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August 14, 2012
by jolon
Comments Off on Songdev releases Tower Defense Toolkit 2.1.1 (Includes NGUI!)

Songdev releases Tower Defense Toolkit 2.1.1 (Includes NGUI!)

TDTK gets better!

I want to give out props to SongDev, the developer behind the Tower Defense Tool Kit Unity3D package (TDTK) which I purchased for a TD game I have under development and Arenamook, the developer behind the best Unity3D GUI package, Next-Gen GUI

First of all, he’s great for providing the level of support he does. On the Unity3D forums, he provides feedback to users with customers and potentials in almost real-time, implementing almost any suggestion which makes sense.

On top of this, if you purchase the package, he has proven in my experience to be extremely quick to email us back to solve questions regarding the implementations of his toolkit. I can’t recommend him highly enough.

So all of us working with Unity3D realize what a gaping hole is left in its GUI support. Several options have appeared on the Asset Store and third-party asset stores to solve this problem, but one of the best is NGUI by Tasharen Entertainment.

SongDev has done everyone using his toolkit a tremendous favor with his latest release, 2.1.1, which includes sample NGUI scenes, atlases, and more for integrating NGUI guis into our games. Of course he used the free distro, and if you intend to use NGUI in your game, you will need to purchase a license, but I love seeing the cross-pollination of tools across the Unity3D Asset Store with an easy entry barrier which means higher sales for the indie developers offering their wares.

When Tasharen released the NGUI free version, Arenamook expressed a lot of reservation about whether the model would mean lower sales, but I think that it will prove to be exponentially larger as other developers include the free version in their asset store packages as Songdev has.

Anyway, a big up to both of these developers for their continued contribution to the Unity3D Indie asset scene, and devotion to their customers, way to show us how to produce software B2B, yet grassroots!

And apologies to friends on social networks if there’s been any spam, working out my blog’s links with the various networks!

June 22, 2012
by jolon
Comments Off on Flow Free – a game that actually makes you smarter

Flow Free – a game that actually makes you smarter

I just found this totally fun, casual game that makes you walk away feeling like you’re smarter for playing it, instead of just wasting time, a rarity in these times of overmonetized click-fests.

It’s called Flow Free and is available here http://itunes.apple.com/app/flow-free/id526641427?mt=8

It’s made by Big Duck Games, and grats to them for hitting the top of the iPad free list!

You basically have to connect colored dots, circuit-board fashion, without touching each others’ ‘pipes.’

A bit of tron lightcycles is in the mechanic, but without the timed aspect, which makes the greatest thing is the pacing.

Check it if you have an iPhone or iPad!

(The iPad version has bigger grids, which get scarily hard.)

June 16, 2012
by jolon
Comments Off on World’s First Tax on Internet Explorer 7

World’s First Tax on Internet Explorer 7

An Australian online retailer, Kogan.com is levying a ‘tax’ on customers who view the site using Internet Explorer  7.

The company’s CEO, Ruslan Kogan told the BBC he wanted to “recoup the time and costs involved in rendering the website into a antique browser.”

Although only 3% of his site’s visitor’s use this antiquated browser, his IT team spends more time making the site render correctly in IE7 than Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple’s Safari combined. IE7 is from 2007, and follows very few modern web layout rules.

His solution is that if you are browsing the site using IE7, you will have an ‘IE7 Tax’ applied to your purchase on check-out. The amount is 6.8% – 0.1% for every month since the IE7 launch. Genius. Please upgrade your browsers, sheeple!

I totally sympathize with this, as clients often ask us to develop web builds which are IE6 compatible, which is from way farther back, 2002-2003, shipped with Windows XP, a total mess.

You have to detect and redirect to a whole different site, as stylesheets don’t allow degradation.

Bottom line is that this ends up as a good publicity boost for Mr. Kogan, and also raises awareness among the toilet reading IT-decision-making crowd that half a decade later, they should probably upgrade their enterprise browser installs.

Thanks to the heads’ up from this article published by the BBC.

May 31, 2012
by jolon
Comments Off on 5 Reasons Jetpack Joyride Rocks!

5 Reasons Jetpack Joyride Rocks!

Jetpack Joyride is my favorite iOS game so far.

The gameplay is extremely fast, with each playthrough lasting between 30 – 90 seconds on average, but excellent balance, pacing, and reward structures, it always feels new and more advanced, even though it’s just you, the player advancing your skills as you compete against advancing goal structures. Game design magic came together perfectly here.

We’re used to the jump-n-run survival mechanic from Temple Run, Highway Rider, or even Rat on a Snowboard

But everything just clicks for me with Jetpack Joyride, it IS a joyride, unlike so many of the vampiric titles out there.

  1. Art Direction: Superb. Pretends to be retro, but is merely hiding 32 bit beautiful in those blocky graphics. GUI is minimal and could perhaps use indicators for your current mission tokens, but that’s ok too, less is more!
  2. Balance: Go HalfBrick! Everything is balanced more or less perfectly. As you play, you learn and are able to complete the challenges, and buy things, it just all *works*! Rare. Also, implements the best instance of a full-approach menu I’ve seen yet. It’s more like a cascading full-approach. Or something. Well crafted.
  3. Procedural: Every play is a fresh and experience, because no level is the same. They are procedurally generated, meaning each level is (probably) built by AI, then tested by a player AI to test it before throwing you into it.
  4. Price: Free. Implements a very low-key In-App-Purchase model, but I have yet to spend a penny, and have been advancing at a totally satisfying pace.
  5. Under Active Development: Even in the short time I’ve been playing, it’s had several substantial updates, which is good, it means Halfbrick is is probably gathering stats and adjusting accordingly, adding new content, squashing bugs, give me anything except software without support!

Trailer

[media link=http://youtu.be/Jzxi8nid9BQ]

May 29, 2012
by jolon
Comments Off on Unity3D Mini-Map Resources

Unity3D Mini-Map Resources

Mini-Maps are an essential GUI element for many types of games; a great help for users’ wayfinding and navigation efforts.

Here’s a list of resources for creating mini-maps in Unity3D. There’s plenty more out there, and don’t forget to check the Unity3D Forums, Answers, and Wiki too.

If you’re lazy, you can buy a prefab for a minimap here: http://www.gameprefabs.com/products/show/475

Here is a very simple method, although it uses Javascript, unfortunately: http://www.moddb.com/groups/unity-devs/tutorials/how-to-make-a-minimap

This is a helpful piece of code for positioning the player in the mini-map (C# this time!) http://www.joshrevilo.com/2011/11/minimap-in-unity3d-9-hours-in/

Video Tutorials

Creating a basic mini-map in Unity3d Part 1

This is my favorite of the video tutorials, I was able to implement a basic version as described, and he’s providing solid support in the comment thread.

[media link=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuV9Xlt-l6g]

Unity3d Custom View Ports Part 1: Mini Map

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