July 2011 BUG Meeting

 


From contributing writer Jono Forbes.
We Boston Indies are very lucky to have one of the premier Unity user groups here in our backyard, at the Microsoft NERD Center.  Organized by Elliott Mitchell of Vermont Digital Arts and Alex Schwartz of Owlchemy Labs, the group celebrated its sixth meeting last night by deviating from the normal One-Presenter schtik, and instead invited the group to give a night of 10-minute microtalks, running the gamut:

  • Jon Myers of Reactive Games infused his theater background to gaming with his conversation-based gameplay;
  • Mark Sullivan of the Singapore-MIT Gambit Gamelab demo’ed the latest of his softbody tech;
  • Yilmaz Kiymaz of Owlchemy Labs tempted the Unity gods with his crazy hacking skills;
  • Chris Allen of BrassMonkey unveiled the next steps for the Wii-U-trouncing smartphone controller and game portal;
  • Elliott Mitchell of Vermont Digital Arts showed us the new Spinspell HD for the iPad;
  • and the Dastardly Banana brothers gave a big update on the First Person Shooter starter pack.  Big night, phew!

 

First up, Jon Myers opened strong with a discussion of storytelling and dialogue in gaming, lauding the efforts of BioWare and Bethesda for their reactive games, giving the player true agency in their roleplaying, with conversational choices that actually effect the game outcome.  Myers, who comes to us from a background as a playwright, has jumped headfirst into the conversational game world with his game “Matilda Wants Some Foods”, a hilariously memeish game that pits you as a hungry cat Matilda, navigating a branching conversation with your owner, trying to get fed.  Each decision the player makes will guide Matilda through the conversation, to ultimately get her big feast, or lose in a variety of other endings.  We saw the ending in which the owners decide to clip her claws.  Myers quickly ran through the game demo, and then jumped behind the scenes to show us the Conversation Engine and Playmaker, two node-based editors for setting up complex conversations and mechanics without writing any code.  On its simplest level, the Conversation Engine allows writers to create a conversation node, and add player responses, each linking to a different node, giving great visual control over branching dialogue.  The tool also provides some advanced features, including conditionals for nodes (has the player already talked to Mr. Pink?), as well as animation and camera controls, allowing for a Mass Effect-style 3D conversation scene, perfect for sprawling RPG’s.  Myers then quickly showed off Playmaker, a node-based Finite State Machine editor, allowing for visual setup of game states and transitions.  Tools like Unity and these third-party extensions are dramatically lowering the technical barrier to entry for non-technical creative people to make games, letting someone like a playwright jump confidently into the fray of complex games once reserved for the armies of big-budget development studios.


 

Mark Sullivan, a student at the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab, took stage next, returning with his impressive softbody physics for Unity.  Coming a long way design-wise since the last tech demo we saw of the tech, Mark showed a small game with a “squish-ify” gun, which let him shoot an object to turn it into a softbody, and then again to turn it rigid again in its new distorted state.  The game featured the shrunken player in a giant kitchen, with the challenge of getting into the sink.  Mark “squishified” hanging pots, letting him jump across; squishified a table, just for fun; and squishified a shelf of coffee pots, letting him jump up to the sink.  It was a very cool, very new mechanic, that we’ll hopefully be seeing a lot more of in major game engines in the next few years.  But, as cool as the squishify gun was, Mark then moved onto a demo that most current game studios would probably be more excited about: procedurally ripping apart a body, tearing off legs, arms, and faces, with squish softbody goodness. Like his PowerGlove shirt, very metal! \m/


 

Up next, Yilmaz Kiymaz showed us exactly why he may be snatched away by Unity Tech soon enough, with his face-melting speed and hacking skills, demonstrating the power of Reflection in Unity. And when he says reflection, he doesn’t mean the pretty rendering stuff; he means the DLL-disassembling, source-code-peeking kind of madness. Yilmaz started out in MonoDevelop, taking advantage of the Assembly Browser: just like we can “Go To Definition” (Cmd+D, or F12, depending on your OS) for our own variables and functions to jump quickly through code or remind ourselves of how that function actually works, the same holds true with Unity’s built-in objects. Try a “Go To Definition” on the Vector3 class, for example, and the Assembly Browser will show the Vector3 class’s member and method prototypes. Inspecting any of these functions further will (sometimes) give you the inner workings — right now I’m taking a look into the Vector3.MoveTowards function, which is one of the few exposed declarations.  However, as Yilmaz pointed out, many of the other functions and classes will show a “Abstract method” or “Decompilation failed” message.  Here Yilmaz busted out the next line of attack, .NET Reflector, which exposes much more of the internal source of the DLL’s.  Yilmaz set his goal as creating an in-Unity web browser (“I want to never leave Unity!”), and was able to use .NET Reflector to extract the WebView class that Unity uses to render the Asset Store, which is maintained as a webpage.   Yilmaz pulled some magic out, calling private functions with the Type.GetMethod(“nameOfFunction”).Invoke(new object[] { parameters }) syntax, allowing him ultimately to call Unity’s (private and closed-source) webkit hooks to render any page.  Face melted.


 

Chris Allen mastered the projector next with a new demo of the upcoming BrassMonkey stuff, including new SDK’s for developers, and an upcoming online game portal for games using BrassMonkey control.  BrassMonkey is a very cool technology that allows developers to use iOS and Android smartphones as wireless second-screen controllers for main-screen games.  We’ve seen examples of BrassMonkey before including the Star Wars: Trench Rungame, a browser game which used the phone as an accelerometer input to steer the ship.  This idea may sound familiar these days, with the recent announcement of the half-tablet-based Wii-U system with a similar premise; but sorry Nintendo, BrassMonkey is way cooler, since it supports more than one tablet-controller device, and utilizes devices that people already own and use, rather than requiring special hardware.  BrassMonkey also allows for games out in the real world, away from the base console: you could, as Chris mentioned last night, have a computer in a bar acting as a game console (“Monkey Bar”!), or have a game on a billboard letting multiple people connect and play in public.  Best of all, these game states are tracked in the cloud, letting you play your game characters wherever you go.

BrassMonkey is launching a new online game portal, allowing developers to use the SDK for free, and sell games through the site.  As Chris described it, it could be more of a console than a portal, since the site would provide a very different experience than the mouse-and-keyboard of the rest of the web.  The SDK that we can use to create BrassMonkey-enabled games (for free) gives developers a visual GUI editor for the device display, and easy hooks into your scripts for event handling.  Very nifty.  Very easy looking.  Without a doubt, this multi-device always-connected mentality is where the industry is heading, and BrassMonkey has boldly taken charge.


 

Elliott Mitchell showed us Vermont Digital Arts’ latest work on Spinspell HD, the tablet-ready HD version of the Spinspell educational spelling game for the iPhone released last year.  In the game, the player uses the device’s accelerometer to tilt a labyrinth-style board, rolling a marble through the environment to collect letters, spelling out the target word.  The game boasts a fully-featured level editor and customizable word lists, letting players and educators keep rolling new content for the game, adapting it to their level and interests.  Spinspell HD features new graphics, dynamic lights, and some extra visual flare to pull the game together on a full-size tablet, which surely is more accurate and more fun than trying to play labyrinth on a tiny phone.  Aside from its normal App Store appearance, Elliott looks to market the game directly to schools, which is a great move right now as kindergartens and elementary schools start to embrace technology as tools for teaching and playing.


 

Wrapping the night up, the Dastardly Banana duo showed off their new-and-improved First Person Shooter pack for Unity, a huge shortcut for anyone looking to make an FPS game.  The pack, which they’ve been developing for most of a year, has allowed developers very quick access to most FPS functions like gun types, holding slots, upgrades, and multiple behaviors.  This new version has the mission of taking the pack “to the quality of a professional shooter” — and the guys have definitely delivered!  The upgrade adds complex animation support and blending, directional damage notifiers, wall-piercing bullets, and advanced materials: wood splinters, rock shatters, and so on.  Though they were unable to live-demo the editor tools thanks to some problem between their computers and the projector, it sounds like another tool that allows non-technical people to get very sophisticated behavior with little to no scripting.  The duo also demonstrated a new plugin they have recently released: a spawn controller, giving non-technical game designers the same level of control over enemy and item spawning that the FPS pack gives over guns.  Between these two plugins, and Unity’s existing out-of-the-box terrain and First Person character modules, it looks like creating a shooter in Unity is about as easy as it could get now.  You can find videos of their plugins on their YouTube channel, and can buy the spawn controller and a FPS weapon upgrades and store system on ActiveDen, and the FPS pack itself should be coming to the Unity Asset Store in the coming weeks.

Yeesh, quite a bit to cover — but that’s why it’s awesome to be in the Boston Indie community!  No word yet on the next BUG meeting, but it should be in about two months; can’t wait to see what the community is up to then!


 

Jono Forbes is a part of Defective Studios, makers of the helpful Unity tool Asset Cloud.

 

GAMBIT Game Lab – Indies Will Shoot You in the Knees: Redux


From contributing writer Alex Schwartz.

For those not lucky enough to attend the July 2010 meeting of the Boston Post Mortem, you sure missed a good one. Our very own Scott Macmillan, Ichiro Lambe, and Damian Isla gave a hilarious panel discussion moderated by Eitan Glinert on the in’s and out’s of running an indie game company. This panel dubbed “Indies Will Shoot You In The Knees” was in fact so hilarious and informative that it went through three iterations: a popular panel at PAX East 2010, a Post Mortem talk, and most recently at MIT on August 4th. In a slight personnel change-up, Damian was unable to attend the event (read: wimped out), Eitan joined the panel, and yours truly performed moderation duties for this latest shindig. It was a day to remember. Did I mention there were free cookies?

The two-hour session hit on topics ranging from monetization models to indie beards. As always, the panel remained highly opinionated with many differing opinions. Those who know the panelists well wouldn’t argue that each has their own style and mantra that they follow. Eitan likes to talk about the business end of creating an indie game – the hard and fast comparison of money = time = money and good games require plenty of both. Ichiro has one foot firmly planted in the marketing end of game development, while his other foot is possibly kicking a baby or doing something else noteworthy. Scott is of a more methodical mindset with a more forgiving stance as compared to Eitan, surmising that good games can be made with little to no money in your spare time if you have a strong support group… until you burn through your cash, that is.

The group quickly became heated over the first major topic of distribution platforms. Ichiro was quick to mention the dynamic nature of the PC market and the versatility of Steam, if you’re able (read lucky enough) to make your way into their good graces. Eitan had some cautionary tales about putting all of your eggs in one basket, while Scott also had some cautionary tales about the Facebook market and diving in too soon. With lots of caution, remorse, and tales of woe, the group moved on to how ‘git r done right’ with advice to getting serious advisers in your target space, multi-platform distribution, comments on when to try to go for a publisher, and the ever-present question of pricing.

Before you could say ‘freemium’, the hour was up and Generoso began wrapping up the session by fielding audience questions. After covering some good questions about self-publishing on iOS, and methods of funding side projects, the session was up. A sizable group headed to CBC (Cambridge Brewing Company) for some ‘light refreshments’.

Ichiro Lambe’s answer to the final question of the night pretty much sums up the overall feel of the evening.

Q: If an Indie could shoot you in one body part, what would it be?

A: “The beard.”

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July 2011 Meeting & June 2011 Boston Postmortem – Slam Bolt Scrappers by Fire Hose Games

Here we present one of two parallel posts that provide an insider view of the successful Boston Indies company Fire Hose Games. In this post you can read about two different versions of Eitan’s recent post mortem talk on PSN release Slam Bolt Scrappers.  In the other post by Jon Myers you can read a narrative about the foundation of the company.


 

On June 8, Fire Hose Games Founder and Creative Director Eitan Glinert and several members of the studio’s development team were at the Skellig in Waltham to give a postmortem of Slam Bolt Scrappers, the studio’s first game.

A month later, Eitan was at the Bocoup Loft in Boston, talking to Boston Indies about the studio’s journey from Ramen-eating artists to releasing Slam Bolt Scrappers on the PlayStation Network.

Both presentations featured the good, not-so-bad, and really bad things that happened along the way to creating Slam Bolt Scrappers. Eitan showed the same slides about the same game to many of the same people. But this doesn’t mean the two presentations were anywhere near the same.

Photo by Elliott Mitchell

Take Eitan’s two opening statements about his presentation on a game about punching baddies in the face and building weapon towers from their dead bodies that was released on March 15:

Boston Post Mortem: “This is something we poured our hearts into, so it’s really hard to say, ‘hey, this is where we screwed up.’”

A month later at Boston Indies: “The whole purpose of this is for you to learn from the shit we did wrong, and hopefully things we did right also.”

At Boston Post Mortem, there were a hundred people or more: journalists from Gamasutra, AAA development studios and other local developers in the industry. Eitan told his studio’s experience developing Slam Bolt Scrappers.

At Boston Indies, there were 30 or so other indie developers (and one wayward journalist), all in varying stages of production that Eitan and Fire Hose Games passed through in the last three years to create Slam Bolt Scrappers. It was a conversational how-to guide, with footnotes, for a room full of friends and acquaintances.

“It all comes down to audience,” Eitan said in a later email conversation. “At BPM I assume there are more ‘industry professionals,’ people who work at big studios and have done so for years. So I try to focus on development points that will be most relevant to them – how we could have improved production, how marketing went, etc.

“At BI I assume there are more ‘aspiring indies,’ or people who are just about to take the plunge into making their own game. For them I focus more on getting the pieces in place that are needed to create the game – things like setting up business deals, putting a team together, and getting your game out there for people to see.”

From the beginning, that was the stuff that the indies assembled in the Bocoup Loft wanted to hear. Unlike the BPM format, where questions came at the end, at Boston Indies Eitan invited the crowd to stop him and ask questions. And that they did.

Why did Fire Hose Games decide to go exclusively with Sony and the PlayStation Network?

“Because they said ‘yes’ to us,” Eitan said. “It’s not like everyone was lining up to throw money at us. But I know very few indies that got the support we got.”

How much time did you put into fundraising?

“You just need someone who is either basically just raising money, or actually … just raising money,” Eitan said.

How important was showing off the game?

“Ultimately, buzz matters more than anything else,” Eitan said. “Get on your soapbox and show people your game. If people aren’t impressed by your game, than ask yourself why they aren’t impressed.”


Fire Hose Games took Slam Bolt Scrappers through five iterations in over two years, which Eitan said was incredibly difficult towards the end, having essentially to throw out three or four months of hard work spent on the fourth iteration.

“I was actually afraid of mutiny at that point,” Eitan said. “It gets really dangerous when you have something mediocre, because then you start lying to yourself and incorrectly thinking it will be good enough if you just put on a few layers of polish.  Be ready to iterate whenever your game is not awesome.”

Screenshot courtesy of Fire Hose Games

Perhaps the most apparent “really bad thing” that happened was entirely out of the studio’s control. They released Slam Bolt Scrappers on March 15, and then in early April the hacker group LulzSec took down PSN.

“Three weeks after it went on sale, suddenly it wasn’t on sale,” Eitan said at BPM.

There wasn’t much anyone could do; Slam Bolt Scrappers’ distribution network evaporated, and so did the games sales. But that hasn’t slowed down Fire Hose. At both events, the studio announced its next project: Go Home Dinosaurs.

Image provided by Fire Hose Games

Eitan later said he hoped what people took away from both his presentations were the hard learned lessons that impacted the games development, hopefully helping people sidestep the landmines he and his team waded through.

But standing up at the Bocoup Loft, Eitan could point out more than half the crowd as an example as someone who helped him and Fire Hose Games when help was needed. And now that Slam Bolt Scrappers is done, there is one more Boston Indie that’s been to the finish line and can help the next stressed out first time developer to the same goal.

At Boston Indies, Eitan said there was one extra message: “You can do it, just be prepared to bust your ass in the process and realize that you can’t go it alone.”


 

Ian B. Murphy is a newspaper reporter at the MetroWest Daily News in the daytime, but would rather be gaming at any given time. He is excited to learn about the business at a grassroots level, make some friends, and have a few beers.

A Look Back at GameLoop Philly 2011


From contributing writer Darius Kazemi.

GameLoop Philly, the first offshoot of game development “unconference” GameLoop, was held in Philadelphia on May 21. GameLoop was founded here in Boston in 2008 by Boston Indies founder Scott Macmillan and myself. We were super excited when a crew of GameLoop attendees from Philly approached us last year to ask if they could run one in their home town. Of course our answer was an emphatic yes — for my part, I wanted to attend a GameLoop for once, rather than host it.

Photo courtesy of GameLoop Philly

GLP opened with a bit of a surprise to me: a new way of organizing sessions. Instead of the chaotic rush to put sessions the board, sessions were pitched by attendees, written on the wall, and then attendees were given stickers to place next to sessions they liked. I was humbled: this method was far superior to what we’d been using in Boston the last two years, and we’re going to be using it at the original GameLoop this coming weekend.

Photo courtesy of GameLoop Philly

The session topics ended up being a diverse mix, including sessions on misconceptions in programming languages, story development, procedural narrative, prototype development, 2D in unity, game difficulty tuning, and producer perception at game studios, among a total of 20 sessions across 5 time slots in 4 rooms.

Photo courtesy of GameLoop Philly

The first session I attended was “Misconceptions on Programming Languages,” by Tim Ambrogi of Final Form Games (Jamestown). This presentation was a traditional lecture format, complete with slides (unusual for a GameLoop) but went over extremely well. Tim spoke of prejudices that programmers hold against languages that are not their “native” language, using his own favorite language, Lua, as a case study. Things really got going when he asked programmers in the room to talk about misconceptions people have about some of their favorite languages.

After that, I attended “The State of Games in Philly.” I’ve been hosting a similar, Boston-centric session at GameLoop for the last three years, so I wanted to catch this one and see what the Philly scene is all about. One thing that struck me is that while the game development community in Philadelphia is growing, it’s not quite big enough to sustain multiple large, regular events. As a result, game developers tend to participate more often in general software industry events. It’s food for thought, as there are enough game dev events in Boston that one could never leave their comfortable cocoon yet still be busy attending events all the time.

Lunch was an eat-out affair, and fortunately GLP was situated in the middle of the Arts district, near Center City. There were tons of great restaurants to choose from. As noted on the GameLoop Philly Twitter account, much as it pains me to admit, they’ve got us beat on food.

After lunch I sat in on an Android platform session, which ended up being a “how do I begin?” type session, and then quickly moved to “how do I make money?” One memorable comment was that you’d make more money consulting as an Android developer for other companies than you would creating your own apps. Not sure if I buy that, but it got me thinking.

At 3:30 I caught Tim Ambrogi’s talk on prototypes, which was a deep dive into the prototypes used to prove concepts for Jamestown. And at the end of the day, I led a roundtable on HTML5 game development, of which I can remember nothing as I was very, very tired.

All in all, GameLoop Philly was a huge success, bringing 80 game developers from as far as DC and Boston together to eat cheese steaks and talk about development. It was a fantastic time, and I cannot wait for next year’s — I highly recommend attending events over hosting them!


 

 Darius Kazemi lives in Cambridge, MA and he’s glad you’re here. Darius develops HTML5 games and game technology at Bocoup.
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July 2011 Boston Post Mortem – Death of An Indie Studio – Macguffin Games

[UPDATE: We just got word that there is audio capture from the event that will be synced with the slides and we will post that here for a fuller experience once we get our hands on it.  Follow @bostonindies to receive notice.]

Boston Post Mortem, the Greater Boston chapter of the International Game Developers Association, held its monthly meeting at The Skellig in Waltham on Wednesday, July 13th with an excellent featured talk by indie guru Scott Macmillan. Scott’s presentation was the next evolution of his popular “Death of an Indie Studio” presentation that was featured at PAX East this spring. The Skellig was packed once again this month with developers and industry members from major area studios such as Turbine, Irrational Games, and 38 Studios; smaller studios and independents including Fire Hose Games, Demiurge Studios, and Owlchemy Labs; and students from media programs at area schools like Northeastern University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Berklee College of Music.

For those who were unable to attend this month and may have missed Scott at PAX East, “Death of an Indie Studio” is an educational and entertaining talk about Scott’s experiences starting, growing, and (eventually) closing his own independent game studio – Macguffin Games. Throughout his talk, Scott shares meaningful stories of pitfalls and lessons learned about how to run a business using anecdotes of his successes and failures along the way. Scott touches on humorous and honest topics such as why working from home can be as dangerous as it is liberating, what its like to have people working for you when its your own company, the challenges of online marketing, and how not every game idea is a marketable one.

Game and development enthusiasts who missed the meeting or have never met Scott might assume that his talk is all doom and gloom.  Much to the contrary, “Death of an Indie Studio” is a real and refreshing perspective on independent game development and the trials and triumphs of owning your own company and being your own boss. His tone never falters and his message is clear: if making a game or starting your own company is your dream, go for it – just know what you’re getting yourself into. Scott certainly has no regrets about his own experiences.

Scott has also provided his slides from his presentation. Though entertaining in their own right, they are nowhere near as good as the real thing.


Elliott Mitchel, President of Vermont Digital Arts and Co-Founder of the Boston Unity Group was kind enough to share his pictures from this month’s Post Mortem.


 
Ben Wiley has worked in both the retail and development sides of the game industry for nearly a decade. His passion is largely in online games, especially persistent, massively-multiplayer worlds. His areas of expertise include writing and marketing.  An active member of the game development community in Boston, you can often catch him at Boston Post Mortem, Boston Unity Group, and Boston Indies whenever they occur. Ben currently works for Turbine, publisher of the popular Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online games.
 
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Video Games 101 – Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab

Fire Hose Games' Lead Animator Nico Corrao faces off in Slam Bolt Scrappers with a student at Video Games 101, part of the the Cambridge Science Festival, May 5, 2011. Credit: GAMBIT flickr.

On May 5, 2011, the MIT Museum brought together an amazing group of local game developers to show young students what life is like at a video game company.  The event, called Video Games 101, was a part of the Cambridge Science Festival, and consisted of demonstrations of games developed by Owlchemy Labs, Fire Hose Games, Gradient Studios, SCVNGR, Zynga Boston, the MIT Media Lab, and the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab.

Boston Indies community members were there to show off their awesome games and teach people the ropes!  Each of us received a nametag “Professor”, which to my great amusement caused more than one person to mistake me for an actual MIT Professor.  (“You’re a professor? Wow, you seem awfully young…”)

Alex Schwartz and Yilmaz Kiymaz from Owlchemy were there to show off Smuggle Truck/Snuggle Truck.  The game garnered more than a little love from both kids and grown-ups alike!  The Snuggle Truck version of the game is now available on the iTunes App Store, and the Smuggle Truck version is available for download on PC/Mac from their website.

Fire Hose Games represented Boston Indie dev studios as well.  I attended as a representative for Fire Hose, along with our animator extraordinaire, Nico Corrao.  We played our latest release, Slam Bolt Scrappers, against students and other festival-goers. We spent much of our time answering questions, talking to people about what life is like at a startup video game company, and enjoying the talks!

In addition to the games, students enjoyed a series of talks by Damian Isla of Moonshot Games, Dean Tate of Harmonix, Adam Carriuolo of Harmonix, and Ahmed Abdel-Meguid of 38 Studios.  Damian wowed students with a look at artificial intelligence in video games; you can check out his slides at the end of this article.  Dean talked about the many benefits and difficulties of collaboration in game design.  Adam spoke about designing an unusual user interface as Harmonix did for Dance Central. Ahmed talked about the psychology behind sounds as a means to evoke emotion.

You can watch the full presentation linup below, thanks to Generoso Fierro for the video!

MIT Tech TV

Huge thanks go out to Marleigh Norton, who coordinated this amazing effort! You can find more pictures of the event on the GAMBIT flickr.

Read More

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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.

Micro-presentations

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.
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3D Stimulus 2011

Several members of the Boston Indies community were in attendance to participate and present at the 2011 3D Stimulus Day, an all day conference and demo event on 3D game development hosted by Great Eastern Technology. The third annual took place at Mt. Ida, Newton, MA  on April 9, 2011 from 9:00 am- 5:00 pm. Great Eastern has provided a detailed recap, with resources and photos. Information and media related to Boston Indies community members and their participation is provided below.  The full line up this year included:

  • Chad Moore of Turbine and Rigging Dojo, with Job Hunting Tips for 3D Artists
  • Alex Schwartz and Yilmaz Kiymaz of Owlchemy Labs, presenting Mixing 2D and 3D in Unity
  • A Tech Art Discussionwith panelists from local game companies, mediated by Chad Moore
    • Ryan Griffin, Senior Character TD, Turbine
    • Elliott Mitchell, Vermont Digital Arts
    • Brandon Bateman, Senior Tech Artist, Turbine
    • Farley Chery, Instructor, ITT Institute and Bunker Hill Community College
    • Justin Woodard, Technical Artist, Turbine
  • Willem Van Der Schyf, Tencent Boston, presenting his Pipeline for Modeling Normal Mapped Characters
  • Afternoon networking session upstairs with demos from various individuals including 3d Camera Technology, Mocap with Kinect and Motion Builder, Brass Monkey, Vermont Digital Arts, Owlchemy Labs, Defective Studios and more.

Boston Indies community members Aaron ArtessaRichard BrownCaleb GarnerK Adam White and Dan Salsberg were in attendance to learn and support the participating companies.  Check the end of this post for a photo montage.

3D Stimulation in Progress

Tech Art Panel with Elliott Mitchell of Vermont Digital Arts and Turbine

 


Owlchemy Labs: Mixing 2D and 3D in Unity

Alex and Yilmaz have drawn particular attention for their presentation on the nuts and bolts of 2D and GUI use in Unity and they have since posted their set of slides on the Owlchemy Labs website, also embedded below. They plan to present an updated version of this talk on Tuesday, May 3 at Boston Unity Group (BUG) May Maddness, the upcoming fifth meeting of that growing organization.

Caleb Garner of Part12 Studios captured the presentation:

You can find the rest of the presentation here:

And another set of videos of the same presentation, captured by Richard Brown:

 


Tech Art Panel Discussion

The Tech Art panelists were all Boston-based developers and included Boston Indies community member Elliott Mitchell of Vermont Digital Arts alongside developers from Turbine. Richard also captured this panel:

 


Demo Area

 

 

 

Thanks to Elliott Mitchell, we have some video of Chris demonstrating the Brass Monkey Controller to an attendee:

[3D Stimulus Day 2011. A woman having a blast with Chris Allen of Brass Monkey / Infrared 5 demoing Owlchemy Labs’ Smuggle Truck on the big screen while being controlled by the Brass Monkey controller on an iPhone. 3D Stimulus Day was sponsored by Great Eastern Technology and Mt Ida College.]

 


Photo Montage

Thanks to all the Boston Indies community members at the event for providing these photos.


 

Jonathon Myers is a writer but he can barely keep his portfolio website up to date alongside his creative writing and Reactive Games. If you are interested in covering Boston Indies events, contact info@bostonindies.com with samples.