Unity!

Once again I have failed to update my blog routinely: I’ve started working for Unity! And it is simply… awesome.

I actually started in January 2014 but it’s taken me until now to update my blog: everything has been absolutely nonstop.

The first aspect of the awesomeness of the job is the culture of the company: it is one of the new cool “GitHub”-styles of company where the focus is very much on hiring self-motivated people and just letting them do their thing. The VP of Engineering, Brett Bibby, is very passionate about the idea of trying to let employees focus on their work in the way that works best for them. Very relaxed attitude, and people are driven though a passion to just do the best work of their career.

It may sound trivial but even little tiny things like being able to configure my own PC exactly how I want it (every place I’ve ever worked previously has always had a layer of IT ‘requirements’, whether that’s prescribed invasive virus checking, or a pre-cloned image that talks to a Domain server). Just in case you are worried, naturally I do run a virus checker, however I have chosen one which does not use file system hooks that can so dramatically cripple code compile times. There’s something enormously responsible and liberating about knowing that everything on my laptop is entirely my fault, and that if it goes wrong I can repartition and fix it.

But that is the entire culture of Unity: when I began I was given simply instructions for the VPN and the URL of a wiki page with steps to get up and running. Some people might find that too hands-off but I found it perfect, and actually revolutionary. Being able to discover and learn everything about the company and the codebase at my own rate made everything go much smoother.

And my god there is a lot of awesome potential stuff to do: I can honestly say that if I worked for this company for 10 years I could think of 10 years worth of things which I could contribute. Not that there is anything inefficient about current processes, but again it’s just down to the enormous freedom: for most areas you are positively encouraged to dabble and mess around. If you think you can help: make a branch, make a change, show us and then you can merge it.

For “Pirate Camp IV” (a hack week I recently went to in San Francisco) we were interested in doing a VR project and everyone bent over backwards to get us the hardware and software required, from a GTX980 to a… certain exciting prototype unit! I was amazed.

So anyway, I’m actually pretty relieved that I’ve managed take a few minutes to write this blog post. I need to do a bunch of other stuff like update the banner at the top of the blog to reflect the new company… it’s got to be a screenshot of Blacksmith Demo really hasn’t it? :-) I’ll do that “later”… which judging by my track record will be early 2017!

TLDR: Working for Unity, it’s frikkin’ awesome.

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Ripple Dot Zero

For the last two days I’ve been absolutely loving a new game which was released, “Ripple Dot Zero”, a 16-bit styled game which is very like some console and computer games of the early 1990s. The game was created by PixelTruss software (http://www.pixeltruss.com), and I think they may have been a fan of the same Megadrive games that I was!

ripple0ripple1

It’s a tribute to the likes of Strider and Sonic the Hedgehog in a very similar way to Street Fighter 4 being a tribute to Street Fighter 2 in that it absolutely nails what was awesome about the original games, and reproduces it perfectly and yet in a way that feels like something new. In fact I think that’s the most amazing part of it, it feels both completely familiar and completely new at the same time.

The best part is that despite working on the game for 4 years, they are allowing people to play the game absolutely for free! You can play Ripple Dot Zero by simply going to their website, www.rippledotzero.com. I can only hope that this leads on to some kind of deal on other platforms: it would be amazing to get this game (and dare I hope, some sequels?) onto XBLA, PSN and Steam! Also, you absolutely have to play the game with sound because the soundtrack is phenomenal.

Press ‘F’ to make the game fullscreen, and although the game does not support joypads natively you can use a program called ‘xpadder’ to translate joypad presses into keystrokes. (I used version 5.3 of xpadder.)

 

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How do we get smaller FOVs into gameplay?

Recently I watched the Assassins Creed 4 trailer, which was stunning, although clearly not in-game, but one day the technology will be there to render this in real time. But what I realise, more than ever, is that we need to find a way to get narrower camera angles into game-play.

This clearly looks awesome

The fundamental problem is that narrow camera angles (e.g. close-up on characters) are awful for actually playing a game, but look really cool. This is a particular sub-case of the more general problem that the cooler a camera angle is, the less well it plays. But I reckon that if there was a way this could be achieved in gameplay, games could get increasingly more cinematic and interesting to watch. Generally for playing a game you want a FOV of 50 degrees or higher, but close-ups of 10 degrees or less look incredibly cool.

I’m really curious to hear peoples ideas on how this can be achieved, or indeed how this has been achieved (I haven’t played a huge amount of games recently!). One idea would be to have a 24-style split screen where one pane shows in-game while the other(s) show close-ups of heroes or villains reacting. Another would be to have an over the shoulder view, perhaps of an enemy looking at the player. This would leave a usable area of game world to navigate.

@davidhampson

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Started at TT Fusion

Well as usual my blogging has been very sporadic recently! Juice Games, aka THQ Digital Warrington, were closed down by THQ while Kill Team was in XBox submission. Fortunately TT Fusion were looking for more programmers around the same time and I managed to get a job there… I have been working there about 5 weeks now and have been loving it! The team is absolutely fantastic!

In other news Lucid Games seems to be doing well, and HogRocket are about to release their first game… Hopefully I’ll find time to write a bigger blog post soon!

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