a ScoreModel with 5 variables, a TimerModel with 3, and a GameLogicModel with 25 more variables. You can quickly grow a HUGE list of signals. Now, creating a signal is super quick. It takes 30 seconds to create, and another 30 seconds to optionally bind it to a Command. Its certainly possible to grow your app in this conventional way (or some variety of this conventional way). Most people do exactly that. But I wanted a start a discussion on a different way.

Here is an example.

Let’s say we have a public message string in your data model and the whole app needs to interact with it.

A. Conventional Signals Per Property (4)

  • 1. requestMessageSignal.Dispatch() – If a mediator arrives on the scene late and wants to KNOW the current value of message.
  • 2. clearMessageSignal.Dispatch(targetValue) – If a command wants to CLEAR the current value of message.
  • 3. updateMessageSignal.Dispatch(targetValue) – If a command wants to SET current value of message.
  • 4. updatedMessageSignal.Dispatch(newValue) – After any updates happen, the model sends this out to those listening who can GET the value.

B. PropertyChangeSignals Per Property (1)

  • 1. pcSignal.Dispatch (new PropertySignalVO(PropertyChangeType.REQUEST) )
  • 1. pcSignal.Dispatch (new PropertySignalVO(PropertyChangeType.CLEAR) )
  • 1. pcSignal.Dispatch (new PropertySignalVO(PropertyChangeType.UPDATE, newValue) )
  • 1. pcSignal.Dispatch (new PropertySignalVO(PropertyChangeType.UPDATED, currentValue) )

So in B, we see far less signals used (1 vs 4), but an longer syntax for the call. Soon I’ll request your feedback based on the source-code.

Update:  Download the full source below.

Syntax Example

1. CONTEXT – SETUP BINDING

commandBinder.Bind<GameListPropertyChangeSignal>().To<GameListPropertyChangeCommmand>();

2. COMMAND – HANDLE BINDING

public override void Execute()
{
	switch (propertyChangeSignalVO.propertyChangeType) {
	case PropertyChangeType.CLEAR:
		//ASK TO CLEAR THE MODEL
		iCustomModel.doClearGameList(); 
		break;
	case PropertyChangeType.UPDATE:
		//ASK TO UPDATE A VALUE IN THE MODEL
		iCustomModel.gameList = propertyChangeSignalVO.value as List<string>;
		break;
	case PropertyChangeType.UPDATED:
		//FOR THIS PROJECT, THE VIEW LISTENS DIRECTLY TO 'UPDATED'
		//OPTIONALLY, WE COULD ALSO DO SOMETHING HERE IF NEEDED
		break;
	case PropertyChangeType.REQUEST:
		//FORCE THE MODEL TO RE-SEND 'UPDATED' (WITH NO CHANGE)
		//THIS IS VERY COMMON IN APPS (E.G. A TEMPORARY A DIALOG PROMPT)
		iCustomModel.doRefreshGameList();
		break;
	default:
		#pragma warning disable 0162
		throw new SwitchStatementException(propertyChangeSignalVO.propertyChangeType.ToString());
		break;
		#pragma warning restore 0162
	}
}

3. MODEL – DISPATCH CHANGES

private List<string> _gameList;
public List<string> gameList 
{
	get 
	{
		return _gameList;
	}
	set 
	{
		//TODO: CONSIDER ALTERNATIVE THAT CHECKS "_gameList != value" BEFORE DISPATCHING
		_gameList = value;
		gameListPropertyChangeSignal.Dispatch (new PropertyChangeSignalVO(PropertyChangeType.UPDATED, _gameList) );
	}
}

4. VIEW – HANDLE CHANGES

private void _onGameListPropertyChangeSignal (PropertyChangeSignalVO aPropertyChangeSignalVO)
{
	if (aPropertyChangeSignalVO.propertyChangeType == PropertyChangeType.UPDATED) {
		doRenderLayout(aPropertyChangeSignalVO.value as List<string>);
	}
}

Video

UWK 3.6 - C# Architectures: StrangeIoC 2
Runtime
11:17

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