Worth Reading #3: ...but you can conquer it!

Worth Reading is a weekly rundown of interesting stuff I've found. Sharing is caring! <3

This week we'll take a deep dive into Unity programming patterns and editor extensions, and look at a bunch of resources to help you conquer the unpredictable business of indie game dev.

Promises for game development

I hope you've had your coffee, because we're starting off this week's Worth Reading with some pretty hardcore programming! This in-depth article explains the "Promises" programming pattern, applied in Unity/C# with tons of code samples and a free implementation on Github. As they describe it:

Promises are a design pattern to structure asynchronous code and smooth over the complexities of running sequences of (dependent) asynchronous operations.

It's heady stuff, especially if you're not already familiar with other asynchronous programming principles (I'd particularly recommend a solid understanding of coroutines), but it's the kind of smart, important, nuts-and-bolts work that can make the difference between an efficient game dev experience and a pants-on-fire disaster.

Unity packages to improve your workflow

This thread popped up in /r/unity3d this week, and it's chock-full of links to Asset Store packages designed to improve your experience in the editor. We're talking everything from script syntax highlighting to inspector upgrades to full-on serialization system replacements, Unity code tools for Visual Studio, custom debug consoles, enhanced text rendering, and more!

Five harsh truths about working in a creative industry

Utah indie veteran and prolific blogger Jay Barnson brings us this piece about some of the existential challenges facing not just indie game developers, but all creative people. Here's the rundown:

  1. After they've paid, customers owe you JACK!
  2. It's about the audience experience, not yours
  3. Nothing succeeds like success
  4. Luck plays a bigger role than we'd like to admit
  5. Persistence is key, but it's no guarantee

Be sure to check out the full piece for Jay's complete reasoning behind these points. It's a smart (if sobering) read from a veteran of the business.

How to email journalists without wasting their time

Here's a quick-and-simple guide to reaching out to journalists in a way that will actually, y'know, work. It'll take you 60 seconds to read and will save you countless hours/days/weeks of wasted time and effort doing all the wrong things. Required reading.

How to make game trailers that don't suck

An example of a game trailer that does not suck.

You know how everyone and their dog/cat/chinchilla has been complaining lately about the "sea of crap" on the App Store, Google Play, Steam, etc.? No doubt you've experienced it yourself, perhaps in a moment of self-indulgent curiosity, scrolling through page after page after page of new releases while gradually losing faith in humanity. But how do you know all those terrible games are truly terrible? Surely you're not buying and playing them all, but you're probably seeing a lot of really bad trailers.

This guide gives five key tips on how to make trailers that don't suck. It's mobile-focused but the same principles apply for PC games, console games... most products in general, actually. It proposes five questions:

  1. Does your mobile video game trailer effectively communicate your game’s value proposition?
  2. Do the design decisions in your mobile video game trailer make sense for the art direction of your game?
  3. Does your mobile video game trailer have structure or is it simply a glorified sequence of gameplay footage?
  4. Does your mobile video game trailer have rhythm or does it feel off at times?
  5. Does your mobile video game trailer ask viewers to take action after it’s finished?

Read the full guide for all the important details, then go forth and make a great game trailer!

How to successfully market your indie game on a $0 budget

Emmy Jonassen (AKA Indie Game Girl) gave this talk a while back about marketing an indie game for zero dollars. It may not be "news" in the sense of "new", but the challenge of indie game marketing is more relevant today than ever before, so this is definitely worth a watch.

The Game Career Guide, June 2015 edition

The Game Career Guide is a full-length online magazine packed with essential information about working in the games industry. The June 2015 edition is up now; some of its highlights include:

  • Starting a company: giving it (and you) the best chance to survive
  • Money trouble: an incremental funding model for smaller game developers
  • So you want to pitch to a publisher
  • Modern 2d animation: techniques in Unity for indie teams

There's lots more content besides, so definitely carve out a couple hours to digest this one (but trust me, it's worth it!)

The web we have to save

We conclude this week with this impassioned op-ed from Iranian blogger Hossein Derakhshan, who spent six years – from 2008 to 2014 – in an Iranian prison, then re-emerged to discover a very different Internet than the one on which he'd made a name for himself before his incarceration. That six-year hiatus gives him a unique perspective on today's web, and it is in many ways a sobering one:

When I log on to Facebook, my personal television starts. All I need to do is to scroll: New profile pictures by friends, short bits of opinion on current affairs, links to new stories with short captions, advertising, and of course self-playing videos. I occasionally click on like or share button, read peoples’ comments or leave one, or open an article. But I remain inside Facebook, and it continues to broadcast what I might like. This is not the web I knew when I went to jail. This is not the future of the web. This future is television.
— Hossein Derakhshan, "The Web We Have to Save"

Perhaps some of this smacks of progress-fearing conservatism or a naive desire to return to "the good old days". But I think there's a nugget of objective truth here: today's web is oriented around what Mr. Derakhshan calls "The Stream" – the Twitter feeds and Facebook walls, RSS streams, Instagram, reddit, etc. – and most of the media we consume now comes to us from other people sharing it into our streams, rather than from us seeking it out. Curating our own personal media diet has become a second-order operation: instead of curating the media itself, we curate the curators, i.e. the social media accounts we choose to follow.

Which isn't to say those are necessarily bad things. The Internet improved in considerable ways during Mr. Derakhshan's imprisonment: consider as just one example the astounding success of Twitter as a real-time newsgathering tool far outstripping the capabilities of, say, CNN. But I've come to believe progress is an inherently lossy process: we got Twitter, but we gave up thoughtful discourse to get it. (Ever tried debating a complex, nuanced subject in spurts of 140 characters at a time? Yeah.)

Anyway, please give Mr. Derakhshan's piece a read. It's my favorite thing in this week's lineup, and very possibly the most important.