Early thoughts on Shader Graph

I’ve started working a bit with the new Shader Graph in Unity (mostly because I’ve started using URP) so I just want to share some early observations. TL;DR I’m a bit leery of Shader Graph right now and am finding I’d rather just write the shaders manually as I have been.

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The Arcade cabinet is built

I built the arcade cabinet I mentioned last month, so in this post I’m going to both show pictures and talk a bit about how it went. Here it is!

(I realize the screen is upside-down, I did that on purpose to cover a mounting mistake. The games aren’t displayed upside-down, just that plexiglass cover over the monitor.)

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YouTube channel for Tech Meets Entertainment

So yesterday I gave my talk to the Tech Meets Entertainment meetup group. The organizer, Zach Lo, made a YouTube channel where he posts recordings of these talks, so presumably my talk will be up there eventually. I also saw a buddy from college, so that was cool! Back in college, Mike Rankin is the one who told me about the class Building Virtual Worlds (taught by this guy) but we haven’t seen each other since graduating.

Talk at Tech Meets Entertainment

Still pretty busy with my book; it’s been coming along nicely, and I’m on the home stretch now! Meanwhile, I’m lined up to give a talk in a month at a Meetup group called Tech Meets Entertainment. This group is actually located in San Francisco, but the meetings are all virtual right now. I love speaking to groups like this, and it totally didn’t occur to me that I don’t need to limit these geographically while things are virtual.

Joseph Hocking – Expert Unity Developer & Author of “Unity in Action”

Saturday, May 29, 2021, 11:00 AM

Online event
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3 Techies Attending

Hello fellow techies! This week our guest will be Joseph Hocking, senior developer at Chicago based Augmented Reality firm BUNDLAR. His expertise at programming C# in Unity comes from a lengthy career developing both games and XR (VR/AR) applications, and he also works with JavaScript/WebGL for these projects. Joseph is also an author, and is curre…

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I have a Twitch channel

Not a lot to talk about this month, since I’ve been pretty swamped between work and my book. One interesting new thing is I setup a Twitch channel. Manning (my publisher) asked me to stream some live coding on their channel one afternoon this summer, and so I had to setup a Twitch channel for them to invite. I may use that to stream some game dev on my own, not sure, we’ll see!

Transparency with Depth Sorting

A classic rendering problem in realtime 3D graphics is overlapping transparent surfaces. Well, I recently wrote a shader for Unity that renders alpha transparency with correct depth sorting. My solution isn’t unique, but I don’t see a lot of people talking about it, so hopefully this will help people out.

The depth sorting in this shader still only works well for hard-edged cutouts, but you can mix cutouts with smooth semi-transparency in the alpha channel, and any rendering glitches will be restricted to only the semi-transparent parts. This is a huge improvement over having those rendering glitches apply to the entire model, and hopefully my explanations give you a full appreciation for the tradeoffs being made.

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Discovering Sprytile

I finally started on the 3rd edition of Unity in Action at the end of last year, so between that and work I don’t really have much bandwidth lately for any other projects. I haven’t abandoned Eschatown, but I’m probably not going to do any work on that game until spring. At that point I’m planning to quickly wrap up the art (especially character sprites done with Character Creator 2D), and then release it.

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Eschatown’s Prototype

We’ve just uploaded a prototype for you to download and try. Just in time for Thanksgiving!

Just go to the game’s page for both Windows and Mac builds of Eschatown: https://midhavengames.itch.io/eschatown

This version is still very early and rough, and very few sprites are in the game so far. However the writing and systems are pretty far along, so we are testing balance with this prototype. Let me know what you find!

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