schlimm_sample_white.. - Greg Schlimm

minedesertSoftware and s/w Development

Oct 31, 2013 (3 years and 9 months ago)

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WRITING SAMPLE


Unify: Unity 3D for Flash Game Creators

PURPOSE

This

white paper presents Unity 3D, a 3D game authoring
program
, as a
practical

career tool for
creators of
Adobe Flash

content.

This document originated as an assignment in the University of Washington Certificate Program in
Technical Writing and Editing.

AUDIENCE

The core audience includes professional designers, animators and developers of 2D Flash games.
For them the
paper draws attention to similarities between the user interfaces in Flash and Unity.
The document also provides information for

producers and other
stakeholders who purchase tools
and

manage team workflow
.

CONTACT

http://www.gregschlimm.com/


greg.schlimm@gmail.com

123 N. 101st Street

Seattle, WA 98133

206
-
618
-
5407
GREG SCHLIMM

Technical Writing and Interactive Development


 
 


UNI FY



UNITY 3D

FOR FLASH GAME CREATORS



 
 
 
 
 
Unify:  
Unity  3D  For  Fl
ash  Game  Creators
 
 
2
 
OVERVIEW
 
Support  for  the  Flash  player  has  declined  as  iOS  devices  and  standards
-­‐
compliant  browsers  have  risen  
 
in  popularity
.  
For  Flash  game  artists  and  developers,  this  presents  a  career  
challenge
.  
The
ir
 
unified  
workflow  
and  multi
-­‐
screen  reach
 
have
 
given  way  to  an  overwhelming  list  of  
fragmented  
technical  
choices
.  
 
This  document  will  present  Unity
,  a  3D  game  authoring  tool,  as  a
 
viable  step  toward
 
more  device  
s
creens
 
and  new  professional  s
kills
.  
 
WHO  SHOULD  READ  THIS
?
 
Designers,  animators,  and  developers
,  the  primary  players  in  2D  Flash  game  teams,
 
are  the  core  
audience  for  this  white  paper
.  
Unity  offers  both  familiar  and  new  territory  for  these  teams
.  
The  
upcoming  sections  will  present  Unity  as  
a
 
n
atural  evolution  of  their  workflow  and  existing  skills
.  
The  
document  will  
also  be  useful  for
 
stakeholders  who  purchase  tools  and  manage  team  workflow,  to  inform  
them  about  the  Unity  investment  and  the  availabl
e  publishing  bundles
 
THE  
CAREER  
SITUATION
 
The  Success  of  Flash
 
In  the
 
late  nineties,  the  Flash  Player
 
(owned  by  Macromedia
 
at  the  time
)
 
became
 
the  platform  of  choice  
for  many  interactive  designers,  2D  animators,
 
and  developers
.  
The  s
uccess  of  the  Flash  Pla
yer  stemmed
 
from  rapid  creative  workflow
,  sophisticated  drawing  tools,
 
and  consistent  delivery  across  many  
desktop  
screens
.  
While  HTML  design  efforts  
stumbled  in  
cross
-­‐
browser  problems
 
and  quirky  table
-­‐
based  layout
,  
Flash  offered  
drag
-­‐
and
-­‐
drop  
v
isual  contr
ol  that  designers  knew  well  from
 
desktop  publishing  tools
 
like  
QuarkXPress
.  
 
W
ith  the
 
arrival  of  the
 
ActionScript  programming  
language  and  
framework,
 
the
 
Flash  suite  of  tools
 
(
eventually  under  Adobe's  control
)
 
supported
 
deep  
layering  
of  video,  anim
ation,  
and  audio
.  
Flash,  a
long  
with
 
its  companion  develop
ment  
tool
,
 
Flash  Builder,  became  the  
power  
tools  for  games
 
and
 
for
 
the  
highly  anticipated  next
 
generation  of  
Rich  I
nternet  
A
pplications  
(RIA).
 
Emerging  JavaScript  Libraries
 
In  recent  years,  tools  like  jQuer
y  and  other  standards
-­‐
compliant  JavaScript  libraries  have  stepped  into  
Flash's  interactive  territory
.  
These
 
tools  are  a  better  interactive  choice
 
for  
many  application  
tasks
,  
providing  accessibility  and  search  
features
 
that  are  cumbersome  
to  implement  
with  
Flash
.  
They  also
 
take  
care  of  some
 
browser  inconsistencies  and  offer  liquid  (
flexible
)
 
layouts
.  
Flash
 
can  no  long
er
 
claim  to  be  
the  singular  tool  for  transitions
,
 
or
 
for
 
pages  that  update  without  a  refresh
.  
However,  JavaScript  tools  
still  provide  relatively  simple  animation  
options  
and  slow  processing  compared  to  the  Flash  Player.
 
The  New  Rich  Internet
 
As  many  authors  have  stated,  the
 
real  challenge  to  the  Flash  Player
 
today  
is  
not  JavaScript
.  
It's  
rapid  
growth
 
of  iOS  devices  that  do  not  support  the  player
.  
While  Flash  content  teams  can  
now  
deliver
 
 
 
 
Unify:  
Unity  3D  For  Fl
ash  Game  Creators
 
 
3
 
content  
to  iOS  with  AIR,  the  Adobe  Integrated  R
untime,  Apple's  
packaging
 
restrictions  ha
ve  forced  
AIR
 
distribution  into  a  
large
,  somewhat  inefficient
 
runtime  pa
ckage
.  
As  mobile  devices  have  become  the  
new  rich  Internet,  the  Flash  Player  has  trailed  behind  in  support  for  the  most  important  new  screens
.  
Meanwhile,  speculation  about  the  potential  of  HTML5  
has  caused  a  shift  in  priorities  for  clients  and  for  
Adobe
.
 
N
ew  
Choice
s
 
and
 
Fragmentation
 
After  more  than  a  decade  of  Adobe  (or  Macromedia)  dominance,  competition  and  choice  are  ultimately
 
good  for  
the
 
interactive  workspace
.  
However,  the  jQuery  tools,  th
e  JavaScript  engines,  the  HTML  
C
anvas,  and  all  the  other  emergi
ng  graphic  options  lack  one  or  more  of  
the  
fundamental  features  that  
made  the  Flash  Player  a  successful  
tool
 
for  artists,  developers,  and  businesses
.  
For  
projects  that  are
 
more  sophisticated  than  simple  transition
s  and  shadowbox  portfolios,  JavaScript
-­‐
 
and  HTML
-­‐
based  
tools  
lack  the  rapid  creative  workflow,  drawing  tools,  and  
immediate  multi
-­‐
screen  
consistency
 
that  attracted  
designers  to  the  
Flash  authoring  tool
 
in  the  first  place
.  
In  short,  there  is  no  
HTML  
authori
ng  tool  
for  
the  
kind  of  
layered  motion,  audio,  video,  game  mechanics,  and  scripting  
that  Flash  content  providers  have  
delivered  rapidly  for  years
.  
M
obile  development  
tools  require  
months  of  
native  code  
programming  
(Objective
-­‐
C  for  iOS,  Java  for  Android,  
an
d  a  variety  of  graphic  frameworks
)
,  often
 
to  reach  just  one  
platform
.  
 
The  HTML5  Promise
 
Of  course,  
HTML5  
holds  promise
.  
It  
may
 
some  day  
be  
a  multi
-­‐
screen  choice  for  games  an
d
 
rich
 
media,  
but  HTML  
today
 
suffers  from  the  fragmentation  that  made  designers  
fl
ock
 
to
 
Flash
.  
HTML5  v
ideo  
support  
is  hampered  by  
codec  licensing  issues  and  varying  commitments  among  manufacturers
.  
The  
new  audio  tag
 
differ
s
 
in  file  support  across  browsers,  
to  the  degree  that  most  HTML  sound  libraries  load  
Flash
 
files  as  a  
fallback
 
measure
.  
The  HTML5  
Canvas  drawing  space  
bears  a  slight  
resemblance
 
to  the  
animation  
stage  in  Flash,  but  it's  the  ter
ritory  of  JavaScript  programming,  not  drag
-­‐
and
-­‐
drop  design  and  
animation
.  
Once  again,  there  is  no  
mature  
autho
ring  environment  
or  
visual  
to
olkit  for  creating  
rich  
interactive  
environments
.  
 
 
 
 
Unify:  
Unity  3D  For  Fl
ash  Game  Creators
 
 
4
 
 
Nick  Jr.  Flash  project  that  incorporates  layered  character  animation,  music,  and  
synchronized  voice
-­‐
over  that  would  be  impossible  to  duplicate  without  mature  drawing  
tools,  consistent  media  support
 
and  
fast  rendering.
 
(Fresh  Beat  Music  Video  Mixer,  
 
http://www.nickjr.com/kids
-­‐
games/fres
-­‐
music
-­‐
video.html
)
 
 
For  now,  HTML  and  JavaScript  have  web  applications  and  relatively  simple  
animation  covered,  but  they  
fall  short  with  immersive  animation  and  media
.  
 
The  Business  Need  for  an  Authoring  Tool
 
This  is  more  than  just  a  matter  of  convenience  for  designers  and  developers
 
of  games  
or  rich  media  
projects
.  
As  clients  see  Android  and  Wind
ows  devices  
en
croaching  on
 
iOS  territory,  single
-­‐
screen  
development  pre
sents  a  real  
business  
challenge
.  
 
According  to  
Business  Insider,  “
Android's  share  of  the  worldwide  smartphone  market  was  52.3%  for  Q3,  
double  what  it  was  a  year  ago
.”
 
(Business  Insider
,
 
November
,
 
2011
,  
http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011
-­‐
11
-­‐
15/tech/30400455_1_ios
-­‐
iphone
-­‐
smartphone
-­‐
market
).
 
TechCrunch  says
,  

iOs's  market  share  (by  sales)  jumped  from  26%  in  the  third  quarter  of  2011  to  43%  by  
October  and  November
.  
Android,  however,  ca
me  out  on  top,  with  47%  market  share  during  those  two  
months,  down  from  60%  in  Q3.

 
(Tech  Crunch,  January,  2012,  
http://techcrunch.com/2012/01/09/ios
-­‐
marketshare
-­‐
up
-­‐
from
-­‐
26
-­‐
in
-­‐
q3
-­‐
to
-­‐
43
-­‐
in
-­‐
octnov
-­‐
2011/
)
 
 
 
 
Unify:  
Unity  3D  For  Fl
ash  Game  Creators
 
 
5
 
 
 
 
I
nteractive  schedules  
now  stretch  
months  for
 
iOS  d
evelopment
,  where  they  were  once  weeks  for  Flash  
development
.  
If  it  takes  additional  weeks  or  months  to  port  
projects  
to
 
Android  and
 
other
 
devices
,  
rich  
media  
or  game  
work
 
becomes  
a  
very  slow  and  risky
 
proposal
.  
 
THE  NEW  GAME
 
The  changes  of  the  past  few  
years  have  left  Flash  game  teams  looking  for  a  new  specialty
.  
They  
can
 
invest  research  in  native  Objective
-­‐
C
 
programming  for  iOS
.  
However,  
that's  
shortsighted
 
when  
Android  
and  Windows  devices  are  rapidly  competing  with  Apple  products
.  
The  real  solution
s
 
go
ing  forward  
will
 
be
 
tool
s
 
that  can  reach  multiple  screens  
without  a  lot  of  duplicate  effort
.  
 
For  applications  
that  incorporate  some  media  
(as  opposed  to  games),  
interactive  teams
 
can  and  should  
stay  in  touch  with  
the  multi
-­‐
device  evolution
 
of  
HTML5
.  
They  
should  
study
 
tools  like  PhoneGap,  which  
takes  familiar  web  code  (HTML,  JavaScript,  Cascading  Style  Sheets)  and  bundles  it  automatically  for  a  
variety  of  devices
.  
They  should  also  watch  Adobe's  work  on  Edge,  an  up
-­‐
and
-­‐
coming  tool  that  promises  
HTML5  deliver
y  of  web  applications  with  
a  fairly  flat  level  of  
animation
.  
More  
fledgling
 
tools  for  rich  
applications  will  appe
ar  in  the  year
 
ahead.
 
However,  when  clients  request  the  more  immersive  qualities  of  a  game,  for  multiple  screens,  on  rapid  
schedules,  the  above
 
tools  fa
ll  short
.  
To  summarize,  clients  expect  at  least  a  few  of  the  following  
qualities  in  immersive  projects:
 
Android  
iOS  
RIM  
Other  
TechCrunch:    Mobile  PlaNorm  Device  Sales  
October  and  November,  2011  
Android  
iOS  
RIM  
Other  
 
 
 
Unify:  
Unity  3D  For  Fl
ash  Game  Creators
 
 
6
 
 
 
And  the  quality  bar  is  rising  steadily
.  
Th
is  is  where  Unity  fills  a  gap  and  
also  
brings  3D  capabilities  to  a  
wide  developer  community.
 
MOVING  TOWARD
 
UNITY
 
While  perusing  Unity,  Flash  developers  will  find  a  handful  of  features  that  seem  familiar
.  
In  the  same  
way  that  they  place  
Movie  Clips
 
on  stage  in  Flash  (by  hand  or  by  code),  they'll  create  Prefab  instances  in  
Unity
 
scenes
.  
The  JavaScri
pt
-­‐
based  scripting  l
anguage  in  Unity,  
which  a
ppears  in  most  Unity  tutorials,  
resembles  ActionScript  2
.  
The  C#  lang
u
age,  if  they  chose  to  use  it
 
in  Unity
,  resembles  ActionScript  3
.  
Finally,  m
anaging  art  elements  in  Unity's  project  list  is  much  like  managing
 
the  library  in  Flash.
 
Like  Flash,  Unity  can  incorporate  3rd  party  tools  and  game  engines  to  speed  development
.  
Unlike  Flash,  
the  basic,  free  Unity  installation  already  includes  built
-­‐
in  3D  rendering,  collision  detection,  ray  casting,  
game  physics,  some  sp
ecial  effects,  and  the  popular  FMOD  engine  for  interactive  audio
.  
In  short,  Unity  
automatically  handles  some  of  the  difficult  work  in  3D  space.
 
While  it's  not  built  specifically  for  2D  work,  several  
game  toolkits  facilitate  2D  Unity  work  
while  taking  
advan
tage  of  Unity's  built
-­‐
in  game  
physics  
features.
 
For  both  artists  and  developers,  Unity  provides  a  familiar  set  of  expandable  property  panels
.  
These  
panels  provide  Flash
-­‐
like  immediacy  when  adjusting  object  positions,  transformations,  and  behaviors
.  
 
 
immersive  
interacive  
projects  
 realisic  
physics  
(gravity,  
fricion)  
layered  media  
playback  
muli-­‐channel,  
responsive  
sound  
paricle  
effects  and  
other  special  
effects  
a  sense  of  
place  or  an  
'environment'  
character  
animaion  
simulated  3D,  
isometric,  or  
real  3D  depth  
 
 
 
Unify:  
Unity  3D  For  Fl
ash  Game  Creators
 
 
7
 
 
Project  property  panels  and  scenes  within  Unity
 
 
Unity  
has
 
a  less  s
ophisticated  drawing  engine  than
 
Flash  does
.  
In  this  respect,  
it's
 
more  a  tool  for  
developers
 
than
 
artists
.  
But  the  lack  of  a  drawing  framework  could  be  considered  an  asset
.  
It  allows  
artists  to  create  sophisticated  
models  in  tools  that  specialize  in  that  kind  of  construction
.  
Once  those  
models  are  imported  to  Unity,  they  are  available  for  placement  and  adjustment  within  Unity's  scenes.
 
DEPLOYING  
TO  DEVICES  
FROM  UNITY
 
Unlike  F
lash,  the  Unity  authoring  tool  is  free
,  and  it  deploys  to  
a
 
Unity  plugin  in  desktop  browsers
.  
For  a  
per
-­‐
platform  fee,  it  can
 
also
 
reach  iOS,  Android,  and  Wii,  as  well  as  (for  approved  developers)  PS3  and  
Xbox360
.  
Its  open  plug
in  architecture  makes  it  possi
ble  to  extend  Unity
 
with  device
-­‐
specific  features  if  
that's  desired.
 
While  
Unity's  desktop  plugin  has  only  been  
downloaded
 
by  a  small  percentage  of  PC
s,  a  
Unity
-­‐
for
-­‐
Flash
-­‐
Player  
export
 
option
 
is  in  preview  release  now
.  
When  
Unity  games  are  officially  abl
e  
to  run  in  the  Flash  
Player,  Unity
 
will  be
 
the  only  ma
ture  game  tool  that  reaches  a  wide  range  of  
desktop
s  in  addition  to  
major  mobile  platforms.
 
THE  BOTTOM  LINE
 
Clients  are  now
 
work
ing
 
through  the  complexities  and  cross
-­‐
platform  challenges  of  HTML5
.  
While  game  
creators  wait  for  a  solid  HTML5  game  authoring  tool,  they'll  
need  rapid  workflows  a
nd  tools  to  meet  
client  demands
.  
Unity  fits  those  demands
.  
It's  designed  as  an  easy  step  to  3D  programming
.  
For  artists  
and  developers  who  have  substantial  experi
ence  with  Flash  games
,  Unity's
 
visual
 
authoring  environment  
lowers  the  barrier  to  3D  and  to  more  mobile  devices
.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
Unify:  
Unity  3D  For  Fl
ash  Game  Creators
 
 
8
 
FINDING  MORE  INFORMATION
 
To  read  more  about
 
Unity  and  other  emerging  tools,  follow  the  links  below.
 
The  Unity  Home  Page
 
http://unity3d.com/
 
The  Major  Trend  in  Interactive  Development
 
http://transitioning.to/2012/01/the
-­‐
major
-­‐
trend
-­‐
in
-­‐
interactive
-­‐
development/
 
 
Adobe  Edge  
-­‐
 
Why  Can’t  It  Just  Work?
 
http://blogs.adobe.com/edge/2012/01/04/why
-­‐
cant
-­‐
it
-­‐
just
-­‐
work/
 
Th
e  World  of  Pain  that  is  
HTML5  Video
 
http://transitioning.to/2012/01/the
-­‐
world
-­‐
of
-­‐
pain
-­‐
that
-­‐
is
-­‐
html5
-­‐
video/
 
 
The  State  of  
HTML5  Video  
 
http://www.longtailvideo.com/html5/
 
 
The  Limitations  of  L
ayering
 
HTML5
 
Audio
 
http://blog.chenalexander.com
io
/2011/limitations
-­‐
of
-­‐
layering
-­‐
html5
-­‐
audio/
 
Tables  of  Feature  Support  Across  Browsers
 
http://caniuse.com/
 
Comparison  of  Device  Market  Share
 
http://techcrunch.co
m/2012/01/09/ios
-­‐
marketshare
-­‐
up
-­‐
from
-­‐
26
-­‐
in
-­‐
q3
-­‐
to
-­‐
43
-­‐
in
-­‐
octnov
-­‐
2011/