This years first IGDA meet, Unity3d and the upcoming Finnish Game Jam

IGDA and Unity 3d

It seems it’s going to be a busy year by the looks of January. The event’s started early and my outlook is already half full of hackathons and events and whatnot for the spring. Be sure to keep yourself posted on this blog and these twitter feeds@ArcticMSP @JesseSanttila  and @DiggTheDrazen

The Finnish chapter of the International Game Developers Association hosted a great evening on Tuesday. The evening started off with a 2 hour session held in Aalto School of Economics, topics focused around the game development software Unity. The keynote was Unity Evangelist Carl Callewaert who spoke about the latest release Unity 3.5. With the latest release came also the free developer preview so even students can get their hands on this gem. The pro-version is 1500 so getting to know the product before-hand might be warranted.

This was actually my first encounter with the IDE (first release in 2005 for Apple computers) and some things really impressed me. They seem to have taken a serious focus on allowing the game developer to author once and release for several different platforms. In the right circumstances you should be able to release a game that runs in the web browser, flash-player, iOS, Xbox, PS3 and Android devices, obviously within the platforms parameters. From the coder’s point of view the scripting supports JavaScript, C# and Python Boo. The game logic is runs on the open source .NET platform Mono and the software is fully compatible with Visual Studio and MonoDevelop.

Some new features that were demoed were integrated pathfinder AI, for making some cool scripted and crowd scenes really easily and some performance enhancers, such as the ability to define up-to 8 stages for distant object’s polygon counts for those resource-expensive outdoor scenes. We also got a peek over at the Asset Store where developers can buy and sell scripts and assets. For instance finger-gesture libraries and some basic gaming functions, so you can focus your efforts, providing you have the cheddar to pay for it.

As a separate session there were two guy’s from Umbra talking about their Occlusion Culling-technology that is now an integrated part of Unity’s IDE. Occlusion Culling is the technology used to calculate and not draw parts of the 3d-scene which are not in the view, thus saving precious computational power. Also company representatives Arto Koistinen from Diceworks Games and Damien Morello from Rochard were there to share some tips, tricks and experiences about data mining as their companies are actual businesses using Unity to create commercial games.

The evening then continued with some networking over at Cuba where IGDA, Unity and Umbra sponsored the gaming populous with alcohol.

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The upcoming Finnish Game Jam

On the last weekend of January the hackathon season is on. The Global Game Jam is a series of events all around the world starting in New Zealand on Friday at 17:00 local time and at each time zone respectively. The earlier two installations of the Finnish Game Jam have produced some great products and done really well in the Global competition. The exact rules and restrictions will be given at the start of the event and the rules say you brainstorm the idea on site, but last night’s pub rants revealed some ideas already bubbling in some participant’s minds.

The events will be held in 8 locations around Finland and the participant list was already at 200 before the holidays. The locations are Tampere, helsinki, Kajaani, Kouvola, Lappeenranta, Oulu, Outokumpu and Turku. The one in Helsinki will be held at the activity Center Happi and I heard some rumours about a sauna on wheels out there.

Links

Unity

IGDA

Finnish Game Jam

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About arcticmsp

The Finnish Microsoft Student Partners are a group of enthusiastic students, who are interested in technology and all things new, techy and cool!
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