Going back to Unity is super weird: an overdue update

It's been a long, long time since I've shared anything I'm working on. There's a pretty good reason for that: I haven't really been shipping much.

I've been chipping away at a few games here and there, mostly the upcoming Trash Kings (hey, I just added a page for it today!) But when it comes to more serious/traditional games, I've been going through something of a dry spell.

Most of the blame rests on me. I've been focusing on improving my web-development skills as they're the reason why I have a job, but that's also left me unable to focus on the bigger games I've started and left unfinished. I'm hoping that changes today.

I spent some time conjuring up the old ghost of Skeal, the dumbest idea that also wound up as my biggest hit. A few months ago I picked up an Oculus Rift and some touch controllers; needless to say, I've got some ideas brewing.

Did you know I made Skeal without any sort of version control? I uploaded a nightly build to an FTP while I was working on it, but I had no branching or change management of any kind while I built it. I couldn't believe it. It's almost as strange as thinking back to life before the Internet — "how did I ever build stuff without git?"

After such a long departure, there're a few things rubbing me the wrong way about Unity right now. For example:

  • Its error-handling system is pretty primitive: Coming from a web-developer standpoint, the error messages Unity spits out are unclear, typo-ridden, and kind of embarrassing
  • Documentation is scattered and often outdated: The official SDK docs are robust enough, but supplemental content and references to deprecated methods/features are sparse at best
  • The support community is microscopic and far less mature than the web scene: When I first picked up Unity a few years ago, I felt like it wasn't ready for prime time — features were unclear, bugs ran rampant, and people online rarely had complete answers to what seemed like simple problems. Today? It's still the same. Something tells me there aren't enough people with enough skill, time, and money to take the time to help others out online; that's fortunately never been a problem in the web world since I moved into professional web development.

That being said, there's still a real magic to Unity. For example, the first time I replaced my standard mouse-driven camera for a VR-driven one — where the camera follows your head as you look around — was literally breathtaking. Those first moments of stepping into a world I'd created — even a crude, tongue-in-cheek one like Skeal's — realized a dream of immersion I never realized I'd had.

So I'll stick with Unity, get back up to speed, and see what kind of fun stuff I can whip up.

But after that? JavaScript and WebGL are looking way more appealing in the long run.