So, I’ve gotten the game playable, and I’ve spent a lot of time working through the environment art, and the gameplay modes. I was really excited once I found what I considered to be a very fun loop within the game. There is very little left that I ‘have’ to do before I’d consider it the minimum viable product for the Gear VR. I have some lofty goals around post launch goals (Multiplayer, more levels, more dragons, more animations, more polish, better performance, etc. etc.).

But the basics of the game are you load into an environment where you can customize your dragon, view your scores, or climb atop a dragon, and fly into one of four realms. Within each realm there are 3 different game modes. First mode is a ring game, where you fly your dragon around the environment through a series of rings. It’s more of a suggested tour of the area, but allows you to just enjoy flying on a dragon and setting your own pace. The second mode is an unlimited fire mode, where you have several things to fly around and roast. This again, allows you to just enjoy flying around and lighting things up whilst riding on the back of a dragon. The third game mode is a challenge mode, where it combines flying through rings, collecting firepower, and then burning things down. This actually turns out to be really fun because you have to balance how quickly you pass through the rings, with how diligently you search for firepower. Fly to fast, and you won’t be able to burn down enough ships or buildings. Fly to slow, and you won’t have enough time to collect firepower, and you’ll miss out on burning things down.

Additionally, I’ll have a number of potions which can be collected throughout the levels which unlock dragon colors. So customizing your dragon is another layer of the game, where you will need to explore the far reaches to collect the colors that you want your dragon to be. Simple mechanics, but I’m really proud of how the game looks, and ultimately I find it really fun to develop, and to test, which is a promising thing. I still have to put together a video, screenshots, and finish some of the code around these features, but I hope to be just in Bug Fixing mode by October 1st. It’s getting really close now that the three game modes are available.

Next stop – additional hardware, and additional features. Unless the wind carries me in a different direction to a new project 😉

I had a ton of fun at the Unity Meetup Tonight (Slides here). I’ve had a lot of contract work recently around HTTP and REST api interactions. So I thought I’d drone on about the best way to handle these functions in Unity, and give a little shoutout to a Unity Asset.

We also talked about the game jam, and our sponsor Houdini. I’m getting really excited that it’s coming together, and I’m excited to see what everyone comes up with. Also had a good dinner with some friends. It’s always good to catch up.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about how to get Traffic working and really be performant on mobile, and desktop. So here’s the start to getting a new path based system with lane departure (not merging) that I got working.

So, after this video, I made it so that the system will only process vehicles that are within a specified region of the camera. I got it so that it can have 2 million total vehicles, and only show and spend GPU and CPU on the ones within 100 meters. It’s a pretty cool system that I’m sure we’ll use in a lot of different projects moving forward.

I was really happy to have been able to help on the Farmers 2050 app which just was released. (iOS, Android)

It was really fun to work with the team at Robots and Pencils on this project. The client was really cool about developing a farming simulation game that is entirely free! So, there are no In-App Purchases, and there is no Advertising, and it’s a free game. The intent of the game is to educate users about what goes into farming, and how interconnected it is to a community. It was a really fun project done in Unity, and had a lot of interesting moving parts. Had a blast developing for this client.

Hey, checkout my Unity Asset here.

So I wrote an API wrapper for Google Street View in Unity. This was the foundation for a prototype I was building, and I looked at the code, and thought, I’m sure other people could probably find this useful if they are developing in VR. So I put together a cool tool to feed in a lat / long as an input, and then update a cubemap on an interval. Pretty straight forward, but I enjoyed making it, and I hope a few people will enjoy using it.

Playing around with Flocking, and removing GC calls, and optimizations for large numbers of independent groupings. I think this is way more than I plan on controlling at any given time, but 3,000 runs pretty smoothly even without the CPU batching planned in Unity 5.6.

A little more contextual example would be 47 Squadrons of 7 ships each with their own dynamic targeting / pathing. This video was captured while playing in Unity on the HTC Vive at 140 fps using an nVidia GTX 980. This also has an extra 200 draw calls in the scene just to make sure I have plenty of headroom for performance once everything is added.

I just migrated Project Neon’s Unity project to Unity 5.5 (from 5.3), and used the new Post Processing by Unity.

The big improvements here are that we can start testing a lot more things with VR (stereoscopic rendering, etc.) The visual difference is pretty stunning. Also was able to get rid of about 10 3rd party solutions we were using for Screen Space effects, and Tonemapping, etc. Smaller project size, and better visuals. Well worth the migration time.

Here’s a sample from some of the renders.

I’ve spent a lot of time getting a lot of trees into the latest Unity project trying to portray Lake Tahoe area and a proposed bike path along the North East portion of the lake. For this project we worked out a number of different workflows. One of them was baking the biking and jogging pedestrians physics into animation paths. This allowed us to setup pedestrians, give them a destination, and then capture them running or biking along the path, and still achieve realtime by pre-calculating all of the physics involved with them running. We additionally worked out how to get the trees and environment to look more realistic than previous projects. Gaia and Tenkoku plugins were a huge help, as well as Aquas plugins for Unity for the water and environment. We ended up going largely with Speed Tree assets, but had to work out a workflow for placing trees adjacent to the path very accurately to reflect the actual trees that would remain within the bike path corridor. Tricky project, with a lot of fun constratins, and I think the renders came out pretty nice.

Finally have a render from Project Neon that can be shared. We’ve made a lot of progress, and have most of the buildings, and vehicles in place for showing off what will finally be built. Took a lot of time building the platform to get these videos as output, but I think these videos look really good for conveying what will be built in Downtown Las Vegas.

GDC this year was a great experience for me. The galvanized opinions around which VR platform would be most successful, or widely adopted were energetic and food which will keep me motivated for a good while. My only regret is not having made more progress on my project, or being more willing to share the progress. I think I’m not quite far enough to share too much, and I’m optimistic that nobody sees my website.

My takeaway is that there are a large number of companies focusing on developing content for these platforms, and they will all have success based on the visibility which is available to the early movers. The only difference between any of them, and any of the independent developers is the location and recognition. Many of the startups are in SF, or Seattle, while many more are located in garages, or bedrooms across the world. It was very motivating realizing that many who are working for the larger teams are successful because of the large group of talent that they’ve gathered. While that seems interesting, I’m currently not sure how relocation would work, and I’m really motivated to find people here in Vegas who have the talent and interest.

The value of Networking is difficult to quantify, but the energy that is within the game industry is undeniable. And it was good to revisit such a condensed form of that energy at GDC.