May 2011 Boston Unity Group (BUG)

From contributing writer Michael Carriere

Boston Unity Group met at Microsoft NERD in Cambridge on the evening of Tuesday, May 3rd.  With over forty people attending, the May meetup was quite successful!

For those of you who haven’t heard of BUG: we are a collection of Unity users in the Greater Boston area — many of whom are Boston Indies members! Our backgrounds range from developers, artists, musicians, and designers; our community is comprised of everything between veteran users who can seemingly bend the engine to their every whim, to talentless hacks, like myself, who only wish to breathe the same air as their peers. We get together once every two months to to demonstrate new techniques to interesting problems, discuss our current projects, and share information with the effort of expanding our community, improving our tools, and creating some really entertaining games in the meantime.


Kinect as an input device has been quite a hit in the indie community and that is no different when it comes to integrating some of the budding technology in Unity. Paul Girardo demonstrated some open source APIs that enabled Unity to let players wield flails and control their player in a 3D space. Grab the Unity Kinect wrapper here, and check out the demos Paul used here. The demos did a great job showcasing some of the potential that Kinect or NUI will have for the coming years. You can also check out Paul’s personal blog to keep up with his current projects.

Matthew Cheung took Unity to task to see if he could create a Minecraft clone in Unity and ended up being very successful! He managed to  get the basic world generation, block destruction and building, and even went one step further and integrated the Facebook API and SmartFox to create multiplayer worlds. When asked about his decision to go with SmartFox, Matthew said:

“The main reason why I chose Smartfox 2x as the networking middleware over Unity networking is because of my concerns that Unity networking won’t provide me with a scalable authoritative server. I think Unity networking works great for smaller scale, LAN-type of multiplayer games, but it wasn’t made for MMO-scale games. Because Smartfox is fairly popular and well-documented, it chose that over other networking solutions that target larger-scale multiplayer games, such as Photon and Electroserver.”

His demo of this can be found on Facebook. (Due to the nature of his server setup, if you get an access denied message, try back in a minute or two, and you should be able to get in.)

The final micro-presentation was by given by Jono Forbes and Matt Schoen of Defective Studios, who have been working on two projects in tandem for some time now. Asset Cloud is their solution to bringing team-based asset management, which they have been using to develop Platformer, a “brush-based terrain and level editor for modern platformer games.” If you are interested in giving Asset Cloud a try, Defective Studios recently opened the toolset to the community, and kicked their project into Beta, so head over to their site and give it a shot!

Featured Talk

Our long-form presentation for this month was run by Alex Schwartz and Yilmaz Kiymaz of Owlchemy Labs. The two of them spoke of their newly released, multi-platform game, Snuggle Truck. Their multifaceted presentation ranged from the build process and optimization for five different builds, to managing a 2D workflow in Unity’s 3D environment, to effectively using cameras for UI placement and transitions. To catch their entire presentation, as well as the Q&A session that followed, watch the video.

Afterwards, the majority of the BUG meetup made their way to a familiar watering hole, the Cambridge Brewing Company. Over a few beers, individuals discussed their ongoing projects, the industry, and recently released games. Many thanks go out to Autodesk and Great Eastern Technology for footing the bill for our food and drinks that night!  In particular, we thank Peter Kolster, Business Dev Manager at Autodesk, as well as Brad Porter, President of Great Eastern, who has also sponsored many other events such as the 1st Boston Unity Group meeting and the 3D Stimulus Day.

July Meeting Announced

As we continue to iterate on presentation format, we will stick to the micro-presentation format for our next meeting on July 26. You can find more information and RSVP here. If you are interested in speaking about any aspect of your project, your workflow and tools, or an interesting problem that you or your team managed to solve, get in touch with Alex or Elliot. If you don’t have something to talk about, but you have some specific questions or general topics that you would like to suggest for someone to discuss, feel free to contact us as well.  We can try to find someone to speak about it!

The Boston Unity Group is on Google Groups and Facebook and we are always thrilled for new members to join our community!


Michael is a long time Boston Indies member, a local to the Boston area for the past two years, and has been involved in multiple commercial and independent games. He’s not mainstream though, so you probably haven’t heard of him.