A Winner is Us!

Thanks so much to everyone who voted for us to win Indie Game Dev Blog’s Unity iPhone contest. We totally won, which is awesome. 0ur entry was our fun crime-themed puzzle game Kahoots™, which we modeled entirely in clay AND built to the iPhone screen spec from the very beginning of the project.

As i mentioned in my post about the contest last week, it can be difficult for a small shop to afford all of the awesome software it needs to do Awesome Things. And putting a game on the iPhone is, indeed, an Awesome Thing. It’s not that we’re going to make a ton of dough on the platform or anything, but here in Toronto, there’s a definite cachet attached to companies who create content for mobile devices.

There’s a hierarchy to the impressiveness of the tech you use, and the more street cred your tech has here in Toronto, the more cool stuff you get to do – speak at conferences, advise the government, talk on television, hookers plus blow, etc etc. It doesn’t even matter if the cool tech makes you any money. In Toronto, just by saying you’re going to develop triple-A console games, you get mentioned in every single newspaper article, industry whitepaper and ribbon-cutting ceremony our fair province of Ontario has to offer. But if you’re a multi-millionaire toy mogul adding to his boatloads of cash by creating an online virtual world for your customers’ stuffed animals, you don’t rate – probably because your virtual world was build in Flash. And, like smoking or doing drugs on Saturday morning in the 1980’s, Flash isn’t cool.

Pecking Order for Ontario Video Game Development Companies by Platform

Stay in school, kids. And don’t do Flash.

But HOO BOY! Just wait until we launch a failed iPhone app, folks. We’ll in the “it” crowd then!

My apologies to our international readers. The Toronto people know what i’m talking about.

Learn On Me

After a botched attempt at completing Unity’s platformer tutorial, which taught me nothing except how to mindlessly link pre-written scripts to pre-fab 3D objects, i’m excited to learn Unity 3D in earnest. And like i’ve said before, the trouble with teachers when they get to know something really really well is that they forget what it’s like to know nothing. i will likely have Unity3D lightning bolts shooting out of my fingertips by this time next year, but i am committed to writing down every bump, snag, roadblock, and WTF that crops up while i’m learning, so that when and if YOU decide to learn Unity, you’ll have one more good resource to turn to. So watch this space for Unity tutorials!

And i hope the pioneers who have gone before me will throw me a life preserver if Unity ends up sinking me.

It all makes me wonder how the guy who wrote the first book on How to Write a Book ever managed. Very chicken/egg.

15 thoughts on “A Winner is Us!

    1. Ryan

      Jean-Guy … i hardly think that a company that provides a software solution in exchange for money is “feeding me”. It’s quite the opposite.

      What i was hoping for with the platformer tutorial was less a walkthrough of the workflow of Unity3D, and more of an explanation of how to write the scripts and how to prep the character model. When i sat down with two of the guys from the Unity team at Casual Connect who are in charge of writing new tutorials, they actually apologized for the platformer tutorial, and enthusiastically told me about all the new material they were working on that would teach exactly what i was hoping to learn.

      Like i’ve said before, whenever i learn a new technology, the thing i struggle with most is finding an appropriate point of entry to learn it. i don’t think the platformer tutorial was the appropriate point of entry for Unity3D.

      – Ryan

  1. Mark

    With all the 3D console vs Flash coolness factor commentary, I wonder how much money (on average) can you reasonably expect to earn in each sector of the digital game industry. Is it that Untold wants to head down the 3D route because more money can be made on Original titles in that area?

    1. Ryan

      Mark – we’re still very rooted in our fee-for-service business model. i base many of my decisions around the types of services we can offer to our clients. We started developing Interrupting Cow Trivia, a real-time multiplayer Flash trivia game, when i heard rumblings that our kids’ teevee clients may be interested in doing those types of games. We targeted Kahoots, our fun crime-themed puzzle game modeled entirely in clay, to the iPhone, because we anticipated a rush on iPhone app devlopment contracts here in Ontario. (We’re already very late to that party, and have had to turn down a number of contracts because we’re not in that space.)

      We did an augmented reality demo while we were courting an advertising agency, because agencies are always chasing bleeding-edge technology. The same agency intimated that many of their competitors are looking keenly at 3D on the web, and suggested that 3D would be a great way for us to differentiate ourselves and become a preferred vendor. We want to be there the next time they want to pitch a client on the latest and greatest 3D web game using this new thing called “Unity”. (by then, Unity will be four years old, but we’ll be all over it).

      The way it works here in Ontario, the moment a “new” technology is mentioned in the Globe and Mail newspaper, those people not in-the-know simply HAVE to have it. They have to invite someone to their conference to speak about it. They have to have their own application that uses it. They have to hire instructors to teach it.

      So this has nothing to do with monetizing an original Unity3D game – that’s a nice side effect if it happens. It has everything to do with keeping our fee-for-service contracts flowing by positioning ourselves as experts in hot new tech. That’s why i will happily take a loss on ICT, Kahoots, and Unnamed Unity 3D Game. It’s all about proving to new and existing clients that we know how to use the technology, so that we’re not forced to turn down opportunities that come our way.

      – Ryan

  2. Merijn

    Hey congrats on winning the contest. If you do figure out some mind exploding stuff about unity, feel free to write a tutorial. I spend most of my trial time doing much the same as you, linking scripts to prefab stuff and so on. Still deciding whether it’s worth plunking down 200$ for something that’ll probably end up being a tinker toy for my spare time until I figure out how to be productive with it.

    1. Ryan

      Thanks, Merijn! Knowing what i know about Flash, i think i could whip up some handy tutorials based on the things every game developer wants to know hot to do: popping up a game menu, using the keyboard to make a character run around the screen, firing a bullet and detecting a collision with the environment, etc. We game devs are an uncomplicated bunch :)

      – Ryan

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