Interview with Will Shaw of Black Horizon Studios
Will Shaw’s passion is the weather. His first Unity project was a system for producing volumetric light effects. This inspired him to create the dynamic weather system, which is his main Asset Store product now. The Asset Store is a crucial distribution channel for UniStorm.
My creative passion didn’t materialize until I started using Unity. I first started using Unity in 2009, initially as a hobby which then turned into a profession. I went from Modeling, to programming in Java, to programming in C++, to Unity.
My first Unity product was a light effects system that used basic programming to produce 3D-looking volumetric light effects. It was this product that changed my perspective on game design and the direction I wanted to take. Programming has always fascinated me. Each project I have released and each programming course I have taken has increased my vision and my creativity.
Tell us about your products, their inspiration, why you decided to make them.
UniStorm is my main product, which is a dynamic day and night weather system. I have always been fascinated by weather, both real weather and simulated weather.
I wanted to create my own dynamic weather system for Unity that was efficient and had the quality that other AAA games had, but make it affordable so anyone who needed a weather system could buy it.
UniStorm features many weather types, including: clear, partly cloudy, mostly cloudy, foggy, rainy, and lightning and thunderstorms with heavy rain, all randomly generated, a 24 hour day and night system; an advanced in-game time system; sun, moon, and stars system; a moon phase system; sunrises and sunsets; light scattering; high-res cloud textures; adjustable sun angle, and many more.
What do you like about Unity?
There are a lot of great things about Unity; it’s an awesome engine with so many features and capabilities. Unity has excellent reference sites, making it easy to find anything you need to develop systems, or games. The engine’s graphics are powerful and look great, but its interface is simple and easy to use.
How did you hear about the Asset Store?
I remember the Asset Store had been around for about 4 months, and wasn’t nearly as big as it is today. I was selling on other sites without much success and another Unity member on the forums told me I should sell my products on the Asset Store. I thought I’d try it out and see how it went. The day my products were accepted on the Asset Store, I had sales, and the next day, and the next. I knew from this point on that the Asset Store was the place to be.
What role does the Asset Store play in your life as a middleware developer and game designer?
The Asset Store is great. It has given my products the exposure needed in order for me to be successful. The Asset Store allows me to have a job I enjoy in the game design industry.
Do you have any advice for developers who might use your tools?
The best way to understand UniStorm is to just use it. ” UniStorm is very advanced, but simple to use. The possibilities for UniStorm are really endless. You can adjust every component of the sky, clouds, weather, and lighting. Once you’ve looked through the documentation and used it in your projects, you’ll be using the tool like a pro.
What can Unity developers look towards in the future from your company?
There’s a lot to look forward to. I will be continuing to work with UniStorm and UniStorm Mobile, not to mention a couple new systems and tools to be released in the future. Buyers of the UniStorm systems should be happy to know that I am currently and will be continuing to work on improving and releasing new features with the two systems now and in the future. I use it myself for side projects, which allows me to discover ways to improve the system. I also listen to my customer’s suggestions, feedback, and feature requests.
UniStorm has an exciting future with version 1.6 just around the corner. UniStorm customers will see features such as seasonal weather, snow being the main feature for winter; dynamic snow; seasons (Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter); a random temperature generator differing in each season, controlling weather like snow or rain; and much more. UniStorm Mobile customers will also see a new version coming out soon with seasonal weather and seasons.
What is your vision for the future of creativity in game development?
With the advances in technology and with the availability of systems such as Unity, there is opportunity for individuals with or without computer science degrees to share their creativity and vision for game design. With game engines like Unity I see a bright and successful future for the indie gaming industry.