Multithreading Perceptual Computing Applications in Unity3d

August 21st, 2013 by Steff Kelsey

Once again we are excited about being featured on the Intel Developer Zone blog for a post done by Infrared5 Senior Developer Steff Kelsey. This post Multithreading Perceptual Computing Application in Unity3d talks about the challenges the Infrared5 team faced while participating in the Intel Ultimate Coder Challenge. Follow the link to hear the steps we went through to make Kiwi Catapult Revenge a reality! As always, we love hearing your feedback and feel free to share with others.

http://software.intel.com/en-us/blogs/2013/07/26/multithreading-perceptual-computing-applications-in-unity3d

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Kiwi Katapult Revenge Case Study by Intel

July 29th, 2013 by Adam Doucette

Earlier this year, Intel invited Infrared5 to compete in its Ultimate Coder Challenge: Going Perceptual, a groundbreaking contest that provided participants with an Ultrabook device, Creative Interactive Gesture Camera development kits, a still-evolving perceptual computing SDK, and all of the support possible for letting their imaginations run rampant. With its focus on sensor-based input, using Brass Monkey technology seemed a natural complement to perceptual computing, but the question surfaced of how to mesh the two. William Van Winkle recounts the story our team experienced in this challenging but fulfilling opportunity. As always, we welcome all questions and feedback. Enjoy!

http://software.intel.com/en-us/articles/infrared5-case-study

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Trajectory of a Basketball in Unity3D

July 2nd, 2013 by Steff Kelsey

This post discusses targeting projectiles with Unity3D. The main applications of targeting projectiles using physics are sports simulations (basketball, golf, etc) and anything where you want to launch something into a world with gravity and have it hit the desired target.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Top 10 Prominent Boston Area Game Developer Groups and Organizations That You Should Pay Attention To

December 14th, 2012 by Elliott Mitchell

Top 10 Prominent Boston Area Game Developer Groups and Organizations That You Should Pay Attention To:

Scott Macmillan (co-founder Boston Indies), Darius Kazemi (co-organizer Boston Post Mortem) and Alex Schwartz (co-founder Boston Unity Group) preparing for a Boston Post Mortem presentation July 2011. (Photo- Elliott Mitchell co-founder Boston Unity Group)

The Boston area game developer scene has a generous and open community that nurtures indies, startups, students and AAA game studios alike. The evidence of this is more than abundant. On almost any given day one can find a game industry event ranging from casual meet-ups, demo nights and intense panel discussions. As I am an indie game developer and technical director, I will focus more closely on groups that are indie game developer related. One thing can be assured, all of these groups are prominent, worthwhile and you should check them out if you haven’t already done so!

1 ) International Game Developers Association (IDGA) – Boston Post Mortem (BPM)

The Boston based chapter of the IDGA was founded in 1997 by Kent Quirk, Steve Meretzk & Rick Goodman at John Harvard’s Brewhouse. Boston Post Mortem is internationally renowned as an example of how to grow and nurture a game developer community. BPM is the seminal game developer organization in the Boston area. Currently held at The Skellig in Waltham, MA, BPM is a monthly IDGA chapter meeting focused around industry related topics. BPM hosts expert speakers, industry panels, great networking opportunities and grog.

Frequency: Monthly
Membership Required: No, but IDGA membership is encouraged
Admission to Meetings: Usually free
Web: http://www.bostonpostmortem.org/
Twitter: @BosPostMortem

2 ) Boston Indies (BI)

Boston Indies is, as the name would indicate, a Boston based group for indie game developers. BI was founded in 2009 by Scott Macmillan and Jim Buck as an indie game developer alternative to the large Boston Post Mortem group.  Boston Indies featured indie developer presentations, BYOB and chipping in for pizza. Meet-ups were hosted at the Betahouse co-working space at MIT in Cambridge, MA. BI quickly grew larger and moved locations to The Asgard and settling most recently at the Bocoup Loft in South Boston. At BI meetups, indie developers present on relevant topics, hold game demo nights and network. Boston Indies is notable because it spawned the very successful Boston Festival of Indie Games in the fall of 2012.

Frequency: Monthly
Membership Required: No
Admission to Meetings: Free
Web: www.bostonindies.com
Twitter: @BostonIndies

3 ) The Boston Unity Group (BUG)

Founded in 2012 by Alex Schwartz and Elliott Mitchell, The Boston Unity User Group (BUG) is a bi-monthly gathering of Unity developers in the Boston area. Born from the inspiration and traditions of Boston Post Mortem and Boston Indies, BUG events are Unity game development related meetups where members ranging from professionals to hobbyist unite to learn from presentations, demo their projects, network and continue to build bridges in the Boston area game development community and beyond. BUG is renowned by local and international developers, as well as by Unity Technologies, as one of the first and largest Unity user groups in the world. Meetings have been frequently held at the Microsoft New England Research Center, Meadhall and the Asgard in Cambridge, MA.

Frequency:  Bi-Monthly
Membership Required:  Meetup.com registration required
Admission to Meetings:  Free
Web:  http://www.meetup.com/B-U-G-Boston-Unity-Group/
Twitter:  @BosUnityGroup

4 ) Women In Games (WIG)

Founded by Courtney Stanton in 2010, Women in Games Boston is the official Boston chapter of the International Game Developers Association’s Women in Games Special Interest Group. Renown industry speakers present on relevant game development topics but what differentiates WIG is the it’s predominately female perspective and unique industry support. WIG meets monthly at The Asgard in Cambridge. Developers from AAA, indie studios and students regularly attend. WIG is an event open to women and their allies to attend.

Frequency: Monthly
Membership Required: No
Admission to Meetings: Free
Web: http://wigboston.wordpress.com/
Twitter: @WIGboston

5 ) Boston HTML5 Game Development Group

The Boston HTML5 Game Developer Group was founded in 2010 by Pascal Rettig. On the group’s meetup webpage, the description reads  “A gathering of the minds on tips, tricks and best practices for using HTML5 as a platform for developing highly-interactive in-browser applications (with a focus on Game Development)”. The HTML5 game development Group in Boston boasts an impressive roster of members and speakers. Attended and led by prominent industry leaders and innovators, the Boston HTML5 Game Developer Group is a monthly meetup held at Bocoup Loft in Boston, MA.

Membership Required: Meetup membership encouraged
Admission to Meetings: Free
Web: http://www.meetup.com/Boston-HTML5-Game-Development/
Twitter: #Boston #HTML5

6 ) MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge  - New England Games Community Circle (NEGamesSIG)

Originally founded in 2007 by Michael Cavaretta as The New England Game SIG, newly renamed New England Games Community Cirle  is a group rooted in greater MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge. NEGCC focuses on being a hub for dynamic games and interactive entertainment industries throughout New England.  NEGCC events are predictably very good and well attended with their professional panel discussions featuring a mix of innovative leaders from across the business of games. Events regularly are held in various locations around Cambridge, MA including the MIT Stata Center and the Microsoft New England Research Center.

Frequency: Regularly dispersed throughout the year
Membership Required: Not Always / Membership encouraged with worthwhile benefits.
Admission to Meetings: Depends on event and if you’re a member
Web: http://gamescircle.org/
Twitter: #NEGCC #NEGamesSIG

7 ) The Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI)

The Massachusetts Digital Games Institute was founded in 2010 by Timothy Loew and Robert E. Johnson, Ph. D.  This is a unique group focused on building pathways between academia and industry, while nurturing entrepreneurship and economic development within the game industry across Massachusetts. MassDiGI holds game industry related events not only in the Boston area but across the entire Commonwealth. MassDiGI also runs some larger events and programs like the MassDiGI Game Challenge, where prominent industry experts mentor competing game development teams. Mass DiGI also holds a Summer of Innovation Program where students are mentored by industry experts while they form teams and develop marketable games over the summer. Mass DiGI is headquartered at Becker College in Worcester, MA.

Frequency: Slightly Random
Membership Required: No Membership
Admission to Meetings: Mostly free / Some events and programs cost money
Web: http://www.massdigi.org/
Twitter: @mass_digi

8 ) Mass Technology Leadership Council – Digital Games Cluster (MassTLC)

MassTLC is a large organization that encompasses much more than games. The MassTLC Digital Games Cluster is led by the likes of Tom Hopcroft and Christine Nolan, among others, who work diligently to raise awareness about the region’s game industry and build support for a breadth of Massachusetts game developers.  MassTLC holds regular events benefit startups, midsized companies and large corporations across Massachusetts. With a focus on economic development, MassTLC helps those those looking to network, find mentors, funding and other resources vital to a game studio of any scale. One of my favorite MassTLC events is the MassTLC PAX East – Made in MA Party. The Party serves to highlight hundreds of Massachusetts game developers to the media as well as out of state industry folks on the evening before the the massive PAX East game developer conference begins. MassTLC Events are frequently held at the Microsoft New England Research Center.

Frequency: Regularly / Slightly Random
Membership Required: Not Always / Membership encouraged with worthwhile benefits.
Admission to Meetings: Depends on event and if you’re a member
Web: http://www.masstlc.org/?page=DigitalGames
Twitter: @MassTLC

9 ) Boston Game Jams

Founded in 2011 by Darren Torpey, Boston Game Jams is a unique group. Modeled after the Nordic Game Jam, IGDA Global Game Jam and others less  known game jams, Boston Game Jams is an ongoing series of ad-hoc game jams held in the Boston area. As Darren States on the Boston Game Jam’s website, “It is not a formal organization of any kind, but rather it’s more of a grassroots community that is growing out of a shared desire to learn and create games together in an open, fun, and highly collaborative environment.” Boston Game Jams is a great venue for people of all skill levels to come together and collaboratively create games around given themes within a very short period of time. Participants range from professionals to novices. Boston Game Jams have historically been held at the innovative Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab which has recently morphed into the new MIT Game Lab.

Frequency: Random
Membership Required: No
Admission to Meetings: Free / Food Donations Welcome
Web: http://bostongamejams.com/
Twitter: @bostongamejams

10 ) Boston Autodesk Animation User Group Association (BostonAAUGA)

BostonAAUGA is an official Autodesk User Group. Founded in 2008, BostonAAUGA joined forces in June 2012 with the The Boston Maya User Group (bMug) which was founded in 2010 by Tereza Flaxman. United into one 3D powerhouse, BostonAAUGA and mBug serve as a forum for 3D artists and animators seeking professional training, community engagement and networking opportunities. BostonAAUGA hosts outstanding industry speakers and panelists. It should be noted that not all of their events are game industry specific hence their number 10 slot ranking. BostonAAUGA is regularly hosted at Neoscape in Boston, MA.

Membership Required: No Membership
Admission to Meetings: Free

Web: http://www.aaugaboston.com/

Twitter: @BostonAAUGA

Get out there!

—-

Elliott Mitchell
Technical Director @ Infrared5.com
Indie Game Developer
Twitter: @mrt3d

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GameDraw: 3D Power in Unity

October 5th, 2012 by Elliott Mitchell


At Infrared5, we are continuously seeking ways to improve the quality of our craft while increasing our efficiency in developing games for our clients. Our Unity engineers and creatives are ninjas, masters of their trade, and yet there are situations when leveraging the Unity’s Asset Store is extremely advantageous. Why reinvent the wheel by creating extra custom tools when there are relatively inexpensive, pre-existing tools in the Asset Store? GameDraw, by Mixed Dimensions, is one of those indispensable tools available on the Unity Asset Store.

I had the pleasure of evaluating a few pre-release builds of GameDraw after meeting the Mixed Dimensions team at GDC 2012 and more recently at Unite 2012. I was super impressed on both occasions. As stated by Mixed Dimensions, ‘The purpose of GameDraw is to make the life of designers easier by giving them possibilities inside Unity itself and cutting down time and cost.’’ GameDraw is not exactly a single tool, perhaps better described as an expansive suite of 3D tools for the Unity Editor.  Within GameDraw, one can actually manipulate pre-existing models, create new 3D assets, optimize 3D assets and a whole lot more.


Key Features Are:

Polygonal Modeling, Sculpting, Generation and Optimization Tools
UV Editor
City Generator
Runtime API
Character Customizer

Each of these features individually are worth the cost of GameDraw on the Asset Store. Drilling down deeper, GameDraw offers much more. It’s pretty amazing to see the degree of power GameDraw unleashes in the Unity Editor, offering features such as:

Mesh Editing ( Vertex, Edge, Triangle, Element)
Mesh manipulation functions (Extrude, Weld, Subdivide, Delete, Smooth,…etc)
Assigning new Materials
Mesh Optimization
UV editing
Primitives (25 basic model)
Sculpting
Boolean operations
Node based mesh generation
2D tools (Geometry painting, 2D to 3D image tracing)
Character customizer (NEXT UPDATE V 0,87)
City Generator (NEXT UPDATE V 0.87)
Warehouse “hundreds of free assets” (NEXT UPDATE V 0.87)

As a Beta product, GameDraw is slightly more functional on the PC than the Mac computers at the moment. Even though I primarily use a Mac in my daily routine, I was very impressed with GameDraw’s functionality on the Mac.


Being a hardcore Maya artist, I can’t see GameDraw eliminating my need for Maya anytime soon. I use Maya for more than creating Unity assets. However, I happily purchased the GameDraw from the Asset Store and use it on projects. I see a significant number of  instances when I want the ability to make changes to models, create new models, generate a cities, animate morph targets…all within Unity. For any of these tasks alone, GameDraw is a must have and very worth the cost.

-Elliott Mitchell

TD Infrared5
Co-Founder Boston Unity Group

Follow us on Twitter! @infrared5

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Unity 4 – Looking Forward

September 28th, 2012 by Anthony Capobianchi

Here at Infrared5, a good portion of our projects are based in Unity 3D. Needless to say, with the introduction of Unity 4, I was very interested in what had changed about the coming engine, and why people should make the upgrade. This post will look at few of the features of Unity 4 that I am most excited about.

The New GUI

The first time I sat down with Unity almost a year ago to work on Brass Monkey’s Monkey Dodgeball game, I knew practically nothing about the engine. That didn’t stop me from being almost immediately annoyed with Unity’s built in GUI system. Positioning elements from the OnGUI was a task of trial and error, grouping objects together was a pain, and all the draw calls that it produced made it inefficient to boot. At that time, I was unaware of the better solutions to Unity’s GUI that were developed by third party developers, but after I was made aware, I was confused as to why such a robust development tool such as Unity didn’t have these already built in.

Though the new GUI system is not a launch feature for Unity 4, Unity is building an impressive system for user interface that will allow for some really interesting aesthetics for our games. From the looks of it, the new system seems to derive from Unity’s current vein of GUIText and GUITexture objects. The difference is in the animation capabilities of each element that is created. You are now allowed to efficiently have multiple elements make up your GUI objects such as buttons, health bars, etc. Unity then allows you to animate those elements individually. Not to mention that editing text styles in the GUI is now as easy as marking it up with HTML.

One of the coolest additions is the ability to position and resize any UI element with transform grabbers that anyone who has used an Adobe product would be familiar with. This also allows for the creation of rotating elements in 3D space, which allows for creating a GUI with a sense of space and depth to it. This can lead to some really interesting effects.

The new GUI system will come packaged with pre-built controls, though there is no word as to whether or not those controls will be customizable. Unity lists one new control as a “finely tuned thumbstick [controls] for mobile games”.  A couple of months ago, I developed my own thumbstick like controls to maneuver in 3D space, and it was a pain. Hopefully these new controls will make it a lot easier. You can also easily create your own controls by extending from the GUIBehavior script. Developers should have no problem creating controls that handle the specifics of their own games.

Every image that you use to create your elements gets atlases automatically. This is a huge bonus over the old GUI system. The biggest problem Unity’s GUI system has right now is the amount of draw calls it makes to render all those elements. Third party tools like EZGUI and iGUI rely on creating UI objects that atlas images to reduce draw calls. It will be nice to have that kind of functionality in a built in system. I’ve spent a lot of time developing user interfaces in Unity over the past few months, so it makes me really excited to see that Unity is trying to correct some of their flaws for creating a component that is so important to games.

Mecanim
Unity’s current animation system is pretty basic- add animations to an object and trigger those animations based on any input or conditions that are needed. The animation blending was useful but could have been better. With Unity 4, it is better. Introducing the Mecanim: an animation blending system that uses blending trees for models with ridged bones to fluidly move from one animation to another. One of the biggest hurdles that we as developers need to overcome in projects that deal with a lot of animations is transitioning from those animations as seamlessly as possible. Not always easy!

Along with blending the animations, Mecanim allows you to edit your animations similar to how you would edit a film clip to create animations loops. Mecanim also supports IK, so for example it can change the position of a characters feet on uneven surfaces, bend hands around corners, etc. A couple of years ago I was fascinated by Natural Motion’s Endorphin engine for animation blending. Mecanim may not be as sophisticated as Endorphin, and only supports biped skeletons, but it seems like an incredible system that comes built in to Unity.

The best part is about this is that once you create a blend tree for your animations, you can drag and drop it onto another rigged model, and it will work even if the new model is a different size or proportion.


The Mobile Platform

The mobile scene is really where Unity shines. Most of the Unity projects I have worked on for Infrared5 have had some sort of mobile component to them. The mobile platform is going to get even better with Unity 4. The most interesting thing from a developer’s standpoint is the profiling system, which allows you to view your game’s GPU performance to determine where it runs smoothly, and where it needs more optimization. The addition of real-time shadows for mobile is a nice added bonus. It will definitely add a lot of aesthetic value to the products we make.

Unity 4 is going to hit the industry with amazing force. I, for one, cannot wait to get my hands on this engine and am already filled with ideas on how I want to utilize these new tools. My favorite part is going to be the mobile optimization. Mobile development is huge, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. With all the new capabilities of Unity’s mobile content, I should be kept interested for quite a while.

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Unite 2012 – The Unity Developer Conference

September 7th, 2012 by Elliott Mitchell

Unite 2012

Last week, Unity Technologies held their 6th annual Unite developer’s conference in Amsterdam, Holland. Approximately 4.5 thousand miles from last year’s venue in San Francisco, Unite was attended by developers from 26 nations along with Unity’s 200+ amazing employees!

The conference featured several excellent keynote talks, a look at some exciting things to come for Unity, and an opportunity to engage in an exciting community. The following is an overview of my time at Unite 2012.

Unite 2012 Jack Lumber talk

The conference was spread over 4 days and 3 venues:

Day 1 – Training Day and Unity Mixer
Day 2 – Keynote & Main Conference
Day 3 – Main Conference, Unity Awards & Unity Party
Day 4 – Main Conference & Sad Goodbyes

Amsterdam was a great choice for Unite 2012. The international nature of the city, it’s rich cultural identity, excellent public transportation and welcoming nature of the people all synergize to elevate the conference to a new level.

The bulk of the conference was filled with interesting sessions on topics such as: art pipelines, rendering pipelines, virtual worlds, running an indie studio, advanced editor scripting, super cool simulators, creating universes, making tools for Unity, using Flash and Unity together, animation systems and so on. You can view video recordings of many of the talks on Unity’s website. Hopefully, all the talks will be added in the near future.

Between sessions, meetings, and meals, time was allocated for developers and artists to network, catch up, drink, play J.S. Joust and talk shop. This time was truly priceless.

J. S. Jousting at Unite 2012 (Photo and J. S. Joust courtesy of Julie Heyde)

I was honored to participate on a panel geared towards organizing and supporting user group communities with folks from Unity (Joe Robbins, Will Goldstone, Mark Martin, Russ Morris, Carl Carth ) and a few other fellow user group organizers (Grant Viklund, Brandon Wu and Robert Brackenridge). We had good turnout, great pointers, super questions from the audience and momentum moving forward in a more organized manner.

Unite featured keynotes by Unity founders David Helgason, Joachim Ante, Nicholas Francis and infamous Game Designer Peter Molyneux.  All the speakers delivered fascinating keynotes. You can watch the official video of the Unite 2012 Keynote here.


My Short List of Unity 4 Keynote Announcements:

  • Mecanim – next generation character animation system
  • Shuriken Particle Engine – Collision with Particles
  • Mobile Shadows
  • Bumpmap Terrain
  • New Project Browser
  • Improved Lightmaps
  • DirectX 11 Rendering
  • Ship Unity 4 Beta to Prepaid Customers
  • Adobe Partnership for Flash Export
  • New Unity GUI!!
  • Linux Support
  • Future Windows 8 Export
  • Future Windows Phone 8 Export

I thought the most impressive keynote highlight was the 3 minute short “Butterfly Effect” created by Passion Pictures and Unity technologies.  Not only is it visually stunning, the film is real-time rendered in DirectX 11. Butterfly Effect is completely filmic with SSS Shaders, stunning procedural explosions, high quality animation and rendering. Butterfly Effect is a work of art to behold!

David Helgason (Unity) & Elliott Mitchell (Infrared5) Unite 2012 Party

As always, the Unity Awards and Unity Party celebrated so many great Unity games and projects in the wild at the Muziekgebouw. See the award winners here.

I’m looking forward to Unite 2013 rumored to be held in San Francisco. If your a Unity developer or interested in making games with Unity, then Unite it’s a must attend event! Hopefully, I’ll be speaking at Unite again next year. See you there!

——–>

-Elliott Mitchell

Technical Director Infrared5

Co-founder of the Boston Unity Group

@MrT.3D on Twitter

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The Brains Behind the Booth

August 29th, 2012 by Rosie

This month, IR5’s very own Kelly Wallick is featured in the ‘Sunday Sidebar’ on VideoGameWriters.com. Kelly talks with Christopher Floyd about her work as organizer for the Indie Megabooth, the life of an extreme multi-tasker, and her most prized geek possession. Check it out here!

Be sure to say ‘Hi!’ to Kelly this weekend at PAX!

Infrared5's Kelly Wallick

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Boid Flocking and Pathfinding in Unity, Part 3

July 23rd, 2012 by Anthony Capobianchi

In this final installment, I will explore how to set up a ray caster to determine a destination object for the Boids, and how to organize a number of different destination points for your Boids so that they do not pile on top of each other.

Organizing the Destinations -

The idea is to create a marker for every Boid that will be placed near the destination, defined by the ray caster. This keeps Boids from running past each other or pushing each other off track.

For each Boid in the scene, a new Destination object will be created and managed. My Destination.cs script looks like this:

This is very similar to the Boid behaviors we set up in Boid.cs. We create coherency and separation vectors just as before, except this time we use a rigid body that has the two vectors being applied to it. I am using rigid body’s velocity property to determine when the destination objects are finished moving into position.

Positioning and Managing the Destinations -

Now we create a script that handles instantiating all the destination objects we need for our Boids, placing each one in relation to a Boid, and using each destination’s Boid behaviors to organize them  I created a script called DestinationManager.cs where this will be housed.

First off we need to set up our script:


We need to create our ray caster that will tell the scene where to place the origin of our placement nodes. Mine looks like this:


The ray caster shoots a ray from the camera’s position to the ground, setting the Boid’s destination where it hits.

Next, we take the destinations that were created and move them together using the Boid behaviors we gave them.


The Boid system is primarily used for the positioning of the Destination objects. This method ensures that the Boid system will not push your objects off of their paths, confusing any pathfinding you may be using.

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Boid Flocking and Pathfinding in Unity, Part 2

July 5th, 2012 by Anthony Capobianchi

In my last post, we worked through the steps to create a Boid system that will keep objects together in a coherent way, and a radar class that will allow the Boids to detect each other. Our next step is to figure out how to get these objects from point “A” to point “B”, by setting a destination point.

Pathfinding -

For this example, I used Aron Granberg’s A* Pathfinding Project to handle my pathfinding. It works great and uses Unity’s CharacterController to handle movement, which helps with this example. A link to download this library can be found at http://www.arongranberg.com/unity/a-pathfinding/download/ and a guide to help you set it up in your scene can be found here: http://www.arongranberg.com/astar/docs/getstarted.php

In Boid.cs I have my path finding scripts as such:

Applying the Forces -

Once we have the calculated force of the Boid behaviors and the path finder, we have to put those together and apply that to the character controller. We use Unity’s Update function on Boid.cs to constantly apply the forces.

In my next post, we will look at using a ray caster to set a destination point in the scene for the Boids, as well as how to organize a number of different destination points for the Boids to keep them from piling on top of each other.

Read part one here.

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