Two game design panels this morning at GAMEXPO were a lot of fun, but I’ll be hanging out here at the booth until the next demo game of Starcrossed this evening. Come say howdy!
Bear in mind, this is my perspective as an indie looking to invade the mobile gamespace in 2018. I’ve been cyberstalking Unity 3D and lurking around their booths at other game conventions for years and fiddled with the tools, but now it’s wave-or-salute time. From that perspective, this was my first in-person all-Unity event.
tldr; They did well. Not perfect, mind you, and a little smaller than I expected, but one of the better organized and funded game dev conventions that I’ve been to. I think they’re finally ready for me to jump in, and they’re still planning to go lots of cool places.
Monday was a hands-on, newbie developer orientation day. The project assets were provided by Cybernetic Walrus (based on their new game Antigraviator) and the training by Unity staff. Although it had more than couple glitches, the demo level provided was full-featured and interesting to play with. The 13 introductory steps (most broken down into several subtasks) took most of the day at the trainers’ planned pace. The training (obviously) glossed over the modeling aspects of 3D game development and focused on the gameplay, camera management with the new version of Cinemachine (very sexy) and the new version of Timeline (very cool). They promised to provide the slideware, a completed (and enhanced) version of the project. I hope to get that next week and fiddle with it some more. [I was pretty happy with how my Surface Book handled the day. I think the i7 and SSD zoomed nicely through the work.]
Keynote & Kickoff
Since I was there for Training Day, it felt weird to have all day Tuesday to myself until the keynote that started at 6 pm, but I guess they’re trying to accommodate everybody else’s busy travel schedule. The keynote was well orchestrated and well rehearsed. There weren’t any significant fumbles, and they did a good job hyping the upcoming sessions for the next two days. Since I’m not the partying sort, I wandered through the kickoff mixer and hiked back to my hotel.
My one huge strategic error was not booking a hotel when I first signed up. By the time I talked myself out of driving back and forth from San Antonio to Austin every day, they’d already sold out the low-priced Unity block, and I wound up at the Double Tree a mile and a half away. Needless to say, I got my exercise hiking back and forth, since I’m too cheap to pay for parking downtown Austin. Punishment deserved and delivered.
These are the sessions I went to and the number of stars I’d give each:
- 2D World Building in Unity (4/5)
- OctaneRender for Unity (4/5)
- Creative Scripting of Timeline (5/5)
- Disruptive Virtual Cinematography on a Budget (2/5)
- Unity Labs Behavioral AI Research (5/5)
- Get Paid on Mobile (4/5)
- Expansive Storyworlds (3/5)
- Cinemachine for Games and Interactive (4/5)
- Buil the Multiplatform Games of Your Dreams with UWP (1/5)
- Neill Blomkamp’s Short Film Screening and Q&A (3/5)
- Testing for Sanity (5/5)
- Insights to Action (5/5)
- High Performance C# Scripting With the C# Job System and the Entity Component System (5/5)
- Massive Battle in Spellsouls Universe with Upcoming Unity Tech (4/5)
- Trivia! Unity by the Numbers (3/5)
- S.O.L.I.D. Unity (2/5)
There are several more that I wanted to go to, but there were conflicts. Overall, the presentations by Unity staff were more polished than the guest speakers. I was bummed that the recordings weren’t available to buy on a flash drive like other conferences do, but I’m hoping they’ll get them up on YouTube or something soon.
Unity has grown quite a bit since I bought a 4.x version of it almost a decade ago. I’m impressed with how far they’ve come. I’ve made the command decision to try my hand at free-to-play mobile game next year (2018). The convention inspired me to begin writing the design doc and thinking through the gameplay and the freemium monetization model. (Daddy’s got bills to pay!) Since you didn’t ask, I’ll tell you anyway that the game will be set in the Starcrossed universe. Be thinkin’ about where you want to take your own personal starship. . .
If you’re willing to be in Central Texas in November (the 3rd, 4th, and 5th) AND if you’re a dungeon master, game master, keeper, judge, referee, storyteller, coordinator, or you just like to volunteer to run tabletop RPGs of any kind, we have a deal for you!
This year at GAMEXPO, we are giving all volunteer GMs access to a ready room stocked with snacks and drinks so that you’ll have a quiet place to hang out with other GMs and prep for your games. All GAMEXPO GMs will have distinctive badges (yes, you need or badges!), that identify you add one of the chosen few. Even if you only run one slot, you’re still a GAMEXPO GM and we appreciate you.
If you volunteer to run three or more 4-hour slots, we will give you your three-pass day as a free gift. You will also receive complimentary WiFi service during the convention for use in the ready room, at the table, the bar, or wherever you like (subject to WiFi coverage). All you have to do is run twelve hours of games for your fellow players, and the rest of the three-day convention awesomeness is yours to enjoy however you like.
The first 25 volunteer GMs who register to run three or more slots will get a free GAMEXPO exclusive GMs t-shirt. Only available to the first 25 volunteer GMs who commit now to running three slots over the three-day weekend. Register your games now, while supplies last!
I had a lot of fun at GaMExpo this year, making new friends and reconnecting with old ones.
If you made it to the Hilton Hill Country Resort, I’m glad you were there.
If you didn’t, we missed you. Catch you at the next convention or playtest game.
p.s. Yes, I’m still cranking away on The Raid on Slavers’ Bay. We did more playtesting at GaMExpo. Release date announcement “real soon now.” 🙂