CryEngine’s Out, Unity’s In
After a troublesome relationship with CryEngine, I’ve decided to give it the boot and switch over to Unity.
I’ve had my fair share of trouble with the engine over the years, but after having a programmer pull out of the project due to a lack of official engine documentation, its just another set back in a long series of set backs, directly caused by the engine.
You only have to go back through the history of this project and read about the issues I’ve had with CryEngine, both CE2, CE3 and the latest version, and wonder why i didn’t switch engines two years ago. Compared to some of the issues other people have had with it, i think i’ve been somewhat lucky. Some of the issues other people had were so bad, that if they happened to me i would have rage cancelled the project entirely.
Before i talk about Unity, ill just explain what i have planned.
I’ve just finished cleaning up the Tech Demo level and are about to hand over to the TresCom guys so they can host the download for me. The file will be about 80mb (800mb compressed) and you will also need to download the CryEngine SDK (version 3.5.7 is good) if you want to load it up and have a look. Its nothing special, just a small section of Pine Valley that replicates the Trespasser demo level, but you might get a kick out of just exploring whats there. Just remember it was supposed to have Trespasser arm controls, movement, weapons, interaction and possibly some basic dinos wandering around. As it is, its just a CryEngine demo level with some Trespasser models.
When i get time, I will be returning to CryEngine 2 and finishing the Crysis version of Site B. There are still quite a few models to be imported there, so i have no idea how long it will take to get that finished. I’m still really swamped with real life, so no estimate on when this will happen.
I wont start porting anything over to Unity straight away, as I actually want to learn programming with Unity first. For a while now i’ve been learning about the engine, watching and reading tutorials and preparing myself for the switch. I want to start by making a few basic games, then move onto more complex games, and then eventually make a start on Trespasser. When the time comes that i need help, i will ask, but i hope that by learning how to do the basics myself, i should be able to make a head start and not have to rely on someone else for every little thing.
The games i want to start making will be simple 3D mobile games for my BlackBerry PlayBook. Huh? Yes, the BlackBerry PlayBook.
I love the PlayBook and I know it has a pretty small following, but i feel that the lack of interest is mostly due to people not giving it a chance. “Nobody uses BlackBerry” is a common phrase i hear when i show people my tablet or my new Z10 phone. Here in Australia, BlackBerry is nowhere near as popular as it is, or I should say was, in the U.S, so the reaction i get is usually one of confusion. Considering their low popularity, BlackBerry products are actually pretty expensive in stores, and when everyone around you has an iphone or android phone, who wants to pay big dollars and be the odd person out? Ya gotta have whats popular these days.
My previous phone was a Nokia 808, and i only just recently updated to the BlackBerry Z10 because i was fed up with some of the 808’s quirks. The 808’s camera is still the best mobile phone camera ever and ill be keeping it for concerts and festivals (audio recording is amazing), but i needed a phone that’s a bit more capable, and the Z10 is awesome. I bought mine off eBay, brand new sealed in box, and with a 32bg card i paid only $230 AU incl postage. In stores they are still well over $600. I cant recommend the Z10 enough. My fiance is the retail manager of a telecommunications provider and spends every day working with the latest phones. She owns a Galaxy S5 and after trying the Z10 she said “holy shit this thing’s fast!”.
Over the last 3-4 months I haven’t had much time to use my PC, so I’ve been spending a lot more time using the PlayBook. I have a Google Nexus 10, but after discovering the Origami Web Browser on the PlayBook, the web browsing experience is so good now i’ve decided to sell the Nexus. The PlayBook provides an uncompromised web experience, which means you get a real desktop web browser experience. Full flash support, no more mobile pages. No need for Facebook or G+ Apps, just use the desktop site. Works flawlessly. With gesture based navigation, drawing gestures to open bookmarks, refresh close and swap tabs, it actually makes the Nexus feel very dated.
I don’t wanna sound like im all high on BlackBerry and hating on Google, but the Nexus 10 was the single most disappointing device i’ve ever owned. At least once a day, Chome or some other app would close with the “unfortunately this has stopped working” message. The device itself would lock up and reboot at least once every 1-2 days. The Battery life is so bad, it takes me back to the days of remote control cars in the 80’s. This thing was so bad, you couldn’t even use it while it was charging or it would drain the battery and switch off. That’s with the screen brightness set to just below its minimum. Left alone, the thing would require an overnight charge. Terrible. It was this lack of battery life and the more compact size of the PlayBook that got me using it more and taking it to work with every day. After discovering the Origami Browser, it completely replaced the Nexus.
The Nexus 10 was a gift from my fiance after i was fed up with the default PlayBook web browser just no longer cutting it. I almost stopped using the PlayBook entirely and probably would have sold it had it not been for the Pacemaker DJ app. The only reason i got a PlayBook was because of the Pacemaker DJ app (i had a pacemaker device too), but I ended up loving the PlayBook for so many other reasons. I’ve actually just bought myself a second PlayBook, a 32gb 4G model. This new model has the faster 1.5ghz CPU, which surprisingly makes quite a difference in some apps. My old PlayBook was only 16gb and i was running out of space due to my large music collection. It will now serve as my development device.
I’m really excited about working with Unity and making some basic games that i can package up and play on my PlayBook. I’m actually pretty confident that some of my ideas will be be really good fun, as they are basically just clones of some very popular PSX titles. It must be somewhat painful for the developers of old games to see just how simple game creation is these days with software like Unity. That’s not to say i think its easy to make a game, but from what i’ve learned so far, it’s a hell of a lot easier these days than it was for those PSX developers. I’ve got no plans to try and sell anything i make, but if they turn out good enough, you never know. It would sure help pay for that Unity Pro edition.
If there are any PlayBook owners who would like to test anything i make, be sure to let me know. Oh and feel free to share your thoughts on the PlayBook, as i’m sure there must be some other fans out there.
Unity’s an engine that’s really matured over the last two years. Version 4-4.5 is really impressive, and what they have planned for version 5 goes beyond what even CryEngine is currently capable of. A friend of mine is the animator on The Forest, and that game inspired me to have a closer look at Unity. Now having spent quite a few hours playing that game already (its awesome btw), i’m really impressed with what the engine is capable of. When i first started this project, i had my doubts the engine could handle the whole island at the level of detail i wanted, but its proven that it really can hold it own against anything out there.
I’m just about to send the Tech Demo file over to TresCom so they can do what they like with it. I’m not sure what the download process will be, it’s up to them how they want to handle it. I’ve even told them they are welcome to work on it as they see fit, and can delay the release if they want to add anything to it.
I’ll let you know as soon as the file goes live, and where to post feedback etc.
I’m still really busy, so i don’t known when ill get a chance to start with Unity or finish off the CE2 level. I was lucky that I had today off work, so i decided to get the Tech Demo level finished and post this announcement. I actually wanted to mention it in my previous post, but simply didn’t have time.
I’m sorry if i haven’t answered any comments or emails, i promise i’ll get to them one day!
One last thing, if you haven’t yet played The Forest, i suggest you do, because its fantastic. Another game i just recently bought and have only played about 15 minutes of is Outlast. Its on Steam right now for about $10 and is awesome.. and bloody terrifying.