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Best Way To Learn Extensive XCode, 3D Modeling, and the Unity Engine In Six Months?

01-04-2010, 12:37 AM
#1
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 482
Best Way To Learn Extensive XCode, 3D Modeling, and the Unity Engine In Six Months?

Hello everybody,

I'll start off by saying that I've been an avid iPhone user and fanatic since the first iPhone came out, and I've also had a great knowledge and fascination with technology for as long as I can remember. While I've been extremely interested in developing games and software for quite a while, until the iPhone came out I've never felt that an independent developer and their applications could be recognized to the extent that they deserve, so I've never been motivated enough to learn how to develop just for the PC or Mac platform. I'm a writer with some really incredible work that I think iPhone and iPod Touch users will really see as a major jump for the App Store. I am also very critical, especially of myself, so every app I would release would have very high production levels and a great amount of polish. For anybody interested, all I can say is that the game that I'm planning to develop would be a very long episodic game probably spanning three "seasons". While I could post a synopsis, I'd rather not until I could at least develop at a good level, then I could really start posting details.

The Unity Engine looks like a good way to develop long games for an independent developer. Ravensword is the only game that I've played that runs on the Unity Engine. I have to give the two developers major props for creating that without a bigger team. The performance and graphics that the engine was capable of in Ravensword seem both okay and impressive in some parts, but a custom engine seems like it could be better, such as in Dexter the Game. I will be working with a long amount of cutscenes that would preferably be rendered in real time to save space since there would probably be at least three or four hours just of cutscenes, considering that each episode should have a few thousand words of dialog, if not over ten thousand. There is already one script written with others in concept stages, so that isn't an exaggeration. Would the Unity Engine running on the iPhone be up to the task of highly detailed animations and cut scenes?

It seems like the game would have to be made with OpenGL 2.0 to be up to the level that I want it to be, which is both great since I can deliver a graphic quality that hasn't been seen yet on the platform and a bad thing because there would be a lot of devices that can't play a game that will have so much effort put into. Since this particular game in concept stages won't be released until 2011 at the earliest, hopefully being OpenGL 2.0 exclusive won't lead to a problem with the game's popularity. I'm very anxious to start developing "console quality" iPhone and iPod Touch games. Not to get too ahead of myself, I was wondering if any developers have a recommendation to a good six month plan that would cover everything necessary to produce a game of this quality.

Last edited by MICHAELSD; 01-04-2010 at 01:24 AM.
01-04-2010, 01:32 AM
#2
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 977
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If you plan to use Unity, then you don't really need to know much about XCode. Unity creates your XCode project and automatically launches XCode to build it whenever you want.

Also, by definition, if you are using a game engine, you won't be bringing a totally new level of graphic quality to the iPhone. The engine supports what it supports as far as features and capabilities.

You CAN extend Unity in some ways if you purchase the expensive version (around $1500 as I recall). In that case you WOULD need to know XCode so you could write any custom extensions you want. It sounds like you are a writer with no coding background (forgive me if I am wrong), so I doubt that will be within your abilities given the 6 month timeframe.

I don't know if the current version of Unity is very useful for scripting cutscenes, but I heard a new editor is coming for that. Not sure of the details. http://forum.unity3d.com/viewtopic.php?p=224073

01-04-2010, 01:51 AM
#3
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 482
Thanks for your reply, MindJuice. That is true, but I've seen Unity capable of more than what has been released on the iPhone so far, and with the Unity Engine. Ravensword is the most extensive game developed with the Unity Engine to date, but it used OpenGL 1.0 to support every iPhone and iPod Touch model while using OpenGL 2.0 could've opened up the game to be more impressive visually. It appears that there is still much more that the newer devices are capable of that hasn't been touched yet (pun not intended), and it appears that Unity should be able to at least surpass anything released so far with a lot of work and focusing all of my effort into the newer OpenGL 2.0 devices, which probably won't be a big problem with a potential 2011 release date for the first game.

I was hoping to use a six month timeframe just to learn how to build a high quality game with the Unity Engine along with 3D modeling and animation. So basically just to read a lot of tutorials, books, watch videos, etc. about developing with Unity, and make a few games that wouldn't be released. Then, after the six month period actually begin developing the game I have planned. I would get a team together on contract to help with the models and animation in particular, and I wouldn't release the game without professional voice acting because of how big of a role the story will play.

I have no coding experience, but I do have a great knowledge of technology and the iPhone. I just wanted to plan the most efficient way to spend a six month period learning what I need to know, then afterwards learning more while starting alpha level development. The first development stages could be scrapped and completely redone depending on how much more I learn while developing them.

Last edited by MICHAELSD; 01-04-2010 at 02:06 AM.
01-04-2010, 02:52 AM
#4
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 977
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MICHAELSD View Post
Thanks for your reply, MindJuice. That is true, but I've seen Unity capable of more than what has been released on the iPhone so far, and with the Unity Engine. Ravensword is the most extensive game developed with the Unity Engine to date, but it used OpenGL 1.0 to support every iPhone and iPod Touch model while using OpenGL 2.0 could've opened up the game to be more impressive visually. It appears that there is still much more that the newer devices are capable of that hasn't been touched yet (pun not intended), and it appears that Unity should be able to at least surpass anything released so far with a lot of work and focusing all of my effort into the newer OpenGL 2.0 devices, which probably won't be a big problem with a potential 2011 release date for the first game.
Unity is definitely capable of much more than you've seen on the iPhone, and part of the reason is that many cool features are simply not available in the iPhone version of Unity. It's been a while since I looked at the available features, but I don't recall there being much in the way of OpenGL 2.0 specific features implemented yet. I guess you'd get a speed increase. My info could be out of date, but I took a quick look on their site and didn't see any mention of new 2.0 features.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MICHAELSD View Post
I was hoping to use a six month timeframe just to learn how to build a high quality game with the Unity Engine along with 3D modeling and animation. So basically just to read a lot of tutorials, books, watch videos, etc. about developing with Unity, and make a few games that wouldn't be released. Then, after the six month period actually begin developing the game I have planned. I would get a team together on contract to help with the models and animation in particular, and I wouldn't release the game without professional voice acting because of how big of a role the story will play.

I have no coding experience, but I do have a great knowledge of technology and the iPhone. I just wanted to plan the most efficient way to spend a six month period learning what I need to know, then afterwards learning more while starting alpha level development. The first development stages could be scrapped and completely redone depending on how much more I learn while developing them.
I understand your plan better now, but if you are planning to put a team together anyway, then why don't you focus on your strengths (game design and writing) and let others who already have the necessary skills focus on their strengths (coding, 3D modeling & animating, texture art)? Just put the team together ASAP and get working on it.

I'm a software developer "by trade", and I could have put out iPhone apps with my own art too since I am pretty handy with Photoshop, but I know I could never have gotten my games to the level they are at now having used a professional artist.
01-04-2010, 03:06 AM
#5
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 482
I should be able to get the game more the way I want it if I program it myself. Programming is definitely something I have wanted and still want to do and I believe that I shouldn't have a problem as long as I learn the Unity Engine properly. Putting together a professional team to develop a game like this without a budget to pay them now (all contracts will state that the worker is paid x% of total profit per episode with maximum of y profit per episode) is easier said than done. I have no problem being the lead programmer and writer, and it will be hard to find someone up to animating cutscenes up to the quality (including animation and camerawork) of a movie or TV show in the vision I'm hoping for. I'd like to step in any work being done to tweak it to exactly how I wanted it when I wrote the script. I probably wouldn't be the lead 3D modeller/animator, and if I am there will probably be another lead 3D modeller/animator.

I was looking into the Unity Engine more as well, and it does appear that they may not have actual OpenGL ES 2.0 support, though they do say that there's iPhone 3GS exclusive features in the latest update, possibly hinting that there might be. Either way, by the end of the year or the beginning of 2011 when real development takes place, Unity for the iPhone should support much more. Or there could be better engines available. I'm not completely sure if Unreal Engine 3 would be better for the project, I'll have to really compare the iPhone version's features to the Unity engine. The distinctive art style that every Unreal Engine 3 game has doesn't seem to match the style that I'm looking for.

Last edited by MICHAELSD; 01-04-2010 at 03:13 AM.
01-04-2010, 03:59 AM
#6
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Posts: 977
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Well, it certainly sounds like you're intending to bite off a very big chunk of work!

Obviously I don't know the extent of the gameplay involved with your idea, but from what you've described, I think you'd have a lot of work even if you had a team of 10 or more involved.

Doing it with just 2-3 people will be very challenging!

Good luck to you and I hope to see your game some time in 2011!
01-04-2010, 08:53 AM
#7
From my experience: my partner has been coding, in just about every language available, primarily as his work for 10+ years. We just released a game, which does push the graphical limits, and uses the touch system pretty uniquely. It took him, by himself, with ten years of coding experience under his belt, 8 months to produce. this was not all full time, as it was infeasible to "quit the day job". He did have a graphic designer on board as well.

I would say that you are being incredibly optimistic, and maybe a little naive, to think that you can do what you want in six months, unless you have a team and/or quit your day job (which I wouldn't recommend doing just yet).

Having said that, I encourage you to follow your dream and learn as much as you can. Definitely having a team, and/or a mentor to help with the development, would help.

Good luck to you!

working with my partner Psionic, to promote his game: Running with Scissors:Pre-season. Excited to learn, share and help.
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01-04-2010, 08:11 PM
#8
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 249
I would also add to this, maybe make your first game a simple one? Just to test what it takes to make even a simplest game and I guarantee you, you'll be surprised how much effort it required.

The way you described your game idea it sounds huge and because you have no experience is probably doomed to fail, I'm afraid.
01-04-2010, 08:32 PM
#9
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 482
I'm not planning a six month development process for the game. I'm trying to get recommendations on what to read, watch, etc. to learn the most necessary in six months, mainly just learning the Unity Engine very well to go from no coding knowledge to knowing one engine to the point that I can push the engine's limits. I will have at least one graphic designer and animator, and I've realized that it isn't completely feasible for me to learn that area to a good extent. I do want to learn some things in that area mainly for optimization, though.
01-04-2010, 10:05 PM
#10
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Brampton, Ontario
Posts: 344
Hmm

Alright, I'm gonna be honest with you. Every one of us has an AMAZING game idea in our heads that we want to make some day. If you try to make your game right now, you WILL FAIL. If you work hard enough, you will EVENTUALLY be capable of to making it, but not yet!

You're trying to start at the end. You've gotta start at the beginning. Sure, do it with Unity if you want, but the small things have to come before the big things. Make a pong clone. Make a breakout game. Make a space shooter. Make a platformer, and then make a few more games. At that point you can re-evaluate and see if you think you're good enough to make your dream game.

I'm not trying to be mean, I just want to give you a bit of a reality check to make sure that you don't waste your own time. If you go about this the right way, you will do it!

And if you think I'm crazy, or that I just don't understand how good your game is, consider that this happens in EVERY creative profession. Avatar was James Cameron's dream movie, but it definitely wasn't the first one he made! And I highly recommend you check out this video of Ira Glass(a radio host), whose advice applies to just about any creative profession: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hidvElQ0xE