Alien Apartment Update

This is possibly the last chance I’ll have to work on the Unity 3D demo for a while, so I decided I’d make this update a good one. Here is the web playable version and here is the apk. You’ll notice a few things different between the web playable version and the APK even though they are compiled from the same source. Not all these differences are intentional. Here’s a breakdown of the differences you’l see:

  • Intentional: The apk has onscreen controls for the character
  • Unintentional: The web version shows both a health meter and a rage meter. The apk only shows health
  • Unintentional: The robot enemies in the courtyard have a solid purple helmet in the apk. In the web version you can see that the helmets are clear glass.
  • Unintentional: The player’s character in the web version has a different jump height outdoors than indoors. This was the intended effect. In the apk, the player’s jump height is locked to the very first value known. Since you start in the apartment, the jump height will be very small.

I suspect that the rage meter problem has something to do with the fact that the health / rage meters make use of the native GUI elements (which means that under the hood they’re using OnGUI, which is a shame). As of now I can’t quite explain why the robot’s helmet has lost its texture in the apk. The texture existed until Unity crashed on me and I had to restart it. After the crash, the helmet texture disappeared from the apk and the preview editor. As you can see though, it continues to exist in the web player.

As I mentioned in my previous post, there were a number of code optimizations I implemented, which gained me about 5fps on-average. If I had to take a stab at what causes most of the slowdowns it would have to be that these particular scenes are somewhat heavy in terms of mesh construction and lighting. It’s no problem at all for a desktop (at least a Windows desktop) or a modern laptop, but mobile requires a lighter touch with its models. It doesn’t help that the cameras render a great deal of the field as well.

For more information on using Unity for mobile devices, check out this presentation which shows some additional best practices as well as a particularly impressive example of how an intelligent approach to laying out a scene allows you to squeeze maximum performance out of a Unity mobile project. Do not miss the part of the video where the representative of Crecent Moon Games presents Aralon: Sword and Shadow, which showcases the incredible potential of Unity.

As for myself, I’m suitably impressed by the Unity tool. It renders the code aspect quite easy to work with, as you can program at a much higher level of abstraction than using OpenGL directly, and while the drag-and-drop relationships of the code with the on-screen assets can seem muddy if you come from a strict OOP background it’s possible to create a well-designed structure regardless. The biggest hurdle with Unity, and the one that there is no truly easy solution for, is that 3D assets such as models, animations, and textures are incredibly labor intensive to create. It’s a much bigger field with many more areas of specialization than 2D art. You may or may not have noticed, but almost all the art assets from this project are either from Unity’s own site or otherwise royalty-free. The time investment for 3D assets is the biggest reason why. This example, which constitutes my first forray into simply learning my way around the Unity tool took approximately three weeks of my time, where the only art assets I generated were the A/B buttons in the APK and the titlescreen. Were I to create my own 3D assets, this demo would not even exist in the span of three weeks.

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