Tag Archives: Unity3D

Forget Movies – Games Now Have Far More in Common with Books

Video games industry analysts are fond of comparing the games industry with film: both are splashy, highly visual and visceral, both cost a lot to create/market/distribute, and both compete for people’s entertainment dollars and time. When news hit a few years ago that the video game industry had overtaken the film industry in revenues, we gleefully paraded that news through the streets like we had an ousted dictator’s head on a stick. But with digital distribution and a temporary disruption in the games publishing ecosystem, business has changed dramatically. Those looking to get ahead would be far better served to study publishing, rather than film, to inform a sound strategy.

Let’s look … in a bookOH GOD WHY IS HE READING THAT?

A Year on Your Rear

With a staunch amount of dedication and a very comfy couch, you can conceivably watch an entire year’s film output. Wikipedia lists the major film releases of 2012 at about two hundred and sixty flicks. Games are a different story. As of Q4 2012, there were over twelve thousand games in the Apple App Store alone. Divide that by the three years the store had existed, and that’s a rate of about four thousand games released per year (although, to be fair, annual App Store growth is not so evenly distributed). Movies may average two hours, but how long does a game take to play? AAA titles can run anywhere from twenty to one hundred hours, and many mobile titles are designed for endless play. If Joe Average Canadian were to spend his 5.5 daily leisure hours exclusively playing iOS games for the entire year, he could only spend half an hour on each one.

And tell me: who could spend only half an hour on Trucker Parking 3D?

That’s four thousand games accounted for, but the iOS App Store is only one unique marketplace of many; add to that the yearly throughput of Steam, Android, the three home consoles and the wider PC market, and i wouldn’t be surprised if the total number of games in existence after these forty years outnumbered the total number of films released in the past century. While Joe Average Canadian could watch all the movies released in a year, he could never, ever play all the games.


(but not for lack of trying)

Getting Lit

Joe Average Canadian would have even more trouble finding the time to read all of the books released in a year. Wikipedia claims that the total number of books released in a single year in the United States alone is 328,259! Books are priced similarly to games, with big-ticket bestselling hardcover tomes coming in at $40-50, down to cheapie legacy or fan fiction one-offs being digitally distributed for a buck. Books require a similar time commitment as games; the the amount of time i spent playing Skyrim is probably on par with the time i spent trying to muscle through George R. R. Martin’s Game of Holy Shit – 924 Pages??. And owing to mobile devices, games have been freed from their specialized locations; just as film escaped theatres to living rooms, so too did games escape arcades to those same living rooms, and now travel with us everywhere in our pockets. We’ve long been able to enjoy a book under a tree in some isolated meadow, and now we can enjoy video games in the same setting.

Uh … yes. An isolated meadow. (shifty eyes)

Lately, i’ve been freaked out about the overwhelming number of games that have been flooding the marketplace. The Internet, which brought digital distribution, has been our printing press. Fairly newbie-friendly development tools like Flash, GameMaker and Unity are our desktop publishing. Open stores like XBLiG, the iOS App Store and the Android Marketplace are our print-on-demand.

Episodic Nancy Drew games are our episodic Nancy Drew novels.

Glut-hurt

Teeth clenched and hair turning rapidly white from stress, i’ve been repeating the mantra “nobody needs another video game”. And frankly, they don’t. We have enough video games to keep us busy for a good long time. The inevitable response to my Chicken Littling has been to say “well the world doesn’t need another movie, and people keep making and watching movies”. But that’s not the best comparison. For a true understanding of what’s happening with games, we need to look at books. At an output of over a quarter of a million new books a year from the US, people really don’t need another book. But we still buy books.

The reason why you buy one book, and read an Amazon review summary of another, is likely the same reason why you play one game, and watch a YouTube Let’s Play video of another. Figuring out that reason could be one secret to increased success selling games.

Any indie game developer, then, would be well-served to closely study how the book publishing industry functions if he wants to make a go of things. What role do publishers play? Some may give authors advances against royalties (our version of project-level development funding), but i assume that many more book publishers serve as marketing machines, ensuring that book stores and marketplaces stock your title, and that your title gets seen above all others.

How do book stores help customers find what they’re looking for, amidst a fresh dumping of 328,259 new titles a year? Market intelligence on book stores states that the vast number of customers browsing through a physical store don’t know what they’re looking for. A book store’s shelf layouts, end aisles promotions, search kiosks and friendly staff serve to ensure customers leave happy, with interesting products in-hand.

Book store staff went from selling content, to selling e-readers that can read content. Perhaps the role of an Apple Store staffer will transition from selling content readers like iPhones and iPads, to selling content like apps and games.

Games may look like movies, but they act like books. And increasingly, the games industry more closely resembles book publishing than it does the film industry. What lessons can we learn from books, with their dramatically more dire supply and demand problem, that we can apply to our own industry?

Don’t ask me. i’m only a game developer.

Rise, My Minions

It’s a fact: i wrote a book on Unity, and lots of people have pretended to read it. But every once in a while, i meet someone who has actually read the whole book, down to the shocking twist ending (SPOILER ALERT: the butler coded it).

So what’s life like for people who have finished the entire course of their prescription, instead of just taking two doses of antibiotics and letting the rest of the pills collect dust in a bottle in the medicine cabinet? Today, i received a wonderful email from a reader who had both the drive and the tools to make good.

TO THE EASILY BORED: the email contains a free game code. Leave a comment if you’re the lucky redeemer!

Hello Ryan,

Last year, I purchased “Unity 3.x Game Development by Example” as an iBook for my iPad. I lost my full time position around the econ crash of 08 so my wife and I started our own company. I am usually found working on servers and routers; game development is totally new for me. At some point in early 2011, I decided to try to make a game to sell in the iTunes App Store. I came up with an idea and began researching how to go about things. Unity seemed to do anything I would need and I started at page one of your book. I went through every page and every example. I learned a great deal and found your book and examples easy to follow. Almost 1 year later, Vector Tract was born. Apple approved the app last night! I am including a link and promo code if you would like to check it out.

Thank you for creating such a helpful beginner’s guide to Unity!

Vector Tract

Play Vector Tract by Total Edge Technology!

Promo Code: YP4K4YXT3T7W

Phillip Coppedge – Owner, Lead Engineer
Total Edge Technology, LLC
Microsoft Partner – Silver Messaging

www.totaledgetech.com

As an aside, Phillip absolutely insisted that if i posted the free game code, i had to also post the accompanying license terms, which i thought was completely adorable, so i’ll oblige:

Code expires on

Tue Sep 04 06:00:36 PDT 2012

and is redeemable only on the iTunes Store for United States. Requires an iTunes account, subject to prior acceptance of license and usage terms. To open an account you must be above the age of 13 and in United States. Compatible software and hardware, and internet access (fees may apply) required. Not for resale. Full terms apply; see www.apple.com/legal/itunes/ww/. For more information, see www.apple.com/support/. This app is provided to you by

Total Edge Technology, LLC

D’AAWWWW!

Anyway, it strokes my cockles to see folks using my book to fulfil their own game development dreams. Just be sure to remember me when i stumble up to your front door at 4 in the morning, soused and penniless.

You can get your own copy of the fantastic game development book Unity 3.x Game Development by Example Beginner’s Guide by Ryan Henson Creighton (that’s me!) for the low, low price of [whatever Amazon is currently charging]. Be sure to compare against [whatever the publisher is currently charging] to get the best deal.

Unity Game Development by Example gets an Update!

Last week, Packt Publishing released the second edition of my seminal and important work, Unity 3.x Game Development by Example: A Beginner’s Guide, which helps fledgling game developers learn Unity through a serious of bad puns and dick jokes.

Unity 3.x Game Development by Example

What’s New in Version 2?

Absolutely nothing! The Unity 3.x version is identical to the first edition, save for the fancy new cover by UbiSoft Toronto game artist Dan Cox. The occasional errata from the first edition have been corrected, and the screenshots have been updated so that they match Unity’s subtle interface changes. i’ve included two new spaceship models by Dan in Chapter 11 (the same ones you see on the cover), which i’ll make available to owners of all versions.

The first chapter was updated to discuss the BootCamp demo instead of the original Island Demo, which stopped working reliably as of version 3. Then, just as we were ready to release the book, Unity launched v3.4, which included yet another demo and more subtle UI changes. So Unity 3.x Game Development by Example has been lovingly (?) re-written TWICE to bring it in-line with what those nutty funsters at Unity have been up to.

Should i Buy It?

Yes you should.

i made the rather bold claim that the first edition of the book may very well cure cancer. i realize now that this was entirely irresponsible of me, and i regret my error in judgment. i can say now with all certainty that version two is guaranteed to cure cancer, or your money back. Please contact Pack Publishing for all refund inquiries, including a post mortem certificate from your next of kin.

Praise for Unity 3D Game Development by Example (from actual people)

“A great resource for learning Unity.” – Michael Todd, indie game developer

“Creighton’s book teaches both Unity and good design practices while staying hip, funny, and even controversial. A must read!” – Ryon Levitt, Game Designer

“I went from unemployed to working full-time in California!” – Mohammed Al-Sahaf, game school graduate

“I didn’t loose brain cells when I read this book.” – Brent Arnold, Mobile Developer

Untold Entertainment Goes Forth


Untold Entertainment Goes Forth

When Untold Entertainment Inc. turned three last year, we were reeling from the fallout of the global economic collapse. It’s been a slow, difficult recovery, and we still have a lot of work left to do, but i’m happy to say we’ve nosed out of the tailspin. This was a landmark year for Untold; we are poised to have an absolutely incredible fifth year going forward. If last year was our Empire, this year is our Jedi. Bring on the Ewoks, baby.

Ewok

Yub nub, motherf*cker.

Here’s a look at the Year That Was.

2010

August

Last fiscal ended on a dark note. We were struggling through Spellirium, our post-apocalyptic puzzle adventure game, as various production problems saw the budget sapped with very little to show for our efforts. The year ahead had us planning to complete service projects in the hope that we’d bank enough margin to continue working on the game.


Spellirium

September

My book was published! Unity 3D Game Development by Example: A Beginner’s Guide is a great introduction to game development, computer programming, and Unity 3D itself, which is a super-powerful game engine for creating on a wide variety of platforms. Thanks to you all for buying a copy, or for recommending the book to your friends.

Unity 3D Game Development By Example

Fall

We launched Jinx 3: Escape from Area Fitty-Two on YTV.com. Jinx 3 was the first game to use UGAGS, the Untold Graphic Adventure Game System. It supported multiple playable characters, an inventory system, a subtitle system, game variable control, and a “puppet” guidance system, which enables the developer to write commands to build in-game cutscenes. Jinx 3 was the first UGAGS game we developed, but the second one to launch, after Heads.

Jinx 3: Escape from Area Fitty-Two

i spoke about UGAGS at Gamercamp Level 2.0, a Toronto convention celebrating the joy of video games.

October saw the publication of a now-infamous article about the Vortex Game Development Competition, where the previous year’s winners were revealed to have never worked on the winning game.

i experimented with a feature called Linkbait Tuesdays, where i used the Linkbait Generator to spit out randomized titles for blog posts. It wasn’t much appreciated by my readership, and didn’t appreciably increase blog traffic, so i killed the feature.

On Hallowe’en, we launched our second free games portal called ZombieGameWorld.com. If you know the song about the old woman who swallowed the fly, you’ll understand our challenge with these portals. We built WordGameWorld.com in order to attract a word game-playing audience, so that we could control the site’s ad inventory and find an audience for Spellirium. When the site suffered from flagging traffic, i decided to build a network of game portals; ZombieGameWorld.com was ostensibly created to help drive traffic to WordGameWorld.com, which should drive traffic to Spellirium.

Old lady who swallowed a fly

She swallowed the spider to catch the fly. i don’t know why she swallowed the fly. i guess she’ll die?

To round out the fall, i grew a beard to win hockey tickets, despite not enjoying hockey. i spoke at an interactiveontario luncheon. And i wrote an article for Mochiland.com on the disgraceful refusal by contracting companies to credit their Flash game developers.

Ryan Henson Creighton's epic moustache

Why wouldn’t you want your game to be associated with this guy?

Winter

As the cold weather set in, i took a position at a private college teaching Unity 3D game development. i had hoped for a better experience than i had at Hervé Velasquez School for the Digitally Inclined, but no such luck: halfway through the course, which was dubbed Programming II (the students had supposedly been taught Flash/Actionscript for four months prior to my arrival), i had to dial everything back and re-teach programming basics to them. And by basics, i mean stuff like “What does the ‘=’ symbol do?” and “What is a variable?”

name

What … is your NAME?

The class was only eight students, but i had no fewer than two of those students’ parents call or email me to ask why little Billy was getting low grades on tests. YaRly.

In this, i further proved the thesis in my contentious What’s Wrong with Ontario Colleges articles (Part 1 and Part 2). Helicopter parenting and failure aversion have created a generation of non-functional kids, which i later dubbed The Most Useless Generation. My diagnosis is that many college undergrads have escaped high school without ever understanding How to Be a Student (an article i wrote while teaching last winter, which i’ve only just posted now that i’ve put some distance between myself and the situation).

In the interest of helping young people be more successful, i offered My Prescription for (More) Successful Students, which my students all ignored, and i wrote a serious of articles called Understanding Programming to explain programming basics, which my students also ignored. Oh well. As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but sometimes you just have a retarded horse.

retarded horse

2011

Spring

In 2011, we launched an exciting blog series called Pimp My Portal, detailing our struggles to drive traffic to ZombieGameWorld.com and WordGameWorld.com. The hook here was The World’s Most Meager Marketing Budget, a pot of just $100 that i spent on Fiverr.com to buy testimonial videos to promote the site, the rationale being that search loves video. The Old Lady who Swallowed the Fly reared her ugly head again, as i found that i had no audience to watch the videos to go to the portal to go to the OTHER portal to find out about Spellirium. The Pimp My Portal series is ongoing.

Around this time, we were commissioned by The Centre for Skills Development and Training to produce a series of games to help teach workplace skills to 15-30-year-olds. The resulting game, Summer in Smallywood, enabled us to make a number of improvements to UGAGS, including auto-save, debug tools, navigation meshes, saved game profiles, and threaded conversations. We’re looking forward to working further with The Centre in the coming year to expand our educational gaming experience.

Summer in Smallywood by Untold Entertainment

In March, i admit i was feeling a little bit desperate and squirrely. Work was trickling into the shop in fits and starts, and i was really wondering whether renewing our lease would be wise. Wild-eyed and hungry at GDC, i was overcome with the need to let the world know i am here, like the tiny Whos living on a speck on a clover stalk, who ultimately issue a resounding YOPP! to show the jungle animals that they exist (and to keep from getting boiled in beezlenut oil).

Horton

A game dev’s a game dev, no matter how small.

To that end, i pulled some shenanigans at the conference, which came to be known as the famous GDC Coin Stunt. The resulting press on most major online games sites greased the wheels for what was to be our greatest victory yet.

i have all the coins shirt

Over the years, we’ve found it so difficult to drive enough steady Flash game development work that we haven’t been able to bank enough time or enough money to do our own thing. To date, the only chance we seem to get is TOJam, an annual weekend-long Toronto game jam, during which we always produce a complete and original game. Indeed, nearly every title in the Original Games section of our portfolio is a TOJam game, completed in one weekend by me alone.

This year, we used UGAGS to create Sissy’s Magical Ponycorn Adventure. i worked on the game with my 5-year-old daughter Cassandra. It was no accident that i was wearing my “I have all the coins” T-Shirt in the TOJam group photo this year. After the game went live, it went viral, initially being featured on many of the same sites that covered the coin stunt. In the few months since its launch, the ponycorns game has gone on to become an international sensation (i just granted an interview to a Japanese newspaper this week!).

Cassie and Daddy

[photo by Brendan Lynch]

With the ponycorns game, we took a very important step to improving our viability as a dev studio by launching the game on the Apple iPad and the BlackBerry Playbook. On the third day of its launch week, Sissy’s Magical Ponycorn Adventure was featured by Apple in its New & Noteworthy section.

Ponycorns also drove us to develop our first alternate revenue stream based on our original IP. We launched the Untold Booty merchandise store with a number of different ponycorns-based SKUs, and have been very happy with the results.

Throughout the year, i remained active with the IGDA Toronto Chapter, organizing some well-received events including the speed dating-style Game.Set.Match, the Open Mic Night rant session, Straight Outta TOJam: Pint-sized Postmortems, and the Fund in the Sun workshop.

IGDA Toronto Chapter posters

Through the spring, we developed a great puzzle/platformer game called Spladder, which currently runs on a number of kids’ broadcaster sites – YTV.com. TVO.org and CBBC.co.uk among them.

We launched a new games portal called TowerDefenseGameWorld.com and filled it with free tower defense games, because it’s difficult to prove a theory about a network of games portals lending each other traffic if you only have two portals. We also gave a major upgrade to ZombieGameWorld.com by expanding it to feature zombie games and goodies on other platforms.

i know an old lady who swallowed a horse. She’s dead, of course.

Summer. Future.

We’ve come full circle. Spellirium remains unfinished, but we’re finally spending time on it again. We poked Kahoots with a stick to see if it was still twitching. Thankfully, it is! We’ve made some creative changes to it to spare a fellow indie game dev company some unpleasant legal strife; look forward to a Kahoots-related announcement in the coming months.

i’m writing the 3.x update to my Unity 3D book, which will be ready shortly (send me an email and i’ll add you to our notification list when the update is released).

Going forward, our plan is to leverage the success of the ponycorns game to make major in-roads into game development and education for kids (see our article on CBC.ca). i’m preparing a pilot project with Cassie’s elementary school this fall. We’re preparing the unstoppable UGAGS engine for a business-to-business, and then consumer, release – expect it to have a kid-friendly interface. We’re polling people for their interest in an iPhone/iPod version of the game (send us an email!). i’ll be delivering my conference session Ponycorns: Lightning in a Jar at the Screens festival this fall, and at other conventions throughout the year. Ponycorns is being translated into Japanese in anticipation of the Sense of Wonder Night at the Tokyo Games Show.

Untold Entertainment’s fifth year will be filled with low-life panda bears, daily word puzzles, gamesByKids, and more great articles about game development and education, peppered with rude jokes and stolen LOLcat pictures. Thanks so much for your support, everyone! i’m really looking forward to writing an amazing recap next year.

i wrote a book.

This blog’s been enjoying a steady influx of new readers since my recent GDC shenanigans. Thank you, and welcome! If you haven’t peered over to my sidebar, here’s the story so far: i wrote a book. i wrote a book on a subject i knew almost nothing about, and i did it never having written a book before. This is the story of how that happened.

i Killed a Guy

End of story.

Chalk outline

i swear that’s how it happened, officer.

New Header

Alright, no – but that would have been interesting.

i’d been aware of Unity 3D, a game engine, right from its early days. i was working at a kids’ media conglomerate and we were researching development tools for a new kids MMO. Unity was used to develop Cartoon Network’s FusionFall MMO. The drawback was that the software only ran on a Mac.

Running on a Mac

A year later i was at GDC, and Unity had announced a PC version. i saw them on the show floor, and tried comparing them with Torque 3D. At that time, reps for the two companies were doing a lot of mud-slinging, and a lot of FUD was bouncing around between the booths. So when i returned home, i asked a simple question on a LinkedIn forum: Unity or Torque? The answer was overwhelmingly in favour of Unity, to the tune of hundreds of responses. i knew i was on to something.

Get Me Summa Dat

i wanted to use Unity, but there were still a few barriers in the way. One of them was removed in short order when Unity moved to a free model. But there was still the problem that both 3D Studio Max and Maya, 3D software crucial to developing assets for Unity games, were $4000 a seat (after Autodesk had killed the $2k entry level version of each product). $Four large is a lot to swing on software for a small studio like mine.

Asshole

Why don’t i just pirate the software? Because unlike the guy at Autodesk who decided to cut the entry-level versions of both pieces of software and price them identically, i’m not an asshole.

Still, i could tell Unity was special, and i wanted to be involved. So i started tweeting about it. i kept a watch through Tweetdeck on the #Unity3D hash tag, and if any interesting info floated by, i retweeted it. i set up a new blogbook here called Unity Nuub, which would hold interesting articles and links related to the software. i downloaded Unity and goofed off with the software a little bit. i played Unity games. My interest was piqued, but my activity level was low.

Where There’s a Will…

Unity 3D Game Development Essentials

Around that time, a small publisher out of the UK called Packt was putting out the very first book on Unity 3D, by Will Goldstone. The publisher contacted me and asked if i wanted a free review copy in exchange for a review on my site. i said “sure”. How did they find me? Presumably through Twitter, i’d made a connection between myself and Unity, and i must have come up in a few Google searches.

A short time afterward, David Barnes (@fbindie) from Packt wrote me up saying they wanted to do a few more Unity books. What types of books did i think they should publish? i gave him my feedback. His next question, which left me a bit breathless, was: “Do you have any interest in writing any of them?”

Dusting off the Bucket List

i don’t know about you, but i’ve always wanted to be a published author. That was always just … something i had on my list, along with “fly a helicopter” and “marry rich”. Sadly, few of our childhood fantasies end up coming true … my wife is flat-ass broke, and we all know helicopters don’t exist. Once i was ten years into the games industry, i had resigned myself to the fact that i would probably never be a published author, so i put it out of my mind.

12 Inch Pianst

Abandoned, too, was my hope of having a twelve-inch pianist.

But here it was: an offer to write a book. A book on something i knew nothing about.

i was upfront with David. “i really have no idea how to use Unity.” He looked up my bona fides: trained in 3D Studio Max in college, worked 10 years as a game developer working with Flash, had a rockin’ blog packed with dick jokes and Actionscript tutorials (but mostly dick jokes.) He said a cookbook might be beyond me, but i could probably write a decent beginner book.

i told him i’d need some time to get up to speed on the software. i’d never made a game in Unity. i’d never done anything in Unity, for that matter. (But neither had many other people, really – the software was only 3 years old, and only 1 year out of the gate on the PC. Unity was news to a lot of people.)

David asked me point blank: “How long will it take you to learn Unity well enough to write a book about it?”

Gripping my desk chair and chewing my lips as i answered his email, i typed “Well, i suppose by the time i finish writing a book on it, i’ll know the software pretty well.”

And off we went.

Waterski

YeeeeHAAAAWWW!

The Luckiest Boy in the World

Are you hating me right now? Maybe you’ve read my other article, TENure, about how i was hired as a game developer despite not ever having made a game before? Maybe you want to wrap my face around your foot?

Who do you think should have written the second-ever published book on Unity? A Unity expert, i suppose! Well, can that Unity expert write? Does that Unity expert have the considerable time and energy for a book? And better yet, will that Unity expert remember what it was like to NOT be an expert? i don’t know about you, but i’ve spent a lot of money over the years on books by subject matter experts who move way, way too quickly. My mandate was to write a beginner book that beginners could truly get through. And not just Unity beginners: game development beginners. For example, there’s a heading in the book that says “What is code?”, and another section that briefs the reader on how 3D models are put together.

The Backlash

i caught a lot of flack from my colleagues while writing my book. They considered themselves Unity experts, i suppose, and why not? They had actually finished some games with it. i remember one particular tweet that went something like this:

Colleague: i’m going to do open heart surgery, but i’ve never trained to be a doctor.

Of course, his error was in comparing Unity to open heart surgery. Unity reminds me a lot of Flash … and not even Flash CSX, but Flash 4 back when i started in 2000. It strips out the whole mystery of writing code to draw stuff on the screen. If you’ve had any experience with XNA and wished you could actually see and manipulate your 3D models, you’ll find Unity a real treat.

Put another way: if coding to the metal is open heart surgery, working with Unity is cutting a heart out of construction paper using safety scissors.

Heart

Oh God … so much blood …

Gag Me

If writing a beginner-friendly book was my first mandate, my secondary goal was to write a technical manual that wasn’t so damned serious as everything else i’d read. You’re learning how to make video games. Why does everything have to read like a Terms of Service agreement?

i’m a fan of an O’Reilly series called HeadFirst, which is filled with cartoons and crossword puzzles and pictures – the idea being that if you are engaged on multiple levels in a variety of different ways, you’ll retain the material better than straight-up reading block after block of text. (You can probably tell by now that i’m a big fan of breaking up text with bullet lists and pictures)

Monorail cat

(why, look – there’s one now)

i’d love to work on a HeadFirst book one day. For now, as Packt is a small and relatively new publisher, i had to eschew the stock photography and crossword puzzles. But what i could do, and what David requested i do, was to pepper the text with humour. David wanted the same sense of humour i forcibly inject into this blog to bleed into the book.

Ouchy the Clown

You’ll laugh and you’ll LIKE it.

One of the book’s technical reviewers apparently didn’t get the memo. Throughout the drafts of the first two chapters, he filled the page up with comments like “please cut the humour – this is a technical manual, not the Muppet Show”, and “Well I never!” i think i even counted one or two “harrumphs” in there. It was like Packt had hired that wealthy dowager whose house the Three Stooges paint to review my book.

Wealthy dowager

Well, it’s a fine day to buy a computer book, isn’t it Mr. Picklefeather?

i re-connected with David. This reviewer seemed pretty peeved. Did i really have to go through the whole book and strip out all of the witty asides and punny paragraph headings? That would be like taking the red nose and seltzer bottle away from a clown. And then giving him colon cancer.

It got cleared up in short order. i’m not sure Packt even kept that reviewer on for the remainder of the project, and in the end, humour won out.

Currying Favour

Packt maintains a staff in India, who were responsible for copy-editing the book. You may have heard about the cultural growing pains of outsourcing work to foreign countries? While it was far from a nightmare, i did find myself going to bat more than once for various cultural references or turns of phrase that didn’t make sense to my editor from Mumbai – especially whenever i bent the rules of grammar, spelling, and punctuation for the sake of the yuks.

For example:

Worst. Game. Evar.

was corrected to read

Worst Game Ever

i had to do the legwork to explain that, well, there’s this character on the once-popular teevee program The Simpsons, you see, and he enjoys comic books …

Comic book guy

Jokes are so much funnier when you have to explain them.

Explaining why the word “evar” had to be spelled that way was even more of a challenge. Many of our email volleys ended with “just leave it cuz it’s funnier that way.” After she edited “cuz” to “because” for spite, i usually won out. ;)

Unity 3D Game Development By Example

The result is a book that i’m very, very proud of: one that makes a great introduction to Unity, 3D graphics, game programming and design, and in a way that encourages the reader to start small, finish something (even if it’s terrible!), and slowly build up those skills until he’s ready to release his opus. Unity 3D Game Development By Example is well worth buying. And the best news of all? i even managed to sneak in a few dick jokes.

Carpe Judex

My grandfather worked as a bailiff in Thunder Bay Ontario. Once day in the courtroom, there was a man brought in who had a dispute with his wife. In the middle of the hearing, he stood up and drew his gun. He shot and killed his wife, the judge, and his lawyer, before turning the gun on himself. The last two men standing were my grandfather and the court stenographer.

Chalk outline

See? It all comes full circle.

Thunder Bay needed a judge. My grandfather the bailiff, who to my knowledge had had no formal judiciary or legal training, was appointed to the position. He became a popular judge of young offenders, and there’s a building in Thunder Bay across from the University that’s named after him.

Many colleges and Universities now offer programs in video game development, as well as golf course management, creative writing, and even stand-up comedy (!). Don’t let the burden of a lack of training or experience get in the way of what you want to do. Get a job making video games even though you’ve never made one. Write a book, even though you’ve never written one and don’t know the subject matter. Perform open heart surgery even though you’re not a “doctor” (whatever that means). Recognize when the swirling twin tornadoes of chance and opportunity settle on your house, and get swept up. Otherwise, you’ll be lying on your death bed wondering what might have been.

And let’s hope to God you’re not in for heart disease.