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29 Sep 2011

Unite 11: Live blog from the event - Day 1

We're bringing Unite 2011 to you We're bringing Unite 2011 to you

We're live blogging from Unite, Unity Technologies annual conference in San Francisco, California.
Official Day 1 begins!


Check out our recap of Day 1 including a writeup of key upcoming Unity features.



Thanks Alan! That's it for today. More going on tonight so we'll take notes and post addition entries here ahead of tomorrow's day 2 live blog.
Go make games guys, I'll talk to you tomorrow and hope to see you on this stage next year!



Final thoughts from Alan: Make sure you can grab players and give them something awesome (big particles, a couple quick level updates, rewarding experience). Never, ever, ever (ever) make a sad experience. (he admits it's limiting) but a game where you get shot in the back first thing = players leaving. Also, create good game tools to allow good asset creation.. Incentivize users to download any plugins, etc. before game (through a demo, etc.)



World design is critical. Always starts with concept but ensure that world and level designers plan and block things out. Make sure you are planning for and testing with game objects. This is a very important step that will save you money and possibly the entire project!



Tricks to keep users engaged. Don't give all results immediately, reward players coming back with visual updates.



Study similar titles/competition don't worry about being completely unique or brand new. Understand what works and what expectations are and be version 2.2 that others study next.



Best Practices (do good and good will come): UX/UI - focus on user experience! Keep it simple, don't be scared or ashamed of templates. May not work in all cases but very helpful to approach it from template mentality.



Considerations from the outset: 1) Longevity, can support future feature expansion 2) Customization, helps engagement and is wanted by users 3) On budget, keep to polygon limits and let the higher res objects sell the lower ones.



Techniques to deliver efficiently online. 1) Keep executable slow (6-10MB), 2) Create tutorial levels, 3) Ensure game runs on high-, mid- and lower-end devices.



"Play around", but outside your current project. Art needs to be efficient.



Post processing is awesome but they're typically expensive in performance. Alan suggests fighting the urge the throw everything that is available at a project. Pick your battles and start with the cheap stuff.



Art priorities, breakdown where you want to put your emphasis / what is critical for your game. "Before you build anything, lock this down." different game types have different considerations. FPS focus on weapons, 3rd person games require more detail in the backs of your characters and your effects, isometric games need distinct silhouettes and contrasting color values from background, etc.



A brief glance at BigPoint, founded in 2002 with over 800 employees and 60+ games. Looking for a job? Learn Unity and send them your resume, they have offices all over the world! Side note: one of design3's Maya instructors is also a Bigpoint character artist...



Of course, I'm early and they're running late...



"Bang for your Buck - How to Make Your Art POP"
Alan Blouin, Bigpoint, Inc. (I love when they have a title slide and I'm on time to see it)... So away we go



In the main theater now getting ready for some art speak. A good-looking game is the quickest way to have players take notice of everything else. Bring on the expert advice!



That's it for now on Substances, supposedly there are some special coupons for discounts floating around. Ill post em up if at all possible. In the meantime, stay tuned for how to make your art "POP" in about half an hour.



a good note here. When you think "tileable" textures in Substances don't think repeating tiles, think infinitely unique combinations that can be scaled to huge areas with no noticeable signs of repitition!!



Learn how to use Substances and Substance Designer on design3, view tutorials now...



Watching Alexis add a statue to a rock wall in Substance Designer "the compositor for textures". Really cool to see the specular, normal etc. automatically propagate as he vector paints and adds Photoshop like filters including blurs and shadows... And of course, yes, technical artists can create complete function driven procedural substances using only noises, patterns, etc..




Martin wraps up with a nice stat. It took him an hour or less to swap out existing textures in his game with runtime generated normal maps using Bitmap2Material - saving over 60% texture size! Alexis is up again next to talk about how to use Substance Designer 2 to create your own Substances.




Martin S showing us how his company used Substances and especially Bitmap2Material to optimize his workflow and ridiculously shrink his deployment sizes allowing him to increase game downloads for his game on game portalnsites and app stores / marketplaces.




Using substances in Unity is easy and powerful, the "Airstream" demo project is available on the asset store and is a great way to illustrate how to use substances within Unity.




Holy moley! Bitmap2Material is even MORE amazing than you could imagine. Drag in your favorite bitmap texture and let Allegorithmic do the magic to make it seamlessly tile and auto create normals and other passes that can now be procedurally updated and revised!




Alexsis showing off an amazing ground texture designed with features complete with water, ice and more... Looks incredible and is completely 100% procedural, the whole thing is like 18k! Currently over 600 substances in the Unity asset store.




Main benefits of "substances": 1) Texture size, reducing the size of the download. (which in time equals more downloads/sales




Alexis from Allegorithmic is beginning by giving us a history of the company and the immense talent behind it. They are based in France and have a growing team, currently 25 (really smart) guys and gals, focused on allowing you to make the best looking games possible at the smallest sizes possible. Current partners include Unity (of course), Autodesk, nvidia, Codemasters, and tons more...




About to start the presentation from Allegorithmic on what's possible with their awesome Substance Designer 2 and Unity.




Know anyone at Unite you would like us to interview? Send us a tweet or email and let us know who - we'll do our best to track them down and get their stories and advice on tape (HDD, whatever).




Schedule here is still pushed from long keynote and lunch rush. Just wrapped up presentation from guys at Acronym Games about their experience developing the upcoming The Family Guy Online MMO with Unity, including the awesome character creator. If your interested in more detail they have a 147 slide presentation they plan on making available. Not sure where they are posting it yet (they aren't either) but they said feel free to email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to request it sooner.
They also mentioned they're looking for Unity devs and welcome resumes at the same address - mention design3 for some bonus love!




Lunch break over. Team from Shadowgun is showing off their advanced lighting techniques. They achieved 60fps on an iPad 2 with a game that seriously looks better than anything I've seen on iOS yet. They used the new light probe feature and "faked" some lighting effects to get better performance. Volumetric effects made up of 2d planes and fake specularity to name a few.




Keynote speech from Gazillion Games COO & president, David Brevik begins.



3.5 almost in beta, Lucas up now to talk about the Flash Player 3D "molehill" deployment. Forked on this awesomeness check out yesterday's live blog and detailed writeup.



Plus many more features! Multiple edit, planar move tool, prefab improvements, microphone and webcam input on all devices, custom audio filters, audio buffer access, "find scene dependencies".



New particle system: as reported yesterday, awesome new particle system including live editing, modular build approach, mesh emitter, graph editor and more.



Unity 3.5 has huge performance optimizations. An average out of the box increase of 2X with individual improvements and per scene speed increases even more significant!



GPU profiler to augment previously very useful CPU one.



Gamma-corrected rendering: can be used on a per project bases to better fit monitor output. Basically allows you to retain speculars, reflection etc., but without the big shiny blowouts. Subtle but much cooler than it sounds! HDR also tossed on there for everyone to chew on.



Light probes: unique technique to sample baked environment lightmaps including emissive surfaces and more. Can be combined with advanced shaders and has very low performance costs with very impressive results that help your assets "belong" in game.



Directional lightmaps, which allow speculation highlights to move around when the observer position changes. A pretty cheap performance addition, and far less expensive than adding new lights.



New improvements for occlusion culling. Like what? How about a previous 10 hour occlusion bake now taking 10 minutes! Other interesting features include portals for further human optimization and more exact calculations.



Crowd loving Unity project scaling improvements including: Built in UI for perforce and SVN, text based, merge friendly scene format and a full cache server.



Right on the heels of in engine LOD controls the crowd is excited to see new 3.5 AI pathfinding and navigation mesh creation. Auto controls even include "drop height" allowing auto generation of links between areas like stairs and ladders. Auto functionality looks very impressive and fast but of course there are lower level layers for additional control. Also includes state-of-the-art crowd control functions with entities that anticipate future collisions and take the path of energy conservation as they pass each other smoothly.



Unity 3.5 demo! Not released yet but it does look really close. First demo scene shows off a HUGE amount of geometry running smoothly an including impressive LOD features and control.



Mècanim acquisition! Now called Unity Canada. Creators of MotionBuilder, Human IK and some amazing games.



check out MadFinger Games' newly launched game on app store called "ShadowGun", really shows off what is possible on mobile platforms. Unity allowing many boundaries to be pushed.



AAA initiative: Unity keeping their software whole (not splitting anything) but emphasizing AAA features and working with partners such as LumaArcade to test, evaluate and improve the capabilities of the engine.



Another new service: in app purchases, fully integrated, connected to social analytics and fully cross platform. Unity wants YOU to be successful an continues to democratize the game development process.



Coming soon to Unity: advanced analytics support, completely integrated in the editor. Ready from day zero... Oh, and hosted by Unity to ensure they scale smoothly with the success of your game.



New APIs for social integration on their way. Starting with GameCenter but moving to Facebook soon and then to consoles.



Nicholas talks asset store history from it's introduction last Unite in Montreal through new improvements including monthly PayPal payouts and an improved asset package browser to allow you a deep look and listen into items you are interested in purchasing.



CEO, David H welcomes everyone to the biggest and best Unite to date and recounts the first Unite where a team of 7 supplemented with a few interns held a world wide conference for 70 developers and embarrassingly owed the caterers for months!

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