Unity And Multi-Platform XR

Recently BUG had a great presentation by Jonathan Linowes of Parkerhill XR Studio with video here on the new multi-platform XR framework that is now in Unity 2019.3. This is a replacement for the existing legacy XR integrations that were built into the engine in recent years. If you have been doing any VR development since the DK1 you have likely been through the ups and downs of Unity VR integrations which have been quite… Continue reading

Alien Assimilator Crash

I have been having fun building out the damage system for Alien Assimilator. During the assimilation run the human army is attacking your ship and as alien overlord you need to protect it fighting off various units like a wave shooter. However at the same time you must keep consuming material to power the shields, weapons, and other systems along with harvesting humans from the city – with your ultimate goal being to harvest as many as possible.

The ship is a simple working system with a variety of modules. These include lots of things like blaster cannons, snatcher beams, shield generators, matter to energy converters, energy storage cells, and thrusters to keep you aloft. If you lose to many modules your ship is going to start to fail ultimately crashing. There will eventually be a variety of designs with different trade offs to unlock – probably even a Borg Cube like one! I will also probably have a simple editor to make your own designs as well.

A Painless Self-Hosted Git Service: Gitea

Looking for something with many of the features of GitHub but you want it on site in your office for your team so you aren’t paying for a hosted solution along with the storage and bandwidth costs associated with larger projects like games? If this is you definitely check out Gitea! I decided to experiment with it primarily for myself as a way to work on various projects that i am accessing via different machines.… Continue reading

Unity Development

After four amazing years at Wayfair doing really cool XR projects I am now moving on! I am hoping to find some new and exciting projects to get involved in. Going forward I plan to work on some of my own concepts while looking for freelance Unity development opportunities!

I have many years of experience with Unity and leading XR platforms and devices – SteamVR, Oculus, Magic Leap, HoloLens, Google Daydream/Cardboard/ARCore etc. I also have plenty of experience doing mobile development and performance optimization with Unity including on standalone devices beyond phones like Oculus Quest and Magic Leap One.

I am willing to take on any project. I am reliable, detail oriented, and passionate about what I work on. Check out my LinkedIn profile to see more about my skill set, past projects, and published experiences.

If you need help with a Unity project feel free to contact me via mike@pixelatedramblings.com or reach out through LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.

Alien Assimilator Humans

Lately I have been trying out ideas for what the humans should look like in Alien Assimilator. After getting some inspiration from lots of voxel characters and looking at voxel games and their art styles I have settled on a style that I like.

I will be working on a lot of different ones following this art style. I decided I wanted a very simplistic design so that the vertex and triangle counts would not be extremely high. Plus these guys are little maybe a couple of inches tall on the ground so you won’t see lots of detail unless you get close to them.

They are modeled in MagicaVoxel as a body, head, arm, and leg. I put them together via script and do simple movements for the legs and arms while they wobble walk. They just wander about and look around right now. I plan to add some more states to them – one is to run around in circles hysterically waving their arms in the air. They can also turn into a rag doll and float when being snatched by the assimilator.

Skyrim VR

So I broke down during the Steam winter sale last year and decided to pay for Skyrim again since it was half price – all so I can try it in VR! I also dusted off my giant PRIMA game guide as well but referring to a game guide while playing in VR isn’t so easy 🙂 I have been playing for quite some time and I am probably two thirds of the way through… Continue reading

Diagrams.net

Another open source gem I have been using for a while is called diagrams.net (previously draw.io) which is a great free diagramming tool that I wanted to share with anyone who hasn’t already found it.

It works really well and integrates into Google Drive and many other services providing numerous diagrams right out of the box. I particularly like it because it is really easy to share diagrams from Google Drive.

It has a nice set of UML diagrams which I am used to and also a large variety of other diagrams for all kinds of needs. Here is a simple flow chart for Alien Assimilator showing the game flow.

Audio Spatializers for VR

After switching Alien Assimilator over to Steam VR I wanted to figure out what options there were for spatialized audio. I ended up searching around some on the internet and found this great post that covers the Oculus, Google and Valve spatializers. I had the same requirements they outline: Free to use and ship in your app. Currently supported by active development. Cross-platform compatibility with Unity. The article does a fantastic job outlining the strengths… Continue reading

Optimization in Unity

Here are a few links that I have found helpful to get a great overview of optimizing graphics and code in Unity. There are so many great tips in these that you can’t really take them in all at once and I often go back to them when I am dealing with performance issues.

Best practices from the Unity manual:

Tutorials from the Unity learn site:

When I have time I want to add a Unity Tips page to the blog and start putting these kinds of links in it. There are also some good general links in the sidebar.

House Designs in VR (Part 1)

A few years ago I purchased some property in the mountains of southern Vermont where I am planning to eventually build a house.  It’s a beautiful place and is about 15 acres with approximately a third of that open fields and the rest woods.  There is a stream, a farm pond, and a three season cabin on the lower portion that is enjoyed many weekends throughout the year – except the coldest parts of the… Continue reading

Alien Assimilator Destruction

I have been making a little progress on my alien assimilation game. I have it working with SteamVR 2.0 now with some initial core mechanics. Basically you can just blast the city and pickup the debris which fuels your ship. You can also collect humans which just say funny things at the moment – they will eventually give you power ups as you collect them!  The goal will be to assimilate as many humans as possible within your limited invasion window while keeping your ship powered and defending it from the human army trying to take you down.  It’s pretty simple at the moment, but the explosions are satisfying!

Steam VR Unity Plugin 2.0

So I decided to spend some time with Steam VR and try the new Steam VR Unity Plugin 2.0. I am mentoring at the Reality Virtually hackathon at MIT next week helping represent Wayfair and the Next team there and wanted to be knowledgeable of all these recent changes. I also wanted to test my current game project in both the Rift and the Vive so now seems like a good time. I currently have… Continue reading

Playing Lost Loot Again

Just relaxing a bit after the holidays and decided to play Lost Loot since I haven’t tried it in a while.  It still runs beautifully on the Rift and is so much fun.  There is something nice about just sitting back and relaxing with the controller and wandering the ocean looking for treasure in VR.  It may not be perfect but it is a fun little game and those megalodons in the depths are still scary!

XR Dads

So the www.xr-dad.com  site launched and is exactly the kind of stuff I go through with my 8 year old son!  Some good resources here from Alex and Logan for us XR Dads.  I ended up meeting both of them in person at LEAPcon and they are great guys!  So I can officially vouch for them. 🙂

Pica Voxel

I wanted to discuss Pica Voxel which is a great little voxel framework for Unity that I have been using in my latest project. It is written entirely in C# and works pretty well.  I have had success with it and plan to use it as the core in my next project.     The best thing I like about it is that it has shaders that produce a really nice flat shaded look.  The… Continue reading

Unity Hub

If you are not using Unity Hub to manage all those versions of the engine you have installed you should get it now (download is at the end of the linked Unity Blog post). I have been using it for a while and find it almost indispensable for managing the installs, related components, and launching the right one for various projects.

What’s Up With Lost Loot

You can likely surmise from the absence of posts over the last two years that the update to Lost Loot stalled and lost momentum.  I ran into too many issues with performance around the terrain and the trees that made it just not workable and I couldn’t reliably meet frame rate on minimum spec machines.  Another big reason was that I felt the third person miniature approach I switched to was ultimately the wrong direction and dependent on a controller that wasn’t the future of VR where room scale and hand presence is the standard.  I may jump back into it once Unity revamps the whole terrain portion of the engine but that may be a while!