Learning Unity & Blender

I'm learning Unity and Blender in my spare time, so I can make some of my ideas come to life. In the long-term, game development will not be my field, but it will help to understand the tools and work flows. My goal is to produce a virtual reality multiplayer strategic ball game; I'm calling it Sourceball.

My Unity learning plan

I've broken down the elements of the game to discrete building blocks. As I approach each element, I will draw from various tutorials such as shooter games, physics-based ball games, and so on. The first few items on my list are:

  • First-person POV, movement and actions
  • Sprint
  • Basic user interface
  • Basic level design
  • Throw ball
  • Throw ball harder
  • Throw and explode ball
  • Detect ball collision
  • Walled off play area
  • Bounce ball off walls
  • Trail effect on ball
  • Block ball
  • UI for hit/miss feedback
  • Block high and low
  • Ball node
  • Node claim zone

This is a very exciting time to be getting into the 3D interactive space, as I believe VR/AR is the next leap beyond the web browser.

My previous 3D experience

While I fumbled around the Blender interface, I was reflecting on my past in 3D art. I've included two pictures below. I modelled the wand in 3DS Max about 2007. The Team Fortress 2 pose used the Source Filmmaker application with existing assets.

The two tutorials I have used are: Roll a Ball and Blender Beginner Tutorial


I hit the "on" button

I soon turn 31 years old, and I’d like to reflect on the past year.

At the beginning of 2017, I was working full-time in my own retail business, and also part-time in office administration. The business had stabilised into a steady downward trend, and I thought there was nothing I could do to fix it, because I had already given it 100%. I tried to be creative in marketing and provide a unique customer experience, but at the end of they day, I was limited by the location of the store, and the products I could stock. I didn’t know what the future would hold for the business, but it wasn’t looking good.

In the week before my 30th birthday, I was playing around with the idea of converting the shop into an escape room. I wanted to design an experience. I had had enough of selling physical objects, designed by someone else, manufactured in a third-world country, and delivered in bubble wrap. I needed to have more power over the offering. My escape room idea was essentially a zombie-horse-outbreak scenario, to capitalise on Halloween and my location in Flemington, during the Spring Races. Virtual reality seemed like a far-off thing, so I didn’t look into it much.

I had somewhat of a crisis that week, cleaning out the storeroom of the shop. I was preparing for my birthday party with close family, and considered playing some old cassettes that had followed me through the ages. These cassettes have recordings of 1990’s radio (yes, the commercials are hilarious) interspersed with me singing nursery rhymes and “Aga-doo, doo doo, push pineapple shake the tree” - a song banned from the BBC in 1984 for being shit. The crisis occurred to me while thinking back to myself as a 7-year-old, how many crazy hopes and ideas I’ve had since then, and how little I’ve done. Twenty-three years of random activities amounting to not much at all - it wouldn’t have meant anything to that naive kid, but it meant something to me as I approached 30.

I did what any rational person would do: enrol in university the next day.

From the first day back at university, until now in late Summer 2018, I’ve completed 10 units: 9 core and 1 events. I’ve taken the lead in all my team projects, I’ve engaged with teachers, barely missed a class. I got credit for 6 prior units, and completed 2 summer units - which means I finish my degree in 2 years, not 3. I got a tonne of High Distinctions. Why the hell did I drop out all those other times?

 

I guess I woke up and hit the “on” button. And now I don’t want to stop.

I’m joining a dodgeball team so I can get fit and ponder a dodgeball-like virtual esport. I constantly keep 5+ books checked out of the library. I’ve spoken with a virtual reality creator from Japan, and considered being a sales representative. I’ve attended a Google Tiltbrush tournament. I’ve attended esports business networking events. I’ve tried out a VR zombie experience, and applied to work for them. I’ve started a blog. I walked in a gay marriage march down the city streets.

What’s in store for 2018…

This year will be all about Marketing. I am taking all second and third year marketing units in a single year. I’m looking for part-time work in VR or experiential marketing. I plan to graduate in 2018, get married in January 2019, and travel to Tokyo in 2020.


Review: Zombie Outbreak at Zero Latency

This week I visited Zero Latency in Melbourne to play their Zombie Outbreak virtual reality game. I learned of Zero Latency while listening to a panel discussion on the business of VR Arcades; the panel included a consultant for the Melbourne-based firm, who made some great points about customer experience. I looked up the company and their facility was only a few minutes from my home!

Read more


Digital purchases to support Overwatch teams

The home screen of Overwatch was today updated to show playable heroes wearing the brand & colours of Overwatch League teams San Francisco Shock, Los Angeles Valiant, Shanghai Dragons, Dallas Fuel, Seoul Dynasty and Los Angeles Gladiators.

Rather than get stuck into a session of Overwatch, I thought this is an easy start to my new blog. Although there are scores of topics I’d like to write about, to be honest this is my first blog in a long time, and I’m going to start with easy topics.

As part of the Overwatch League franchise model, ordinary players can purchase character “skins” to use while they play the game. Some of the revenue from skin purchases goes directly to the teams. This is essentially the equivalent of supporting a sporting team by purchasing a jersey, and builds awareness of the team brand by letting the player wear it during their own gameplay.

Skins will be integral to the AR economy

I believe that cosmetic purchases will be a vital part of the business model for the future of physical games. Furthermore, I am reminded of a prediction by Brian Sullivan, creator of Age of Empires, currently working on an AR game at Monsarrat: in AR, we will buy “skins” to make our home look like a medieval castle. This helps reinforce the idea that games of the future will be played literally anywhere, which I’ll write about another time.

In a sport/game application, the playing environment could be changed to look like a jungle, desert or urban dystopia. Players could purchase not only skins for their personal appearance - they could skin their ability effects, their territory. Skins could even be focused on audio, in collaboration with musical artists, as with the DJ Sona skin in League of Legends. The coffers will reap the benefits of subscription fees.

Physical gaming will unlock revenue for both digital and physical merchandise.