Archive for the ‘ Flash ’ Category

UniSWF to Unity3D – Character Animation

This is a short tutorial I did for our internal group at DreamSocket on how to use a MovieClip with timeline animations (in this case, a character animation), with UniSWF, in Unity3D.  Thanks to Trevor Van Meter for the character animation for this demo!

Unity Flash Export – Now Available in Open Beta

[tweetmeme source=”neoRiley” only_single=false]Just released – the Open Beta developer preview of 3.5 which, as you may have anticipated, includes the Flash Exporter.  For those of you who have spent your Flash 3D lives without a decent editor, prepare to soil yourselves.  Come to the dark side and see where I’ve been living (and loving) for the past 3yrs!

Unity Open Beta

GarageBand, iPad and Me

[tweetmeme source=”neoRiley” only_single=false]Well, as soon as I saw the GarageBand video for the iPad and them bending strings on a virtual guitar and bragging about sensitivity on the drums/piano, I knew I was going to loose an evening playing with this thing!

GarageBand Mix view of "Genesis"

It didn’t take me long to figure out the layout and controls and the fact that you had to add “sections” to create a tune.  Yes, you can wax poetic and just open it up and play for as long as you like, but it really does make sense to take your composition section by section, especially if you plan to re-use any of your performances later in the tune.  The sliders work fairly well for adjusting volume, and pan is located in a sub panel you access from the top right.  You can also add basic effects that are good enough for doing a scratch track version of your master piece.  You can mute and solo a given track as well as play along with a click.

Listen: Genesis by John Grden

The quantize feature is rather nice and works per-track as well.  Keep the stuff you want sloppy, sloppy, and the neat stuff… neat.  In saying that, the drums worked decently well.  Certainly better than most of the drum machines i’ve downloaded from the app store.  Most of their shortcomings have to do with response time – the more notes you attempt, the slower the response.  And most are just behind the beat you’re playing most of the time anyway – seriously, all of them are like that.  The drums in GarageBand do not lag behind and even go the extra mile in giving you “sensitivity”.  If you listen closely to the song I’ve posted (Genesis), you can hear the soft ghost 8th notes on the floor tom followed by louder accents on the 2 higher toms.  I was actually pleased at how I moved from “oh nice, it doesn’t lag” to “I can actually emulate ‘everybody wants some!’ by Van Halen”.  Why did I pick that song?  I don’t know, but the toms sounded like it and I could play accents, so it was an easy fit.  On top of that, one nice – and very obvious feature – was how the kick drum fires when you hit the crash cymbal.  I have to laugh – it’s one of those “duh” moments and you wonder why nobody else tried doing that.

Stand Up Bass

Another thing I was really happy with was the Stand up Bass play and the Acoustic Guitar picking.  I was able to come up with a nice pattern for the chorus that fits in the background really nicely and if you didn’t know better, you’d figure it was a real guitar – really very nicely done.  The stand up bass was great – I’ve always loved fret-less bass sound and I was able to slide notes and practice good intonation with this thing!  You might hear some of the notes not quite square on the money, but hey – that’s what I would argue as something that makes this feel real rather than digitally baked.

Finally I added some strings and then decided to add some ethnic drums behind the main drums.  So, I played the drums with my fingers on the desk right next to the iPad and put a “Bullhorn” effect on the recording – sounds like a really dead animal skin stretch across a birch Indian drum shell – no?

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised at the final result and I definitely had a alot of fun putting it together.  I’ve got a ton of music apps on my iPad and have used them as instruments on real recordings, but anytime I tried to record on the iPad or sequence anything, it sucked.  I went in thinking this wouldn’t be much different, but I’m happy to report that someone over at Apple does know a thing or two about UI, User experience and music.  And holy crap, $5?  Seriously, it’s the best $5 you’ll spend as a musician on the iPad.  By far.

Molehill might become a fun, usable mountain

[tweetmeme source=”neoRiley” only_single=false]So, essentially, Unity has entered the Flash 3D world.  While 3D api’s (Away3D is doing an excellent job, btw) might provide a way to bring 3D to life via Molehill, Unity brings a kick-ass IDE with it.

And considering that they’re going to support AS3 right out of the bag (which they practically already do with UnityScript) as well as the other languages you can already use (I’ve become a c# fan myself), I’m hoping the resulting project from Unity will allow for maximum integration with flash projects.  I have no idea what output they intend to target (swf or project to yet be compiled by flash), but I do hope they output a project we can work with on the FlashBuilder or Flash IDE side of things.

There have been quite a few discussions about this move, and as usual, there’s 2 camps – the yay’s and nay’s.  I see it as a positive for Unity overall – they’re in the business of making tools, and they do that extremely well, and without a doubt, their developer base will broaden drastically if the resulting Flash is what people expect and need to get their work done (reference Adobe’s output for iPhone compared to Unity’s – case closed).  Case in point, I’d created a Papervision3D component for the Flash IDE a while back – it was downloaded over 450,000 times).  That tells me that people want visual solutions to 3D problems and that there’s a huge potential user base for a good Flash3D IDE.  Bringing Flash3D to the lower common denominators in the development food chain is a “good” thing.

But without a doubt, Adobe is the massive winner here.  IMO, they are walking away with much more of a win.  The one thing I’d complained about early on was that Molehill left 3D to the egg-heads who loved being the only ones who could use it.  As I’ve said before – until you bring it to a state of usability by the masses, it’s pointless and will largely be fruitless.  In other words, I felt that if the new 3D capabilities weren’t put in the hands of us lesser-folk through a common interface and language, it wasn’t going to go anywhere except for demoscene reels on YouTube.

Enter in Unity, and you just fixed all of that.  All of what I was saying and telling them they needed to achieve, they received from Unity3D (Merry Christmas Adobe).   I do wonder how Unity’s physics, Beast Light mapping and shaders will translate, but I’m guessing those are the fruits they intend to dangle in front of even the most hardened Flash 3D developer 😉

Check out the official release statement:

Love Jing…seriously – but it can be a hog

If you’ve had an issue with your computer seamingly slowed by some unknown process, and you have Jing running, try quiting Jing and see how that affects performance.

I use C#Express in VMWare nearly as much as I use Unity3D on the mac side all day long, 5-7dyas a week.  Recently, I’d noticed that I had to reboot my entire system to get C#Express out of the funk.  The typing would become very laggy / slow and basically a nightmare to work in, especially if I was in a hurry (when am I NOT in a hurry?!)

After stopping each process and app one by one, Jing finally proved to be the culprit.

I love Jing, so much so, i’ll risk having it on and raping my system for resources.  I’m betting that the process has to do with the history ( a feature I am in love with btw ).  But who knows.  I hope someone’s reported this already 😉

Shell Shock makes “New and Noteworty”

[tweetmeme source=”neoRiley” only_single=false]I was seriously stoked this morning to wake up and find that “Shell Shock” was listed in the “New and Noteworthy” section of the Featured games section of the iPad appstore!  BIG thanks to everyone who passed it along and tweeted about it, I really appreciate the help!

Anti-Trust investigation officially launched on Apple

Apparently, the anti-trust investigation is official – thanks to Andy for pointing this out on the Unity forums:

“Not speculation any more. FTC and Justice Department now acknowledge that they have, in fact launched an anti-trust investigation specifically targeting Apple’s new TOS. Slot that one right next to the already ongoing investigation regarding alleged collusion with other major tech firms over not hiring each other’s developers in order to depress wages. Disappointing from what was once an admirable company. Between them and Google, I guess they’ll have to learn the hard way that being Shiny Cool and Not Being Evil doesn’t give you a free pass to do whatever you want. At least Microsoft was always despicable….

Between the two investigations, it’ll probably only cost Apple, what, $50-100M, which will be nothing but a footnote in their annual report three years from now, but it will definitely be good for the us developers. By the way, DOJ said their move was in response both to claims by Adobe and others as well as complaints from numerous developers. So for those who were yelling loudly on our behalf, hats off to you.”

I don’t think Keith realized HOW much popcorn we’re going to need for this showdown…

Do developers drive the market?

[tweetmeme source=”neoRiley” only_single=false]I’ve heard several different ideas over the past week about what we might do and what we ought to do as developers (and consumers) to teach Apple a lesson about section 3.3.1.

Everything from “post everything you have to the app store” for approval, to purchase every app known to be made by a 3rd party app, to stop developing for iPhone / iPad all together ( as I type this out on my new iPad ). Personally, I don’t think the first 2 are going to make a difference that apple would see or much less care about.

So I was thinking about what Mike Chambers posted about yesterday. He states that he’s going to focus on android and is looking forward to the tablets coming out later this year. He then goes on a bit further about not going forward with any iPhone development to the point of not even maintaining the apps he’s already put out in the apps store.

While I can certainly appreciate where Mike is coming from and his reasons, I think that it’s premature for one, and I think ultimately we as developers should never burn technical bridges so to speak. Not that I have any idea whether or not Mike will ever do OC work again or not, that’s beside the point. And to be fair to Mike, his job doesn’t require him to keep OC in his back pocket – that’s not his job.

My question is: what drives the mobile market anyway? Is it the will of the developer community? Or, is it based on what the consumers want? Simple enough, right?

If you think it’s driven by the developer community, you’re wrong. It’s driven by the fanboys and fangirls who have no clue what’s going on behind the scenes – they see new toy, they buy new toy as long as the experience is good. And right now, the iphone IS the best mobile phone experience out there. This is mainly to do with the fact that Apple IS so anal. Just look at every other phone being developed these days. The phone makers are responding to a public that loves the experience of the iphone. Look no further than android for an example of that ( case in point Nexus one which looks like your dad’s old palm pilot compared to an iPhone IMO )

Bottom line – there’s a need and market for iPhone and iPad apps right now, and this means we have a demand. As long as there’s demand, someone’s going to step up to the plate, take the gig, and make the money. Simple as that.

So with that, I would encourage any developer out there to not abandon technology for ideology. What comes around goes around, and we’ve seen it way too many times already in our short history. Today’s hypocrite is tomorrows hero and in the end, whatever the consumer wants, the client needs. And whatever the client needs, the developer should be able to provide to stay competitive.

Looks like I was right about Apple ;)

From the sounds of these emails from Steve Jobs, I’d say I hit it right on the money for the most part 😉

Apple doesn’t like Flash…

There’s been tweet after tweet after tweet about Apple’s new little clause in their developers agreement:

3.3.1 — Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited).

Essentially, the first reaction is that if you don’t write it in Xcode, you can’t do it.  That’s at least what the first reaction was to the verbiage.

Now’s its speculated that maybe it means products that create an IPA file without creating an Xcode project are subjected to this new rule.  Leaving products like Unity3D in a safe spot so to speak.  But who knows at this point.  It’s all speculation until summer time 2010.

So, since nobody really knows for sure what that means yet, and so, as Keith Peters put it:  Grab some popcorn, sit back on the couch and enjoy the fireworks for the next couple of months – it’s going to get interesting 😉

I guess my general reaction to this, after having a night to sleep on it is this:  If Apple is thinking that the flash output is less than ideal in terms of performance/packaging on their devices, then we might be able to see where they’re coming from (not that I agree, or am saying that Flash’s output is inferior, I’m not saying that at all). But, if you’ve done any iPhone development, you know  that they’re so anal about experience in their SDK/agreements that this shouldn’t surprise anyone.

IE ( and let me put it in terms of what THEY’RE likely thinking ): They know they’re going to get a HUGE influx of flash apps from virtually ANYONE (hacks/babysitters who make banners/12yr olds who like pink ponies, you name it) making content for their devices, and they’re probably not to happy about the prospect of it lowering the standard of what they want for their devices.  It think you get the point.

NOTE: I’m not saying people using Flash for iPhone content are necessarily hacks or poor developers – not my point at all.  I’m pointing out that Apple is VERY ANAL about experience on their devices – right down to the use of icons and UI experience and performance.

Case in point: the trench run.  We were asked to pull a warning from the app that showed the very first time you played the game.  It simply said, “Please restart your device for best performance”.  Apple had us remove that as it insinuated that their device was the problem, not our app.  In reality it IS their device’s problem – you SHOULD reboot your device for any high performance game, but they’re not going to let you point it out.

my 2cents on the matter.  thoughts?