First Unity Developers Meetup Ignites a New Start

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Game development is one of the slowest developing areas in the ever-growing IT sector in Sri Lanka. However, a bunch of enthusiasts got together and organized a slightly different meetup for a change. Thus, the first Sri Lanka Unity Developers Meetup was held on the 25th July at StartupX Foundry rooftop. The first Unity meetup itself attracted nearly 50 participants and that itself showed a lot of potential.

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Unity Real-Time Render Demo 2016 (Image Credits: c.slashgear.com)

Introductions

The meetup started with the Unity Developer and conductor of the meet, Chathu Vishwajith presenting about “Introduction About Unity and Ecosystem”. Chathu gave an informative introduction to what the Unity IDE is and where it stands in the gaming industry as of now. He further explained about Unity’s different aspects. Firstly, Unity Connect – a talent marketplace to hire Unity specialists for projects. Chathu emphasized on Unity’s Multiplatform feature’s ability to export a game to various platforms including Windows, Android, iOS, HTML5, Facebook, and many more.

He also explained about Unity Teams – a cloud based project collaboration feature, Analytics – a simulation service to analyze gameplay, any more. To motivate the audience, Chathu shared his experiences from his visit to “Unite Europe” held in Amsterdam. Using images from his visit, Chathu showed how massive the international audience of Unity is and showed videos of hands-on VR demos he tried during the conference.

Becoming a Great Game Designer

Following the introductory session by Chathu, the space was given to Steeban Charles, director at SpectraCube to speak on “5 Things to Keep in Mind to Become a Great Game Designer”. Steeban advised through his presentation to learn from mistakes and the best way to improve in game development is to “try and fail”. Steeban also pointed out the importance of using the correct game engine to develop and how it could make your project efficient. He also elaborated the importance of play testing for a game as it is the best way to identify a game’s strengths and weaknesses. More general tips on planning, keeping work organized, and sources to find assets were also mentioned during his presentation.

Steeban also demonstrated a simple game he created for Android using Unity called “Super Ball” – a simple game developed within two days where the player must keep tapping a ball to keep it within the central area of the screen. It is available now on Google Play Store for anyone to try out.

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Growth Chart of Monthly Active Users & Platform Support (Image Credits: blogs.unity3d.com)

A Gamer’s Perspective, Unity and IoT

Shifting away from the scheduled presentations, Chathu invited Binura de Zoysa, cyber-athlete and game developer from the audience on a special note to share his experience in game development with everyone. Binura shared his story of being interested in game development since he was 11 years old. He mentioned how he was fortunate to be among the 5 people who had the opportunity to study game development in Sri Lanka. Binura mentioned there are many cultural and mental aspects as to why the Sri Lankan game industry is far behind. He pointed out how developers change their mindsets to not make “productive” games but to make “entertaining” ones. Lastly, Binura also suggested that taking the risk of dedicating 2-3 years to make one proper game without catering to a local audience is what is needed to uplift the Lankan market.

Going back to the scheduled presentations, CEO of SAS Ninja Labs, Thuan Shafer Preena shared his knowledge on “Unity and IoT” with a live demo. Thuan first went through a bit of history about Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality, and Internet of Things (in short known as “IoT”). He mentioned hour the Reality concepts have been there since the early 90s. Thuan showed the evolution of VR gadgets and AR systems up to now. He emphasized how Pokemon GO made a breakthrough with AR yet the hype died fast. He then explained the multipurpose uses of Unity away from gaming such as how Unity can be used to create more service-based products as well. To prove that, Thuan first explained what is IoT and how connecting information gained from physical devices can be used to create interactive solutions.

To show his live demo, Thuan started the Unity IDE and made the audience go through the interface and programming basics with him. Thuan displayed a simple game-like solution that reads a country’s weather information and change the atmosphere accordingly to that. He showed how it was created and the simplicity of using Unity as a tool to make stuff other than just games. Thuan also briefly went through the Unity Asset Store, gamification concepts, and use of sensors to feed data.

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Unity Supported Platforms (Image Credits: biobeasts.artix.com)

Augmented Reality And The World Of Vuforia

The last presentation was by the AR game dev enthusiast, Hansa Tharuka and Nishan Chathuranga on “Augmented Reality and Vuforia”. Hansa also presented with a live demo where he showed how to create an Augmented Reality environment very quickly using Unity’s Vuforia SDK. He took the audience through the process of installing the SDK, enabling it, all the way to creating a simple example out of it. Hansa and his Nishan showed the use of essential elements such as tracking points and using a AR camera in the IDE. After the walkthrough of using Vuforia, they showed more examples of marker and non-marker based AR SDKs for Unity. Some of them were seeing a miniature Donald Trump on top of Hansa’s laptop by identifying the track points of a card, a labyrinth demo, and some actual AR marketing products made by Toyota and BMW. They also gave a brief mention of using SLAM technology to replace gyrometers for AR developments.

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Unity Analytics Report (Image Credits: blogs.unity3d.com)

With that, Chathu returned one again to the center and gave his concluding words to bring an end to the first Unity developers meet in Sri Lanka. Following the end of the event, many of the gathered enthusiasts and startup runners were seen interacting with one another discussing game dev matters.

While the first meet up was mostly technical and towards the development side, we can hopefully expect to see more of design perspective and artistic sides in the coming meets. If you are into game development despite using Unity as your tool, get in touch with the slowly growing community of game developers on Facebook and Twitter.

That’s it for now, stay tuned with us for news on more upcoming meets and game dev news.

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