Archive for the ‘MARKET’ Category

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

This is fantastic news!  Unity3D 2.5 has been released a bit early before GDC and it includes the game changing windows build environment and IDE.  This now opens up the Unity 3D market by a huge factor and Unity3d will find its way into many gaming companies that are heavily invested in Windows. We should see the amount of unity 3d players and content ramp up quite a bit this year.

Dont’ get me wrong I love my Mac Book Pro and continue to use it for development in Unity3D, iphone sdk etc.  But being able to use my windows machine as a dev box is great and I know this will be huge for many windows users not wanting to shell out the $1500 for the unity license AND $3000 for a decent macbook.  The cost wall has been lowered and it is a great investment if you are an indie game developer or a large game developer.

I usually only get excited about open source tools on this blog because they help everyone with skills have access, I hope one day there will be an open source 3d browser based engine as well.  Right now though there is nothing price competitive other than maybe torque instantaction plugin or the gaim engine (quakelive) that comes close with hardware rendering and none of them beat Unity in ease of pipeline.

One thing about Unity3d is it was a game engine from day one, it is only a game engine.  It isn’t like Director or Flash that are also application development kits, rich internet application kits etc.  This is pure game engine baby with hardware rendering for the win. Also, if you want to make 3d games for the iPhone without going hardcore OpenGL ES you can do so with an additional license that opens up your distribution channel to the iphone, flash can’t do that currently unfortunately.

And so it begins… GAME ON!

Sunday, December 14th, 2008

Unity3D is a great platform for developing 3d games where you need hardware acceleration beyond what Flash 3d can give you for the web.

There are lots of great independent gaming companies and web gaming companies realizing this and here in the #phx Arizona market a few good ones including Flashbang Studios on their Unity3D gaming site Blurst. I have been developing Unity3D for about 6 months and it is great where you want 3d environments over 2000 polys for the web.  The power of 3d hardware rendering on the web combined with a great development environment is making it possible to make really fun games with unity3d.

Unity3D Games Released Recently

Flashbang recently released Minotaur China Shop to add to their Blurst.com site of Unity3D games and community. They detailed the launch day at their blog.  It is a pretty fun game and once you get further into the game design with different paths, selling products or thrashing your china shop for insurance and strategic upgrades it has legs to keep interest.

Minotaur China Shop Trailer

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/2474951[/vimeo]

There are lots of great Unity 3d games out there here is a list of the best of 2008:

      [source]

      Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

      Mike Chambers posted that Flash Player 10 is officially live. This completes your 1-2 punch of RIA/game platform releases of Silverlight and Flash this week.

      We have just released the shipping version of Flash Player 10 (Mac, Windows and Linux). You can find more information on all of the new features on the Flash Player product page.

      You can download the player for Mac, Windows and Linux players from here.

      You can grab debug and standalone players from here.

      You can grab the release notes from here.

      Flash Player 10 is great news. There are so many things in it from a new data structure (Vector), to local FileReference, to Matrix and 3D helpers, to speed improvements and video enhancements being able to play other video types and more (this was actually in a late version of flash player 9 as well but will be used more here). It does take time for flash versions to get out in the wild, about 9 months to where they are in the 90%-95% range where you can convince people to use it in production, but getting those skills now is good.  The scripting platform is still Actionscript 3 so anyone still making Flash Player 8 and AS2 stuff is now two revolutions behind.

      Another thing I am looking forward to soon (next week) that is missing from both Flash and Silverlight, is the ability to develop for the iPhone, which Unity3D is dropping the iPhone kit on Oct 22nd. Unity3D has effectively taken Director’s 3d game development (hardware accelerated) market lead away this year and late last year and is a great platform. Director who?

      Lots of great tools and platforms to create the innovative new applications, games and markets that are so needed right now. Go create!

      Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

      Silverlight 2 has been released. This is the real silverlight release.  The release last year 1.0 was just a javascript release and only had one object, the downloader, not even a text input.  But now there are real tools like rich ui controls, services support (REST), DLR (C#, Linq, ironpython/ruby) and Sockets which are much needed for games and game platform development.

      There are also much better tools at this stage:

      Bam. Silverlight 2 is out. There’s the expected stuff, like the final SDK, Expression, and Silverlight tools:

      And from Tim’s blog:

      But there’s also http://www.eclipse4sl.org/. Yes, that means you can code Silverlight in Eclipse. Details and progress at the Eclipse Tools for Silverlight Blog. It’ll be licensed under the EPL 1.0 License.

      I have done lots of Silverlight initially when 1.0 came out as well as the agency I was working at.  We did video players, mini-games, demo apps and even the Halo 3 online manual at silverlight.net.  But it wasn’t really ready until now.  It still has a long way to go to really be an alternative to Flash but it is capable platform at version 2 for applications, mini-games and video apps for sure. But in the end it just provides competition to make both the Flash/Flex platforms and Silveright compete for developer support.

      Thursday, October 9th, 2008

      Google has entered the flash gaming ads market.  Right now that is pretty much owned by MochiAds for flash game devleopers at least pre-game ads anyways.  Advertising can be annoying but MochiAds has pulled it off where the ads are usually advertising other games or interesting things and it monetizes game development for Flash, Unity3D, Director and others, which is a win.  There are many flash gaming sites that are great fun that use ads almost stylistically like Nitrome and typically the ads are pretty fast when they are during the game loading.

      Although advertisements in games have long been a scurge on gamers fun when they are trying to insert them into fat client, immersive MMOGs where it totally takes away from the experience, that doesn’t work.

      What does work is stuff like MochiAds and possibly Second Life type sponsorships, where advertisements are almost nostalgic or fun and integrated. Developers and publishers have to make money somehow, the better the experience the more impactful and the more games for all. The key is making the integration a good user experience.

      We shall see how Google plans to do this.  This might go along with their Lively strategy. The ad market entrance in games is possibly what started the rumors that Google was going to buy Valve for Steam, rumors which quickly died down.

      Anyways, the one good thing about this announcement is advertisments go to where the eyes and crowds are going or already at, they are apparantly going massively to online web games and causal experiences make for easy advertisment integration. TV, Radio and many other industries have been supported by advertisement interest due to consumers using and buying the content.  So online gaming is just another one of those entertainment industries and it will grow further with this news.

      Saturday, October 4th, 2008

      Photobucket

      Nicolas Cannasse has released haXe 2.01 that now has flash 10 support with a simple switch including the new Vector class.

      Another very good news is that haXe has now complete support for Flash 10.
      You only have to use -swf-version 10 as commandline parameter to be able to access the new Flash10 APIs (don’t forget to install first the FP10 from labs.adobe.com).

      I think it is very possible for haXe to catch on big time, but it takes time as stated. Just remember that Python was worked on almost solely by Guido van Rossum for about 5-years, and then 10-years later it was picked up by Google heavily and the rest is history.  I think it takes 10 years for anything to really catch on from standards to languages.

      code_swarm – Python from Michael Ogawa on Vimeo.

      Sunday, September 28th, 2008

      Flash 10 security changes requiring user interaction are pretty breaking but they are for good reason.  Still though, the user could be inundated with prompts much like UAC on Vista. But, it is necessary otherwise security holes can be troublesome with the flash player and the “sandbox” of the web.  Much like Java signing, Active-X acceptance, and thus local file access, these actions need some user approval, it is that liability thing.

      But what is a bit lost in this is some of the new support specifically for game development and app development.

      Support for things like RTMFP which is bringing UDP support to flash.  UDP and reliable UDP (ordered) is really needed when it comes to larger scale networking applications and support for p2p apps.  Games for instance, that are large like MMOs and highly interactive real-time engines, need UDP to be able to scale.  So this is pretty useful, yet it currently looks like it is tied to Flash Media Server.  It appears Adobe is staying ahead of SmartFox, Red5 and OpenFMS with stuff like this.

      Another great move in the way of security updates for Flash 10 for games is the allowing input from keyboard keys while in full screen mode. All these games and apps look pretty sweet in full screen until you try to use them.  There is only support for “Tab, the Spacebar, and the (up, down, left, right) arrow keys” but that is a start.  Enough keys for a casual game.  But still most keys could safely be used it must be a multi-platform support thing.

      Limited full-screen keyboard input

      Currently Flash Player does not allow keyboard input when displaying content in full-screen mode. Flash Player 10 beta will change this, allowing for a limited number of keys to be usable in full-screen mode. These include Tab, the Spacebar, and the (up, down, left, right) arrow keys.

      Flash 10 is getting local save and load, this is great for any type of online editor, game or application. The ability to work on a file immediately without the server round trip initially is great.  I hope this is extended much further to local save and load with very high limits, there has been some confusion on the file size limitations here. Ideally this would be extended much further if the product direction is right. Typically making apps or games with more than 5-25MB of content quickly become non-economical in bandwidth such as gaming assets due to browser cache size limitations (defaults IE=50MB, Safari 5-25MB, FF3=50MB), I wish there was a better way to allow local saving for long periods of time.  Almost installing apps via flash with extended cache, talk about killer app feature. Downloading 10 MB of gaming assets that you know will be there for the month rather than the day.

      Paste events can read the clipboard.  Using the clipboard is another great useful tool in applications and online editors.

      Data can be read from the Clipboard inside a paste event handler

      In Flash Player 9, the system Clipboard could not be read at any time. With Flash Player 10 beta, the new ActionScript 3.0 method Clipboard.generalClipboard.getData() may be used to read the contents of the system Clipboard, but only when it is called from within an event handler processing a flash.events.Event.PASTE event.

      So yes, the security user interaction changes do break current features but it also takes this platform a bit more into secure applications and game features from security changes, hopefully these features are extended much further but they are on the right track.

      Friday, September 12th, 2008

      A few weeks ago the makers of Unity3d released some really valuable information about casual gaming and general hardware of users that play online games.  It was an interesting report and very beneficial to developers on the Unity platform and others.  We wish other plugin makers would do the same in such a thorough method.

      Unity 3d creators listened to the market and have now posted updated numbers and information as well as a page that quarterly stats will be updated. Check the new, quarterly, hardware of the casual gamer stats.

      I would have seen this earlier but I have been deep in a Unity 3d project myself :).  I am a big fan of all web based gaming platforms and Unity is almost a dream come true for 3d web gaming.  For the company to be this open that is a very good sign.

      What can you do with Unity3D?  Here is a list of games made with Unity3D on the web.  The one great thing about this platform is that is was made for gaming specifically from the start.  Simulations and game development with Unity3D is very fun and productive. I still love Flash, Director etc but Unity3D development is now very much in my rotation.

      Games made with Unity3D:

      Hancock Movie Games

      Tennis Stars Cup

      Duckateers

      Temploe (ninjas attack you)

      RC Laser Warrior

      Urban Race Star

      FlashBang studios

      TraceON

      EPIC Tower Defense

      InvinciCar

      Besmashed (multi)

      Global Conflicts

      Phoenix Final

      Doom Siege

      Mario Galaxy like run (third one down)

      Zombie Drive

      Pocket Piglets

      ChickenDemo

      Castle Conquest

      Saturday, August 2nd, 2008

      Making great games, applications and tools using flash, silverlight or other tools that are emerging such as Unity3D takes great style, effort and knowing your target. We need to know what the end-user machine has at hand.  The Unity 3d guys put together a great post on the capabilities of casual gaming machines. With all the talk about flash 3d, unity3d and silverlight what level are you targeting and what group of people can actually PLAY your games as you envision.

      Pretty much everyone knows Valve’s hardware survey – it’s a very valuable resource that shows what hardware the typical “hardcore PC gamer” has (that is, gamers that play Valve’s games).

      However, the “casual gamer”, which is what Unity games are mostly targeted at, probably has slightly different hardware. “Slightly” being a very relative term of course.

      Lo and behold – we have a glimpse into that data.

      How? First time the Unity Web Player is installed, it submits anonymous hardware details (details in the EULA). This happens only once, and contains no personally identifiable information. It’s much like visitor statistics trackers on the websites that gather your OS, browser information and whatnot.

      Remember, all this data is from people who installed Unity Web Player (most likely because they wanted to play some Unity content on the web). Hardware of standalone game players might be different, and hardware of your game’s players might be different as well. The data set is well over a million samples at the moment.

      Check out the full stats here.

      The most interesting stats to me:

      OS Platforms

      Windows 96.8%

      Mac OS X 3.2%

      CPU Core count overall

      1 54.7%

      2 44.1%

      4 1.1%

      8 .1%

      Wow this one is surprising, but with the type of gamer that will play and download a quality new plugin to get to a game, maybe not.  They need to have the latest and greatest.  Multi-core processors have been selling for about 2-3 years so this is a continuing trend that will make Flash 3d and even plugins like Unity 3d better over the short term.

      Also when you check it over at Unity Blog note the top cards, it is a bit painful if you are a casual gamer developer.  Not a decent card in the top 10-15. But that is changing rapidly over the next 1-2 years in this regard. But this also vyes well for flash based games that rely on dual core software rendered results right now as a decent constraint for developers to keep content painfully accessible to all states of machinery out there.

      I wonder if this information is available on the flash player and public? This is specific to the Unity 3D plugin that is also a bit of a different market that is willing to install a plugin for better experiences.  With Flash it is usually preinstalled or auto updated for a casual user and might be different as Flash has a 98% penetration rate.  Or for that matter the Director users which would be more gaming focused which amout ot about 40% of internet users.  But as with the case of Unity it is specific to games right now and a small penetration rate, Flash is also apps, ads, tools, demos, interactives in addition to games.  Having this information on Flash or Director would be nice.

      Saturday, June 21st, 2008

      [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEM-XAeY4K0[/youtube]

      3D models from basic video… This can be huge in all sorts of ways.  For exponential growth you need to go virtual.

      • This is a technology called VideoTrace from Australia
      • The Siggraph paper describing VideoTrace is available here (pdf 6MB)
      • Larger videos available here, with a more compressed version here.