3D Developers Meet-up

Yesterday I attended the inaugural meet-up for developers around the Southampton area. The focus for the group is currently on those that use, or are thinking of using, the Unity 3d engine.

This is all new to me, but reading about it on the web I was surprised by how many games I’d played or heard of were built with the Unity engine: Temple Run 2 and Bad Piggies are just two examples (and the last is interesting, as its essentially a 2d game – but as somebody explained last night, you just make the objects flat and fix the “camera” to look at them dead on, then you can take advantage of all the maths and effects available in Unity).

The evening was put together by Alister Lam of Frugal Spark, who apart from being a genial host, demonstrated how easy it was to get started building a 3D environment in Unity. Finishing with a couple of demo Augmented Reality apps, where the iOS device recognised a picture and built a 3d scene around it (so for example, a picture of a dinosaur came to life, stomped over a landscape and gobbled up some smaller prey). This obviously has possibilities for cultural heritage, and made me think what a device might show when pointed at (say) some of the nationally important but domestically displayed pictures at Polesden Lacey.

Then he handed over to John White, Managing Director of 4T2, who gave a presentation on “how Lego and Unity changed our lives.” It turns out the 42T were behind most of my kids’ favourite online and iOS games, including CBBC’s Beakeriser, and loads of Lego brand games.

I also spoke with Steve Longhurst of local coders Finblade, and Nick Thorne of Winchester Innovation. Nick showed me a tidal prediction app his company have been working on.

The meet-up was at The Point, an arts centre in Eastleigh, and Alister mentioned that he was working with the council on the idea of creating a digital creativity hub there. That excited me because of the work I’ve already seen coming out of Watershed, in Bristol. That Cultural cinema and digital creativity centre is home to companies like Splash and Ripple, and a key player in the REACT hub that funded projects like Ghost in the Gardens.

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