Playing with AR & Vuforia

Augmented reality is one of the next big thing. It’s been present since a while (do you remember all those old cool Flash experiments in the browser?) but nowadays the tech is almost ready to blow our mind!

The Google Glass raised many criticism concerning private life but companies were very confident about the technology. Then the Microsoft HoloLens came on the market, but its pricing made it unaffordable for individuals.

During the same time, many companies tried to make AR working on devices: Google with special devices (Google Tango) and Vuforia established itself as a leader thanks to its SDKs. Apps & SDKs contiuned to improve during those last years (thanks to device performances and better cameras), but finally, this year, Apple with ARKit and then Google with ARCore show this technology was ready (on high end devices).

Maison Tangible
Guillaume Bertrand from Atelier Supersenor and 3615 Senor an artlab / hackerspace at Besançon, asked us to help him on an AR application. We’re glad to release the app for iOS and Android. Watch it in action:

Please help them to make their next collection live!

Lynx Optique
With James Bang, we made an AR app for a brand of optical shops with winning moments. After a digital form, visitors seek for a marker in the shop and once they found it scan it via an iPad. A cool Kinematic Inversion animation is displayed on the marker with the result. Here is the proof of concept:

And you what are you making with AR this days?

Franc-Tamponnage and creative coding

During one month, our Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region was in trouble: the music festival, called Franc-Tamponnage, for alternative, electronic and extreme kind was in progress. Our friends at Magna Vox planned dozens of concerts throughout the region.

For a specific set of concerts, we were in charge of creating a nice visual experience for visitors. It was the perfect opportunity for some creative coding! We were 3 coders on this project, Julien experimenting for the first time with openFrameworks, Thomas playing around with one of his favorite toy: Processing and Aymeric making some good old Flash!

Here’s the recap by each of us :

Continue reading Franc-Tamponnage and creative coding

Sponsoring Piky Game Jam

From October to November, Dijon is the theater of many events related to video games. Welcome to the PIKY project!

Through creative workshops, exhibitions, shared playing times, meetings, concerts and a Game Jam, the PIKY project presents the wealth of video games. We’re very proud to be a project sponsor! Thus we helped to create the first Game Jam at Dijon:

There was no theme but constraints : we had to use sound (music, sfx, voice) and have some accessibility elements to persons who are not able to play normal games.

With Thomas, Quentin, and a 3D artist we met on site (hi Léo!) we created a small game: Dedale4017. It’s a co-op exploration game on the same computer, one player can only hear sounds (in the role of a visually deficient or legally blind person) and the other one just see visuals on screen (in the role of a hearing impaired person). So basically since they can’t communicate in real life together, we made a dialog system in game based on pictograms and pre-recorded voice instructions.

Download the .exe (need 2 XBOX controllers), enjoy!

Thanks to all participants!!

Run pngquant via a NativeProcess: C#, Unity & AS3/AIR

After our Unity runtime SpriteSheets generator, it is a good idea to optimize the generated pngs files.

pngquant is a command-line utility and a library for lossy compression of PNG images. The conversion reduces file sizes significantly (often as much as 70%) and preserves full alpha transparency. In other words this is a must have tool if you’re working with many pngs!

I used many times pngquant directly from the command line, but depending your project, you might need to run it directly inside your application! I didn’t find example for doing this, and it was way harder than I thought due to my lack of knowledge with batch and shell scripts! So here we go:

We use custom batch file (for Windows) and shell script (for Mac OS X) for launching pngquant. It will take the path to pngs to compress and overwrite them.

OS X:

#!/bin/sh
#!/usr/bin/env bash
#$ -N $2

DIR="$( cd "$( dirname "$0" )" && pwd )"

(cd "$DIR" && ./pngquant -f --ext .png "$1"/*.png)

Windows:

cd %~dp0
pngquant -f --ext .png "%~1"/*.png

Now a C# example for calling thoses scripts, note it works fine with Unity too:

System.Diagnostics.Process process = new  System.Diagnostics.Process();

string exec = "";
if (Application.platform == RuntimePlatform.WindowsEditor || Application.platform == RuntimePlatform.WindowsPlayer)
	exec = "pngquant-windows.cmd";
else if (Application.platform == RuntimePlatform.OSXEditor || Application.platform == RuntimePlatform.OSXPlayer)
	exec = "pngquant-osx";
else
	throw new Exception("Platform not supported");

process.StartInfo.FileName = Application.dataPath + "/../../" + exec;
process.StartInfo.Arguments = Application.dataPath + "/../../png-to-compress";

// if your path have blank spaces use:
//process.StartInfo.Arguments = "\"" + Application.dataPath + "/../../png compress\"";

process.StartInfo.CreateNoWindow = true;
process.StartInfo.UseShellExecute = false;

process.Start();

And finally an example with AS3 for AIR:

var process:NativeProcess = new NativeProcess();

var startupInfo:NativeProcessStartupInfo = new NativeProcessStartupInfo();
var file:File = File.applicationDirectory;

var exec:String = "";
if (Capabilities.os.indexOf("Windows") >= 0)
	exec = "pngquant-windows.cmd";
else if (Capabilities.os.indexOf("Mac") >= 0)
	exec = "pngquant-osx";
else
	throw new Error("doesn't work on " + Capabilities.os + " operating system");

file.nativePath = file.nativePath + "/../" + exec;
startupInfo.executable = file;

var processArgs:Vector.<String> = new Vector.<String>();
processArgs[0] = File.applicationDirectory.nativePath + "/../png-to-compress";
startupInfo.arguments = processArgs;

process.start(startupInfo);

Be sure to have a look to PngQuantNativeProcess’s git repository to be up to date!

Unity – generate SpriteSheets at runtime!

Unity and plugins provide many great ways to build Sprite Sheets. However they’re used directly into Unity Editor or with an external software which is perfect in many case, but none provide the ability to generate SpriteSheets at runtime. So we made our own library.

The goal of a sprite sheet is to pack as many sub-textures as possible in one big texture. So the first thing to do was a packing algorithm. Fortunately we remembered the one made and open-sourced by Ville Koskela in AS3, so we started with a Unity C# port.
Click here to view the Unity rectangle packing example running in your browser in WebGL!

Once the packing algorithm done, we worked on a cache system so the generated sprite sheets are written and saved on disk for a future loading. The generator process won’t be needed anymore unless you increase your cache version!

Give a try to UnityRuntimeSpriteSheetsGenerator!

Unity – sprite packing

Best practices with Unity have always been an hidden gem. Most precisely concerning the Resources folder. Hopefully things are changing with Unity’s best practices guide! And things are simple concerning the Resources folder: just don’t use it!

Managing 2D Sprites in Unity is simple if you have a static scene: just put every sprite needed on your screen and you’re almost done. Obviously you should package them in Spritesheets. The easy way to do it is via Unity’ Sprite Packer tool. But what to do if you need to load Sprites at runtime? How to access a Sprite if it’s not linked directly on a GameObject or a Prefab and without using the Resources folder?

Create a ScriptableObject! They are the best way to store informations within Unity. Here is an Editor Script for generating ScriptableObjects with a list of Sprites for each Packing Tag mentioned:

using UnityEngine;
#if UNITY_EDITOR
using UnityEditor;
#endif
using System;
using System.Collections;
using System.Collections.Generic;
using System.IO;

[Serializable]
public class SpritesData:ScriptableObject {

	[SerializeField]
	public Sprite[] sprites;

	static public string assetDirPath = "RuntimeSprites/SpritesData/";
	static public string assetPath = "Assets/RuntimeSprites/SpritesData/{0}.asset";

	#if UNITY_EDITOR
	[MenuItem("Data/Create Sprites Data")]
	static void CreateSpritesData() {
		string dirPath = Application.dataPath + "/" +  assetDirPath;

		if (!System.IO.Directory.Exists(dirPath))
			System.IO.Directory.CreateDirectory(@dirPath);

		SpritesData data = ScriptableObject.CreateInstance<SpritesData>();

		List<Sprite> spritesList = new List<Sprite>();

		string[] anims = AssetDatabase.FindAssets("t:Sprite", new string[] {"Assets/Sprites"});

		string currentTag = "";

		foreach (string anim in anims) {

			string path = AssetDatabase.GUIDToAssetPath(anim);

			TextureImporter ti = TextureImporter.GetAtPath(path) as TextureImporter;

			if (ti.spritePackingTag != currentTag) {

				if (data && currentTag != "") {

					data.sprites = spritesList.ToArray();
					AssetDatabase.CreateAsset(data, string.Format(assetPath, currentTag));
				}

				data = ScriptableObject.CreateInstance<SpritesData>();
				spritesList = new List<Sprite>();

				currentTag = ti.spritePackingTag;
			}

			Sprite sprite = AssetDatabase.LoadAssetAtPath<Sprite>(path);

			spritesList.Add(sprite);
		}

		data.sprites = spritesList.ToArray();
		AssetDatabase.CreateAsset(data, string.Format(assetPath, currentTag));
	}
	#endif
}

Now that you have all your SpritesData you just have to create a MonoBehaviour with a public SpritesData[] spritesDatas; property, then you will have access to all your sprites! The good things is while a sprite isn’t displayed on Screen it’s not in memory.

Cheers!

Unity – manage mailbox

For a project, unfortunately canceled, we needed to be able to manage a mailbox with Unity. Including IMAP protocol.

Unity uses C#, so we were pretty confident it wouldn’t be an issue since there are so many .NET libraries around there. But none of them worked fine with Unity: some of them worked in Unity Editor, some were also able to work on Android, but none could pass Unity’s IL2CPP compilation for Xcode & iOS. We searched for solution on Unity’s forums but we find nothing, there was no other choice than testing all the libraries around the web!

EAGetMail was the only one to fail on Xcode due to IL2CPP compilation, all the other libraries failed way before (due to Unity Mono version). So we raised an issue to Unity’s IL2CPP team.

During that time, we needed to be sure the project would be feasible. So we looked for alternative: a PHP solution for IMAP called Fetch combined with an AMF library for Unity. Not really a good replacement, but it worked.

Luckily Unity fixed the issue some weeks later! If you have to manage mailboxes with Unity, be sure to give a try to EAGetMail before banging your head against the wall! 😉

Memovox, AIR still on top

Two years ago, we coded a beautiful app named Geophysic for the famous luxary watches brand Jaeger-LeCoultre. Made with the cross-platform technology Adobe AIR, and Starling & Feathers, we finished the dev diary asking which other technologies could have done the app, but didn’t get a strong answer.
Today, with Pixelfordinner agency, we’re proud to share this new app named Wake-Up Memovox, for the same client, available for iOS and Android.
It was developed with the same technology, and if it’s obvious the game development market moves in favour of Unity, AIR is still rocking for making apps! Let’s see the development part!

Continue reading Memovox, AIR still on top

Go Mark’s Run

Hi folks, we’re proud to share with you our latest game that we worked on as developers: Go Mark’s Run, for iOS and Android. Change Agency was in charge of producing a game for the French hypermarket chain E.Leclerc to promote their own brand Marque Repère. James Bang was the studio behind the game & art design.

The game mixes platformer and runner game genres. Through short levels, you have to collect as many coins as possible and stay alive. After A Blind Legend, a big Unity game made without graphics, it was cool to have fancy things on screen!

Continue reading Go Mark’s Run

Attending Reasons to in Brighton!

sdr

What an exciting time to be in Brighton those days! With Thomas, it’s the first time we’re attending Reasons to previously known as Flash on the Beach!

On the menu: Carlos Ulloa, Mario Klingemann, Rob Bateman, Joshua Davis, Jared Tarbell, Stacey Mulcahy… yeah we mostly got there for code and we’re not disappointed at all! Continue reading Attending Reasons to in Brighton!