Through our on-going Gamepad Ready contest, I was fortunate enough to meet Jon Cebula of Bubble Byte, who has developed a truly compelling take on a classic arcade game. Boasting gamepad integration and Built for BlackBerry status, QR Invaders brings an immersive experience to gamers looking for a casual gameplay experience, as well as those looking for thumb-bending, panicked good times. I asked Jon to write about his experience with Unity and BlackBerry. In true Bubble Byte fashion, Jon went above and beyond and I’m ecstatic to be able to share his story from concept to launch.
Jon Cebula: Some time ago I dreamed of developing my own game. I already had good programming experience in multiple languages, but I didn’t like the concept of being stuck writing for one platform and having to re-write for another. After discovering the free Unity tools, I never looked back.
I decided I wanted to create my first game using entirely free tools: Unity as the game engine, Blender for 3D modeling, GIMP for artwork, and of course the BlackBerry store is free to publish to, so this fit in with my concept of releasing a game without any cost except time invested.
I’ve read a lot of articles that say using only free tools would make creating a quality game impossible, so I wanted to prove them wrong. I think I succeeded!
Getting a Grip on Unity
I started by experimenting with an idea for an online, multiplayer game. After getting the basics running, I spent a month modeling my first level in Blender and realized it was going to be a bigger project than I had anticipated. I wanted something that I could develop in a relatively short time, especially since I would be developing this in my spare time.
Based on my two months of experience, I knew level design was a key issue to overcome, so I came up with the concept of scanning a QR Code to generate unique levels. I’ve always considered QR Codes to be a bit of a gimmick, as you could always simply enter a web address into a browser rather than starting an app to scan a QR Code, so finally my game would give them a novel use! And so QR Invaders was born.
The most common question I’ve had since my game was released is: “Why BlackBerry? Why not iOS, Android, or Windows Phone?”
Although there are actually a few reasons, the answer is pretty simple. BlackBerry 10 supported everything I threw at it. Complex shaders, from volumetric explosions to bump mapping; no problem. Thousands of sprites; easy. QR Code scanning with autofocus; yes. Everything just worked.
There were a few minor issues, of course, but it was easy to create a build from within Unity. The BlackBerry Developer Relations team support is second to none, and it’s free to publish! If you have a Unity app on any other platform and have not built for BlackBerry 10, you’re missing an opportunity – especially given the very limited amount of work involved.
In the next blog post, I’ll talk about how I used Unity to read and process QR Codes into a compelling, dynamic experience for the gamer. Thanks for reading!