Unity Book

Discount! Get 50% off this book (and everything else from O’Reilly!) using code CYBER15.

The first Early Release of our latest book is now available from O’Reilly: Mobile Game Development with Unity. We’re incredibly excited about this release; this is a book we’ve been dreaming of writing for many, many years, and we’ve finally had the chance to do so. Thanks to our amazingly patient editors, Rachel, who let us write this book, and Brian, who is making sure it’s as awesome as possible!Mobile Game Development with Unity

The new book covers game development with Unity, the increasingly-popular game development environment and game engine. We teach a little touch of game design, the fundamentals of Unity, and then we teach you how to build two full games: “Gnome’s Well”, a 2D game similar to Angry Birds, or Flappy Bird, and “Rock Fall”, a 3D space-asteroid shooting game.

The games built through the book are a lot of fun, and we’ve put a lot of thought into crafting games that are both representative of common, successful games in the mobile world, and contain enough interesting challenges for developers, artists, and the like, that they represent a valid real-world game development experience.

The first Early Release of the book contains early drafts of the chapters that explore the creation of both games, Gnome’s Well and Rock Fall, as well as a skeleton of the first chapter, which outlines the basics of Unity. The next Early Release, which we hope to have ready sometime in mid-December, will contain drafts of the Scripting chapter, and a completed draft of the first chapter.

We’re looking forward to seeing what people build after reading the book, and working through the games we teach in it. We’re really excited at the prospect of helping more people get into game development!

You can buy the Early Release over on the O’Reilly website. Buying it gets you all updates during the Early Release process, as well as the final copy of the book. If you have any questions, suggestions for things to add/cover, or find something unclear in the book, please don’t hesitate to email us: unitybook@secretlab.com.au. We’re so excited about this book, and can’t wait to improve it, finish it, and get more releases out for it!

Online Swift Training

This event has now passed! But there’ll be more in the future!

Online Swift TrainingSuper awesome! Next week we’ll be running live online Swift programming training through O’Reilly Media. You can learn more and sign up over on the O’Reilly Media site.

The gist of it is: you’ll join us live online for a day of Swift programming, where we’ll teach you the language, how to use it for iOS (or OS X) programming, and where to learn more. Everyone will get a video of the training afterwards, as well as an ebook copy of our brand new Learning Swift book.

OSCON in Amsterdam

OSCON in Amsterdam is coming up in a month or so, and I’m really, really looking forward to it. So much so, that I thought I’d write up some thoughts on why I enjoy going to OSCON.

Adding Europe (in addition to the USA –– Portland earlier this year, and Austin in May 2016) to the lineup is a big move for OSCON (it’s been in Europe before, but it didn’t run every year afterwards). This year, at OSCON in Portland, which ran in July, the tracks of the conference changed for the first time in a long time.

Previously, the conference was designed around mostly-languaged based tracks, and was essentially a collection of disparate conferences for different clusters of nerds. It was great, but it wasn’t how the community worked, or how nerds-in-the-real-world work any more.

19271143484_d4febe58c1_zIn July, OSCON in Portland was structured around the idea that open-source and the software, tools, and languages (that OSCON has always been about) are actually everywhere, being used by everyone. The tracks got updated to reflect more tangible, practical things, that might span languages and nerd-clusters.

The result of this is that OSCON (in Portland, earlier this year, in Amsterdam next month, and in Austin next year) has tracks relating to things like security, and privacyscaling, devices, mobility,  architecture, design, and other real-life, more pragmatic concepts. This is a really good thing. Not only does it mean that you meet lots and lots of people, who –– shock horror! –– might use, espouse, and prefer different languages, tools, and frameworks than you, but it also means the conference works like the real-world does: security topics for one language are not unique to that language, performance at scale on the web isn’t unique to one backend stack, and good, sensible mobile app design isn’t unique to one mobile platform (to name but three examples).

I really enjoyed OSCON in Portland this year, and the new track structure contributed to that in no small way. OSCON in Amsterdam follows a similar philosophy, so I’m expecting it to be pretty excellent.

Another of the big reasons that OSCON is special is the way it connects the people using, building, and working with new, amazing, important, and often just plain interesting software (and hardware!) with the companies who rely on this software, teach this software, or otherwise participate in the community.

This mountain is in Portland, but Austin and Amsterdam look just as cool as this.

This mountain is in Portland, but Austin and Amsterdam look just as cool.

Companies often have a bad reputation at big conferences, especially corporate conferences like OSCON that are not directly run by the community –– but OSCON does a good job, with very few exceptions, of making sure your interactions with the companies sponsoring and attending the event are very much on your own terms.

OSCON represents such a valuable intersection between the community-run events, which are often still clustered by language, or technology (despite their deep wish that they were all polyglot events), and the actual real world that’s using all this technology –– which, like it or not, is mostly companies –– and it does a damn fine job of it. This role as a meeting point for community and enterprise is a very underrated (and little-discussed) aspect of OSCON, and is one of the core reasons why it’s one of the only two conferences that I go back to every single year.

I have very little to do with anything beyond building games, and designing mobile apps (i.e. I’m not inOSCON dev-ops, I don’t do any important software engineering or architecture –– I make games!, and I don’t know what a container-at-scale is, and I definitely don’t have a foundation), but every year I get a lot of out OSCON –– every year I’ve learnt mind-blowing things about everything from tiny satellites, to the way Facebook designs and runs their data-centres, to building an exobrain*, to the way Netflix’s distributed backend is architected, to how I can build my own functional mo
bile phone, to the latest JavaScript frameworks that I know I will be avoiding, and literally everything in between.

Every year I learn things that are incredibly interesting, inspiring, or just plain or exciting, as well as things that directly improve my ability to be better at what I do every day. I also meet amazing people, and make new friends every year. I’ve also personally given talks on everything ranging from programming with Apple’s Swift language, to game design, to Kerbal Space Program.

OSCONI first went to OSCON in 2011. Some friends and colleagues and I, randomly on a whim, submitted a session on design best practices for mobile apps. It got accepted, much to our surprise, and we made our way to Portland. We’ve been presenting on mobile design at OSCON ever since. OSCON is an amazing amount of fun, and I can’t wait for Amsterdam (and Austin!)

Anyway, this whole post is a roundabout way of saying that you should  come and see me speak about Swift programming next month!

*video not from OSCON, but it’s the same talk I saw at OSCON.

(My publisher, O’Reilly Media, also runs OSCON, so you probably can’t trust a word I say. But really, OSCON is pretty amazing, and this is just my blog post, and my words, so you should probably check out OSCON!)

TasJam Game Jam

Over the weekend we participated on the first TasJam Game Jam. TasJam is a statewide game jam event, held simultaneously in Hobart, Launceston, and Burnie, and was organised by the Tasmanian Game Development Society.

TasJam 2015

The weekend was absolutely fantastic, and the organisers did a brilliant job of running the jam, and the mentors/judges who came down from Melbourne –– Kamina (from Tin Man Games), Lauren, and Katie (both from Lumi Consulting) –– were all really insightful, and such a positive presence at the jam. It was a great environment to get things done in, and there was a lot of great feedback and ideas shared amongst participants.

Game from TasJam 2015 by Secret Lab

Jon and I spent our time repurposing assets from one of the games we’re building at Secret Lab –– Gnome’s Well –– and building a single-stick multiplayer shooter game. The game involves wizard hats waking up to prevent the the wizard’s treasure from being stolen by invading gnomes using drone-copters. We think it’s pretty fun, and it came out really well for such a short build.

It was a great opportunity for us to learn how to use game controllers, which are not something that we’ve ever used before! We were also super-impressed when we rebuilt the game (which we built using Unity) for iOS, and it ran flawlessly on an iPad Air 2 using MFi game controllers.

Game from TasJam 2015 by Secret Lab

You can find more pictures, as well as videos and photos on the Secret Lab Tumblr. I also took a lot of photos at the event, and you can find those on my Flickr. TasJam used itch.io for submissions, so don’t forget to check out all the awesome games there.

You can download our prototype if you have a Mac and some PS3/PS4 controllers to pair to it, as well! Thanks to Jason and Ducky for organising such an awesome event!

GovHack 2015 Wins!

Question Time from GovHack 2015 –– art by Rex SmealThe (Inter)national GovHack 2015 Red Carpet awards were held in Sydney last night! The game –– Question Time –– that I created together with Jon, Tim, Josh, Arabella, Rex, and Sebastian, won a few awards! They are:

  • 1st Place for Best Open Government Data Hack (sponsored by the Department of Finance and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare)
  • 2nd Place for Best Entrepreneurial Hack (sponsored by Telstra and the Department of Industry)

Locally, in the Tasmanian prizes, we won:

  • the Design Excellence award, for the most usable, complete and appealing designed hack;
  • and the Most Disruptive award!

The hard work of everyone on the team really pulled off! Every year I participate in GovHack, the quality improves, and the team work really makes it come together beautifully.

The full list of winners, international, national, and local, is on the GovHack website. Thanks to everyone who organises, hosts, sponsors, and participates in GovHack. It’s a huge amount of fun! This was the third time I participated, and it definitely won’t be my last.

New books! Next conference!


Following our return to Australia after OSCON, I have slept for a bit, and started work on what’s next! We’re hard at work in the lab, where we narrowly missed the snow, on the following…


We’re working on a whole collection of books for O’Reilly Media:

  • updating Swift Development for the Apple Watch for watchOS 2.0/iOS 9
  • writing Mobile Game Development with Unity
  • finishing up The Kerbal Book on Kerbal Space Program
  • writing a brand new book about programming with Swift 2.0!


We head to Melbourne in the next few weeks, to run and speak at the /dev/world/2015 –– tickets are still available! It’s a great iOS and OS X developer conference!

After that we speak at Museums and the Web in Melbourne, in early October, presenting our popular How Do I Game Design? workshop. Then, immediately after, we fly to Amsterdam, to attend OSCON in Amsterdam, where we’re talking about Swift (like we did at OSCON in Portland). We can’t wait!


We’re hard at work on Button Squid and Gnome’s Well That Ends Well, and we’ll have a further update later in the year!

OSCON 2015

UPDATE: OSCON 2015 in Portland has come and gone! All the material from my talks, as well as a few others, is up on the Secret Lab blog.

Hello! I, once again, find myself in Portland, Oregon, to speak at O’Reilly’s fantastic OSCON conference.

I’m involved in a bunch of different things this year:

Come and find me if you’re at the conference!