Thursday, March 26, 2015

Little friend

Remember the dog I mentioned days ago? I wanted to call him Bolt, but is not a he, is a she. Against all odds, the poor animal is still alive, and Im doing my best to feed her every day. The cleaning team that works in the parking space already knows me, and know that every morning I look for her and sit for a few minutes to give her some company. Dogs enjoy company, and she is not exception. The problem is that it is as painful to me when I have to leave her as it is for her to stay alone in the park until I come back with the food.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Unity3D: equip items

Not having PC at home is getting annoying. Very annoying, actually. Im forced to work in the office, without video card and only 2Gb of RAM, while people is interrupting me every 10 minutes. Well, at least I have internet access! Or something like that.

Today Im studying the item equipment problem. The method is common  to all engines: attach the item mesh to some bone. Specifically in Unity3D, there are some details. I started by putting an empty GameObject in the bone (I don't know if this can be avoided, for optimization), then creating a prefab for the item. Then, I found two ways to attach the prefab: one involves creating a public member in the equip script, and assigning the prefab to it. Then, you can use Instantiate... well, to instantiate the prefab.

That has a problem: you have to assign the prefab. What if you want to dynamically instantiate any prefab at runtime? Well, still haven't figured out a better solution than this: set up a Resources folder inside Assets, and use Resources.Load("prefab-name"). This has a disadvantage, if you assign a prefab via Editor, Unity3D can keep track of it, non referenced assets will not be bundled in the game build. Assets in Resources folder will be included, used or not, and they won't be bundled like the other assets, leaving them exposed to possible manipulation.

I'll go back to it as soon as my long lunch break ends. I need a fully working prototype before the end of the month and time is runnin!

Monday, March 23, 2015

More Unity3D screenshots

Done in a morning. Lack of access to official forums is a problem, plus UnitySpain forums being down most of the time, and forum taking hours to reply.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Playing with Unity3D, again

Time is scarce, and I also have to play with Godot, but i managed to build this quick test in Unity3D:

I would like to see how fast I can implement the same prototype in Unreal engine 4, but here in the office the PC can barely move it, and at home I will be out of order for some time.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Engines, engines...

Andreas Essau has published the 11th episode (episode sounds good) of his Godot videotutorials serie, which I have been saving since I found it, but just started to serioulsy watch it yesterday. It makes me think twice about my choice of engine for the project. Also, my 3D artist wondering why arent we using Unity3D doesnt helps.

I have to admit that I didnt studied Godot enough before choosing Urho3D. There were some developer choices in Godot that I didnt liked (will mention only one: the mesh importer supports only obj files), but right now seems to be the only open source engine that aims for efficiency. To say it clear: it is like an open source Unity3D. Im not saying that Urho3D is a bad choice, it is simply that the engine architecture is different, the whole goal is different.

It has been a great experience to use Urho in the project, but seems that Ill have to squeeze my time at office to the max (no PC at home for some time), and start to seriously study Godot. And Unity3D too. Ah, and maybe Unreal.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Damage report

Well, seems that the earthquake didnt caused any significant damage in my home, or at least it is not visible. Yet, I had some bad luck strike scheduled for this weekend. I noticed something weird when I turned on my home PC in the night: no sound in Windows, and mouse didnt worked most of the time. Under Linux, I had sound and mouse. At some point, the mouse stopped working in both systems, sometimes disabling the keyboard too. Tested the mouse in another PC, and then tried to disconnect the PC from the power outlet. Never woke up again.

If I switch on the PSU, the motherboard led doesnt lights and (weird) the CPU starts moving! Even if I havent tried to turn on the PC. So, my PSU is fried, or maybe it is the motherboard, or worse, they are both dead. So, couldnt work this weekend. 

But, I have decided not to worry about it. This morning I was thinking how fucked I was, while I came to the office. Had to walk a lot, as usual, no transport from home to the intermediate bus stop, the bus to my last stop was full... when I saw this poor dog in the parking space in front of the office. He lost his rear legs, probably in some accident, so he has to drag the back of the body to move from one place to another. It was painful to see.

And then I thought I had lost something that I can recover. Eventually, some friend will help me, or I will take money from my special savings reserved for when I lost my job (should happen in 2-3 months). But the poor animal has lost something he cant recover, no matter how much good will somebody put on it.

Next time you think you are in troubles, whatever kind of troubles youy have in other countries (no job, cant buy a next gen console, or whatever), think that we all have our own problems, well, unless you have millions in the bank and then your problem will be deciding to what party go tonight. We all have them,  and sure, somebody will be in worse hurry than you. Like me, or the poor dog in front of my office.

Friday, March 13, 2015


About an hour ago, we had a perceptible earthshake. official websites have no information yet, probably we will have to wait for TV news to know how strong it was and where was located. The building were I work was shaked pretty hard, yet, this time, it wasnt preceded by the usual sound (like a roar). We simply felt the trembling, that lasted a second or so.

Im worried about my house, that it is in poor conditions and shares a wall with another that wasnt built with the best materials (the masons stole part of the cement). It is curious that I have been thinking lately that we havent had any quake. Lucky us, this is not the big earthquake the scientist says will happen at some point.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Good bye, Sir Pratchett

Tery Prathcett, creator of Discworld, died today. I  have no words to express my feelings.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

My experiment with a blog for Cuba

A few months ago (november, 2014, if I my memory serves well) I started an experiment: a blog for Cuba, in a cuban platform. You could say that why do I invest time in that, if I already have this and another blog, that I cant barely keep updated weekly. Well, the answer is simple: I always wanted to have a blog in a cuban site, it is my country and I feel that it is the right place to have my content.

But also there are practical reasons. The cuban public lacks internet, a few lucky ones have full access, but a large group (which compared to the amount of disconnected people, is also insignificant) has a limited access to .cu domains. Whatever news I post here, you can read them earlier in the specialized websites. Reviews? I buy new hardware every 2-3 years. Im forced to write about my personal projects, and perhaps my opinions about important events.

The cuban reader is different. Cut from the outer world, it has no access to news or reviews. They need a bridge, somebody who brings them those news to an accessible place, in this case, the new blogging platform. Thousands of new blogs have fluorished, about religion, politics, technology, musics, celebrities, everything. Some of them dont go beyond the sample Wordpress post, but others gather a dedicated community.

In my case, my blog has quickly reached an important number of followers: I receive around 20-30 daily visits with peaks of 100 or more, and an average 2-3 comments per post, surpassing my first blog in Blogger,which has less than 20 comments in its 6-7 years online. It is incredible that a local community of a few thousand people are more willing to participate than a worldwide one of millions.

I cant say how much will it last. This blogging platform is not controlled in any way by the goverment and some people are exposing some divergent criteria. Im sure that if at some point it becomes a political liability, the officers in charge will pull the plug to protect themselves. In the meantime, the cubans are enjoying their own little fake internet.

Always thought they had some mistakes

But 79? Thats insane.

Friday, March 6, 2015

An interesting week

Was thinking to talk about the events in the previous days, but then I thought that you could get more details on the news websites, earlier, so, I decided to wait until the end of the week to give my opinions about GDC 2015.

This year the event shaked the foundations of game industry. The first two days were loaded with the best, seems that nobody saved anything for the weekend. We knew that Unreal Engine 4 would be free until you start selling, which was great. The 5% fee is still there, but not having to pay in advance really helps indie developers that are under severe budget restrictions, like me.

Then Unity3d announced a similar model: we can use its Personal license, which now includes all the engine features that were previously capped. The Pro license now costs $75 per month, which is cheaper than previous $2000 team license. And dont forget that they launched Unity3D 5.

Many reasons to be happy, yet, I havent managed to benefit from them. Unreal site is now blocked to Cuba (it wasnt a week ago), the github repo is not public, requires to register first in the site. Also, it recommends using Visual Studio 2013, which requires to be online, or at least monthly activations. Like a friend told me: it is not meant to be used in Cuba.

Unity site is open, but not totally, I can download, but cant get a license because that section is blocked. So are the forums, which forces me to ask for help in other sites.

Once the euphoria of the first days dissipated and considering that I cant use Unreal nor Unity, I could say that nothing new came from it for us, the indie developers in Cuba.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Unreal, Unity3d and my work

What a week! Yesterday we had news of Unreal Engine 4 becoming free (at least, until you sell more than $3000), today, we have Unity3D 5. Im wonder what other groundbreaking announcements lies ahead in this GDC 2015. While big companies display their good looking engines, Im still working in my room, under a leaking roof, with a free, inmature engine and obsolete hardware. And I even have progress sometimes!

Me and my main 3d artist are discussing about the right method to equip stuff on the character. I vote for attaching the mesh to a base body, instanciated as an AnimatedModel, he insists in splitting the body in parts and switching textures, as it is supposed to be done in latest Elder Scrolls titles.While we decide what to do, I have been working to support animation states, something I had to delay, as I didnt had enough animations. The initial support was finished today.

And here you have a render of our 3D work:

It is about 4400 polys, and looks great, dont you think?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Unreal Engine is almost free!

Rejoice, my fellow developers, because the Almighty Unreal Engine now comes to you and only asks for a mere 5% of your gross revenue, after the first $3000, each quarter. Isnt that enough reason to become a believer, I mean, a developer?

The bad news (at least for me) is that they have closed access to cuban IPs. WTF!? Ill have to call Obama again.