News! Tech! Tools! Talks! Games! And Stuff Worth Sharing!

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Unread post by jonaz.dk » 09 Nov 2021, 13:07

Outcast 1.1 is free on GOG for a limited time.
Back in the days is looked absolutely stunning! Really ground breaking tech for the time. :)

Outcast 1.1 free here
https://www.gog.com/game/outcast



Speaking of Outcast!

Outcast 2 - A New Beginning.. Is looking damn FINE!!



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Unread post by jonaz.dk » 10 Nov 2021, 00:20

Unity certainly goes shopping! Not in games tech per se. More like taking a stab at the Autodesk and general VFX market share it seems. With a bit of metaverse-hype on top. (Hehe.. on another note... let's see how many separate "PlayStation Home 2.0" metaverses we will have in the coming years. One thing IS sure.. a lot of money will be spent chasing a wet tech dream. So let's see where that goes!).

Some thoughts on the deal is that even though Weta's tools might be top of the line. They are also completely unfamiliar to a wide range of studios and users. It will take a >very< long time for enough studios to adopt the new tools. Especially since the Weta tools probably already exists as alternative separate packages already used in production. I'm sure VFX studios will give the tools a shot. There can certainly be benefits to adopting a new tool chain where everything speaks more together. But possbly costly in time and implementation in a existing studio pipeline. So it will have to be carefully evaluated on a case by case basis.

Also thinking the tools might be more focused on the needs of hi-end movie productions with many hundreds of people on projects. And is not nessecary targeted at a larger undergrowth of smaller studios needs.
So in essence Unity is trying to democratize a market where Blender is very much becoming the new standard with an already democratized and buzzing community. And not forgetting the other already very much established tech and tools like 3dsmax and Maya. Hard to compete with that! Weta has Z-E-R-0 community around their tools outside of Weta. It will take years and decades to simply catch up.

So yeah I don't know... there are certainly some future challenges for Unity to capitalize on their new expensive investment. Let's see where it goes! I will no doubt be a loung haul project to recoup. And interesting what business model and pricing they are to employ.

Not complaining about the future availablity of the Weta tools. :) Not at all! Let's see what they bring to the table! Much unknown!

Peter Jackson Selling Weta Digital’s VFX Tech Division to Unity for $1.625 Billion

Unity Software, a 3D game-development platform, is expanding its VFX footprint in a big way with the $1.625 billion acquisition of the technology division of Peter Jackson’s New Zealand-based Weta Digital.

The deal promises to make the tools used to create Gollum for Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings,” Caesar from “The Planet of the Apes” and characters and settings from a slew of other movies available to creators all over the world.
https://variety.com/2021/digital/news/u ... IYNbKP4eks

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Unread post by ZeroHero » 10 Nov 2021, 02:29

This is very interesting news.

To me it seems like a big gamble for Unity to puchase this kind of technology.

Looks like they might want to move Unity in the direction of film production? We have seen Unreal being used more and more for film production so maybe they want to try to push Unity in a similar direction.

Unreal 5 certainly seems to kick pretty much all other engines out of the water with all their recent improvements, so I could imagine Unity is trying to gear up for the high-end market as well.

They might want to add high-end tools into Unity to allow users to build high-end characters directly in Unity. I am thinking maybe Unity's answer to Unreal's Meta character system. It would be awesome with some neat tools to quickly define (or should I say refine) high-end characters for games or maybe even film productions.

This could become very interesting indeed.

I definitely think in order to be a viable competitor in the market of games engines you will need to be able to deliver a high-end character system of some sort. The last many years engines have focused heavily on environments and atmospheric settings. The highly detailed and natural looking landscapes and terrains that engines can render in these days and age is nonetheless just breathtaking. Not to mention dynamic mud, water, wind, smoke, fire and weather that affects natural environments is so realistic and just simply stunning to look at but over recent years we have also seen great improvements for characters. Hair, fur and shading of skin in particular has been improved a lot as well as dynamic clothing, often multi layered clothing which is very hard to get right.

I can easily imagine that games and films production will join forces at some point and they will be able to use the exact same technology to support both. Perhaps Unity has predicted the same and is preparing for this?

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Unread post by jonaz.dk » 10 Nov 2021, 09:46

Yes I think you are right! Certainly also a response to Epics developments in virtual film production and high end AAA game production.

It will take a quite the amount of years before it would get to the point of having the most useful tools actually integrated properly. The new features available for the current release cycle is rather small in Unity per new release. They will of cause start somewhere and build it up over time. Perhaps in 5-10 years+ they will have the big plan sort of realized.
It is certainly an interesting move to take on Epic and the VFX industry at the same time. To support productions in the high end segment in a game of diminishing returns.

Another thing to consider is studio cultures merging.. It's not always easy merging people and cultures. Weta is a tightly knitted pack of developers with a high sense of pride and purpose in their work and studio. That's another process that will take a lot of time to merge besides the basic code side of things.
Even the article mentions a certain level of apprehension about the idea on Weta's side. I guess it's quite a factor for that line to make the article.

Interesting how everything will pan out! :)
There is certainly potential for both awesomeness as well as disaster. Only time will tell!
Usually in reality a bit of both will happen.

Meanwhile the vast bread and butter group of mobile/indie developers this whole thing doesn't mean a whole lot (actually nothing for the vast majority) in a practical useful sense. But it 'could' have consequences for everybody if it means that Unity releases will be even slower to accommodate Unity's effort to duke it out with the big boys in a new area. So there is that concern. Don't know if this will be the case. But it is a concern with even more chefs in the kitchen with different goals trying to get things working together.


POST UPDATE (11/11)
So there was a Unity blog post!:
https://blog.unity.com/news/welcome-weta-digital
It will be cloud based tools. Which does indeed make a whole lot of sense and ease the integration significantly (or there are probably different challenges). The alternative had me worried a lot! ;)
But it also means it will be sort of standalone tools outside Unity with some sort of integration. And adding more patches to the big patchwork solution of solutions. That is perhaps the only way forward for Unity in a practical implementation sense, disunification.

Also this goes hand in hand with the acquisition of the cloud platform Parsec august 2021. Potentially they could move Unity fully to the cloud in the future. Wouldn't count it completely out of the question. Not sure how that would land with the community.
https://www.techtimes.com/articles/2639 ... -cloud.htm

Also this will probably mean it will be part of some subscription plan. How they will price it remains to be seen or if this will be separate outside of UnityPro?! It could land on 'big-studio pricing'. Let's see where it goes!

More speculation... Their recent 'Unity For Games' rebranding could quite easily indicate a separation of product lines with a 'Unity For Film' etc. Perhaps with different pricing structures?

To real-time and the cloud
To achieve the full potential of these tools, we will work to unify this pipeline to deliver content across the spectrum from cinematic realism to real-time XR on mobile devices. This includes linking these capabilities with our other content tools and services such as SpeedTree, with proven tools for scaling vegetation from VFX to real-time, and Pixyz, which provides sophisticated services for managing large, complex models.

Our intent is to cloud-enable these tools and ensure they easily integrate with the workflows artists already use. It should be easy to take advantage of these advanced capabilities directly in the digital content creation (DCC) tools such as Maya and Houdini; and it should be easy to move and manipulate content into the Unity engine and more.

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Unread post by jonaz.dk » 10 Nov 2021, 17:52

(DK) VR fractal project Apophenia by Daniel Skaale.
There is some serious math wizardry going on here. 🤓🧙‍♂️
Utmost impressive!




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Unread post by jonaz.dk » 11 Nov 2021, 14:00

Oh and BAM!!! Deep Rock Galactic sells 3 million units!
Super crazy! Grats to the team! :cool:
https://store.steampowered.com/news/app ... 8201404711

Ghostship Games also recently invested in Ugly Duckling Games (But not really doing games) behind the EdTech project Drama Studio. Hard to say what will become of that. Seems like a pretty niche oriented app. It will take a lot of foot work to get it out in schools in a meaningful manner. One of our local projects 'Build A World' went educational after failing the commercial market. But so far it looks like the company is barely surviving. The tech was quite impressive though. Serious Games Interactive also seems to have been steering away from school educational projects, focusing on more corporate training. If any indication it points to that the code for digial education at the elementary/grade school level is a tough nut to crack commercially in Denmark and beyond.
Let's see with all the challenges and hope things will be better with this project! And the new winds of digital education blows their way, that could change the immediate outlook.
https://filmbyaarhus.dk/nyheder/spil-og ... ing-games/

They also recently released the Season 01: Rival Incursion update.

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Unread post by jonaz.dk » 11 Nov 2021, 22:31

raylib 4.0 Released for the codie codie boys!


https://www.raylib.com/
https://github.com/raysan5/raylib

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Unread post by jonaz.dk » 11 Nov 2021, 22:40

"Project M" - Battle Prototype from South Korean Hound 13... looks sooo damn sexy! (not talking about the video thumb.. but the game) ;)


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Unread post by jonaz.dk » 12 Nov 2021, 11:59

Gearhead Games ApS has released Retro Highway on Switch. Following mobile and console releases.
So far 500.000+ downloads on GooglePlay.. so job well done!!

Programmer Nicolai Danielsen also worked on Jet Lancer, a game in the vein of Luftrausers. Pretty cool game! :)
Jet Lancer: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=4775&p=21349#p21349



Nintendo Switch
https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/r ... ay-switch/
Android
https://play.google.com/store/apps/deta ... trohighway
iOS
https://apps.apple.com/us/app/retro-hig ... 1163605498
Xbox One
https://www.xbox.com/en-us/games/store/ ... 44n3sqr002


On the web
https://gearheadgames.com/retrohighway/

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Unread post by jonaz.dk » 13 Nov 2021, 14:03

Why Minecraft is a Technical Feat | Explaining the Engineering Behind an Indie Icon

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Unread post by jonaz.dk » 16 Nov 2021, 03:06

First HALO live action series teaser has dropped. Releasing somewhere in 2022.

Not that much to go for from a simple teaser. Looks kinda nice! But it's always this weird "reverse-uncanny" feel when you see something you know pretty well from CG/games/animation in live action. It's kind of bringing the scifi fantasy in your head down to actor-in-rubber-suit-reality in a sense. It's rare that it works seamlessly, if ever.
For example the recent live-action Cowboy Bebop trailer just had me going NOOOPE!

Let's see! Will totally give HALO a shot with the kiddo! He has been waiting since the first announcement back in 2018 or something.
Even bought a HALO Nerfgun for him a little while ago. :cool:

Currently we are watching Arcane. Really nice! Not totally sold yet on the whole series just yet 4 episodes in. But man!! the art is amazing. Worth the time for that alone. Now that is the way to do an even better transition to series from a game universe.

On a different gamish series note. Kiddo already watched Squid Game with his mom. So missed that togehter. :_( Just finished it be myself this evening. First at episode 3 I got totally hook. And the show was really something intense, emotional and thought provoking! Highly recommended! I know I'm late to the party. ;)
So no project commits this evening. :rolleyes


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Unread post by jonaz.dk » 16 Nov 2021, 10:59

A Deep Dive into Nanite Virtualized Geometry



Also.. plenty of Siggraph 2021 papers online
https://kesen.realtimerendering.com/sig2021.html

**Adding
SIGGRAPH 2021: Global Illumination Based on Surfels

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Unread post by jonaz.dk » 17 Nov 2021, 23:25

Unity has launched Unity Gaming Services

Quite an impressive array of multiplayer focused services.
Some of the services are still in Unity-beta. So perhaps in a couple? of years they are fully ready for prime time.

Free tier up until 50 concurrent users.

More on
https://unity.com/solutions/gaming-services


It makes total sense for Unity to lay claim to an entire MP services chain.

Recently Epic launched their >completely free< 'Epic Online Services'. Works across engines and platforms on battle-proven technology.
https://dev.epicgames.com/en-US/services

This whole battle of the giants thing is perhaps not so good news for former Playdead CEO Dino Patti's adventure into multiplayer tech with his company Coherence. https://coherence.io/ And others in this space as well. But naturally being a startup makes everything that more challenging.
Coherence might have a bit different focus by enabling MP like functionality in SP games. But also a bit of a niche application perhaps. It will certainly be a harder sell when both Epic and Unity offers large one stop services in the online gaming space.

Established players like Exit Game's Photon https://www.photonengine.com/ might very well be able to fend of the competition in the short/medium term as they have an established user base and reputation. Also developers will not just jump to a new platform with existing projects. But Photon might find it harder in the long long run if Unity delivers actual serious competitive netcode. Unity >has< failed creating competitive netcode on multiple occasions in the past. So let's see!

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Unread post by jonaz.dk » 18 Nov 2021, 00:34

DK project Rytmos by the two-man indie team Floppy Club has released a free demo on steam.

Super stylish musical puzzler. Looks like Apple bait. ;)

Image

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Unread post by jonaz.dk » 18 Nov 2021, 14:03

Horsing around! Red Dead Redemption 2


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Unread post by jonaz.dk » 18 Nov 2021, 21:40

Old news... but news to me!

Elon Musk is a known gamer.
But did you know he used to be an indiedev?! 8O

He developed the game Blastar at age 12 in 1984. Pretty damn cool for a kid! :cool:

By modern standards the game is absolute sh..'not very good!'. ;) But I'm glad he found his true ways! Game development and programming was for certain a key component of growing his talents. More kids should do just that! :cool:

Image

Play Elon Musk's Blastar HTML5 port here:
https://blastar-1984.appspot.com/

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Unread post by jonaz.dk » 18 Nov 2021, 22:05

Latest trailer from GRAVEN by Slipgate Ironworks/3D Realms.

Looks like stuff has happend since the last demo/early access release. Looking pretty good! :)
Still at mixed reviews on Steam. Let's hope the final quality of the game will change that!

I quite enjoyed the demo!

Currently estimated release in Q1 2022.


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Unread post by jonaz.dk » 19 Nov 2021, 09:59

Walkouts and currently 1337 employee signatures (out of ~9500) to remove Bobby Kotick from his CEO position at Activision Blizzard. That's a leet number by the way! ;)

https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2P ... H5zn66/pub

Things are not looking so good for old Bobby's chair. ActiBlizz seem to be in shambles currently and the pitchforks are out on all fronts. So perhaps Bobby will soon have some leisure time to enjoy his billions. Let's see where it goes! Though I don't see Mr. Kotick as a man that will just leave easily. The position is probably completely engrained in his identity.

Report: Activision Blizzard's Kotick knew of sexual misconduct issues for years
Wall Street Journal says publisher's CEO threatened to have his assistant killed, intervened to keep Treyarch co-head after HR recommended firing him, and more

https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/ ... -for-years


**Edit: Fun fact. Actually Bobby Kotick used to be my 'high up boss somewhere' back when I was working for Massive Entertainment. Though we never heard much about him. Also it was only for a brief moment in a transitional period. At my time there, the talk was mostly about Activision wanting to get rid of the 'RTS studio' Massive after being part of the Vivendi deal. Talk about bad judgement! :rolleyes ;)
But luckily for Massive the story ended quite nicely when we were acquired by Ubisoft in 2008. Good call on their part! (Also not a company with a super smooth reputation some years later). But things turned out for the much better for the studio with the acquisition overall.
https://news.softpedia.com/news/Massive ... 1559.shtml

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Unread post by ZeroHero » 19 Nov 2021, 14:49

I think it would be good if Bobby left, I believe he single handed is responsible for the bad reputation that Activision has got in the industry.

His way of doing business comes across as a money grabbing sleazebag who will do anything to make a dime.

The Call of Duty franchise has suffered a lot due to lack of innovation, lootboxes, dumbed down game mechanics etc. Which I am pretty sure of he is ultimately responsible for.

When Blizzard joined Activision it seemed to go downhill for them as well, I don't know if he is responsible for that as well as it looks like a lot of bad apples were within the Blizzard corporation before they joined but it would not surprise me if Bobby some how is responsible for the downfall of Blizzard. Even if it turns out he has turned a blind eye to things that should have been addressed and sorted would be bad enough.

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Unread post by jonaz.dk » 19 Nov 2021, 15:57

Yeah it would be the decent thing to do! However I don't think Bobby agrees. ;)
The question is if the board of directors agrees. (Not forgetting the board is probably on friendly terms with Mr. Kotick.)

The current stock price has been taking a huge beating since the last February high. The board would be incentivized to do something about the current situation and show him the door.

However financially speaking the company has been delivering 'roughly' solid results year on year and the company is mostly owned by a myriad of soulless profit oriented corporations. Including BlackRock. So there is that! Nothing is certain, could go both ways really! Current public atmosphere could easily sway towards goodbye. Let's see where it lands!
https://www.macrotrends.net/stocks/char ... ard/ebitda

**Adding. Remember in 2019 when CEO John Riccitiello of Unity Technologies > HIMSELF! < was accused of sexual misconduct and threats repeatedly.
Sounded pretty bad! 😬😬 John is still very much CEO of Unity. So that's something to consider. 😬
https://www.forbes.com/sites/mattperez/ ... 6d76fa435a

**Also adding: Even if Bobby were to leave. I really don't think things would change much. It would still be a soul and game crushing corporate machine. That is the game they are playing from the ground up. This is to be more or less expected with corporations at that size across any industry. With thousands people on the payroll, crazy budgets and investors to satisfy. Things will eventually in most cases tickle down to a lot of "safe money making bets" on the largest productions.
The 'real Blizzard' (subjectively I know) hasn't really existed for years now. Now to an even lesser degree. It's not coming back. Except the spirit can live on in other companies.

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Unread post by jonaz.dk » 21 Nov 2021, 12:16

Ahoy did a vid on Tracker music. The sound track of my gaming childhood/youth! 😊

Spent countless hours in Noise Tracker, ProTracker and later Fast Tracker 2 on PC. On pure hobby basis and made it to a single demo scene demo with a Fast Tracker 2 track.
Even more hours than my time with Deluxe Paint.
BTW. My Amiga based Deluxe Paint efforts took a steep nose dive when my dad yanked the power from my Amiga while it was saving this really cool alien painting I was doing. Corrupting the save file... with no perhaps only a really old backup. All because I didn't come to dinner while working on my pixel art. 😑

On occasion the modern tracker Renoise https://www.renoise.com/ gets a whirl. It's super nice! Highly recommended tracker.




**Update: BTW an old friend, Thomas Neumann, has done this Amiga/Early PC music format player called NostalgicPlayer for PC. With a ton of supported old-school formats.
https://www.nostalgicplayer.dk/
It's also on GitHub:
https://github.com/neumatho/NostalgicPlayer

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Unread post by jonaz.dk » 23 Nov 2021, 09:39

Found this little thing!.. Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos
Haven't played it that much yet! The Steam rating is 'mostly positive'. Which I think stems from a bit of a rocky launch. Their online coop is not top dollar as to what I can read, so that has hurt their rating a lot. I prefer local play anyways. So that's not important in my case.

It's not perfect by any means. But it's just this little charming, simplistic, top down, Zelda-like, rogue-lite, open world'ish, bit puzzly, dungeon crawler with a bit of city builder. So that's a lot of things. But it works! :)
With up to 4 players local/online coop. I really enjoy It so far! Looking forward taking it for a coop spin with kiddo 1 here later today. :D

**Update: So we gave it a spin with some local coop dad-kiddo playtime! It was totally neat! Kiddo was also super into it.
It probably won't beat our hour count in Castle Crashers and Helldivers and years earlier in various LEGO games. But I'm sure it will go the distance.




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Unread post by jonaz.dk » 23 Nov 2021, 11:02

Another one of my old friends @Oxmond has done a bunch of Unity tutorials (since 3 years ago.. slow here) ;) Mostly beginner 2D oriented stuff.

Super simple stuff everybody can follow. First one was this..
How to control an animated 2D helicopter sprite with the mouse (Unity C# tutorial for beginners)


So that's a place to start if you are having aspirations of learning a bit of C# programming in Unity.

More here on Oxmond Tutorials
https://www.youtube.com/c/Oxmond/videos

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Unread post by jonaz.dk » 26 Nov 2021, 11:24

A look at Material Maker the free open source alternative to the likes of Substance Designer. It's based on the Godot Engine.

(DK but Ireland based) Kasper Frandsen has done an introduction video to the software


Download Material Maker
https://rodzilla.itch.io/material-maker

On Github
https://github.com/RodZill4/material-maker

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Unread post by jonaz.dk » 28 Nov 2021, 10:31

Multiplayer replication system is coming to Godot 4..0
Lets see where it lands. Netcode i tricky business.


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