Tag Archives: tip

17 Oct

Showcasing your game at a conference!

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Hi,

Since Nasscom Game Developer Conference 2016 is around the corner, we figured that many of you developers might be preparing to showcase your game at the convention. Folks have been mailing us with various doubts and queries with regards to showcasing and it’s pro’s and con’s. Although we have shared our experience and the whole nine yards about PAX as well as Megabooth, I thought I will share a general info regarding showcasing a game at any conference. Game conferences are awesome as it help you connect with other talented folks as well as spread the word of your game. So let’s look at some of the  points regarding demoing your completed or work in progress game at such events.

tobeornottobe Many people have asked me in the past, whether such conferences are ever useful with context to ROI ( Return of investment). To be honest, we do not have any experience with release yet and we have no clue how it will reflect the sales however, I would always advice that you be present at as many conferences as possible. We as developers are 90% of the time hunkered down in our hovel working hard on that game. Venturing out and meeting other devs and industry folks is as important as making your game. If your goal is to not just make one game but form a studio which will produce amazing games then you need to start building your brand. People should know what you stand for and why you make games. Hence, if you have means to go to a convention, then just GO!

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tablespace This is another questions which is asked a lot! Should I get a table space or booth space. For us, table spaces has always worked because we have been showing Asura (one game) at every gig for which a table or a kiosk works. Then for whom is the booth for? I reckon if you are publisher or if you have studio which has been working on 2 or more games, then a booth would be a wise choice. Also, if you are service based company, booth can add that extra professional touch with a table and chair for meetings and also tons of artwork and your marketing services all around the booth. TL:DR: Indie game/ One game = table space , Service based company/Publishers = Booth. ( if free, then always opt for booth, because they are cooler #fistbump )

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preparing So let’s hope that you as a developer have made up your mind to showcase your game. The next goal should be to prepare for the same. As I mentioned above, we have been showcasing Asura at various conferences including NGDC, PAX, EGX etc. While showcasing your game is the highlight of the event, you should also produce some good quality physical prints like flyers, posters etc for your table space or booth respectively. This will vary depending on who you are, an Indie development studio or an established game development company. If you an Indie like us and showcasing your upcoming game, It is recommended that you produce flyers and posters respectively along with visiting cards. Flyers are the most important of them all as it will or should contain all the important details like website links, screenshots, some exciting features etc of your game. It also helps if you make the flyers in such a fashion that people can also use it as a poster. I have attached our flyers as an example. Below I have also attached the template for flyer which you can download to create your own!
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flyertemplate
showcasing It’s kind of scary notion for most of us game makers to showcase our game. You have been working on your product and you know that it is not ready but you are showing it off anyways, which kind of makes us all nervous with bugs and glitches looming around. In order to minimize goof-ups and maximize your showcase experience it is better to follow the below guidelines.
 
1.) Demo duration:  If you have a game which is a single player adventure, narrative experiences, it is always better to take some time off and tailor it for the show. What I mean by this is that you cut your game in such a manner that it showcases key game-play features and story points and offers a good understanding of the USP in a limited duration. Maybe at the end of the game, you can insert a ‘to be continue’ stylized splash screen or ‘coming soon’ page to enhance the effect. You can super creative and forge a cool demo and this  does not only create a concise and very good experience but everyone standing in the line gets to play your game.

2.) Elevator Pitch: You should be able to pitch your game in one sentence. I know this has become a norm but trust me, it takes a long time to craft a very good pitch for your game. Here is an example of how I pitch Asura with a simple formula:

A very curious gamer and defender of Azeroth: Hey what is your game all about?

Me > Asura is a hack ‘n’ slash roguelike with randomly generated skill tree and is inspired by Indian mythology!
 
In a single sentence and with clear and concise words, I have tried to put across the genre of the game, the sub-genre and the core feature. When you turn it into a forumla it looks something like this

Name of your game + Genre + Sub-genre + Core feature + Inspiration = The pitch of awesomeness. (#ijustmadethisupnow)

I am sure that a pitch can be craft almost for any games using the above technique. You can bend the rules according to your game but the technique remains the same.

3.) Your presence: I have seen many times that there is this amazing table with an amazing game with no one is around to man it. I would suggest you avoid doing this no matter how dire the situation is. Your game represents you as the developer and someone from the team should always be present showcasing it. This is exactly why you should have at least have two people from your team at any showcase so that you can take turns looking around the gig and showcase the game. We don’t have the luxury to do this usually when the show is abroad but when it is a domestic gig then we make sure that me and Neeraj are both attending it. No matter how shy you are about public speaking etc, one of the team members should be the one showcasing the game. It really shows your passion for your craft and awesomeness. The attendees who will come to your space may have tons of questions or would be curious and no one can do justice to the answers if not you. It also casts a good impression if there is any press around and if they would like to know more about the game. My advice is that until and unless you are Jonathan Blow who is trying to experiment with their game, please be at your booth to showcase it!

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4.) Tech and additional support: While at the gig, you might have a hard time managing the various contacts that you make. Sometimes, people wont have visiting cards and you might have just have to note down their contact details. You might have also received tons of feedback for your game which ofcourse is very difficult to remeber later if it not saved somewhere. For this purpose, it is always great to have a iPad or a tablet with google docs. You can make a feedback form or beta form for your game which you can ask the folks who are coming to your booth fill up. You can even create a feedback form which you can share with the attendees after checking out your game. This really helps you organize important documents properly without much hassle with really important “data and analytics”. Only concern is the internet connection so it may be best to create a native form in spreadsheet so that you can work offline. Do not, i REPEAT, do not rely on the internet for any shows! They usually wont be up to your expectation. If the spreadsheet is too much, at least carry a notebook so that you can just note it down. Also, please remember to get along a copy of Winrar setup, Xbox controller and other essential drivers as you might have a rough time downloading due to many reasons including low speed internet, no availability of internet, etc. Get your own hardware like joystick, keyboard, mouse etc even if the show will be providing it!
 

followup
You might have ended up with tons of visiting cards and contacts from the show. After you head back your crib, office and a goodnight sleep, It’s the time for the follow up mails. Take out those visiting cards and contacts and make sure you craft a nice email regarding the show and your experience or whatever you would like to discuss further. Make sure to send it to all of them who have taken time to play your game or just visit you so that you can show your gratitude and awesomeness. Share your updates and how you are taking your game forward.

That is pretty much what i have regarding game expos for us indie game developers. Funny that I am writing on the floor of IGX as folks from the expo are building our space for showcase. It’s going to start in another hour or so to be exact, SUPER EXCITED :)

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Hope you enjoyed the read and as always if you have specific queries or questions feel free to share it with us. Best of luck for your preparation and for your game, and hope to see you all in future game expos as well as NGDC 2016!

Be Epic!

30 Sep

Game Dev Tip: How to bake Lightmap in Unity 5 !

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Helloz,

A long time ago, I had blasted in Facebook saying that we will share our findings of Light-map workflow in Unity 5. Along with learning that it is always better to not promise anything before it is done, here is a tutorial… Finally !

Unity 5 came out and they completely overhauled the Light-map system. Although an amazing update, it is kind of difficult at the moment to get the hang of it. The tutorials are difficult to find and the workflow seems as if it is kind of messy.

After working and testing on it for about 6-7 months we have kind of figured how to get a good result with the new Light-map system and that is why this tutorial has been forged!

What is Light-map!?

Light-map is nothing but a texture with lighting information baked directly from the scene to help reduce draw calls and increase performance of one’s game. It usually has shadow, Global Illumination and Ambient occlusion baked onto it to give an amazing depth to the environment without hindering the FPS. Real-time lightning is only set to moving or intractable objects which reflects dynamic shadows. This is a rather standard procedure in games pipeline and has been in use since a long time.

What you need?

In-order to follow this tutorial, we will get down to basics and use primitive objects to bake light-map as an example. Later, you can use the same technique to bake your awesome models in Unity. For now these are the stuff you will need

  • A 3D scene exported from any 3D software with a plane and a box.

Masterpeice

  • The box should have two UV channels. Channel 1 for Diffuse and Channel 2 for Light-mapping. (UV 2 is not mandatory but it is always better to manual unwrap for better quality light-maps)

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  • Unity 5

Once you have all the above stuff, lets move on to setting up a proper scene in Unity. We will export this in FBX. or Obj. or whatever format your 3D package supports and lets move on to Unity!

Setting up the scene!

  • Import the FBX or your exported 3D Obj into your Unity 5 scene. Use the following import setting to make sure that you get good quality Light-maps.
    Note: If you don’t have UV2 channel in your 3D object then you can turn on the GENERATE LIGHTMAP UVs in the import settings. This will automatically unwrap a UV2 channel for your 3D object.

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  • Duplicate the boxes and intersect them together so that the contact shadows or Ambient occlusion will be visible

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  • Mark your 3D objects as static . The object which are static will only be Light-mapped.

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  • Select the directional light, mark it static as this will be the source which will produce the required lighting information which we need for our Light-map.
  • Change the Directional Light setting as shown below. Basically, you need to change the Baking from Real-time to Baked.

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  • Go to your quality settings under Project setting and change it as shown in the image below. We do this because the default shadow setting are not that great and are blurry.

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Once the scene is set and loaded, we can now move on to settings of the Light-map.

Tweaking the Light-map Settings!

To open up the Lighmap setting tab, you need to go to Windows > Lighting  > Scenes

To get more info about each property of the setting tab, please refer to this link. It is highly recommended that you sit down and read it thoroughly before moving on. Please dont skip the documentation or else you will pay for it. It is always better to have atleast a basic understanding of all the parameters before actually working with them!

Please refer the image below and change the settings as shown.

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It is highly important that you select all objects you want to bake. Once all objects are selected, press BUILD to start the baking process !

Baking Lightmaps!

When the Build button is pressed a progress bar will appear on the bottom right corner of your Unity 5 window indicating that the Baking process has started!

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Once it is done processing, you will be done with your light-map baking and should have an amazing looking  scene with the shadows all baked into the assets beautifully as shown below.

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As you can see in the below image the difference between a scene which is baked with light-map looks way more cooler then the dull scene which is without any maps! The use of Light-mapping in your game can play a big part in bringing in that added polish and a very nice grounded feel to your environments.

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Things to remember while baking!

  • The light-map resolution size is displayed in the light-map settings. Make sure to use proper size and not go overboard as it will hamper your performance of the game
  • 15If you want to clear the light-map, you can by do it by going into the Light-map settings, clicking the arrow besides the Build button > Clear Baked Data. It should delete your Light-maps and you will have to bake it again
  • 14If you want to change the Light-map resolution manually, you can do that by going into the Light-maps tab, clicking on the individual Light-map which will take you to the Light-map texture where you can change the texture compression or resolution manually.

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That is pretty much it on how you can bake Light-maps in Unity 5. We hope you enjoyed the read and use this light-mapping technique in your pipeline. if you already haven’t been using it, go ahead and test it now! The procedure can really enhance the look and feel of your game and you should not ignore it if possible. If you dint understand anything which was explained here then don’t hesitate to let us know. The whole point of blabbering about this is to make sure you get it right!

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Thanks for dropping by and for your support. We will be blogging about our visit to EGX, Birmingham where we showcased Asura! It was an amazing experience and we will share about it pretty soon.

Until then….. Take care, Be Epic and Forge beautiful stuff  :D

 

 

21 May

Game Dev Tip : Exporting with correct unit setup | 3DS Max to Unity !

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Hello,

Ever pulled out your hair while figuring out why did your 3DSMax  model re-sized itself into a giant city destroying Kaiju when exporting into unity.

Well, It happens due to your Max scale setup being  not configured to proper settings. If you work in Max and if you have been facing such problems then worry not and let us explain how you can get it all sorted.

We personally  use meters as our base unit for level design and to measure all the assets which basically means every tile in the game is equal to 1 meter and the main character is 1.5 meter. Once this is laid out , we move on to building all the assets.

Now if you just directly go ahead in max , make a box mesh of 1 x 1 x 1 unit and export it, catastrophe will strike and you will be disappointed. This is because Max default unit is set to centimeters.

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Well, you can re-scale the exported box in unity  manually but then you will have to pull up a calculator to figure out the scale and when you work with many assets this simply becomes nigh-on impossible! Yo

Now lets fix this issue shall we!

1.) First thing we should fix is the unit setup. you can open the units setup tab by going over to Customize > Units setup in your 3DS Max tool bar.

units

2.) A tab will open up and under Display Unit Scale, choose Meters in Metric tab.

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3.) Now open up system unit setup by clicking the button and change 1 unit = 1.0 Meters. Press OK like a boss and we are ready to export our awesome box ! :)

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4.) Now we select the box and go to File > Export selected > Export and another huge export option tab will open up. Please don’t be scared and hide under the table. Just  go to units option in the tab > Turn off Automatic > Change units converted to = Meters and press OK…. again like a boss!

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5.) Now lets head over to unity and import the box. Drag and drop the box mesh into the scene and create a cube in unity with 1 x 1 x 1 scale and viola! The scale from 3DS Max should have properly translated to Unity with the unit of the exported box and unity box being the same. This method should have fix the issue and you are good to go :D

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This scaling issue used to haunt us for a long time but not any more.  It has been such a relief to just drag and drop models and assemble it . It all fits perfectly and speeds up the pipeline. Hope the tip has helped you and made your development pipeline that much better. If  the issue is fixed you deserve to dance like below, if not just let us know and we will dance after fixing together.

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Everybody needs to dance after fixing stuff !

Happy developing epic stuff !

Peace.

 

 

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