[B.U.G.] August meeting and new Google Group

B.U.G. Google Group

In order to be informed of future events and Unity happenings in the area, please subscribe to our Google Group mailing list. All you have to do is:

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Next event scheduled!

It’s true. We’ve locked in arrangements for our next B.U.G. meeting. Thanks to the wonderful folks over at Microsoft, our next event will be held at the New England R&D Center (NERD). Wheee!

Keep in mind that our events are open to everyone and anyone.

event details

Register for Boston Unity Group - August Unity Showdown in Cambridge, MA  on Eventbrite

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[B.U.G.] Unity Day – Great Success

Unity Day just came to a close and it was a great success! We had, by my count, about 115 game developers, interactive media gurus, and Unity aficionados visit and network with the community.

Tom Higgins did a wonderful job educating, informing, and entertaining the crowd during his presentation. Thanks to Tom for flying out!

I’ll be adding more to this post over the next few days, with a writeup, more videos, and more content to come! Stay tuned for updates.

Pictures (credit to Elliott Mitchell, Alex Schwartz) Tom and Mani’s to come!

Community Showoff Videos – Sorry to all that presented or spoke but were not captured on video (credit to Mani of InfiniteUnity3d)

Event Videos – Huge thanks to Richard Brown for taping the event! (Credit to a_random_bloke)

Community discussion:

Thanks to everyone for coming out :) Also a huge thanks to our sponsors Demiurge Studios, Vermont Digital Artists, Great Eastern Technology and Northeastern University for making this event possible.


iPhone game to iPad – User interface considerations

I recently began porting my iPhone game SpringFling to iPad. The most time consuming part so far has been working with the art assets to make them work on the new screen size. I had stupidly designed most of the UI for the game at native resolution (480 x 320 px) which forces me to now re-do much of the art at 1024×768. Instead of just re-creating the exact menus at a higher resolution, I’m taking this chance to re-design certain areas of the menus.

I’ve noticed an issue with some iPad games that have been ported from the iPhone version. It seems the developer, in an attempt to reuse the same art assets, keeps HUD and UI elements the same size but ends up with huge areas of empty space and useless padding. Contexts with very little info end up taking the whole screen, making the overall composition feel lonely and awkward, like sparsely placed townspeople in a model train set.

By forcing myself to re-design certain areas, it will (hopefully) help ensure a smooth and appropriate user experience on the iPad.

Here is my progress so far:

And no, I haven’t gotten around to fixing the in-game HUD imagery yet. I’ll get to it soon, nagging Nancy.


[B.U.G.] Boston Unity Group – Unity Day!

I’m excited to announce the start of a new bi-monthly game developer meetup in the Boston-area. Elliott Mitchell and I are kicking off a group catered specifically for Unity developers called B.U.G. (Boston Unity Group).

Boston has an amazingly vibrant developer community, many of which have recently gotten involved with this relatively new game engine technology. We aim to bring these developers together to share experience, tips, and war stories as well as provide a venue to learn about the tool and how it can be used to create better interactive experiences.

You may be thinking:

What is Unity?
Unity is a multiplatform 3d game engine where the developer experience and ease of use are paramount. Similar in some ways to Flash, Unity is flexible and can be used in many different ways, from gaming applications to different types of 2d or 3d interactive media. Unity’s deployment pipeline allows users to code once and deploy to multiple targets such as desktop (web, PC, Mac) , mobile (iPhone, iPad), and console (Wii). With support for Android, Xbox360, and PS3 slated for release in the near future, Unity is leading the way in advanced engine technology for anyone from the hobbyist level to the AAA developer. It’s also very affordable and licensed on a per-seat basis when developing for desktop and mobile platforms.

When is the first meeting?
The first meeting of the Unity User Group will be held on June 12th and will be an extra special kick off event. Tom Higgins, community manager at Unity Technologies, will be speaking and holding an all-day workshop dubbed ‘Unity Day’. You can sign up for this *free* event using the signup link below.

Do I need to be a Unity expert to attend the meetings?
No way! Our first meeting will include an introductory workshop intended to teach the ins and outs of Unity to those with medium to low domain knowledge. Bring your laptop!

Check out the event poster below for more info or jump straight to the signup page!

Register for Boston Unity Group presents: Unity Day in Boston, MA  on Eventbrite

Sign me up!

Register for Boston Unity Group presents: Unity Day in Boston, MA  on Eventbrite


iPad game LineBloom created at DinoJAM

This past Saturday and Sunday I had the fortune of attending the second ever DinoJAM. This event was co-hosted by Emily Daniels and Darren Torpey at the DINO/Sprout space in Davis Square. Right after wrapping up at 3d Stimulus Day, made my way up to Somerville to make some games.

This is what I came up with (made in Unity):

It definitely translates well to the iPad touch screen. Just draw lines and they appear. It feels pretty fluid, but the low framerate video capture doesn’t convey that very well.

Thanks to Lawrence Lee for the epic music – Berkeley musicians make some good stuff quick! Props to the game jam musicians out there.

Congrats to the other attendees for making some seriously cool stuff. Great games/projects all around , and thanks for live-tweeting (@demiurgestudios @acosmos @jdemond @emdaniels @darrentorpey @davidludwig @boodooperson)


3d Stimulus Day

I recently presented a talk at the second annual 3D Stimulus Day entitled “Problem Solving: A day in the life of a Technical Artist”. The session went very well and I received some great Q&A at the end. Thanks to Heidi and Brad for setting up the event, Eric Chadwick for editing and suggestions, and to the other presenters for making it a great day. Also thanks to Eric for working with me to rig the First Act guitar give-away. Kidding!


MIT BiG – Postmortem

Yesterday was quite a crazy and eventful day. As day one of my 4-day birthday weekend, I attended the MIT Business in Gaming Conference. That’s right, my idea of a fun and relaxing day off involves attending a business conference.

I signed up for BiG with moderate expectations. Having been an alum of last year’s event, I knew partially what to expect from this conference. MIT’s Sloan E51 building set a formal jacket and slacks mood, but the 2010 rendition gave a much better networking environment with it being hosted at the Microsoft NERD Center. Also, when compared to last year, the session content was much more varied and applicable to my own interests as a game developer and (future?) entrepreneur, though the value for me ended up being the time nestled between sessions and after the closing keynote. I’m pretty sure most long time conference goers would agree with me on that one in most cases.

A *LOT* of talk, both in-session and out, revolved around social games, Facebook, and free-to-play monetization. This isn’t surprising considering many people believe these trends are ‘the next big thing’ in gaming. I’ll leave my commentary on the social game phenomenon for another post.

The sessions were structured in four separate time blocks, with two concurrent sessions during each block, not including keynotes. I attended only 2.5 out of four session blocks, as I ended up in a circle of people chatting feverishly about Unity for the length of an entire session. We were getting so rowdy that we were asked to move out of the main booth area due to our disruption. Sorry guys! It is worth mentioning, however, that those glass-doored rooms could use better soundproofing. During one of the sessions, all I could hear was the repeating slide whistle sound effect from the robotic demonstration.

As far as session highlights, searching twitter for the #mitbig hashtag is the best way to soak up the quality one-liners from the conference. One quote that comes to mind was from local dev Eitan Glinert who, when asked about VC money, said to a panel of venture capitalists: “I wish I hadn’t wasted my time applying for VC funding. I could have watched a good movie. Chewing gum is a better use of your time than meeting with VC’s”. Alexander Sliwinski summed that session’s vibe with his tweet “MITBig’s How to Build & Launch a Gaming Startup is good, mostly ’cause Eitan Glinert (Fire Hose Games) isn’t afraid to drop truth hammers.” Well said, brother.

Between sessions, I talked with many old friends and met some interesting new ones. Strengthening loose contacts always feels great, especially when you remember arcane details of a previous conversation with said person (from the depths of your dusty mind) and surprise them with this knowledge, or vice-versa. Lots of talk about games, business, life, apartments… which reminds me: I invited so many people over to my new apartment in Watertown (once I’m completely moved in) that I almost don’t remember who I extended a dinner offer to! If you’re reading this, you’re officially invited over for a wonderful night of fine dining, games, and a heaping helping of hospitality. No really, creepy stalker dude, you’re invited too… just don’t get all handsy.

After the ending keynote by eastcoaster now westcoaster Steve Meretzky, the regular conference came to a close, after announcing the raffle winners. I was lucky enough to win a Roboni programmable robot in the BiG raffle and am still trying to figure out how to put this bad boy to use.



From there, most of the attendees shot up to the 11th floor to attend the NE Games SIG’s conference reception (partay). Jon Radoff gave a well-presented speech / pep talk to the Boston game dev community to kick off the night. A bunch of non-conference attendees showed up to the after-party and great food was provided. Plus one for the NERD center for being one of the only venues where drink selection ranges from beer to chocolate milk. After a few hours, Scott started to rally a few people to head over to CBC to grab a drink. I’m not quite sure why, but whenever someone suggests heading to CBC I’m always initially reluctant but once I arrive and get into it, I have a great time.

The beer tower

Beer tower at CBC

Hats off to the BiG organizers and Microsoft for getting this thing off the ground. They put up some conference pics over on their Facebook page. I had a great time all around. Time to sort these business cards.

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Unity experimentation – gravity, perspective, and teh Youtubez

Last night I began logging my development adventures by resurrecting my dusty unused Youtube channel. I uploaded around 7 videos, some of which were previously un-seen prototypes I’ve been messing around with recently.

Here are the new videos:

Please feel free to subscribe to my Youtube channel.

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SpringFling in Apple Stores around the country!

Today I finally learned the meaning of the secretive phone call I received from Apple a few months back. Apple has put my SpringFling demo on the in-store iPod Touches that grace Apple Stores around the country. What an honor!

I’ve been meaning to update SpringFling and with Unity iPhone 1.6’s release followed by this unexpected good fortune, it may give me the boost to get some updates pushed out.

Take a look at the pics:

Thanks again to Apple for featuring a small time indie.


February Boston Post Mortem

I’m just now finding time to write up some thoughts on Tuesday’s Post Mortem. What a great send-off to Yilmaz, who is returning to Turkey on February 14th. Scott Macmillan gave a great little speech about Yilmaz being sorely missed in the community. It’s definitely true, and good to see how quickly both he and I were welcomed into the Boston community after moving to the area not long ago.

Seeing the 3 site’s Global Game Jam games was really a great subject for a talk. Lots of interesting ideas and some great execution. Special thumbs up to the Quest for Stick group and Morgan Quirk’s excellent Flixel game. Some serious talent there and at every site. I’m REALLY impressed by this years GGJ turnout.

It goes without saying that I owe a great thanks to Scott Macmillan and Darius Kazemi as well as Les and the other BPM organizers for allowing Yilmaz and I to speak at the Post Mortem and to bore the crowd with images of ramen, cats, and energy drinks. A fun time all around.

The Skellig was packed once again, and Elliott Mitchell was kind enough to send me some pictures he snapped during the event. I’d guess the turnout was in the 150 range, which is surprising for a non-sponsored talk.

I’m posting the slides here in case anyone is interested.

Cheers, and I look forward to the next one.

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