Teaching an old dog new tricks…

November 12, 2009

dog

Today I’ve got a MacBookPro to be able to test some of the stuff I’m doing on the OSX version of Unity as well.
I’ve been using MacOS before when I’ve tried to see how Ableton Live works on it, but I never really try to use it for programming.
What can I say… XCode is really weird!
I’ve been using Microsoft IDEs since Visual C 6 or so. I’ve tried CodeWarrior, KDE’s KDevelop, CodeBlocks and all sorts of other obscure IDEs but nothing was so out-of-this-world as XCode. It sometimes feels like “either me, or him” so I hope it’ll be me who makes it out alive 🙂
Ah did I mentioned that I only had it for like 8 hours or so? At least it frustrates quick…

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Unite09 afterthoughts. A bit of “culture” shock? (… but in a good way…)

November 3, 2009

Just returned from Unite09 last night. For those of you who don’t know what it is, it is the Unity Developers Conference. It was a great week where everyone worked hard and had loads of fun.
We did provide some hands-on sessions at the end of the day so Unity’s customers can ask questions to Unity’s developers. I was into a couple of them but mostly as a passive member since I just started and I don’t have enough (any?) experience with the Unity engine. I could however answer some of the non-Unity related questions like graphics or generic game development.
What impressed me the most was the fact that by using Unity virtually anyone can do a great game as long as you have enough imagination. That’s pretty much all that’s required. The Unity engine takes all the pain away from the developers leaving them concentrating on the most important thing: the game!

As some of you might know or not, my background is a bit “closer” to the metal; I’ve been doing lots of rendering & console optimization work at my previous jobs.
I’m saying it is a bit of a culture shock because I was expecting that game developers require a very advanced level of technical knowledge and experience because that’s what I was surrounded by so far – everyone was hardcore ;). I was already suspecting that that’s not always great because everyone will then start thinking in the same constraints – be them hardware/software or time – and the actual game will end up being a tech-demo – great technology, but not so much game. This can also be noted by the boom of the casual games market for web, iphone, xbox live, wii, psn, etc.
To my pleasant surprise, all my “suspicions” were confirmed. I’ve seen tons of games developed with Unity at Unity Awards; all different but had one thing in common: Great Game Experience.

Please understand that I’m not just trying to slander the big AAA companies, it’s just an observation of mine. I *do* love playing big titles like Splinter Cell, Hitman, Uncharted, Tomb Raider, etc, but that’s not the point. The point is that I’m sure each of has had at some point an idea to make something as big and complex as a AAA game, it just never materialized because of the lack of resources to do it. I for one wrote different engines for different types of games along the years, but they all ended up being stopped because it would have taken too long. Maybe that’s just me because I was thinking about them at the standards I’ve seen in the big AAA productions which is quite difficult to do in one person’s spare time.

When I mention this contrast between casual games & AAA titles I’m not trying to imply that ones are smarter than others – each is smart in its own way and for it’s own needs. I do however think that the casual games dev. companies/individuals are the ones who see the true light – games are for having fun. All of us remember games since we were kids and most of them were not exceptionally good looking or even good looking, but they were exceptionally fun to play.

All in all, it’s been great and I had the chance to meet tons of uber-cool people, had lots of fun and lots of interesting conversations.
I’m looking forward to see what the future will bring. I’m always happy to learn new things so I’ll be ready!

Be curious & inquisitive!
/Mircea

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