Monday, September 29, 2014

GetManagerFromContext: pointer to object of manager 'RenderSettings' crash in Unity3d

I recently encountered an issue using Unity3d where I was unable to create a build of a client's project because of a crash that occurred in the Unity Editor during build publishing.  Unfortunately I don't have an image of the crash message dialog, but essentially it said:

"Fatal error! GetManagerFromContext: pointer to object manager 'RenderSettings' is NULL"

which wasn't the most helpful message in the world.  I spent some time trying to track down any obvious issue in the code with no luck, so start looking on the Unity forum and found This forum post which described a very similar issue I was seeing.

Luckily it seems this was a known issue, apparently caused by assigning ProceduralMaterials to Material properties inside scripts.  There have been a couple of fixes for this particular problem recently, the Unity 4.5.4 release notes and Unity 4.5.4p2 release notes both mention fixes related to this issue.

Updating to the vanilla Unity 4.5.4 release from 4.5.3 fixed my particular crash.

If you're seeing a crash similar to what I posted above, and you use procedural materials in the project, try to update to Unity 4.5.4 or one of the patch releases and see if that fixes the issue

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Unity 4.3.x doesn't support Google Native Client

While spending some time tonight working with Unity's platform preprocessor defines I noticed I wasn't getting proper results when checking if the UNITY_NACL symbol was defined.  Oddly enough when I set Unity to make a Native Client build, it defined the UNITY_WEBPLAYER symbol instead. After asking on Twitter and making some Google searches, I finally found an semi-buried explanation here and this nugget in the Unity3d 4.3 release notes

  • Google Native Client support is not functional in Unity 4.3. If you need to publish to Native Client you can still use Unity 4.2.2.
This change isn't readily apparent when looking at the build window, as you can see in this picture, there isn't any information to indicate the Native Client build isn't supported.  I suspect this is the first step to phasing out NACL support entirely, similar to the removal of Flash build exports

.  Hopefully this helps anyone who stumbles into this when trying to use the UNITY_NACL define

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Releasing games for multiple platforms

Today is a big day, I finally released my company's 3D puzzle game, Shatter Crash, for Android on the Google Play Store.  I'm pretty happy about this release, it's something I've wanted to do awhile now, especially considering Shatter Crash originally came out for iPad in July of 2012.

Took long enough....

Actually there is a story as to why it took so long for the Shatter Crash Android version to come out, but that's something for another blog post.  It wasn't a technical reason though.

Since this is all fresh in my mind, I wanted to share a couple tips on stuff to think about when you do a multi-platform game.  This is more oriented for iOS and Android stuff, but will work for any other platforms as well

  1. Port your game to the new platform.  This is pretty obvious. I use Unity3D which handles 99% of the stuff for all the different platforms.
  2. You should look at the new platform and learn if there are a particular nuances of the platform you should try to handle.  One example, on Android hitting the back button on the main menu generally pops up a quit dialogue giving the user an ability to cleaning quit the app, not just put it into the background
  3. Handling product/app store links for the new platform.  For Shatter Crash I added a 'Rate' button so users can rate the app.  On iOS this takes the user to the iOS ttore list, for Android it takes the user to the Google Play listing.  Ideally you can take advantage of a mechanism so the app uses the proper links automatically depending on the platform.
  4. Handling UI layouts for different platforms. The iOS devices are pretty nice because you only have a handful of UI resolutions and aspect ratios.  All iPads are 4:3 aspect ratio, and iPhones/iPods are either 3:2 or 16:9.  Android obviously has a lot of different aspect ratios.  Ideally your UI can automatically handle scaling and moving widgets to take advantage of the screen for particular device it's running on, rather then you manually placing the widgets for every possible screen size
  5. Way to direct users to the different store pages - When you go from 1 platform to many, you need to make it as easy as possible for people to find the version of the game relevant to them.  One idea here is make a page on you website with links to the different stores you game is on; then make sure to SEO the hell out of said page so it's highly placed on search engines.  
  6. Achievement/Leaderboard/etc. - Competitive features like leaderboards and challenges, plus achievements for the collector-mentality players, are definitely nice to have in your game.  Different platforms generally have different implementations of these, which can be annoying to manage.  I created an internal API which my games use for handling leaderboards/achievements/challenges updates and unlocks.  That API in turn works with a binding layer responsible for interacting with the platform-specific system.  In this way I can build in support for all those features, then the platform binding layer handles how the nuances of converting that to the platform game system format 
Those are the ones off the top of my head, would love to hear more on this anyone had more suggestions.

And if you're looking for a fun 3D puzzle game, please do check out Shatter Crash on Google Play or iOS App Store!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Method to get the name of a calling method in C#

When doing quick testing with debug logging it's usually helpful to include the name of the method where a log call originates.  It's pretty easy to include, but it can be a hassle if it's a large method you have to scroll through to find the name, or God forbid if the method name changes in the future.  What would be handy is a quick and easy way to get the name of a calling method at runtime so it's guaranteed to be the correct name.

This is one thing I've wanted for quite some time, and for one reason or another I never spent the time to investigate how to access this until now.  It was surprisingly easy to setup and works very nicely by taking advantage of the System.Diagnostics.StackFrame class to determine the calling method.

Here's what I came up with.  You're welcome to copy and use this code in your own projects.

1:  // Use a stack frame to get the name of the method which called this method   
2:  public static string GetCallingMethodName ( bool includeClassName = true )  
3:  {  
4:      System.Diagnostics.StackFrame lastFrame = new System.Diagnostics.StackFrame(1);  
6:      // return ClassName.MethodName  
7:      if ( includeClassName == true )  
8:          return lastFrame.GetMethod().DeclaringType.Name + "." + lastFrame.GetMethod().Name;  
10:      // return just MethodName  
11:      return lastFrame.GetMethod().Name;  
12:  }  

I'm not sure what the performance penalty is for using this at a high frequency, so if anyone has insight into that I would love to hear it!