Pocket Fireball – Note on Design

The Available Prototype

I realized I have essentially built a basic system for a 2D platformer after I finished recording the videos for our 2D Unity class. “Why waste a perfectly good prototype” I thought, so I decided to make a game out of it whenever I can find time.

The Design

There were a few different ways I thought about the design:

I knew I didn’t have a lot of time to craft levels, so I decided to take cues from the endless genre popular among mobile games and tweak it to fit the platforming gameplay – less focus on the running and more on the shooting and the jumping.

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Unity Custom Search in the Address Bar (Omnibox)

Edit 2014-10-03: apparently there’s an even faster way to set this up (courtesy of /u/jakkarth). Right click on the search field on the custom search engine, “add as search engine”, and fill out the same forms as in Step 3 below (url is pre-filled for you). Awesome! Here’s a quick video:


One of the most essential tools I use when doing Unity development work is this Unity Reference Search Engine, it allows you to search multiple Unity related sites and communities at once (Unity documentation, Forum, Unity Answers, Wiki, MSDN, Reddit…etc). A lot of the issues you have in your game are probably already solved by other developers, and this little search tool allows us to quickly find solutions to problems.

However I found having to open a browser tab for this page, wait for this page to load, type in a search query, and wait again for the results can be a bit tedius. Fortunately in Chrome you can utilize the Address Bar (Omnibox) and the Edit Search Engines option to make this a lot quicker – I can now click on the Address Bar, type “u”, tab, then enter whatever I want to search for, and the only thing that gets loaded is the result page. Beautiful :)

(Note: I have only set this up on Chrome, although I suspect you can do this with Firefox as well.)
Unity Search in Address Bar

It’s fairly simple to set up.

Step 1:

Right click on the Address Bar, click on Edit Search Engines

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Indie Dev Q&A: 4Gency, Seattle

It’s time for another inspirational indie dev Q&A! This time, we talked with Charles Cox of 4gency, Seattle.

charles_nh 4gency Seattle1. Name and location

Charles Cox from 4gency, in Seattle WA.

2. How long have you been an indie dev?

The studio has been around since late 2011 but I went full-time indie with it in September 2013. We’re now a team of five.

3. Games released?

Habitat (www.jointhe509th.com), Node.Hack for iOS/Android (www.nodehackgame.com), Armored Drive for iPhone (www.armoreddrivegame.com)

4. Sum up your game / studio style in 3 words

Epic emergent fun.

5. Your career path – in a nutshell – to here?

Twelve years, three game companies, ten different jobs. Wore as many hats as I could get away with. Specialized as quickly as possible, then generalized again when going indie.

6. Your favorite 3 tools or resources for indie development?

Google, Excel, Kindle. (Get answers. Prove your assumptions with numbers. Always be reading.)

7. Biggest lesson you’ve learned since being in the game?

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Worth Backing – Kenney Land by Kenney Vleugels

We make extensive use of the brilliant Kenney’s 2D platformer art pack in our Unity + PlayMaker 2D class. Creator Kenney Vleugels has been producing excellent art assets that are freely available for game developers to experiment and build games with, and now he’s building a game developer community to host events, gamejams, and workshops called Kenney Land! He’s crowdfunding the project on IndieGogo where backers get a massive amount of art and sound assets – perfect for us experimenting with prototypes and learning our ways around Unity 2D!

Check out the IndieGogo Campaign here and back this project if you can!

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Indie Dev Q&A: Robby Zinchak from Archive Entertainment

The awesome Robby Z is the creator of 8BitMMO, a giant construction sandbox game with over 500k+ registered players. The game has deservedly been featured on Joystiq, RPS, Massively, MMORPG.com, Yogscast, and many other quality publications. 8BitMMO has been Robby’s passion project for an incredible 12 years! I enjoyed the honest answers to my questions about being an indie developer.

Robby Zinchak 8 Bit MMO

1. Name and location

Robby Zinchak of Archive Entertainment, Seattle

2. How long have you been an indie dev?

I went full-time indie about three years ago, but was making indie games in my spare time many years previous.

3. Games released? 

8BitMMO (http://8bitmmo.net)

4. Sum up your game / studio style in 3 words 

Community Construction Awesomeness

8 Bit MMO

5. Your career path – in a nutshell – to here?

Was an AP at Midway doing internal development, then went to Capcom & Microsoft on the game publishing side.  I had always wanted to get back into indie development, and with the scene picking up, it was the perfect time to make a go at it.

6. Your favorite 3 tools or resources for indie development?

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Indie Dev Q&A: Luke Burtis from tinyBuild, HouseOgames

Luke Burtis is one of the most connected indie developers in the Seattle game industry, and for good reason! He’s doing exciting things with his own game incubator, House O Games, which is producing excellent work. Read on to find out how he got into game development and where he hopes to go from here!


Luke Burtis1. Name and location

Luke Burtis – tinyBuild Games & HouseOgames – Both based in out of my house in Bothell, Washington.

2. How long have you been an indie dev?

Technically I’ve been an indie dev for the past 18 months or so.  Before that I helped out indies while I was the production director at Casual Connect for 7 years.   We’ve hosted different award shows, provided places for indies to demo their games for free, provided free hostel stays during our conference, etc.

3. Games released to date?

HouseOgames has released one game so far that we partnered up with tinyBuild to publish it on Steam.  This game was called “Not The Robots”  http://store.steampowered.com/app/257120/

tinyBuild have released the following:

No time to explain game

4. Sum up your game / studio style in 3 words?

tinyBuild – Indie Game Publisher

HouseOgames – Seattle Game Incubator

5. Your career path – in a nutshell – to here?

I started in the industry way back in the day of the Xbox.  I worked for 3 years doing certification testing.  I then applied that knowledge to a company called Oberon Media (no longer around) whom put together the first XBLA games and need to pass certification.  I helped them for 6 months which is where I met Jessica Tams (Oberon Seattle office GM).

After Oberon — I worked at Microsoft doing DRM testing for a year at which point at the end of my contract Jessica called me up and said she was starting the Casual Games Association and wanted me to help.  At this point in time I had a choice to either take a job offer at Bungie working on Halo 2 or work with Jessica as a conference organizer.  Obviously I was going to choose Bungie, but Jessica sent me a check in the mail and said welcome aboard… So, having money in my hot little hand persuaded me to work at the CGA.  Which turned out to be the best choice thus far in my career.

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Playtesting – One Player, Two Avatars?

I am playing around with the project built for our Unity 2D Intro class, and came up with this idea of having the player control two avatars at once. The two avatars have different jump forces and different mass, so even with the same control, they behave slightly differently. Give it a test and feel free to let me know what you think!

(Press the play button below. Unity Webplayer required)

  • Left/Right Arrow Keys (or A and D keys) to Move
  • Up Arrow Keys (or W key) to Jump
  • Left Mouse Button (or “.” key) to Shoot
  • Hold down the Down Arrow Keys (or S key) to Aim at your foot. This gives you an upward lift when you shoot.

Art by http://opengameart.org/users/kenney

Student Highlight – Eric Sexton (Game Designer, Blizzard, Gearbox, King Maker Games)

I am often astonishd by the creative talents I get to interactive with from the classes. Eric Sexton, a veteran game designer from Blizzard, Gearbox, and many other game companies has set out to make his own games with a tighter team. Let’s find out what’s keeping him busy these days.

Q: You’re a former designer at Blizzard and Gearbox. Tell us a little about why you wanted to learn the technical side of making games / Unity.

ES: I have been in the video game industry for nearly 20 years and I have always believed that great tools will return the industry to the days when small teams of 1-10 people can make amazing games. As the industry has moved forward the tools have become better. Unfortunately the development team sizes have kept growing to a point of unsustainability. I think we are finally at the point where that pendulum is swinging back in the other direction.

For me, learning Unity 3D was a vital step towards building my own games with a smaller team.

Q: What were your thoughts about the OMGS class?

ES: Your One Month Class to learn the basics of Unity was fantastic.  I learn best by doing! This is something your class allowed me to do.  Jumping in and start making things very quickly was fun, exciting, and reasonably easy.  I really appreciated that.

Q: How have you used what you learned since?

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Indie Dev Q&A: Joshua and Jessica McGrath from Doppler Interactive

Doppler Interactive 561579_4270290363133_484921319_nDoppler Interactive OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
I first met Joshua and Jessica, the dynamic duo from Doppler Interactive, at Unite 2012 in Amsterdam. They were instantly likable – funny, friendly, and full of energy. They are active in the Unity community with a popular plugin, and their latest game Cube & Star: An Arbitrary Love is a uniquely beautiful title that has won numerous awards.


1. Name and location

Joshua & Jessica McGrath – Doppler Interactive. Los Angeles, California.

2. How long have you been an indie dev?

Oh man…. five or six years?

Since Unity 2.6 was released I think. So… since early 2009.

3. Games released?

We released a few … early games of dubious quality. But our big games were / are:

Ball of Woe – www.ballofwoe.com

Cube & Star: An Arbitrary Love – www.cube-and-star.com

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A Massive Thank You to Hutong Games

Thank You Hutong Games


PlayMaker has make creating games on Unity even more easier and quicker, especially for artists and interactive designers. It has changed how I make games (and obviously if you look at our classes here, you’d know it’s my favorite Unity plugin!).

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