Wednesday 31 July 2013

Introduction to Unity

I've started using Unity as a part of a project for a programming subject, and it is my first time at the helm. I've made assets for a Unity project before, but even that there, though accurate of what I actually did, could not fairly be said to be truly indicative of what I did, and more importantly failed to do.

I'm not going to pretend that I have the technical acumen to comment on the technology that exists as the foundation of Unity, but it might be fair to say that it isn't Source or Unreal 3. What I can say is that what really impresses me about Unity is that first and foremost it is a development tool. It is incredibly simple to use, and it comes with an asset store that includes tutorials. There is enough available that you can learn about developing different kinds of games without being held back by whatever area you may consider your shortcoming. Not being able to program (or at least understand the logic behind it) would definitely be a drawback, but you won't find yourself stranded.

Unity can be free to use, but it doesn't have to be. I haven't looked into the limits of what that means int terms of what you 'need', but I'm sure I'll cover it at some later stage. By the same token, access to the Unreal Engine can also be free provided it is only used for educational and/or nor commercial purposes. Unity makes this easier.

I've had a poke around in the Unreal Development Kit, and I'm a bit on the fence as to where I would prefer to spend my time, but I am definitely more interested in what is happening with Unity. It puts itself on a list of the free creative tools that are making these kinds of projects more accomplishable by those who are want for cash. More importantly though it makes them much more accessible as educational tools. Between Blender, GIMP, Inkscape and Unity, we can go back to the days of people smashing out games in their bedrooms.

Saturday 27 July 2013

Scribbleanuts Remix

It took me longer than I'm proud of to make the connection between my fascination with Scribblenauts Unlimited, its predecessor being available on iOS and my iPad ownership. When it did piece together in my mind, I swiftly, and remotely, boarded the Scribblenauts Remix bandwagon.

The lack of difficulty associated with the series as a whole came up as a point of contention since my previous post; not for me, but it was espoused as a major drawback for the franchise by someone I know. I think that this is a drawback in the same way that I think the major drawback of Lego is that it is actually very simple, which is to say that it isn't a drawback at all. This is why the game works.

I'm not saying that I wouldn't enjoy some truly fiendish puzzles for Scribblenauts, but it isn't as though I'm not enjoying myself just sticking things together and seeing what works. My limited experience is that it isn't quite as 'unlimited' as the later title, but I would hardly start throwing around words like 'restrictive' or 'unaccommodating'. I've also come to the conclusion that it is probably a great game for anyone undergoing Englishification later on in life.

Scribblenauts Remix on iOS is only $0.99, and is "designed for both iPhone and iPad", so you might be hard pressed justifying not owning it.

Next time on United by Glue: The Unity Engine

Thursday 25 July 2013

Clearly, It's a higher quality glue

United by Glue has undergone some changes. The design changed, the favicon was created and loaded, and, most recently, the domain name has been registered (as a birthday present) and mapped. This is all meant to come together to be a part of a general trend towards something other than what it was.

This is all part of a larger change in my life. Since I started United by Glue the focus of my life has changed. At the hour of setup I was working on one or more science-fiction stories as the primary focus of getting up in the morning, but where I am at now is a different kettle of fish.

While I know (more or less) what will be happening here at United by Glue for the foreseeable future, I will be keeping that to myself for the time being. If you've checked in during the last month, you will no doubt be able to make some reasonably accurate guesses as to the general direction of future contents, and though this will be the focus there will still be some of this.

I hope you all bookmark this action, and subscribe and/or join.

Thursday 18 July 2013

Scribblenauts Unlimited, is unlimited enough

I've dropped some words on the topic of interactive edutainment before, and it is something that interests me. I think there is a lot to be said for games in which we learn, which played no small part in my picking up Scribblenauts Unlimited.

Scribblenauts, as a franchise, revolves around the mechanic that you throw words at the game and it makes those words into things to accomplish the tasks that the game presents. The game is a puzzle game, which isn't really very challenging as a puzzle game. What the game does have is an interesting exploration mechanic. It's a sandbox. Sandbox games are pretty in right now, and a lot of games are sandbox games.

Where it really shines though is when you go off script, as any good sandbox game should. Since installation I have spent the vast majority of my total play time stress testing the game's dictionary. though there are words that it doesn't understand, its list of suggestions definitely includes things that I not only hadn't thought of, but regularly includes things I absolutely don't recgonise as words that are a part of the English language.

I totally ignored this game initially, because the video I saw for it was totally uninspiring. It's not a bad video, but I feel like Scribblenauts Unlimited really shines in what is already included in the game. The game comes with thousands of things and people with preprogrammed associations and behaviours. It also comes with a staggering set of adjectives that will alter the associations and behaviours of your things and people (they're nouns). I made Don Quixote, and he smashed my windmill. I also conducted some fairly extensive research in my gladiatorial arena, and Zeus is pretty bad-arse. So is anyone with a magic spear. So is a huge, fire-breathing, flying, robot gorilla.

While this game is crazy fun to muck about with as an adult, I feel like it really would shine as an educational title for primary students. It definitely showboats its direct learning potential as far as spelling, vocabulary and word association are concerned, but it also packs a ton of tangential learning opportunities through its inclusion of historical and literary figures, professionals, technology, heavenly bodies, animals (including marsupials), more dinosaurs than any game I have ever previously encountered, and <keep inserting categories>. The one downside that I have come across is that you don't appear to be able to change the spelling from US English.

The game is available for Windows, Wii U and 3DS, with the Nintendo titles including their proprietary characters and things (nouns). There is also an earlier title for the iOS called Scribblenauts Remix which I assume is available in the app store. There doesn't seem to be a demo for the game, which makes sense if you think about it, but fortunately youtube is rife with the things you can do in Scribblenauts Unlimited. Alternatively, you can come and play mine. 

Monday 8 July 2013

I am not the Neuromancer!

I've been busy. My brain has been operating on a different level than I am generally used to, and as a result my productivity has been low. I've played some games, which can be a kind of time hole, but isn't always negative.

My adventures in the cyberpunk were interrupted. There were issues with the EPOC, which were initially based on 'it's not an EPOC', but later based on other things, like a table leg. I kid you not. My table leg is made of metal, and it is near the wireless dongle for the EPOC headset. This was a problem that a $4 2m USB extension cord from my local MSY has rendered resolved, but I did have to roam the forums for awhile before discovering that this might be a problem. I also downloaded the wrong software, which had nothing to do with the version of the headset, and everything to do with not trawling the forums to double check that the software did what one might argue was a reasonable assumption that it would do. In this case, that reasonable assumption being that it would receive signals form the hardware.

It is working now and I can play with it. Which is great. I'm not really sure where I am at with it, and I don't know what I really mean by that. It's there and it's working, but I've been really tired. This hasn't stopped me from playing with it, but it has stopped me from really get as much out of it as I had planned. I am planning on being more focussed this week, so we'll see how that go.


I got excited about the Steam release of System Shock 2, and got straight into praising its little boots off. I did include a disclaimer that included words to the effect that it had dated horribly in the graphics department. I've sunk about 10 recent hours of my life into it, which has led me to the opinion that 'it looks fine'. If survival horror is your thing, then this is probably going to be one of the best games you ever play.

The EPOC is an EEG which was 'the other one' that I mentioned earlier.

Microsoft displayed some alarming gymnastic ability, when the whole X-bone thing backflipped wildly after E3. Whatever is happening with it is different to previously stated. I got into it not once, not twice, but thrice. In the end I don't really care about the X-bone. I was startled by whatever was in the water over at Microsoft headquarters, but I am not interested in the commentating the next generation of The Console Wars. I've seen a few, and I get enough poorly informed factional nonsense in Australian politics.