Posts Tagged ‘tools’

7 Reasons We Picked Unity as our GameDev Platform

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

We’d been kicking around ideas for mobile games for several months. It looked like we were spending more time doing research and avoiding actually building a game. Finally the first week of November – yep, four weeks ago – we threw down the gauntlet. We’d better stop dreaming, planning, researching and get down to actually building a product. We decided, that the day of Thanksgiving – actually the day before I think – we should ship our first game.

Now, there was just a minor matter of deciding what game, spec’ing the darn thing, deciding on a platform, building, testing and launching. Long story short, we decided we’d do an Android game first and quickly follow up with an iOS one. This meant we’d have to use a Game Dev platform capable of supporting multi-platform. And of course it would support serving ads. As the game was going to be a multilevel one targeted to casual gamers, mere mortals (read our marketing folks) would have to be able to build levels, without relying on the developer – moi – for everything.  Thanks to the choice of our platform three ways later, HomeBound, our first game was launched on the Android store.

As the title of this blog post attests we selected Unity as our game development platform for the following six reasons.

The short version

  • An IDE doubles as a level editor
  • Unity lets you create ready-to-use Game Objects
  • Tweak properties easily, even at runtime
  • Easy integration of Ad platforms like AdMob
  • Phenomenal cross-platform support
  • Great developer support and community

The longer version

IDE doubles as a level editor Building levels in Unity could not get any easier than dragging and dropping objects into a scene view. You even get a game view that shows how the level will look like as you are building it. Although there are some great plugins that let you ‘paint’ your levels, for simple games the IDE does very well as a level editor. If you are having trouble aligning your sprites for the game background check out vertex snapping.

Unity lets you create ready to use Game Objects This has to be the best feature on Unity. Once you have a game object ready (something like Transform + Renderer + Collider + RigidBody + Scripts) you can turn it into a template (or a Prefab in Unity lingo) which can then be simply added to your scene as many times you desire. Crafting and manipulating objects this way can really bring out the creative you and turn a laborious level making process into fun.

Tweak properties easily, even at runtime
Unity has the so called Inspector view where you can play around with the properties of your game objects. Even the scripts that you write can expose their properties through this view. E.g. Planets in our HomeBound game could either blow up or not. The script handling this behavior simply kept a public Boolean variable as a switch and voila! Unity automatically puts a checkbox in the Inspector to turn on/off planet self-destruct! Going further you can even change these properties at runtime to do a fair amount of fine tuning. Games with lots of dynamic behavior can really benefit such a feature.

Easy integration of Ad platforms like AdMob
Google already has Android and iOS plugins for AdMob on Unity. They are quite easy to integrate and require no coding effort outside Unity. Simply install their plugin, copy some files and make the appropriate calls to launch banner or interstitial ads. Check here for details.

Phenomenal cross-platform support
As the name itself suggests, Unity aims to become a one stop shop in multi-platform game publishing. More than 10 platforms are supported which includes Android and iOS. Everything happens from within Unity, from building for a specific platform to pushing the app to a device. According to a survey by Vision Mobile, Unity is used by 47% of game developers as a primary multi-platform development tool.

Great developer support and community
Unity has been around since 2004; that is a good 10 years to have a thriving and mature developer community. Barring the most obtuse queries, you will get an answer very quickly in the developer forums. There are detailed text/video tutorials available within the Unity site itself and dozens more from 3rd party sites. The Unity Asset Store will satisfy all your content needs, right from scripts and sprites to complete projects. You can actually sell your wares there if you want to!

We’re still learning and will share in a separate posts 8 misconceptions we’d to overcome. Meanwhile good luck.

Four steps to a clutter-free desktop

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Most people we know get a large number of file attachments over email. These end up cluttering their desktop. Writer Chanpory Rith has evolved a simple method to avoid desktop clutter.

  • Set up four folders in your Documents folder – Inbox, Actions, Incubate and Archive. Make Inbox your default download folder for all applications. Move the scattered files on your desktop to the Inbox folder.
  • Twice a day process the files in the Inbox folder so that it is empty at the end of the day. Move the files that you can start working on immediately into the Actions folder. Use the Incubate folder for those files that you can’t deal with right now.
  • Work on the Actions folder and when done, move them to the Archive folder. If you are ready to deal with a file in the Incubate folder move it to the Actions folder.
  • Once a month backup the contents of your Archive folder.

Try it and let us know how it works for you.

3 reasons why we picked BatchBook as our CRM tool

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

Over the last fourteen years of being mostly a marketer and occassionally a sales fella, I have run through my gamut of enteprise and entrepreneurial CRM software. The only one I came to nearly loving was the original (free) Seibel Personal Edition, which we used in our first startup, Impulsesoft. Despite the lack of multi-user support in Siebel PE, we made do. Alas just as we were hitting our stride, they discontinued it—I suspect, when they found out that I was actually able to get my job done with it.

With the virulence of a jilted lover I ran back into the arms of that rule-lined temptress Microsoft Excel. I’ll admit I flirted with ACT, had a drunken evening with GoldMine and actually paid $29.95 for Iambic‘s SalesWarrior on my Palm powered Kyocera phone (circa 2000). Yet I always returned to Excel. By the time began its meteoric rise, I had become a bureaucrat. So I watched from the sidelines – a C-level executive who no longer used anything other than Excel.

Starting again on our own, and boot-strapping Zebu meant I was back to donning the sales hat, working the phone, pressing palms and mailing my heart out. So we were back to looking for CRM software! Of course with the world having moved on, we never bothered looking for a PC client, and decided to go Web 2.0 – the bulk of my evaluation time was spent with HighRise, ZohoCRM and BatchBook. While I briefly spent time playing with PipelineDeals and Oprius, I was already too far along, with the others, for these to ever be serious contenders.

For those of you looking for the Quick & Dirty summary version here it is:

BatchBook – we picked this finally because of

  • its simplicity – unbelievable simplicity
  • the fiendish power of superTags
  • its incredible support

and while we have become paying customers of BatchBook now, when we started its pricing (which began with a free offer for three users) tipped us over!

For those of you who want more, check out the presentation that was made internally to share why BatchBook.

HighRise We began with unabashed admiration for 37Signals. We found ourselves reading, watching and discussing DHH & JF.

  • we started as (paying) BaseCamp users and struggled with use of separate tool for contacts
  • we also stumbled initially because their free version did not support three users(our team size then)
  • they’ve arguably led the simplicity (less is more) movement;  But we kept running into things, we wished were there in HighRise, and did not get the feeling of being listened to.
  • pricing was a niggling more than BatchBook, but was not a deal killer

One of the mysteries I never figured out was, I got going using HighRise, but could not never get the other members of our team rolling – maybe ‘coz they were moonlighting then or for some other reason. But by the time we got to evaluating BatchBook, my partners got active and BB edged out HR! Once we got rolling with BatchBook, while we did find many things missing in BatchBook as well,  that we’d have liked to have, superTags almost always gave us workarounds.

ZohoCRM Personally, I have been a big advocate of Zoho (Projects, Writer & Sheet)

  • ZohoCRM is almost the antithesis of BatchBook or HighRise – every feature imaginable is available
  • Even a highly motivated user, as I think of myself, needs a one or more unit college course to use it
  • alas – the near poetry of Zoho Writer or more recently Folders is totally lacking in the ZohoCRM UI design – the sheer complexity resulted in loss of ease of use and the UI left much to be desired. Seems like someone not yet steeped in the ways of early Zoho products designed it. Deal killer!

This might explain why, despite Zoho’s 3 user free license, I could not get any of my partners to use Zoho CRM.

Now that we have been ardent, paying customers of BatchBook, key areas we are hoping to influence include:

[a] more extensive reports (of anything v anything in the database, ala Quicken, my all time favorite)
[b] better sales deals/opportunity tracking without losing the ease of use, nor contorting too much with superTags
[c] even stronger API support, so that  can extend reports and synch with other apps.