Ken Levine on NPR, “pixel painting” Unity, and the Unity 1-day Intensive

A couple of interesting items popped up on my radar this week that I thought were worth sharing.

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First, Ken Levine, Creative Director at Irrational Games and the main creative mind behind “BioShock Infinite” gave a great interview on NPR’S “On Point”.  Highly recommended listening.

BioShock Infinite And The Future Of Gaming

Second, here’s a youtube video demonstrating “pixel painting” a Unity webplayer demo.  This video is a bit like a magician’s trick, in that not everything is as it seems, but nonetheless it’s a cool trick.

UnityIntensiveLogoFinally, I am presenting a 1-day Unity Intensive class, taking place on Sunday, April 14 in Vancouver at the very cool EXP Bar + Restaurant.  The day is essentially a crash course in 3D game development using C# and Unity.  For complete details, head over to the Eventbrite page.

That’s all, folks!

7 TED Talks on the benefits of gaming

The TED blog has posted 7 talks on the benefits of playing video games.

In addition to the fairly well known improvements to spatial awareness and multitasking, one researcher found that these benefits were still measurable even 5 months later!

However, I do think asking the question “can’t you do something more productive than shooting zombies?” ignores the obvious — that games prepare us for the inevitable, looming zombie apocalypse.  Duh!

Some good TED talks… though none answer the most urgent question of our time: What is the biggest rock?

Unity 4 released!

The day after I finally get around to installing the beta, Unity 4 is released!

Among the new features I’ve been really looking forward to are DirectX 11 rendering, the Mecanim animation system, and Linux builds.

And, judging from the extensive release notes, there’s a ton of new optimizations, improvements, and fixes.

Unity continues its unstoppable ascendancy towards global domination!!!

aMaze – Maze Generator for Unity

aMaze is an easy to use maze generator for Unity, perfect for randomly generated levels, building interiors, or dungeons.

Features

  • Fast generation of “perfect” mazes (i.e. mazes with no inaccessible areas, no circular paths, and no open areas, with one path between any two points in the maze).
  • A single, easy to configure script dropped on a GameObject.
  • Mazes are created from Unity prefabs, and supports random selection of prefabs for easy theming (i.e. tile sets) and variation (within a theme/tile set).
  • Prefabs can be any size, and non-square.
  • Multiple mazes can be created within a single level/scene.
  • Mazes can be created/destroyed at run-time.
  • Mazes are statically batched after creation for efficient run-time rendering.

aMaze is available in the Unity Asset Store.

Below is a video tutorial showing how to use aMaze.

 

 

Unity: Best Practices & Peter Molyneux

A couple of good Unity links crossed my radar this week.

The first comes from Renaud van Strydonck, programmer on one of VFS Game Design’s current student projects, Take My Hand.  Dev Mag has posted an excellent article, 50 Tips for Working with Unity (Best Practices), which contains tons of great little tips and tricks for Unity, from very simple things like how to keep your Scene Hierarchy organized, to code snippets for the best Singleton implementation in Unity I’ve seen so far.  Unity developers of all skill levels should check it out, there’s bound to be a new nugget or two there for anyone.

Second, Peter Molyneux (Fable, Dungeon Keeper, Black & White) shares his reasons for choosing Unity for the first game from his new post-Lionhead company, 22Cans.  The video below includes the complete keynote presentation from Unity CEO Dave Helgason at the Unite 2012 conference that was held in August.  Molyneux’s talk is summarized in this article on Pocket Gamer.

Many of the presentations from Unite 2012 are now available on the Unity site.

 

Indie Game: The Movie is terrific!

The filmmakers give us a warm, sympathetic presence with game developers who are pouring their heart and soul into their work. It captures the angst of the creative process, the frustration of the technical challenges, and the driving passion and love of games.

The film gives us three stories of indie developers at different points in their career. Jonathan Blow, a veteran finding success late in a long career, with Braid. Young partners, Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes, releasing their most anticipated title ever, Super Meat Boy, to great success. Rookie Phil Fish fighting to finish* his masterpiece. One thing they all have in common is a vision, often individual, always deeply personal, that they, like artists, are struggling to realize.

Mentioned during the Hotdocs Q&A was the Internet itself as a character. The filmmakers deftly capture the positive and negative influence of the net on the developers, how it can be both adoring worshipper and cruelest critic. The camera brushes aside the curtain of arrogance, cynicism, or bravado that netizens must often wear for defence, and finds vulnerable, intelligent humans.

First time documentary filmmakers, James Swirsky and Lisanne Pajot, accomplish all this with a light touch, and are barely present in the movie. It doesn’t feel like interviews, but like we are the subject’s trusted friend.

The story of the movie itself is an indie success story as well. Financed in part through two Kickstarter campaigns, the film went on to win at Sundance, and find great success in festivals. A limited theatrical release begins in a couple of weeks, and it will no doubt do well in digital.

8/10

* 4X ALLITERATION COMBO!!!