Operating System

Game Programming with Unity3D

Game Development? Where do I start?

First, let me give you the bad news: in order to make a decent game, you have to be a strong programmer. Now for the good news: in order to be a strong programmer, you need to make a game. Everyone has to start somewhere in game development and I recommend starting with a free program called Unity, a powerful cross-platform 3D engine. Unity is not only limited to creating 3D games, but it is also a great program to use to make 2D games as well. The interface and Unity projects might be overwhelming at first glance; however, in reality, learning Unity is no harder than learning ImpactJS or Phaser. Unity already has many tools that make it user-friendly and easy to understand: even for non-programmers. In fact, there are many online tutorials to follow and duplicate. You can find easy to read and short tutorials at the following link:


Screenshot of my first Unity project

What Else Does Unity3D Offer Outside of Programming? Intro to Assets

In order to import visual aesthetics into your game, you would need to use other resources, besides code. This is where building a team makes it easier to obtain different resources faster, so you can start implementing the game’s functionality. Some resources include 3D models, textures, materials, audio, fonts, sprites, etc. Besides basic 3D objects, such as spheres and cubes, Unity cannot create these assets. There are 3D models, characters, textures, sound effects, music, tools, and even scripts for purchase or download on the Unity Asset store; some downloads are even free! To make your own assets, you could use third party programs, such as:

  • Maya1, 3D Studio Max2, “FilmBox SDK3, and Blender4 to create 3D models, textures, and materials
  • Adobe Photoshop5*, Adobe Illustrator6*, and GIMP7 to make 2D art (Unity suppots PNG, JPEG, TIFF and even layered PSD files directly from Photoshop)
  • Audicity8 and Adobe Audition9* to produce audio, etc.(Unity supports WAV and AIF, ideal for sound effects, and MP3 and OGG for music.

Free 3 year student license for 1 and 2

FilmBox SDK (3) can be used with autodesk’s 3D software and other third party software. 

Free AND open source software are 4, 7, and 8.

The Adobe programs listed (5, 6, and 9*) are discounted through Adobe Campus Agreement for eligible UMass members



What Are Scenes?

Once you have your assets, how do you implement them into your game? Scenes are where you could import your project assets and arrange them to make levels and game screens. On the right, there will be a Hierarchy panel, in which you can order your scenes. In the Project panel, you can create and maintain your assets so you can put them into your scenes.

… So What’s the Programming Bit? Scripting!

Finally, we have our static 3D models, materials, and textures; however, now we need them to have behaviors in order to make the game playable. Unity supports three different types of programming languages: C#, JavaScript and Boo (Boo is similar to Python). You can use whichever programming language you are most comfortable with. To create a new script, such as a C# script, you will need to follow the following steps:

  1. Click Assets > Create > New C# Script
  2. Rename the new script in the Project panel to PlayerScript
  3. Double click the script to open it in MonoDevelop

The default script should look something like this:

using UnityEngine;
using System.Collections;
public class PlayerScript : MonoBehaviour {
        // Use this for initialization
        void Start () {
        // Update is called once per frame
        void Update () {
Every script has a start() and update() method. The start() method runs once the object, which the script is attached to, is created. The update() method runs once per frame. The scripts would need to check every frame if a variable has been changed or if buttons have been pressed.

I’m Ready To Start Making Games With Other People! Where Do I Go?

You can start programming anywhere, at any time. Some places where you could practice your skills with partners, or with new faces, are at hackathons, game jams, or similar events such as QuackHack and Global Game Jam. Major League Hacking, MLH, also hosts many hackathons across the entire United States, and also in Europe.










Now that you know how the basics of Unity3D, you can start following tutorials and create the games you’ve always dreamed of making! Make sure to check out these resources listed below


Unity API for Script Templates:




Google Apps

Organize your Gmail with filters

If you are an undergraduate at UMass Amherst, you have a Google Apps account for your student email. And, if you’re anything like me, sometimes your inbox can get a little cluttered from different classes and announcements.

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If you find yourself wishing to keep all of your emails but don’t need to see all of these mass emails every time they pop up, a Gmail filter might be of interest to you.

To see the options for Gmail filters, start by navigating to Settings and then click the “Filters and Blocked Addresses” tab.

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Click “Create a new filter”.

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You will now see a few options for what your filter can be based on. For example, you can filter emails “From” a particular person or mailing list, you could filter emails with a certain keyword in the subject, or you could filter emails based on having or not having certain keywords.

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Once you’ve selected what types of emails you want to filter, click “Create filter with this search” and you will be presented with options of what to do with those filtered messages.

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Like the previous step in choosing what to filter, these options are basically up to you depending on what you want to do. Personally, I find it convenient to use the “Skip the inbox” and “Apply the label” options. The drop down will let you create new labels, with my example screenshot having a label named “homework”. This way, you aren’t deleting emails but won’t see them in your inbox until you click on the label you applied them to. In the following example, I created a filter for emails from Doodle which causes them to skip the inbox and go under the label “doodlemail”.

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Now my regular inbox won’t be flooded with notifications every time someone replies to my Doodle poll, and I can check it whenever I want. However, this is only one example of what you can create with the different filtering options. Maybe you want to star every email from career services, or make sure certain newsletters never get sent to spam. The choice is yours, and the power of filtering options will allow you to keep your inbox as organized as you’d like it to be.

Security Web

The Web’s Move to SSL

These days, there is a lot of talk about cyber security, secure web browsing and tips to keep your information safe. One of the best ways to do this is to stick to websites that use an encrypted connection. Browsing completely secure can only truly be accomplished through websites using something call SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer. This allows an encrypted connection to be established between the web browser that you’re using, and the website you’re accessing. This kind of connection is usually indicated by a green lock and HTTPS in the URL bar of your web browser.


A note about URLs starting in https: a green https is good; a red https, usually precluded by a warning that the certificate shouldn’t be trusted, is questionable at best. The way that ssl ensures a secure connection is by installing a certificate in your browser that is signed by a trusted entity, such as VeriSign. When this occurs, you’ll access the page and the lock and HTTPS will be green as shown above. However, anyone can create certificates, and if they aren’t signed by a trusted entity, your browser will warn you.


This doesn’t mean that your connection isn’t encrypted, it still is and no one will be able to see your information in between your computer and the website’s server. What it does mean, is that the person or company who owns the website isn’t necessarily to be trusted.

In April, about 1/3 of all web traffic was encrypted, in large part due to Google, Facebook and Twitter. With Netflix planning to make the switch to HTTPS, some research indicates that this could jump to as much as 2/3 of all web traffic by the end of the year. On the subject of Facebook and Twitter, though, is yet another type of encryption that further secures your data: end-to-end encryption.

This mostly relates to private messaging between you and someone else. Examples include email, Facebook or Twitter messages or even text messages. End-to-end encryption allows all your data to be encrypted not between you and the website you’re using, but between you and the person you’re messaging. This ensures that Facebook or Twitter or Google, etc. can’t see your private messages. While this advanced privacy tool isn’t yet available for most services, there are browser extensions and add-ons that can provide this for you. As far as texting and even phone calls go there are a number of apps available for both iOS and Android that are designed to provide private communication.

So while truly secure internet access isn’t inherently provided with an internet connection, it is relatively easy to secure your web activity by making sure that your data is encrypted. This could be through secure sites, browser add-ons, or mobile applications, but whichever method(s) you use can go a long way in ensuring your data stays private.


TN or IPS Monitors? What’s the Difference?

Whether you just want to project your laptop screen onto a bigger monitor, or you’re buying a new monitor for your desktop, the search for a monitor, like any other component, is riddled with tech jargon that is often difficult to understand. This article is designed to give buyers a quick guide about the differences between TN and IPS, the two main monitor types of today’s world.

A Little Background on Monitors

Back in the not so distant past, CRT, or Cathode Ray Tube, was the standard monitor type. CRTs got information in an analog format along the cable. The cathode, or electron gun, sits at the back of the monitor’s tapered back and fires electrons corresponding to the signal received from the cable. Closer towards the screen is a set of anodes, that direct the electron to the RGB layer of the actual screen, via part of the signal from the cable. While these monitors were state of the art once upon a time, they don’t really have much of a place in today’s world with the invention of LCD screens, which have become the standard for today’s monitors.

LCD, Liquid Crystal Displays, don’t suffer from the same drawbacks as CRTs. For one, they use far less power. Also, CRTs tend to be harsher to stare at, and lack customization options in terms of brightness controls to the degree that modern monitors do. Additionally, LCDs are much more clear than CRTs, allowing for a more accurate image to be displayed. Modern LCD monitors work by having a two layer system of LED lights and LCD screen. The LED lights are referred to as a “backlight” and cause the image to be projected more clearly than the otherwise fairly dark LCD. The LCD layer, then, is in charge of color production, and the actual recreation of the image. LCD monitors are digital now, via such connections as HDMI or DisplayPort, and therefore can transmit data faster.

Now that we know a little about monitor history, let’s move on to the difference between TN panels and IPS panels.

TN Panels

TN, or Twisted Nematic panels, use a ‘nematic’ kind of liquid crystal to rotate and pass light through, corresponding to the signal transmitted. The main advantage of TN panels is speed. TN panels take advantage of something called an “active 3D shutter” which in essence allows them to display up to twice as much information as other types of panels. Additionally, the response time of TN panels is much quicker than IPS, though it is possible to find faster IPS panels. The delay in response time for a TN panel is roughly 2ms (milliseconds) however they can go as low as 1ms. Another benefit of TN panels is that they are generally cheaper than their IPS equivalent. This fast response time, and cheap factor, make these monitors quite popular in the gaming community, as well as the general consumer market, as gamers will experience less delay time when rendering an image. Additionally, TN panels allow for a higher refresh rate, going as high as 144Hz – though once again, it is possible to get IPS monitors with similar specs, just for a more money.

The major downside of TN panels is that they lack 100% accurate color reproduction. If you’re browsing Facebook, it’s not very important. However, if you’re doing color sensitive work perhaps for a movie or a photo edit, then TN panels may not be the right monitor for you.

IPS Panels

The main difference between IPS, In-plane Switching,  and TN panels, as touched on above, are price and color reproduction. IPS monitors are generally preferred by those in the professional rendering industry, as they more accurately portray colors of images. The downside, however, is that they are more expensive, though it is quite possible to find affordable IPS monitors for price ranges from $150 all the way up to thousands of dollars.

IPS monitors work by having a parallel instead of perpendicular array of pixels, which in addition to allowing for better color reproduction has the benefit of excellent viewing angles, while TN panels can often discolor if viewed from any relatively extreme angle. In essence, IPS panels were designed to address the flaws with TN panels, and therefore are preferred by many, from the average consumer to the professional editor.

Don’t let the benefits of IPS panels ruin your opinion of TN panels, though, for TN panels are still fantastic for certain situations. If you’re just sitting in one place in front of your computer, and absolutely perfect color reproduction isn’t really important to you, then TN is the way to go, especially if you’re trying to save a little on your monitor purchase.


To summarize, TN panels have a better response time, as well as a cheaper price tag, while IPS panels have better viewing angles and color reproduction for a little extra cash. Whatever your choice of type, there are a plethora of excellent monitors for sale across the internet, in an immense variety of sizes and resolutions.