Posted on Leave a comment

Humble Make Your Card Game Bundle

Humble are running another bundle of interest to game developers, this one is the Humble Make Your Card Game! Bundle a collection of graphics packs from the Unity, Unreal and GameDevMarket asset stores.  While themed around creating CCG’s, this pack also includes graphics such as tile and hex maps, icons and more.

As always Bundles are organized into tiers.  The tiers of this bundle include:

1$ Tier:

  • Pets Cards
  • Wooden Card Template
  • Quest Journal
  • Strategy Game Icons
  • Tabletop Tokens
  • Coin Icons
  • RPG Professional Badges

17$ Tier:

  • Loot Cards
  • Mobs Avatar Icons
  • Race Badges
  • Clan Shields
  • Yellow Card Template
  • Green Card Template
  • Magic Badges
  • RPG Class Badges
  • Fantasy Banners
  • Item Cards
  • Steampunk Anime Avatars
  • Monsters Avatar Icons
  • Fantasy Badges

20$ Tier

  • TCG Card Design
  • TCG Cards Pack
  • Fantasy Characters
  • Fantasy Anime Avatars
  • Creature Cards
  • Blue Card Template
  • Red Card Template
  • Sci-Fi Card Template
  • Magic Cards Pack
  • Tabletop Badges
  • Tabletop Terrain
  • Map Tiles
  • Fantasy Cards Pack
  • Avatars Megapack
  • Badges Megapack
  • Game Tokens

As with all Humble Bundles, you decide how your purchase should be allocated, between the publisher, Humble, charity and if you choose to (and thanks if you do!) using this link you can support GameFromScratch.  While the assets are from three different asset stores originally, all of the assets are available to download in zip form directly from Humble.

You can learn more about this bundle in the video below.

GameDev News Art


Posted on Leave a comment

Choosing A Laptop For Game Development 2019

Back in 2016 I did my first guide to Choosing a Game Development Laptop, then did a follow up edition the beginning of 2018. A fair bit has changed since then, so here is the 2019 edition.  There is a video version of this guide embedded below.

What has changed?

If you read or watched the prior guides, you are probably most interested in what has changed in the technology surrounding game development and laptops in general. The biggest new change is the introduction of Real-Time Raytracing, or RTX technology, that we will talk about in more detail later. Additionally, AMD released a new embedded mobile graphics chipset that appeared in some lower cost laptops, bringing low-mid range GPU to a few popular laptop models. Intel and AMD released a new generation of GPUs, with AMD making huge progress on the desktop but somewhat limited in mobile chips although rumours suggest something big from AMD coming soon. Intel chips are just incremental improvements on the previous gen, with several of their newest processors running into thermal issues. Finally, the thin and light laptop has become nearly universal, with all manufacturers making something. Oh, and prices went up for the most part… so it isn’t all great news.

What Kind of Game Development Are You Intending to Do?

Game Development is a BROAD subject and the kind of machine you need is entirely determined by what you are doing with it. Different tasks have different requirements, but here is a VERY vague summery.

2D Pixel Art

If you are looking to do mostly drawing and pixel art creation on your machine… good news! This isn’t a particularly demanding task. A touch screen and good color calibrate monitor are probably the most important traits in this case.

3D MODELLING and ANIMATION

If you are a 3D artist, especially if you are working with higher polygon count scenes or real-time sculpting, the GPU is the most important thing, followed by RAM and CPU.

Programmer

If you are mostly compiling large volumes of code the CPU is probably the most important part, but you want to avoid any bottlenecks, such as running out of RAM. Most importantly, you absolutely NEED to have an SSD. The difference an SSD drive makes to compiling code is staggering.

VR DEVELOPER

If you are intending to work with VR, you have some fixed limits, minimum requirements to run an HTC Vive, Oculus Rift or Microsoft Mixed Reality device. Generally, this means at least a 1060+ or better GPU. This is because VR is basically running two screens, one per eye, and each screen needs to run at a minimum framerate (often @ 90) or it will cause sickness or headaches.

Why no Apple Laptops this year?

To be honest, it’s just getting harder and harder to recommend getting a MacBook since 2016 for several reasons. First off, they removed the F-row of function keys and replaced it with a touchbar, and this is horrible for programmers who rely heavily on function keys in just about every single application. Additionally, this change makes it work even worse if you need to boot into Windows software.

Additionally, this generation has been absolutely plagued with quality issues. It started with heavy thermal throttling on any i9 based Mac and got worse from there. The failure rate on this generation of MacBook’s keyboard is off the chart. Finally, they have implemented a security chip, which coupled with anti-repair policies, makes repairing a MacBook more problematic and expensive than ever. If you want a MacBook Pro for development, I personally would highly recommend a 2016 MacBook Pro or earlier, used or refurbed, at least until the MBP gets a engineering overhaul.

My minimum spec recommendations?

There are a few things I consider mandatory if buying a laptop in 2019.

SSD (Solid State Drive)

This is hands down my biggest non-negotiable recommendation. Having your operating system on an SSD improves performance of just about everything… massively. Want to take a few seconds, or nearly a minute to boot or wake your laptop? That is the difference an SSD makes! They are more expensive and often systems will have a smaller SSD for the OS partition and larger cheaper SATA drive for storage.

8GB of RAM

You can buy systems with 4GB of RAM… this is not enough. 8GB is the realistic minimum, while I would personally go no lower than 16GB. Anything over 32GB is mostly a waste for most users. 16GB still seems to be the sweet spot.

I5, i7 or i9 Processor

Be careful will any other processor options. Low powered options like the Intel Atom aren’t powerful enough for most game development tasks. An i3 may be enough for you, but I would recommend an i5 or higher. If you are on the higher end, be careful with purchasing an i9 machine, many of the first gen of i9 laptops are having trouble dealing with the extra heat and are a waste of money as a result.

GPU

I personally wouldn’t buy a machine without a dedicated GPU, which is pretty much a must if you want to do any 3D work or play modern games. Using integrated graphics, you can often play modern games on lowest settings at lower resolutions. In terms of what GPU… that’s is a bit trickier. The new generation of 2060/2070 and 2080 Nvidia GPUs are strongly focused on RTX, or real time raytracing. They are also quite expensive. Later on, Nvidia released the 1650, a value priced slower GPU without RTX with a much lower price tag. Of course, if RTX isn’t important to you, several last generation GPUs are still very viable, especially the 1070 and 1080 cards.

BATTERY

Battery is important but limited. To legally fly on an airplane with a battery the limit for a laptop is just under 100 watts/hour, so this is the upper limit of what a battery can be. Generally the bigger the battery the longer it lasts, but the more battery sucking features you put in there (GPU, Processor, 4K or high refresh rate display, etc) the more draw they put on the battery.

SIZE/WEIGHT/THERMALS

Laptops are generally available in 13”, 14”, 15” and 17” models, with the unit being measured diagonally across the screen. Weight is pretty self explanatory… and with modern laptops, anything over 5lbs is started to get a bit heavy and you will notice it in a backpack if you are doing a fair bit of traveling. The final challenge designers face is thermals… that is, keeping everything cool. With modern hardware if it gets to hot it slows down or throttles. This is why machines like the new i9 MacBooks or XPS 15 machines from DELL don’t live up to the hardware they put into them. Doesn’t make sense to put an i9 and a 2080 GPU into a machine if they get throttled to speeds slower than competing hardware with lesser specs. Thermals are important and sadly harder to determine without reading user reviews.

DISPLAY

There are many different things to consider, the type of panel (Matte,TN, IPS, OLED), the resolution 1080p vs 4K and the refresh rate ( 60hz, 120 +). The panel determines how colors and blacks will look, as well as how glossy the display will be in daylight. A lot of it comes down to personal opinion. Refresh rate is important if you are interested in real-time games and want your game to be as responsive as possible. That said, you need to be able to push framerates to match the refresh rate to take advantage of it. There is a hybrid approach with monitors enabling a variable refresh rate called GSync and FreeSync. Personally I would go for a 4K/60hz display but I don’t do a lot of twitch gaming.

Recommendations

The following is a list of game dev suitable laptops from the major providers at a variety of price points.  If you purchase through our provided links on Amazon, GFS makes a small commission (and thank you!)

Acer Helios 300

For around $1,000 you can get a 1660 GPU with a 6 core Intel CPU, 16GB of RAM and more.  There are a few dozen specs available in this range to fit your need.  Weighs in at 5lbs with a reported 6-hour battery life (which is optimistic…).  A classic entry level line with good gaming credentials.

 image

Acer Triton 500

A step up in both price and power from the Helios, the Triton line contains a 2070 Max-Q GPU and a 144hz display for a price range of 1600 – 2000 (1600 for a 2060 equipped model).  It is also lighter, thinner and supports a longer lasting battery than the Helios.

 image

 image

Asus Strix G

The Strix G is available in several different configurations, with the 1650 equipped model starting around the 1K USD mark.  It has impressive internals in a 5.2lb form factor and impressively comes with a 1GB SSD drive.  It is sadly let down by poor real-world battery life.

 image

Asus ROG Zephyrus

The Zephyrus line is a series of high-end laptops, with up to a 2080 card, 6 core Intel GPU all in a 0.6” slim design, weighting about 4.5lbs.  The keyboard is at the front of the case however, something that can take some getting used to. 

 image

 image

Dell XPS 15

The Dell XPS line are stunning, thin and of a build quality.  You pay a premium, for a XPS with a 1650 GPU costing almost $1700.  I have trouble recommending this years XPS as the case design seems to struggle with heat, making thermal throttling a common complaint, meaning you wont get full use of the hardware you’ve paid for.

 image

Alienware M15

Dell has owned Alienware for a number of years, but only recently have they started releasing laptops that are actually portable, instead of gigantic desktop replacements.  The M15 model is now 4.75 lbs and 0.8” thick, much easier to throw in a backpack.  Available in a number of configs, this M15 has a 2060 GPU, i7-9750 CPU, 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD for $1850. 

 image

Dell G5

The G5 is Dell’s dedicated gamer series of laptops.  You will get better thermal performance at a lower price than the XPS line.  The trade-off is louder fans, a nearly 1” thick laptop and close to 6lbs, making it one of the heavier laptops on this list.  You can however get a 1650 GPU, 6 core Intel processor, 16GB of RAM, great battery life and an SSD for just over $1100, making it a solid value if you can handle the size.

 image

 image

Gigabyte Aero 15

A powerhouse laptop with a powerhouse pricetag.  Available with up to a 2080 GPU, i9 9980 CPU one of the largest batteries you can legally put in a laptop, all in a 0.75” thick 4.5lb design.  There are a huge number of configurations available in this highly portable long lasting laptop, including a rare OLED screen option.

 image

Gigabyte AORUS

Much of the same power as the Aero 15, in a big, cheaper package, that describes the AORUS.   At 5.3lbs and nearly 1” thick, it’s certainly bigger and heavier.  It also is about 50% cheaper!  Unfortunately you don’t also get the monster battery of the more expensive Aero.  Available in a range of GPUs from the 1650 to the 2070.

 image

 image

HP Omen

The HP Omen line is HP’s gaming series and is available in a wide range of configurations for prices ranging from $1100 to $2000.  Battery life is reviewed as fair, chassis is 5.2lbs and 0.83” thick.  In many ways you can look at the Omen line as incredibly average.

 image

 image

Lenovo Legion

One of the best values on the list.  Coming in at around $1000 USD with a 1650 GPU, 6 core i7-9750 CPU, 512GB SSD in a decent package.  The only major downside is the anemic 45 WHr battery and 5.2lb weight.

 image

 image

A refresh of the Surface lineup is expected in the next few weeks.  Microsoft’s machines are unique and of a high build quality, but only a few offer a GPU.  Rumour has it the next generation will be AMD powered.

 image

MSI GS65 Stealth

MSI have far too many brands, but the good news is almost all models are capable game development laptops, even though choosing the right version can be tricky.  My personal choice is a the Stealth GS line, which is a good combination of power and portability and a reasonable price.

 image

 image

Razer Blade

Razer started the thin and light high-end laptop craze and they continue to be one of the best… and most expensive.  They have however split their line into 2 different products, the Blade and the Advanced.  The Blade is limited to a 2060 GPU but also supports a lower price tag.  Both machines sport the same processor and RAM, although oddly this model has better storage options.  This model is 4.6lbs and 0.78” thick.

 image

Razer Blade Advanced

The Razer Blade advanced is slightly thinner and heavier than the Blade.  It also ships with your choice of a 2070 or 2080 GPU and more display options, including a 4K display.  Plus, it’s got a hefty price tag attached.  This model is 4.83lbs and 0.7” thick.

 image

Razer Blade Stealth

The Razer Blade stealth is the only ultra book with a GPU.  If you are looking for a 13” laptop with an all-day battery, but a decent GPU, the Stealth is a one of a kind machine.  Unfortunately, the version linked here is last years MX150 based model, as the newly announced 1650 version has not shipped yet. 

 image

Too Rich For My Blood

I wont lie, this generation is expensive and in many cases isn’t a huge upgrade on the previous generation. If you find the above machines too expensive but need to purchase a machine, I would highly recommend looking for a model from the previous year on clearance. If you aren’t interested in raytracing, you can easily get by with a laptop from the previous generation. The 1070 and 1080 GPUs are plenty fast and capable of handling raytracing and most AAA games at high settings, while the CPU is rarely a bottleneck, so a last generation higher end i5 or i7 CPU should be more than enough.

Personally, I am skipping this generation and will wait till next year when the second generation of RTX hardware is released at which point RTX will be more prevalent (or a fading fad). If I didn’t already have a decent laptop however, I would personally pick up the Razer Blade Stealth with a 1650 GPU. Small form factor, long battery life, quality build and an OK (but unmatched in the 13” form factor) GPU is a hard to beat combination.

Art Design General Programming


Posted on Leave a comment

Humble Artists Bundle Featuring Corel Painter 2019

Following hot on the heels of yesterday’s excellent Unity Humble Bundle, today we have the Humble Software Bundle: Painter – Create With Confidence bundle.  This one is a collection of tools for artists including the excellent natural media Corel Painter 2019.  As always the bundle is split into tiers.  Those tiers are:

1$ Tier

  • PhotoMirage
  • Corel Plugin – ParticleShop
  • Brush Pack – Animation

12$ Tier

  • Gravit Designer (Learn More)
  • PaintShop Pro 2020 Ultimate
  • Brush Pack – Superheroes

25$ Tier

  • Corel Painter 2019
  • Pinnacle Studio 23 Ultimate
  • Brush Pack – Manga
  • Brush Pack – Concept Design

As always you get to decide how your money is allocated when you purchase this bundle, split between the publisher, Humble, Charity and if you so choose (and thanks if you do!), GameFromScratch.  You can learn more about this bundle by watching the video below.

GameDev News Art


Posted on Leave a comment

akeytsu Animation & Rigging Software

Today we are checking out akeytsu by Nukeygara.  This is a commercial 3D rigging and animation software providing a quick and simple workflow for setting up and animating characters.  Simply import your character in FBX format, create a rig or use the existing Unreal or Unity rigs then paint skin weights.  Once your character is configured, or if you imported an already rigged character, it is time to begin animating.  If you are used to Max, Maya or Blender’s animation workflow, you will find akeytsu’s approach to be much more streamlined.

It is available on a fully functioning 30 day trial available here.  There are perpetual and subscription based pricing options for both professional and indie (>100K revenue) studios, as well as education licenses available. 

Learn more and check out akeytsu in action in the video below.

Art


Posted on Leave a comment

Exporting From Blender 2.8 To Godot

With the release of Blender 2.8, there is a ton of interest in using Blender 2.8 with Godot.  The process of importing/exporting has always been one of the biggest challenges for game developers and the newest version of Blender 2.8 is no exception.  We already created a step by step tutorial on creating, texturing and animating a model in Blender 2.79 and successfully import it to Blender.  This video is slightly different, in that we are going to be looking at the options available to export from Blender 2.8. 

There are three primary options available, each with their advantages and disadvantages:

  • COLLADA
  • glTF
  • FBX

In this video we look at the process with each format when using Blender 2.8.  For this example we use the model Laiku freely available on Sketchfab, that is non-trivial, fully textured and simply animated.  Please also note that FBX import to Blender requires Godot 3.2 which is as of writing in development still.  If you don’t want to build Godot yourself, you can get nightly builds here.

Art Design


Posted on Leave a comment

Universal Sprite Sheet Character Creator

Today we are checking out the web based tool, the Universal LPC Sprite Sheet Character Generator, a free tool that enables you to quickly and easily create multi angle animated character sprite sheets.  The LPC in the name stands for Liberated Pixel Cup a contest/organization on OpenGameArt for creating open source 2D pixel art in a consistent style.  You can browse the entire content of LPC assets right here.  The assets on LPC and generated by this tool are available under split open source licenses, the CC BY-SA 3.0 and GPLv3.

The Sprite Sheet Generator enables you to quickly compose characters by selecting a male or female base sprite, then customizing dozens of attributes and accessories, such as eyes, hair style, clothing and weapons.  While the UI isn’t amazing, the process is remarkably straight forward, as shown in the following video.

Art GameDev News


Posted on Leave a comment

Autodesk Announce Indie Versions Of 3DS Max and Maya

Autodesk have announced new Indie version of their popular 3DS Max and Maya DCC applications.  These are full versions, not subset’s like Maya LT, their other indie focused offering.  They do however come with some strings attached.  The new version (3DS in this case) is described as follows:

Autodesk 3ds Max Indie is the same industry-standard product used by professional studios, at a price point accessible to those who are just starting out. If you are a recent graduate or freelancer with less than USD$100,000/year in revenue, you can get started now. Please note that this is a limited-time offer.

The revenue limit is not the only limitation:

  • Your annual gross revenue from design work must be less than USD$100,000/year
  • Only one license can be used per user or organization
  • Offer is only eligible to those based in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK or the US

There is also one very big gotcha people should be aware of:

Note: In order to avoid an automatic renewal at the full subscription price of 3ds Max, you must turn off the automatic renewal once you subscribe to 3ds Max Indie. In order to turn off the automatic renewal setting, you must go to your Autodesk Account, and follow the instructions posted here. This offer is subject to certain restrictions.

So, if you do not turn off automatic rebilling, you could get hit for a VERY nasty surprise on your credit card in a years time, as you get charged for the full, non-indie version of Max or Maya!

It is a huge savings for those that qualify and it will be interesting to see if the deal expands to other markets or is offered beyond this year.  Have Autodesk noticed a new market between students and full professionals, or are they facing pricing pressure for alternatives like Blender?  Or perhaps it’s a bit of both?

You can learn more about the programs here (3DS Max) and here (Maya).

Art GameDev News


Posted on Leave a comment

Humble 2D GameDev Bundle

Another Humble Bundle is running of interest to game developers, this one is the Humble 2D Game Dev bundle, a collection of 35+ sprite and graphic packs from Game Dev Market.  As always, Humble Bundles are organized into price tiers, where if  you buy a higher dollar tier, you get all tiers below that as well.

The tiers of this bundle include:

1$ Tier

  • Game Character Sprite 20
  • Game BG Platformer Tileset 01
  • 10 Game Backgrounds
  • Cute Animals Pack
  • Explosives Pack
  • Water and Fluids Tiles
  • Chests n’ Keys
  • Platformer Game Tile Set 13
  • 18 Amazing Sprite Effects for Your Game

15$ Tier

  • Soldiers Pack
  • Platformer Tile Set Game BG 12
  • Sprite Sheet Animation
  • 10 Game Vector Backgrounds
  • Animated Soldier 2
  • Platformer Game Tile Set 2
  • 32×32 Gameboy Pack 5
  • Cyberpunk Platformer Tileset
  • Cyberpunk Character Sprites Set
  • Platformer Assets Pack 3

25$ Tier

  • 10 Game Sprites Bundle Boys and Girls
  • Game Character Sprite 06
  • 2d Game Obstacles Sprites
  • Mega Projectile Pack
  • Ship Level Construction Kit
  • 2D Fantasy Character Pack
  • Mega Castle and Dungeon Pack
  • 100 Cartoon Characters for 2D Games
  • Platformer Game Tile Set 12
  • Characters Spritesheets 9
  • Six Animated Pirate Crew Characters
  • Folding Platforms
  • Skeleton Army
  • Goblins Game Character Sprites
  • Monsters Enemies 2D Game Sprite Set

If you buy using this link you can choose to support GFS (thanks if you do!) as well as deciding how your money is split between Humble, Charity and the publisher.  Of course, the license of the assets is super important as well, and it’s available here.

Art GameDev News


Posted on Leave a comment

Cinema 4D R21 New Details Pricing and Subscriptions

At SIGGRAPH 2019, Maxon announced details of the upcoming R21 release of their Cinema4D 3D DCC application.  The release isn’t actually coming until September of 2019 we have details of the upcoming new features.

In addition to new features, there were two major announcements, a change to a single version and a change in pricing.  First details on the new single SKU approach:

  • Only one version of Cinema 4D:
    • No more Prime / Visualize / Broadcast / Studio / BodyPaint editions. 
    • All functionality is in the one version, no separate editions anymore.
    • Demo and Educational versions are no longer separate downloads. 
    • Demo and Educational can be upgraded to a commercial version.

    With a single SKU, there is now also a single price tag, however there are now several subscription options, detailed here.

    Cinema4D pricing details

    Essentially you can now pay for Cinema4D via subscription which are cheaper when paid on an annual basis.  Additionally you can continue to purchase Cinema4D with a perpetual licence, but unfortunately it is 3x more money that the most affordable version available currently.  Learn more in the video below.

    GameDev News Art