Disclaimer: this is an automatic aggregator which pulls feeds and comments from many blogs of contributors that have contributed to the Mono project. The contents of these blog entries do not necessarily reflect Xamarin's position.

April 24

Early access to new 2D tools

Hello 2D developers!

First of all, I want to thank you for continuing to support Unity, and especially our 2D features. The 2D Team love working in this area of the engine, and we are very happy to announce that, as a company, we’ll be devoting considerable additional resources to making our 2D tools as intuitive, powerful and flexible as we possibly can.

2D is super important

Developing our 2D offering has become one of Unity’s top priorities. We’ve expanded our team, and there are now many new faces working on building some exciting features.

We’ve also thought a lot about the way we organize what the 2D Team does, and how we can ensure that we get more feedback at an earlier stage of development. To that end, we now have our own dedicated alpha shipping cycle!

Early alpha access for Unity Pro users

Perhaps the most exciting change is that we’re releasing features that are in development to Unity Pro users much earlier. With your feedback, we hope to cut development time by better understanding how we can meet your needs.

You can find the link to the current alpha from our Bitbucket repo.

image (2)

Demos, prototyping tools and documentation

As well as posting each new release to Bitbucket, we’ll also upload early versions of tech demos, prototyping tools, and draft documentation.

How you can help shape the future of 2D

The 2D Team has its own dedicated QA and UX resources. This means we’re a self-contained unit that can implement all the changes that will make Unity’s upcoming 2D tools truly awesome.

To make suggestions, flag issues, and give us feedback just post to the Issues Section on the repo, and we’ll action them.

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the features in the current alpha build:

Tile Map Editor
9-Slice Sprites
Smart Sprite
ETC1 Compression
Masking
Improved Sprite Packing
And many more…

We hope this new development process will help us get to where we should be faster. On behalf of the 2D Team, I’d like to thank you once again for using and testing our tools!

April 23

Lollipop Support comes to the Xamarin Android Player

Waiting for an emulator to boot or deploy is one of the most frustrating things about Android development. We built the Xamarin Android Player to provide a high-performance, hassle-free Android simulator, and to make Android development smooth and pleasant.

Introducing Lollipop Support

Starting today, when you launch the Xamarin Android Player you will see a brand new device image for Android 5.1 Lollipop enabling you to test against all of the latest Lollipop APIs with Material Design.

Xamarin Android Player Lollipop

Help us improve

We released our first preview in October of last year and thousands of Xamarin developers have already used it to build and test Android apps. We’ve collected a lot of feedback, and the experience has already improved a lot.

But we’re not done! Our goal is to install the Xamarin Android Player by default with Xamarin, and to replace the stock Google Android emulator with it. And we need your help. Please download the Xamarin Android Player today and give it a try. Report any issues that you find so that we can keep improving.

To learn more about the Xamarin Android Player, be sure to read the full documentation on how to get started.

The post Lollipop Support comes to the Xamarin Android Player appeared first on Xamarin Blog.

Win a $10k Mobile Developer Rig from Xamarin at Build 2015

Wear the new Xamarin t-shirt from the Xamarin Build 2015 Kick Off Party to Build on April 29th for your chance to win one of three Mobile Developer Rigs worth over $10,000!
 
Xamarin Build 2015 Developer Rig Contest Prizes

How to Enter

Attend the Xamarin Build 2015 Kick Off Party on 4/28, where you’ll receive the newly designed Xamarin t-shirt. Wear the t-shirt from the Kick Off Party to Day One of Build on 4/29, and tweet a picture of yourself wearing it at the conference with @xamarinhq and #bldwin in the text. For example: “I’ve got @xamarinhq on my shirt and mobile development on my mind at #bldwin”. All entries must be received by 11:59 pm on 4/29.

A valid entry consists of a tweet with:

  • An image of yourself wearing the new Xamarin Build Kick Off Party t-shirt at Build on 4/29.
  • The hashtag #bldwin and @xamarinhq.
  • You may enter multiple times, but each entry must contain a unique image and text.

If you haven’t registered for the Xamarin Build Kick Off Party yet, you can do so below:

The Prizes

Each of the three winners will receive a Xamarin Mobile Developer Rig, which will include the following:

Hardware

  • 15” Macbook Pro Laptop with Retina
    • 2.5 GHz i7 Processor
    • 16GB RAM
    • 512 GB SSD
    • Apple Magic Mouse
    • Apple wireless keyboard
  • Surface Pro 3
    • 1.7 GHz
    • 8 GB RAM
    • 512GB
    • Intel Core i7
  • Ultra high-resolution 4K Monitor

Phones

  • iPhone 6
  • The winner’s choice of an equivalent Android phone
  • Windows Phone

Tablets

  • iPad Air 2
  • The winner’s choice of an equivalent Android tablet

Smartwatches

  • Apple Watch
  • Microsoft Band
  • Moto 360

One-year Xamarin subscriptions

  • Xamarin.iOS Enterprise
  • Xamarin.Android Enterprise
  • Xamarin.Mac Enterprise
  • Xamarin Test Cloud Basic
  • Xamarin University

Rules and Regulations

All entries must be submitted by 11:59 pm PT on April 29, 2015. A valid entry is a tweet that contains an image of the submitter wearing the new Xamarin t-shirt from the Xamarin Build Kick Off Party on 4/28 at Build and includes both @xamarinhq and the hashtag #bldwin. We will select three winners at random from the submissions. Each entry must have a unique image and text. Contestants should follow @XamarinHQ to enable us to DM you for private follow-up if you win a prize. This contest is open to individuals and there is no purchase necessary to enter.

The post Win a $10k Mobile Developer Rig from Xamarin at Build 2015 appeared first on Xamarin Blog.

Making Your Mobile Game a Success. Part One: F2P Game Design

In the first of a series of pieces sharing advice from Unity users that have that found success in the mobile space, we look at the basic concepts of designing for the free-to-play realm.

You don’t need to be an expert in the latest form of the user acquisition funnel to know that the world of free-to-play games is a complex one.

There exists a vast industry built around turning free games into successful ones, and a host of bewildering phrasing around the likes of retargeting, ad bidding networks and effective cost per paying user.

It can feel as intimidating as it can be bewildering, but making your game free can also serve as a gateway of discoverability, and potentially bring millions of customers to see your creation.

And for those unsure about the best way forward, fortunately there are some realistic, practical things you can do to give your free game the best chance of success, both critically and commercially.
Speak to the various studios that have seen their Unity-authored F2P games enjoy both healthy chart position and revenues, and while they all have a lot of different ideas about how to monetize, one concept is universal.

Make the decision to go with free before you design a single thing, build it into your game’s very core, and be sure that, above all else, you have a good playable game.

Dead Trigger 2 800x475

That is all easier said than done, of course, but it’s a lesson that has led to many studios meeting with remarkable mobile success, and brought some back from a point where games were not making anything like enough money.

“Free-to-play can only be decided on before you start any development, as it includes every single thing in the game that follows,” offers Jakob Lykkegaard, Co-Founder and CEO of Pocket PlayLabs, which saw its puzzle hit Juice Cubes picked up and published under Rovio’s own Rovio Stars banner, before it went on to secure over 25 million downloads and a still sizable 2 million daily active users.

“We had – before Juice Cubes – made a big mistake with Lost Cubes, as we tried to make a premium game free-to-play in the middle of the production,” continues a reassuringly frank Lykkegaard. “We ended up with a ‘free premium game’ that didn’t monetize at all.”

JuiceCubes 800x475

But what exactly is designing for free-to-play? For some of the most successful studios, it about the kind of design a number of Unity users will likely warm to.

“We concentrate on hardcore gameplay and our visual quality still remains top-notch,” says Marek Rabas, CEO and Co-Founder of Madfinger, which continues to enjoy much success with its Dead Trigger 2 title, now downloaded 80-million-plus times.

And according to Rabas, designing for F2P success stems from delivering “great core gameplay and visually stunning environments, high quality models, motion capture animation, all built around F2P mechanics.”

What Mad Finger and the Dead Trigger IP have shown is that, if paired with workable freemium mechanisms, traditional game design values and concepts can still make for a significant mobile success story. There’s a misconception that free-to-play success demands designing a game built from the likes of microscopic core loops and roulette-style spinners. Those concepts can work too, but the point is this; as long as you are thinking how to apply your gameplay to free from day one, and what monetization model you choose, almost any genre or form can thrive.

The monetization methods can vary wildly, of course, and today while pay wall timers continue to remain popular, in-game ads, character customization IAP, cross-promotion for external apps and the established unlockable content remain viable options.

But however you monetize your mobile game, one thing is clear; pestering your player to spend – or making obstacles to progressing for free too aggressive – is not the way forward, and can ultimately be financially counterproductive.

Yet there is much you can do without disgruntling your player base.
“We tried avoid using pay walls, but instead try to create scenarios where the player would want to spend money in our game, even though he doesn’t have to,” explains Moti Novo, Co-Founder and Creative Director at Jelly Button; a studio seeing its recent Unity-authored release Pirate Kings enjoy some 930,000 daily active users, despite the team being a relatively new entity.

“We wanted to make a place where payers and non-payers would have identical experiences and a balanced progression,” continues Novo. “We trusted that a beautiful environment, and a fun enough interaction with friends we would keep people involved in the game regardless of whether they want to pay or not.”

As Jelly Button demonstrates, you needn’t commit to pay-to-win and aggressive pay-walling to meet with success. In fact, for the Israeli team and many of their contemporaries, quite the opposite is true.

Pirate Kings 800x475

Similarly – the experts agree – if you are relying on ads for revenue in your free game, it’s about integrating them into the design if the game in a way that feels natural, and won’t aggravate the player.

“Our business model is ‘free plus ads’,” states Nicolas Sorel, CEO of Magma Mobile, which has turned to Unity for all of their games such as the wildly popular Burger, and enjoyed 380 million downloads across its catalogue. “Sometimes we implement some in-app purchases, but majority of our model is ads monetization. When we build a game, we try to put ads at a good place and at the right moment. We try to find the right balance not to annoy our users and so we don’t ruin their Magma Mobile experience.

“But I want to be clear,” continues a clearly passionate Sorel. “We avoid intrusive ads; we try to make a clean integration of banners that don’t annoy our users. When we integrate in-app purchase in a game to buy something, we automatically remove ads. If a user buys something in-app, our way of thanking the user is to remove advertising in the game.”

Well-placed ads can certainly work well in free games – as case in point being the Unity-authored hit Crossy Road, which made two-man studio Hipster Whale a global success story. Harnessing the Unity Ads ecosystem, Crossy Road integrated commercials into its gameplay without ever forcing them on players, and only ever promoted other games: something that worked for both Hipster Whale and its players.

Ads, it is clear, offer an option available to studios of every size, even if they don’t have a seven-figure user acquisition budget. And they can be used in myriad different ways.

Blendoku 800x475

“We chose to release Blendoku for free with the core of the game – so all levels are free,” offers Rod Green, Co-Founder and Developer of Lonely Few, a team of two that saw a mobile hit with their minimalist puzzler. “You could call it ‘unlimited trial’. It’s ad supported and […] we added purchasable expansions over the course of development.

“A key thing for us was to make any purchase remove ads. We figured if you want to pay for some extra content then we’ll treat it like it’s a premium paid product. We also don’t have any consumable purchases as we feel they don’t fit the ‘unlimited trial’ concept.”

Lonely Few selected the model as they didn’t expect to have access to a big marketing budget; they were developing a distinct concept and thus wanted to be able to capitalize on grassroots support.
“The initial paid barrier to entry would have seriously hindered Blendoku’s ability to be shared and enjoyed by so many people,” concludes Green, taking us back to the opening point. Whether you’re a big-budget powerhouse or a small, creatively bold start-up, free can offer a gateway to you’re game that can bring players  – some of them paying – pouring in.

If you handle it right and design it into your game from day one, free can be an important part of making your game a mobile success story.

Those that want to harness the potential of free-to-play to make their creation reach more people – or make them more money – can design it into the game from the start, without sacrificing gameplay standards or ideas. Consider the monetization model that best matches your design, and avoid irritating your users with your ads, IAP or pay-walls, and matching the success of some of the most bankable Unity-authored projects is far from impossible.

There’s rather more to it than that, of course, which is why this is just the first in a series of blog posts looking at how to make your mobile game a success, with advice from Unity users that have done it themselves.

April 22

Rob Pardo to Take Global Tour of Unity Developers

I am happy to announce today that we’ve partnered with Rob Pardo, former Chief Creative Officer at Blizzard Entertainment.  Rob will be a Creative Advisor to Unity and to our community of game developers and designers.  Starting next month, Rob will start on a global tour of Unity’s community of developers. Rob is one of the videogame industry’s most respected and influential voices and has played an integral part in the creation and upkeep of some of the world’s most famous and beloved gaming franchises including credits as Lead Designer on World of Warcraft, StarCraft: Brood War, and Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos.

We’re proud of our relationship with Rob and and we’re setting up the tour so that many Unity developers will have the chance to meet Rob, and talk about game design. Rob will meet developers in North America, Europe, and Asia to discuss creative process, game design, industry trends, and keys to making successful games. In addition to visiting individual studios, Pardo will also make appearances at select local Unity community developer groups to share observations and discuss the industry.

We’ll share a more complete itinerary at a later date, but for now, we wanted to introduce Rob and the tour.  He’ll be posting on Unity’s blog from time to time to update us on his travels and what he’s learned.

– John R

 

rob_pardo_headshotHi everyone! It’s great to be part of the Unity community.

When I met John Riccitiello, we connected in a very positive way.  We both share a love of games and believe the entire industry benefits when we share knowledge and ideas. In a sense, I am on a vision quest, as I embark on what’s next for me. As part of that, I have a tremendous appetite to learn, get to know people and projects and share what I can, creatively and based on my experiences. So I could not say no when John invited me to get involved with a project to tour Unity’s great community of developers.

While I was at Blizzard, we used Unity to develop a little game called Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. So it’s extra fun for me to be more directly involved with the team at Unity that created the technology we used.

After years steeped in the games business, my passion remains the same at its core: I love games, discussing design and creative process and I find it fascinating to see how different people work differently.

We’re seeing a new golden age of games currently with an amazing catalog of games, with more breadth and diversity than ever before; there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re into hardcore AAA shooters, deep strategy games, quirky platformers, or more avant garde indie fare, it’s an embarrassment of riches.

I am very much looking forward to my tour and I hope to meet many developers with different team sizes, genres and platforms. I’ll see developers creating free to play mobile games and others who are creating premium AAA games for PC and console. I hope to offer insights from my experience designing games, serve as a sounding board for ideas, and simply sit down to muse together about game design in the new shape of our industry.

Hopefully the knowledge shared and gained in these meetings will make it outside the walls where they take place. I’ll try to do my part in that sense by writing about my experiences while traveling the world. You’ll be able to see those thoughts here on the Unity blog.

I admire Unity’s ambition to empower developers and democratize game development. I also recently got a demo for Unity 5 and I can’t wait to see what developers will do with the platform.

— Rob

April 21

Join Xamarin at Microsoft Ignite 2015

Join Xamarin at Microsoft Ignite in Chicago, IL from May 4-7, 2015. Key members from the Xamarin team will be available to answer your questions, discuss your apps and projects, and show you what’s new across our products.

McCormick Sky Line

James Montemagno, Xamarin Developer Evangelist, will be delivering two talks this year:

  • Go Mobile with C#, Visual Studio, and Xamarin, Thursday, May 7th 10:45am-12:00pm: Learn how to leverage your existing Microsoft .NET and C# skills to create iOS and Android apps in Visual Studio with Xamarin and share your business logic across all platforms. During this session, James will cover several live coding samples and real-world mobile apps to look at the architecture and patterns that power them.
  • Building Multi-Device Applications with Xamarin and Office 365 APIs, Friday, May 8th 9:00-10:15am: This session will introduce the different approaches to building mobile apps that consume Office 365 platform services. The session will give an overview of both native Windows and Xamarin cross-platform development (Android, iOS, Windows Phone) using Visual Studio.

We’ll be at booth #216, so be sure to stop by and say hello if you’re at the conference — we look forward to seeing you in Chicago!

The post Join Xamarin at Microsoft Ignite 2015 appeared first on Xamarin Blog.

Capital: Adventures in adventure creating

Games can be the perfect medium to tell stories with. But how do you get started when you’re not a coder? I talked to the film maker and game designer Ash Denton about Capital, a sci-fi noir point and click adventure game that he’s working on. He recommends checking out Adventure Creator from the Asset Store.

Ash Denton has worked on videos for Inside XBox and is one of the creators of the Thank You for Playing video series. His dream has always been to make feature-length films. Recently, he realized that there was another way he could bring stories to life. “I was thinking, wait a minute, making a game should be way way easier! I’m not a coder, I didn’t really know where to start, so I asked people I met through my work for advice.”

One of those friends was Mike Bithell, the Thomas Was Alone developer, who recommended that Ash check out some Unity tutorials. At first, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to start learning a whole new toolset. Then he discovered Kentucky Road Zero. “Coming from the video background, lighting was really important to me. This game just looks so amazing and it was made by two developers! So I started looking into their lighting and saw that the people shared the script on some forum. How amazing is that?”

Capital concept art

Capital concept art

He concluded that learning Unity was worth the effort and downloaded the free version of Unity 4.5. He’s now upgraded to Unity 5. “The new lighting is brilliant and for the first time, I’m working with material and shaders. The Standard Shader is really so much easier to deal with – it helps that I have experience with After Effects in Adobe Suite”.

Mike Bithell also recommended the Asset Store. Ash was amazed to see the diversity of what was on offer: “You can buy all the bits and tools you need. You can get someone else’s brilliant stuff, plug it in, and tweak it.”

Soon, he found Adventure Creator on the store. “It’s incredible, all of the tools needed to create a professional looking point-n-click game without having to type a single line of code. Plus the creator is super helpful and has pulled me through many issues and complex ideas I’ve had with his software.”

Capital in Adventure Creator

Capital in Adventure Creator

Adventure Creator is very open ended and flexible. For example, Capital is going to have 2D characters in a 3D world. With the tool, a non-coder can create node based scripted events and buttons.  With the actions manager, the designer can control which commands are available to cut scenes. When connected, actions produce branching gameplay. The scene manager organizes all the logic in a scene, including hotspots, navigation and triggers.

“I really didn’t expect the support to be so fantastic, after all, most publishers have their own companies, their own projects. But every time I come across a problem, I found someone to talk to”.

Dialogue System for Unity integrates well with the Adventure Creator and allowed Ash and his small team to scale up their ambition for the in-game conversations. “The creator of this asset writes custom scripts for me, he’s just incredible”.

The database structure that the asset maintains enabled a number of fairly innovative features. You build a reputation in the game, new people will react to you differently based on how you treated others before them. Your choices follow you. Also, the emotional state of the NPCs will change depending on the dialogue options you choose. A number scale changes based on the mood of the character. “Ultimately, this should make the conversation feel more organic”, says Ash.

Dialogue System for Unity

Dialogue System for Unity

At the moment, the team of four core people with a few helpers is working on a playable demo to show the main mechanic “Then we can test it, KickStart it, try everything and make something that truly stands out”.

You should really check out the Capital dev blog and follow Ash Denton on Twitter.

April 20

A Warm Welcome to the Newest Xamarin MVPs

Xamarin MVPJust a few months ago we announced the continued expansion of the Xamarin MVP program by welcoming the first round of Xamarin MVPs for 2015. These individuals have made significant contributions by sharing their passion and expertise in mobile app development with the expanding global Xamarin community. We honor these individuals with the Xamarin MVP title for these contributions, which include:

  • Writing great articles, books, and blog posts
  • Speaking in public and online
  • Sharing and building amazing libraries
  • Helping developers online in our forums, on Twitter, Stack Overflow, and other communities
  • Shipping awesome apps

Today, we’re thrilled to recognize the following new Xamarin MVPs for their remarkable contributions to the community!

filip Filip Ekberg Adam Patridge adam
michael Michael Ridland Dan Rigby rigby
silva Sara Silva Sean Sparkman spakrman
wolf Adam Wolf

If you know an outstanding developer who would make a great Xamarin MVP, please nominate him or her here.

The post A Warm Welcome to the Newest Xamarin MVPs appeared first on Xamarin Blog.

Think Ahead

Since the early days of MonoTouch, when it was just a few of us hanging out in IRC deep into the night, I’ve gravitated towards helping other developers. Initially through my blog and speaking events, and later through my MonoTouch book and training course, I was able to help lots of people get started with this fantastic technology.

Not too long after Xamarin was formed, I joined as their first technical writer. Then I moved into a role as the documentation lead, followed by developer evangelism. Being able to work in these roles at Xamarin was the privilege of my career. Not only did I get to work with a brilliant team, but I was able to help so many developers through my writing, speaking and code. After years writing scientific and engineering software behind the scenes, helping others has been refreshing and has become my passion.

Which leads me to an exciting next step. Today I am excited to announce I have joined up with the team at Think Ahead Software to create the best Xamarin consulting group in the world. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to continue helping developers succeed with my favorite platform and am looking forward to the many amazing applications we’ll help bring to the world.

I’d love to talk to you about how I can help build your app. You can contact me here.


April 17

iOS 64-bit and Metal update

Welcome to round two of our weekly blog update covering progress with stabilization and optimization of iOS 64-bit support in Unity 4.6 and 5.0! One of the most visible changes this week is that 5.0.1p1 includes the build size reductions that previously shipped in 4.6.4p2. You’ll also find further fixes to generics and WebRequest, amongst many others. We still highly recommend that all production teams working toward releasing iOS 64-bit titles adopt every patch release as it ships.

Remember:  All patch releases for 4.6 and 5.0 can be found at https://unity3d.com/unity/qa/patch-releases.

And all monthly maintenance releases for 4.6 and 5.0 can be found at http://unity3d.com/get-unity/download/archive

And now for this week’s updates:

Status of 64-bit/Metal support in Unity 5.0.x

  • 5.0.1p1 shipped Wednesday, April 15.  The weekly 5.0.x patch release schedule resumed this week and and will continue going forward.  The build includes new fixes in addition to those introduced in 4.6.4p1 and 4.6.4p2.
  • Download and view the latest release notes for Unity 5.0.1p1 at https://unity3d.com/unity/qa/patch-releases/5.0.1p1

Status of 64-bit/Metal support in Unity 4.6

  • Unity 4.6.4p3 shipped today, April 17th.  In addition to a long list of il2cpp fixes, it contains new WebRequest fixes and first set of build size improvements.
  • Download and view the latest release notes for Unity 4.6.4p3 at https://unity3d.com/unity/qa/patch-releases/4.6.4p3

Our current release plan

  • 5.0 patch releases are scheduled to be released each week on Wednesdays.
  • 4.6 patch releases are scheduled to be released each week on Fridays.

Some important info to remember

  • It is necessary to update your projects to 4.6 at the very least to enjoy 64-bit support on iOS. 64-bit will only ship in 4.6.x and 5.x releases.
  • Apple has announced that they will require all apps on the store to include 64-bit support with any updates as of June 1, 2015.
  • We are doing weekly releases with all bugfixes. We can’t fix bugs if they’re not reported, so please report any issues with il2cpp builds the moment you discover them.
  • Internally, our developers collaborate on a single version of IL2CPP which is ported to 4.6 and 5.0 -based patch release branches at the last possible moment in order to release as many fixes and improvements as possible in each release. The cutoff date for fixes in each weekly patch release is several days before the release, to give us time to test and approve each release.

About the binary size increase issue

We’re still working hard behind the scenes to address increased runtime executable file sizes when using il2cpp.  Further improvements were addressed in 5.0.1p1 and 4.6.4p3 with more improvements underway.

For reference and more context about what is going on with iOS 64-bit and Apple’s requirements, please check out the blog post on iOS & ARM64 here, and our in-depth strategic plan for IL2CPP here.

Our plan is to update these posts on a weekly basis so make sure to check back next week to get a heads up on the latest progress with 64-bit iOS support and il2cpp!

The Republique Remastered in Unity 5 Learn Project is here!

Greeting Unity developers! A couple months ago we at Camouflaj published Remastering Republique: The Journey to Unity 5, a series of videos, articles and blog posts, sharing our experience thru the course of the project.

Today we’re going one step further by sharing a real slice of our game at the Unity Asset Store! Hopefully, this will act as resource for the community to learn about what’s possible with Unity 5, and how it can be applied this in a real game.

You’ll find several areas from Republique in this project file: the Brigs, the Atrium, and the Terminus. You’ll also see how we used several out-of-the-box Unity 5 features: Reflection Probes, Enlighten, new Animation and Audio features, and more.

Here’s a quick tour to walk through some of the things you’ll find.

ENLIGHTEN 

image04

image00

Republique’s Atrium space was the first thing we tackled as a studio when we moved to Unity 5. Many studios will create a proof of concept by taking a simple, unimpressive space and transforming it using the new technology they’re looking to adopt. We did just the opposite! The Atrium is Episode 1’s hero space, undeniably one of our favorites, and we wanted to be honest with ourselves about what migrating to Unity 5 would do for the highest quality areas. We were pleasantly surprised by the enhancements provided by Enlighten, particularly in the light being cast from the top of the scene.

 image07

Emissive materials are one of the newest additions to Unity 5. Here you can see that by increasing the Emission intensity of the Fluorescent Light material, you get a much brighter scene with bounce lighting. You will receive instant feedback if you have continuous baking checked. This is a huge time saver when lighting your environment.

image06

You can see in the material example that the emission value is a new feature, and can easily be animated by adding an Animation track that controls these values.

image10

image09

Here you can see that by increasing the Indirect Intensity in our lighting tab, the scene will dynamically update and become brighter. This, like everything else, is displayed in real time.

 image05

Reflection probes allow metals to react more like their real-world counterparts by reflecting the environments around them. If you check Box projections, these more accurately reflect the geo around them, provided the scene is a square shape.

image12

Here you can see that if we take the pillar and set the surface of the material to metal and increase the reflectivity, you get a spatially accurate reflection.

image11 

Likewise, as you decrease the smoothness, the reflection will become rough or blurry.

image01

UNITY 5 AUDIO

image03

Unity 5’s Audio Mixer allows you to categorize audio and specify output buses to allow for more flexibility in how audio is routed and mixed, as well as how effects are applied. In the ‘Ambience’ group, ‘Ambience’ is split into 2D and 3D sub-groups. Naturally, 3D ambient audio is routed to the 3D sub-group, so that the audio associated within the 3D bus fire appropriately relative to their grouping. Within each group, the volume and pitch can be adjusted, audio filters can be applied and tweaked, and you can solo or mute individual or entire groups in real-time. Just be sure to click on ‘Edit in Play Mode’ on the top right corner of the Audio Mixer while the game is running. As an example, we’ve added ‘SFX Reverb’ to the Footsteps group for you to tweak and play around with while the game is running.

image02

Once you’re satisfied with how the mix is turning out, you can save a Snapshot of your Audio Mixer settings. Snapshots are very useful in preserving your mix, as well as allowing you to create multiple sound profiles, paving the way for a more dynamic mix.

MECANIM

When you’re ready to press play and give the game a shot, you can left click to move Hope around the environment, and use WASD to control the camera. We’ve included several animations, but since we are exposing the Mecanim API, you will be able to create all sorts of tools to create and edit Mecanim assets.

image08

In this project, there is a button to re-create the Animator used on Hope 1 click. The script creates a similar Animator in the Project folder. The code for the creation of the controller is as simple as it gets:

[MenuItem ("Hope/Create Controller")]

static void CreateController () {

<i>// Creates the controller</i>

var controller = UnityEditor.Animations.AnimatorController.CreateAnimatorControllerAtPath ("Assets/HopeScriptCtrl.controller");

<i>// Add parameters</i>

controller.AddParameter("Walk", AnimatorControllerParameterType.Bool);

controller.AddParameter("TurnLeft", AnimatorControllerParameterType.Bool);

controller.AddParameter("TurnRight", AnimatorControllerParameterType.Bool);

controller.AddParameter("HalfTurn", AnimatorControllerParameterType.Bool);

<i>// Add StateMachines</i>

var rootStateMachine = controller.layers[0].stateMachine;

var stateMachineStand = rootStateMachine.AddStateMachine("Stand");

<i>// Add States</i>

var stateIdle = stateMachineStand.AddState("Idle");

var stateTurnLeft = stateMachineStand.AddState("TurnLeft");

var stateTurnRight = stateMachineStand.AddState("TurnRight");

var stateHalfTurn = stateMachineStand.AddState("HalfTurn");

var stateWalk = stateMachineStand.AddState("Walk");

stateIdle.motion = AssetDatabase.LoadAssetAtPath("Assets/Animations/Hope Animations/StandingIdleLooking.fbx", typeof(AnimationClip)) as Motion;

stateTurnLeft.motion = AssetDatabase.LoadAssetAtPath("Assets/Animations/Hope Animations/MoveStand90_L.fbx", typeof(AnimationClip)) as Motion;

stateTurnRight.motion = AssetDatabase.LoadAssetAtPath("Assets/Animations/Hope Animations/MoveStand90_R.fbx", typeof(AnimationClip)) as Motion;

stateHalfTurn.motion = AssetDatabase.LoadAssetAtPath("Assets/Animations/Hope Animations/MoveStand180.fbx", typeof(AnimationClip)) as Motion;

stateWalk.motion = AssetDatabase.LoadAssetAtPath("Assets/Animations/Hope Animations/MoveWalk_F.fbx", typeof(AnimationClip)) as Motion;

<i>// Add Transitions</i>

var idle2TurnLeft = stateIdle.AddTransition (stateTurnLeft);

var turnLeft2Idle = stateTurnLeft.AddTransition (stateIdle);

idle2TurnLeft.AddCondition(UnityEditor.Animations.AnimatorConditionMode.If, 0, "TurnLeft");

idle2TurnLeft.duration = 0.025f;

turnLeft2Idle.hasExitTime = true;

turnLeft2Idle.exitTime = 0.85f;

turnLeft2Idle.duration = 0.15f;

var idle2TurnRight = stateIdle.AddTransition (stateTurnRight);

var turnRight2Idle = stateTurnRight.AddTransition (stateIdle);

idle2TurnRight.AddCondition(UnityEditor.Animations.AnimatorConditionMode.If, 0, "TurnRight");

idle2TurnRight.duration = 0.025f;

turnRight2Idle.hasExitTime = true;

turnRight2Idle.exitTime = 0.85f;

turnRight2Idle.duration = 0.15f;

var idle2HalfTurn = stateIdle.AddTransition (stateHalfTurn);

var halfTurn2Idle = stateHalfTurn.AddTransition (stateIdle);

idle2HalfTurn.AddCondition(UnityEditor.Animations.AnimatorConditionMode.If, 0, "HalfTurn");

idle2HalfTurn.duration = 0.025f;

halfTurn2Idle.hasExitTime = true;

halfTurn2Idle.exitTime = 0.85f;

halfTurn2Idle.duration = 0.15f;

var idle2Walk = stateIdle.AddTransition (stateWalk);

var walk2Idle = stateWalk.AddTransition (stateIdle);

idle2Walk.AddCondition(UnityEditor.Animations.AnimatorConditionMode.If, 0, "Walk");

idle2Walk.duration = 0.025f;

walk2Idle.AddCondition(UnityEditor.Animations.AnimatorConditionMode.IfNot, 0, "Walk");

walk2Idle.duration = 0.25f;

}

And so ends our summary of the Republique Remastered in Unity 5 Learn Project! We hope you find our project useful, and we inspired you to experiment and learn more on your own. Best of luck from all of us at Camouflaj!

 
*NOTE: Visual fidelity of project file may differ slightly from the retail version of Republique Remastered.

A report from The Inaugural Annual Unity Test Engineering World Congress

The past few months were really busy for the Software Test Engineers team. We were all working hard on upcoming releases and the day-to-day testing tasks took up all of our bandwidth. We were so busy working in the sawmill that we forgot to sharpen our saws. To break out of this vicious circle, we organized a week long event, aimed at learning new skills and exchanging experiences. Finally, just last month we had the STE Week, or – what we like to call – The Inaugural Annual Unity Test Engineering World Congress!

So what did we do with these 5 days? Well first of all, we got everyone together! We are over 20 individuals distributed among Unity offices in Copenhagen, Odessa, Vilnius, Berlin, Boston, Austin, Singapore, Seattle, Montreal, plus a few who work remotely from home. So the most exciting part of the week was to finally gather our growing team and meet everyone in person. The location for this year’s gathering was Vilnius, Lithuania.

 

Testing craft

Monday was kicked off by one of the STE leads, Claus Petersen, giving a presentation about the upcoming changes in R&D and their implications for the STE team. The shift in the way we organize our development activities is like a hike in the mountain; it’s exciting, you get a beautiful view of the mountain peak in the distance, but at the same time it’s challenging and can be really hard (there could be trolls around – who knows). The activities we did during the STE week can be compared to equipping the team for the rough terrain they will be traversing during the next year.

The next topic on the agenda was “schools of testing”. We looked at how different groups of testers in the industry perceive the testing craft and how it influences the way they interact with other parts of their organizations. What can we learn from their approach to testing? The presentation, followed by exercises, was meant to ignite a discussion in the group. Even though our STEs are on the same page about elementary testing principles (testing is a context dependent activity), there is always room for a professional exchange of opinions. That is precisely what followed.

Scrum workshop

At the moment R&D is undergoing some structural changes to adapt to the growth of the company. While we are not doing Scrum at Unity, we are moving towards an organization inspired by this way of working, in multiple ways. For this reason, we conducted a two-day workshop on Scrum.

One of the teams planning the next sprint

Tuesday and Wednesday were both designated for scrum related activities. First, there was an elementary introduction to Scrum – an outline of goals, roles and responsibilities. The next day and a half was reserved for group work. The testers formed four groups and started developing a small game from a brief outline of a game concept. Each team had a designated Product Owner that they discussed the content of their games with and a Scrum Master. They used Scrum poker for estimating the workload, discussed the priority of game features and bargained the scope of each sprint with the PO. They worked as a team helping each other and taking responsibility for unfinished work, held standup meetings, retrospective sessions, and proposed improvements for next sprints. 

Cards used for Scrum poker.Cards used for Scrum poker.

The workshop was a miniature Scrum experience where the sprints were only 90 minutes long. However, the time pressure, PO’s expectations, and the prospect of failing to complete the tasks were very real. This was an intense exercise in communication and compromising, and a good team building activity. In the process, we also did a fair share of dogfooding Unity.

scrum2

Afterwards, Marc Eriq Quesnel, another of our STE leads, talked about the pitfalls that testers can encounter when the organization moves towards Scrum. Things can go in many different directions. For example, one common tendency is that a tester in a team will be perceived as the process guardian and therefore will be pushed into a Scrum Master role. Moreover, there were discussions about planning poker, which was a new concept to many of us. We also discussed the type of projects and teams that Scrum can be applied in.

Teambuilding

On Wednesday evening, we did a really fun team building activity – escape rooms! These rooms are specifically set up and then locked with participants inside. “Prisoners” of each room cooperate to find relevant items and hints around the room. They need to put these clues together to be able to unlock the door and escape the room before the time runs out! Even though this was purely meant to be a team building experience, this problem solving activity is very much like testing! That night we were breaking out of prison cells and mental asylums! At least some of us managed…

One cell, 3 prisoners, 1 hour to escape. Three prisoners, one cell and one hour to escape.

Unity Test Tools workshop

Thursday was another exciting day. Tomek Paszek, one of our Toolsmiths, ran a workshop on Unity Test Tools. The workshop was a mixture of getting to know UTT as a tool for game automation and a hands-on session where we did some test driven development. A big part of the STE team is technically oriented, so this workshop was a good opportunity to refresh the programming skills and also see coding from a new, TDD, perspective.

Communication workshop

On the last day we had a test consultant, Ilari Henrik Egerter, visiting us to run a workshop on communication: “What if you can’t see each other”. We were split into teams and then some severe limitations as to how we could communicate were introduced. The workshop exercised our creativity for communication, and espionage. It ended up with paper planes flying around the room, which led the team with the most effective communication and collaboration to victory. Friday also featured a wonderful solar eclipse, which we all had a chance to observe on a cloudless Vilnius sky.

Freshly manufactured paper planes ready to fly.Freshly manufactured paper planes ready to fly.

So there you have it! If you ever wonder what our STEs do for education and fun, now you know. We will definitely have another off-site week in the future, as it’s a great time to focus on our core tester skills, to learn new abilities and last, but definitely not the least, to increase our “tribal cohesion” – to interact and to feel like the team that we are!

April 16

More Material Design for Your Android Apps

fab iconAndroid developers have been flocking to Material Design since its introduction with the release of Android Lollipop. With the recent update to the Support v7 AppCompat library it has never been easier to add Material Design to target older Android operating systems.

Material Design is much more than just the core theming and styling that you are able to add to your application — it’s animations, layouts, and of course controls. While many controls are available out of the box, there are many custom controls that can spice up your application with even more Material Design. Many of these controls are now available in the Xamarin Component store so you can instantly add them to your Xamarin.Android application. Let’s take a look at a few.

Floating Action Button

Floating Action ButtonWhen developing applications, you often have a main action that your users can perform on a page such as add, edit, delete. The floating action button (FAB) was introduced to enable you to promote your main action with a beautiful and distinguished circled icon floating on the user interface. The floating action button is great because it helps bring context and awareness to the action that you want your users to perform, and you can add it to your Android app with the new Floating Action Button component.

Once you have the component installed, you can add a FAB to any layout by referencing the custom control.

<com.refractored.fab.FloatingActionButton
            android:id="@+id/fab"
            android:layout_width="wrap_content"
            android:layout_height="wrap_content"
            android:layout_gravity="bottom|right"
            android:layout_margin="16dp"
            android:src="@drawable/ic_action_content_new" />

Now you can find the FAB and add a click handler just like any other button.

var fab = root.FindViewById<FloatingActionButton>(Resource.Id.fab);
fab.Click += (sender, args) =>
{
  Toast.MakeText(Activity, "FAB Clicked!", ToastLength.Short).Show();
};

Be sure to read through the getting started guide to see how you can show and hide the FAB with a few simple calls or even attach it to a ListView to have it automatically hide when the list is scrolled.

fab_demo

Pager Sliding Tab Strip

If you are an Android user, you may have noticed the beautiful Tabs that are part of the Google Play Store when browsing. The Material theme provides an updated look and feel to tabs, but it doesn’t introduce an updated View Pager Indicator. This is where the Material Pager Sliding Tab Strip component comes in to enable you to easily add highly customizable and beautiful tabs to your Android app.

After downloading the component, simply add the PagerSlidingTabStrip on top of your ViewPager in your layout.

<com.refractored.PagerSlidingTabStrip
        android:id="@+id/tabs"
        android:layout_width="match_parent"
        android:layout_height="?attr/actionBarSize"
        android:background="?attr/colorPrimary"
        app:pstsPaddingMiddle="true"/>
<!--Set pstsPaddingMiddle to false to start tabs on left-->
<android.support.v4.view.ViewPager
        android:id="@+id/pager"
        android:layout_width="match_parent"
        android:layout_height="0dp"
        android:layout_weight="1"
        tools:context=".MainActivity" />

Then find your ViewPager and PagerSlidingTabStrip and connect them together with any FragmentPagerAdapter.

// Initialize the ViewPager and set an adapter
var pager =  FindViewById<ViewPager>(Resource.Id.pager);
pager.Adapter = new TestAdapter(SupportFragmentManager);
// Bind the tabs to the ViewPager
var tabs = FindViewById<PagerSlidingTabStrip>(Resource.Id.tabs);
tabs.SetViewPager(pager);

material_tabs demo

For a full sample and to see how to customize the pager sliding tab strip even further, be sure to dive through the documentation and getting started guide for the component.

More Material!

Material Design integration into your Android apps doesn’t stop here. Be sure to read through our Introduction to Material Design, Support v7 AppCompat Library, and the new Android Toolbar. Another great resource are the two presentations that Jérémie Laval and I gave at Xamarin Evolve 2014, Android Material Design from Concept to Implementation Part 1 and Part 2.

The post More Material Design for Your Android Apps appeared first on Xamarin Blog.

From Art Director to Asset Store Publisher

What makes someone with a highly successful career as an Environment Artist, Lead Artist and Art Director on AAA titles decide to make the jump to becoming a full time Asset Store Publisher?

When Pete Sekula talks about his career and the games he’s been involved in, such as Far Cry 4 and Tom Clancy’s The Division, it’s with obvious enthusiasm and pride. Clearly, Pete is also good at his job.

So, why quit?

“The revenue I’m earning in the store is beginning to eclipse my salary, and I’m only doing this part time.” Pete Sekula

To be able to make the leap to running your own business you have to be confident that you’ll have a regular and reliable revenue stream.

As a United States citizen, Pete has healthcare insurance costs to meet. He also has a family and a mortgage, so leaving his current position is not a decision he’s taken lightly. But the appeal of working on his own projects and doing things his own way has always been there.

Pete’s company is called Quantum Theory Entertainment. The name being a metaphor for his view on game development: “A fresh idea, no matter how unorthodox, can have a hugely positive influence on your future.”

That’s quite a vision, and, as you’d expect, Pete is a real enthusiast. From being an avid teenage gamer he went on to trying things out for himself at home in 3D Studio Max and Photoshop and attended two separate schools where the classes were way too simplistic. He kept working at his portfolio and landed a position at Ubisoft where he’s worked since 2002.

Though it’s obvious that he enjoyed his time there hugely, the dream of making content that fulfilled his vision of how a game should look, and ultimately of making his own game, was always there and became more and more important to him.

Around four years ago, Pete heard from yet another colleague that he’d been using Unity in his spare time, and had gotten so far as to start making and selling his own content on the Asset Store.

Just out of interest, Pete asked: “How much do you make a month?” “Around 100-150 bucks,” came the answer. That was enough to interest Pete in becoming a publisher, and over the past four years he spent his evenings and weekends building a business.

A lot has happened to both the Asset Store and Quantum Theory Entertainment during that time. Last month, the Asset Store passed the 1 million monthly downloads mark, and Pete now has a significant portfolio of assets for sale.

Urban Construction Pack PolyWorld: Ancient East Low Poly Toolkit Rocky Hills Terrain Pack PolyWorld: Ancient East Low Poly Toolkit Desert Terrain Pack PolyWorld: Woodland Low Poly Toolkit Better Rocks and Cliffs PolyWorld: Woodland Low Poly Toolkit Desert Terrain Pack Alpine Terrain Pack Better Rocks and Cliffs Alpine Terrain Pack Urban Construction Pack Quantum_LogoSmall Pete Sekula

He also has a regular enough and high enough income to be sufficiently confident to take the leap and support his family exclusively through what began as a side interest.

What’s more, becoming an independent Asset Store Publisher will also give him the time, space and money to start working seriously on a game of his own. Pete has lots of ideas, he’s a VR enthusiast and, with his skill set, very big on making beautiful-looking games. His long-term goal is to publish one on Steam.

While Pete’s driven to create high-quality artwork, he recognizes that, in an industry that can support both Call of Duty and retro style platformers, there’s a niche for everybody:

“From 3D games on consoles to 2D games on mobile, people will always want great experiences. Your content in the Asset Store enables aspiring devs to reach them all.” Pete Sekula

Pete’s advice to would-be publishers:

  • Promote your assets on Twitter, YouTube and the Unity forums with plenty of screenshots.
  • Be thorough with your documentation and “how to” videos to market your content and reduce support requests.
  • If you’re an artist, develop a style and be consistent throughout your product line.
  • Work hard, experiment, try again, and don’t be afraid of an original idea.

Best of luck Pete!

April 15

Crédito Agrícola Banks on Xamarin Platform, Test Cloud, and Insights

Credito Agricola LogoCrédito Agrícola, one of the largest banks in Portugal, serves more than 1.2 million customers across 700 locations. In order to better support their increasingly mobile customer base, the bank created consumer banking apps for three mobile operating systems in the platform-specific languages.

The costs of maintaining three separate teams and code bases quickly added up, driving Crédito Agrícola to seek out a cross-platform mobile development solution for their next app. Designed for enterprise banking customers, it was imperative that the app deliver a high-quality, fully native experience on iOS, Android, and Windows.
 
“We analyzed tools from the cross-platform development market, looking at factors including code reuse and compatibility of the final code, and ensuring the end-user experience was equal to that from native development—without compromising performance,” says Jorge Correia, Applications Development Director at Crédito Agrícola. “None of the solutions we looked at met our needs, until we found Xamarin.”
 
Impressed by the PoC that Xamarin Premier Consulting Partner Xpand IT produced, the bank engaged them to produce the app. Crédito Agrícola has gone all in with Xamarin, building the app with Xamarin Platform and maintaining quality with Xamarin Test Cloud and Xamarin Insights.
 
Credito Agricola app on an iPhoneXamarin Platform allowed the Xpand IT team to create the seamless user experience across platforms that was so important to the bank, while Xamarin Test Cloud enabled them to move away from manual testing to accelerate release cycles and find critical bugs before the app went live. Higher quality was further achieved by using Xamarin Insights, an intelligent analytics and crash reporting system that helps the team be proactive by spotting potential problems early to enhance the user experience.
 
 
“Xamarin Insights is especially important because when users encounter problems with mobile apps, rather than reporting them they may simply stop using the app,” Viana says. “With Xamarin Insights we can become aware of problems even if the users don’t complain.”
 
Download the full case study to learn more about the benefits that Crédito Agrícola has found from using Xamarin, including faster development through 75% code reuse and enhanced quality through Xamarin Test Cloud and Xamarin Insights.

View the Case Study
 

The post Crédito Agrícola Banks on Xamarin Platform, Test Cloud, and Insights appeared first on Xamarin Blog.

A Designer’s Guide To Using Video Ads

Opting For Video Ads:

Making a great game is just the start as they say.  Understanding the best way for your game to make revenue is vital if you want to be able to make games professionally. In this post we will look at how you can use advertising in your game to generate advertising revenue without annoying players.  In fact we aim to show that by treating advertisements as part of the overall player experience design, users may even come to love ads.

What Not To Do:

It’s very easy for ads to get in the way of the player. Banners, for example, take up space on the screen, sometimes obscuring vital information or being placed in a way where they can be triggered accidentally. What’s worse is that the players quickly learn to ignore those areas of the display. The only way banners get noticed once that has happened is when they become visually distracting – something that typically breaks the user experience.

Interstitial ads are much more effective at grabbing players’ attention, but we have to be careful with their frequency and position.  If we show them too often, we risk irritating players and that makes them much more likely to churn. We don’t want that!

Now I’m not suggesting that Interstitials have no place in the mix. We do, however, need to understand their limitations and where in the flow of the player experience that it would be least damaging. Better yet, where in the game’s design it might actually be beneficial for players to have a break. In games which have a series of intense periods of play, users can’t indefinitely sustain the demanded high level of concentration or energy needed, especially on a mobile or tablet device. Players will eventually just give up, and worse, if there is no opportunity for a break they will may associate the game with that fatigue and may choose a less intensive game next time.  Over the long term players need a natural down time.  In design terms we need to think of this like a pendulum with players’ engagement gaining intensity on the downswing, leading to increasing fatigue as they reach the top of the tick, and then relaxing followed by a building desire to act which is at its peak as the pendulum returns with the tock.  A great example of this is a game like Dumb Ways To Die 2.

Video Interstitial:

In Dumb Ways To Die 2 we have an intense and escalating game play with players being asked to comprehend a short form mechanic – perform it successfully and then do the next, only faster each time.  Once you die you can easily replay, but when you return to the map (a menu for collections of mini-games) the game shows you an interstitial. This is the point of least resistance where players have already decided on a change of pace.

It’s essential that mandatory video advertisements such as interstitials can be skipped and that the players can see how much time is remaining so that we don’t build up resentment.  These kind of ads usually don’t have any rewards associated with them, unlike most of the other uses we will discuss here. But, this also means that they can be useful for games which don’t have a natural currency or suitable In App Purchases.  However, there are consequences. This approach inherently requires us to intercept the player experience and not only limits the frequency we can show such ads it also affects the nature of their engagement with them. Our motivation for watching an ad is dramatically changed when we opt to do so.

Choosing To Watch an Ad:

Angry Birds Go

There are a couple of factors which affect players’ willingness to actively choose ads. The ad content itself must be relevant, i.e. showing a game player an ad for another game, and they should also be short – somewhere between 15-30 seconds. However, there usually has to be something in it for the player. That might be a number of things from coins or resources in the game, to extra lives. Yet these rewards also have to be relevant to the player and repeatable – there must always be a reason for the player to watch another ad. If I unlock a major item or a new level by watching one video, that’s a great value but unlikely to create the scale of views needed to drive enough revenue to make that worthwhile. Equally, if watching videos unlocks enough power-ups to imbalance the game then you have broken the reason to play.

Angry Birds Go uses video ads to allow players to obtain a free boost, but only at the start of the race.  This doesn’t overpower the experience but it does require a player to switch their attention from the game strategy to the video playback.  The motivation is clear: If I want a boost in my next race then I will get it by exchanging my time watching this advertisement.

Other games choose to do this at the end of the game. For example in Sonic Dash, players have a chance to continue their existing run after ‘dying’ by either using a ‘Revive’ token or by watching a video ad.  The ad allows the player to break from the intensity for a brief moment before restarting play, which can help their performance (at least it does for me).

What’s important is that the payoff for watching the video is intrinsically part of the game itself.  There is no separate incentive to download the advertised game, but if they choose to then it’s because they liked the look of the game. That’s what at the end of the day provides the revenue and at the same time reinforces their engagement with your game.

Added Incentives:

This leads us to another realization – that we have to make the rewards for watching video compelling and something which players want. In Angry Birds Transformers, after a successful run they have a section where you are showed your score and offered the chance to double your score if you watch a video at that time. For this kind of ongoing action game it’s the perfect way to reward players for their engagement not only in the gameplay but also in the ads themselves.

Meaningful Benefit:

Sometimes the reward can be tied to a significant action within the game.  In the case of wickedly replayable Retry, the player can choose to unlock the next save point with either a coin or by watching a video replay. This reward has a meaningful benefit for players.  It comes at a point of success and frustration and can help you to avoid the pain of having to repeat your multiple attempts to gain that landing point in the first place.  They key to this technique is to understand what players value and to help them obtain that value in a way which they will happily repeat such as unlocking a new save point or perhaps replenishing your fuel for a racing game. Watching the video in the Retry example gives the player what they seek directly; but it’s not suitable for all games and can often be hard to scale.  Instead other games seek to use video replays to speed up the acquisition of some form of currency or resource which are usually a more indirect means of obtaining that item of value.

Earning Free Coins:

Games like Hill Climb Racing show that there is genuine value to the player in terms of In-Game Currency. It helps acquire new vehicles, fuel, terrain, and other bonuses. It’s something which is naturally ephemeral and disposable which makes it a perfect option for monetization. But this is not always the case.  For some games, the currency works as a proxy for the players’ progress in the game. This makes using it as a reward for video problematic. In the case of Hill Climb Racing they chose to put an emphasis on the purchase of coins over the ‘Free Coins’ gained which means that they put it at the end of a long list of purchase options. This can be a problem for some games and instead it’s often better to be more upfront about communicating the option of watching video to gain those coins or resources.

As a designer remember we need to be offering something that players value, which means we have to be aware of the inflationary impact on our game’s economy if players can obtain new resources. There is a great deal of balancing necessary to support incentivized ads like this; just as when we add a new resource generator in the gameplay.

Obvious Delight:

Looking at Hipster Whale’s excellent Crossy Road shows us that we don’t have to compromise the playing experience when using ads.  We can tell players up front what they will get if they choose to watch ads in a way which isn’t embarrassed and which clearly benefits the player. The offer is presented at the end of your run alongside your score and the ability to play again. It’s also not always available which means that we don’t learn to ignore it. We are also given an incentive to act now as we have “only 56 G to go” before we can have another go to gain a random character. Oh! And watching a video will earn us 20 G straight away.  Players don’t feel cheated by this approach, they feel empowered. Watching ads in Crossy Road becomes entertainment and a way for me to discover new content and I get to win another character with a pull of a lever. I just unlocked the Celebrity. Wow that’s funny… she drops money when she is hit by a car… let’s watch another video and get some more coins. That’s obvious delight.

In Short:

Making the most of video ads in your game is a design process like any other player facing feature. We have to consider:

  • What’s in it for the Player?
  • How Does This Impact The Player Flow?
  • Is The Incentive Scaleable?
  • How Do We Make Sure This Doesn’t Break The Game?

And for those of you want to see our recent webinar on this same topic, you can view it here:

April 14

Join Xamarin at Build 2015

Microsoft Build 2015 is just two weeks away, and we have several ways for you to meet the team and learn more about the latest from Xamarin on mobile development in C# and Visual Studio. We’ve got a lot of events around the conference, and we’d love to see you at one or more of the following:

Build 2015 Kick Off Party

Xamarin Build 2015First, join us on Tuesday, April 28th, 2015 at Jillian’s Sports Bar & Billiards Hall, right across the street from the Moscone Center at 175 4th Street from 7:00-10:00pm. Nat, Miguel, and myself, along with the rest of the Xamarin crew, will help you kick off Build 2015 with a bang!

  • Charles Petzold will be there to sign his Creating Mobile Apps with Xamarin.Forms book.
  • You’ll also be the first in the world to don our brand new Xamarin t-shirt, and if you wear it to Day 1 of Build, you’ll even have a chance to win one of three developer rigs valued at $10,000! Additional details and RSVP here.

Speaking Sessions

Xamarin CTO Miguel de Icaza on stage at Microsoft Build 2014We have two official sessions featuring Xamarin this year. Be sure to check the final Build schedule for exact times and locations of these talks.
 
 
 

Xamarin Booth

As an official sponsor of Build 2015, we’ll be at booth #317 in the Visual Studio Partner Pavilion. We’ll have demos, swag, and we’ll be giving away copies of Charles Petzold’s book, Creating Mobile Apps with Xamarin.Forms with scheduled signings. Stop by to say hello and get your book signed!

Remember to RSVP for the party now, and we’ll see you soon in San Francisco!

The post Join Xamarin at Build 2015 appeared first on Xamarin Blog.

Monologue

Monologue is a window into the world, work, and lives of the community members and developers that make up the Mono Project, which is a free cross-platform development environment used primarily on Linux.

If you would rather follow Monologue using a newsreader, we provide the following feed:

RSS 2.0 Feed

Monologue is powered by Mono and the Monologue software.

Bloggers