Unity 3D – Space Runner Game Demo

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Space Runner Unity Demo - Click To Play

This demo is my first real attempt at making something in proper 3D using Unity and follows on from the 2D Asteroids style game I made back in January. As with that earlier demo, I used C# to write all the main game scripts, while the graphics and sound effects are from downloads available from the Unity Resources section of the Unity Technologies website.

My aim was to make something reminiscent of classic on rails shooters like Starfox, Afterburner, Rez and the Panzer Dragoon series. I spent quite a while looking at those games and trying to mimic the controls and camera behavior for this demo, and while it’s clearly not a patch on those games, I guess there are a few similarities in places. If you would like to play the demo please click the image above.

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Unity 3D – First Impressions

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There’s been a lot of talk in the Flash community lately about Unity and the way it is transforming 3D on the web. Having read a lot about it, played a few demos and seen that Unity Indie is now available for free, I just had to take a closer look. So what follows are my first impressions of the game engine and development environment, a quick look at some of the best Unity projects out there at the moment, and an overview of the resources available to new developers, especially those like me, who are from an ActionScript background.

From Flash to Unity
Working with Unity is a lot like developing in the Flash IDE, in fact there are so many similarities that as a Flash developer it’s very easy to understand the basics. Lots of comparisons have been drawn between the basic building blocks in both environments: the Unity Project Panel is just like the Library in Flash, the Hierarchy is your Timeline, the Unity GameObject is a bit like the base DisplayObject in Flash, while Prefabs can be instantiated at runtime just like Linked MovieClips, even the default scripting language looks very familiar.

What quickly becomes apparent though, is that aside from the obvious performance advantage that Unity brings to 3D graphics, this is also an engine that was built mainly for making games with rather than a platform for everything from 2D vector animations to video playback. To make a game in Flash – even with something as advanced as the PushButtonEngine – is still a major piece of work, with Unity everything is there at your fingertips: 3D renderer, shaders, particle effects, a physics engine, standardized player input, an optimized game loop, sound management… the list goes on. All of this means that you can focus on creating the actual game itself, rather than trying to build an engine from scratch or spend ages working out how to combine some existing code libraries orĀ  frameworks to make a game in Flash.

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Stardust Particle Effects – X-Wing Demo

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Stardust X-Wing demo

The aim of this demo was to update John Grden’s legendary Papervision3D X-Wing model – as seen in this classic papervision demo – and really bring it to life with some nice animated 3D particle effects.

The demo combines Papervision3D and the Stardust Particle Engine to add particle effects to the existing 3D model. I used Stardust’s built in Papervision extension to add the classic red glow of the X-Wing engines and then animate those engines as the ship accelerates away from camera. It’s quite a subtle effect, but if you look closely you can see a kind of red heat haze, I also like the way the white flames fade in and out as the ship speeds up and slows down.

I know this kind of effect could easily be done in something like Unity but I think it’s pretty cool to see it done in real-time in Flash. The original Papervision3D X-Wing demos were a real inspiration to me, and it’s amazing just how much a little effect like this can add to what is already an amazing 3D model.

Click here to view the demo and source code.

Stardust Particle Effects – 2D Spaceship Demo

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demo8-screenshot

This demo is another example of the cool effects that can be made in Flash and ActionScript 3 using the Stardust Particle Engine.

By combining a simple particle effect with lots of Flash filters and some BitmapData processing, it’s possible to create some pretty abstract looking flame effects. The initial idea was to make something similar to the neon particle systems seen in games like Geometry Wars and Grid Runner, but after playing around with the Flash bitmap filters for a while I ended up with this cool looking flame effect instead.

The code is actually fairly similar to my earlier tutorial on using the Stardust engine, but this time I’m setting the velocity of the particles based on the speed and direction of the spaceship to create a nice engine flame effect that reacts to the ship’s movement.

Click here to view the demo and download the source code.

Intro to 3D web game development platforms

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For quite a while the first thing I would think of when someone mentioned video gaming on the web was Flash, then maybe Java or Shockwave. But while a quick look on a site like Kongregate would seem to justify that assumption with a wealth of high quality 2D Flash games available to play online, in recent months there seems to be more and more games popping up on the web that don’t use Flash at all.

The first thing that struck me was that most of these non-flash games have fantastic 3D graphics. While 3D in Flash has improved incredibly over the last couple of years thanks to brilliant AS3 libraries like Papervision3D and Away3D, it’s still quite a challenge to get a smooth frame rate, nice graphics and physics from a 3D game in Flash. That’s not to say it’s impossible, because some people out there have managed wonders with the tech, and the Red Bull Soapbox Racer is probably my favorite example right now of what can be achieved with a 3D Flash game.

So anyway onto the list, it’s only a brief introduction and by no means definitive, but I hope someone might find it interesting.

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