Building games in Sri Lanka & augmenting reality at the Unity Meetup


Breaking the boredom of the midweek, the first Unity Game Developers Meetup of the year organized by Unity Sri Lanka was held on Wednesday, March 28th at 99X Technologies. The hall was seated by over 30 enthusiasts that consisted of both professionals and students insterested in using Unity to build their games or other experiences.

Kicking things off

The session started off with Chathu Vishwajith – founder of Unity Sri Lanka, sharing the new improvements of Unity game engine. A new realistic environmental demo created using Unity was shown to demonstrate the engine’s current capabilities.

Following the brief demo, Chathu spoke about the Universal GameDev Challenge – a global competition organized by Unity Technologies in association with Universal. The goal of the challenge is to develop a game based on Battlestar Galactica, Voltron The Legendary Defender, Back to the Future, Jaws, and the classic Turok Son of Stone.

More than the global challenge, Chathu emphasized on another challenge tailored specifically for the South-Asian region. The South-APAC Challenge by Unity invites developers to create an urban environment with animal-like inhabitants. More details of both challenges can be found on the official challenges page of Unity.

Challenges of building games in Sri Lanka

Afterward, we saw Sanoj Siriwardena – Chief Operations Manager at Bhasha, take the stage. He shared the challenges to be faced when developing mobile games in Sri Lanka. This was through the game Akuru Keliya, which aims to teach how to use the Bhasha font.

Sanoj explained the gamification of the idea was a great success. While Akuru Keliya was a free game, Sanoj mentioned how they had to make a more commercial product next to sustain as a company. Thus, their second game, Hapan was made.

Akuru Keliya developed by Bhasha lanka was spoken of at the Unity Meetup to show challenges of building games in Sri Lanka
Akuru Keliya

Hapan is another mobile game, aiming to teach children how to write Sinhala letters. Sanoj explained how the team conceptualized the game. The idea behind the game was to imitate an angel/motherly figure teach small children letters in a very passionate and loving way. To do so, Sanoj explained how they used a female voice and soft-spoken words to each a child’s attention.

That being said, Sanoj moved to his main discussion of challenges that you face when building games in Sri Lanka. He stressed how having too many ideas implemented at once can bring failure to a new product. Instead, Sanoj recommended to “add features as you go”.

The second challenge he stated when building games were knowing the target audience. Sanoj shared that with Hapan, marketing the game to parents became the key to its success. The third challenge when building games he pointed out was “finding the optimal monetization plan”. He shared a few ways to obtain a recurring income. These were: ads, premium features, and paid subscriptions.

Sanoj concluded his session by highlighting some other challenges game developers could face. These include: getting your game noticed, raising funds, cross-platform compatibility, security, and maintenance.

Augmenting reality to our whims

Afterward, we saw Chathu return to the stage. He was here to introduce Augmented Reality development using ARKit for Unity. He opened by sharing a brief history of AR from 1962. His history lesson built the technological background for some of the key technologies with AR.

Afterward, he introduced the ARKit. This is a set of software development tools released by Apple to help developers build AR experiences for iOS. Chathu went onto explain the different methods you can use to build AR experiences with it in Unity. But while easy to use, ARKit’s only drawback is that it only supports iOS devices.

ARKit in action. Games. Sri Lanka. Unity
ARKit in action

Chathu then shared a few tips to keep in mind when developing with ARKit. Afterward, he shared a live demo of an app he built using ARKit. He then explained the availability of other kits such as 2DKit available for Unity developers.

Chathu concluded his session by encouraging any interested developers to research before starting new projects. He highlighted that there could me many pre-made assets that they could already use. As such, it helps to research first to save time when building AR experiences.

The Unity meetup comes to an end

The meetup came to an end with an open Q&A session. Chathu invited everyone to ask questions from the speaking panel as well as the industrial representatives from Bhasha and Motion Miracles. With some refreshments, of course, the first Unity Game Developers Meetup of 2018 concluded well giving a big update on what has improved in the engine and also giving an insight of AR and mobile game development.

Interested in making a game yourself? Then check out the official Facebook Group of Unity Game Developers Sri Lanka here and get started!


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