5 Aug 31 • iPhone XR vs. iPhone 8 Plus: Which iPhone should you buy? Sarah Tew/CNET The end came quietly, slipped in with a series of back-to-school announcements about better screens and lower prices for the MacBook Air, and, uh, more Touch Bars for the MacBook Pro. No formal announcement was made in the jargon-filled press release letting us know that the entry-level Pro now features “Touch Bar and Touch ID, a True Tone Retina display and the Apple T2 Security Chip,” but a quick check online confirmed that the 12-inch MacBook had been removed from Apple’s website. And the 12-inch MacBook wasn’t alone in going to the big upstate farm where old computers allegedly roam, with free Wi-Fi and plenty of power outlets. The “classic” MacBook Air and the Touch-Bar-less MacBook Pro also exited active duty. But those are easier to let go of. The former was so outdated as to be hard to recommend, the latter is getting the higher-end features of its more-expensive cousin while keeping the same price. I’ll come right out and say it. The 12-inch MacBook was an unfairly maligned, misunderstood product. In fact, at several points since its 2015 debut, it’s been my favorite laptop. Insanely portable, very light, great 12-inch display, and a sharp look that turned coffee shop heads back when smaller-screen laptops were mostly low-end junk. In 2016, I proudly declared it “my favorite laptop” and “my top go-to machine.” I even wrote most of a 75,000-word book on its super-shallow keyboard. But I also acknowledged why a lot of people just didn’t “get” the 12-inch MacBook. “The knocks against this system — an odd-man-out, not part of either the Air or Pro MacBook lines — were numerous. Its screen was too small; the keyboard too shallow; not enough ports; no MagSafe power connection; underpowered, even compared to the base MacBook Air; and battery life that didn’t measure up to the MacBook standard.”I also said, “The 12-inch MacBook won’t do everything and isn’t for everyone. But its strictly enforced minimalism will make this laptop the model that industrial designers will strive to copy for the next several years.” And that has certainly come to pass. USB-C as the go-to standard? Check. Butterfly keyboard on every MacBook? Check (although who knows for how much longer). Higher-res, Retina-style screens as table stakes for premium laptops? Check.I recall people tearing their hair out over the single USB-C port in the first 12-inch MacBook. No USB-A, no HDMI — how could anyone use a laptop like that? Now, many super-premium 13-inch laptops have at best a couple of USB-C ports and little else. Just one port. Sarah Tew/CNET It reminds me of when Apple led the way dropping things like Ethernet jacks and optical drives from computers. The company was just a little ahead of the curve about what features were on their way out. The 12-inch MacBook didn’t physically connect to anything because many modern laptops don’t need to physically connect to anything. Between Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and cloud-connected services, I can’t recall the last time I had to plug something into a travel laptop. I was excited to get a USB memory key with dual USB-A and USB-C ports several months ago. Still haven’t taken it out of the package. If it was so great, then what killed the 12-inch MacBook? The culprit was the very system the it was originally supposed to replace. The 13-inch MacBook Air, for many years the single most universally useful laptop you could buy (and a staple for students and office workers alike), had fallen into the phantom zone where Apple sticks products that stagnate with minimal, if any, updates for years on end. But last year, the Air finally got the top-to-bottom makeover it needed and became a sales leader, leaving few reasons beyond slightly better portability to choose the 12-inch model instead. Call it natural selection or survival of the fittest, but it’s the law of the gadget jungle. And before I get too morose over the death of the 12-inch MacBook, I should remember that I’m writing this on — you guessed it — an excellent new 13-inch MacBook Air. Aug 31 • Verizon vs AT&T vs T-Mobile vs Sprint: Choose the best 5G carrier Share your voice Aug 31 • Your phone screen is gross. Here’s how to clean it Apple • Apple Tags Computers Laptops Comments See All reading • RIP 12-inch Apple MacBook, my misunderstood friend Aug 31 • iPhone 11, Apple Watch 5 and more: The final rumors
Yann Martel, the Canadian author of the Man Booker Prize-winning ‘Life of Pi’, finds India diverse, dazzling and a place with a great tradition of storytelling and says the country may very well be the backdrop of one of his future novels. Martel, who first travelled to the Indian sub-continent in 1996 with two little-known books against his name, talked about how the country altered his perceptions about faith and deeply inspired him to use the “animal symbolism” in his writings. Also Read – Add new books to your shelf”India is so diverse, alive, varied and true to itself. It is so colourful and lively that it was literally quiet shocking for me when I first came here. You go to other countries… they are beautiful in a more sedate way. There is nothing sedate about India,” he said. “Maybe I would use India as a backdrop of my story. That would depend on my coming back here again. I still haven’t seen much of the country yet. May be I will read the Ramayana one day and feel that I have got to write this book on India,” added Martel. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsive”There is tremendous tradition of story-telling in India, both among the native Indians and the city dwellers. Even foreign writers have come to India and written novels on this country. So definitely there is something extremely stimulating about India,” he noted. The author, whose revered novel ‘Life of Pi’ sold over 13 million copies around the world and was transformed into an Academy Award winning film by Ang Lee in 2012, said his visit to the sub-continent helped him embark upon a new journey as a writer. “For me India was the country of all the Gods and all the animals. I come from a country like Canada which does not have many Gods as it is mostly a secular country. Also there are not a lot of animals in the public places,” Martel said, adding that he was taken aback by the presence of animals in Hindu mythology. “It made me look into two things that I never really considered much in life, religion and animals. “It inspired me to use the animal symbolizing the divine. In my earlier novels animals were just minor characters. But during …Pi, I realised that animals can be really strong characters. We seem to confine animals to the world of children’s literature but to me their symbolic potential to me is infinite. They act as a rich vehicle for a story teller,” he explained. The author, however, said he has no plans to write screenplays despite the massive success of the Life of Pi as a film. “I like writing novels. Writing screenplays are a small part of something bigger, whereas writing novel is a thing in itself,” he said.
Imagine a watch without a watch face to indicate the time. An interface provides important information to us, such as time, so that we can make informed decisions. For example, whether we have enough time to get ice cream before the movie starts. When it comes to games, the User Interface (UI) plays a vital role in how information is conveyed to a player during gameplay. The implementation of a UI is one of the main ways to exchange information with the player about moment-to-moment interactions and their consequences (for example, taking damage). However, UIs are not just about the exchange of information, they are also about how information is provided to a player and when. This can range from the subtle glow of a health bar as it depletes, to dirt covering the screen as you drive a high-speed vehicle through the desert. There are four main ways that UIs are provided to players within a game, which we will discuss shortly. The purpose of this article is to prime you with the fundamentals of UIs so that you not only know how to implement them within Unity but also how they relate to a player’s experience. Toward the end, we will see how Unity handles UIs, and we will implement a UI for our first game. In fact, we will insert a scoring system as well as a Game Over Screen. There will be some additional considerations that you can experiment with in terms of adding additional UI elements that you can try implementing on your own. This article is a part of the book titled “Unity 2017 2D Game Development Projects” written by Lauren S. Ferro & Francesco Sapio. Designing the user interface Think about reading a book, is the text or images in the center of the page, where is the page number located, and are the pages numbered consecutively? Typically, such things are pretty straightforward and follow conventions. Therefore, to some extent, we begin to expect things to be the same, especially if they are located in the same place, such as page numbers or even the next button. In the context of games, players also expect the same kinds of interactions, not only with gameplay but also with other on-screen elements, such as the UI. For example, if most games show health in a rectangular bar or with hearts, then that’s something that players will be looking for when they want to know whether or not they are in danger. The design of a UI needs to consider a number of things. For example, the limitations of the platform that you are designing for, such as screen size, and the types of interaction that it can afford (does it use touch input or a mouse pointer?). Physiological reactions that the interface might give to the player need to be considered since they will be the final consumer. In fact, another thing to keep in mind is that some people read from right to left in their native languages, and the UI should reflect this as well. Players or users of applications are used to certain conventions and formats. For example, a house icon usually indicates home or the main screen, an email icon usually indicates contact, and an arrow pointing to the right usually indicates that it will continue to the next item in the list or the next question, and so on. Therefore, to improve ease of use and navigation, it is ideal to stick to these or to at least to keep these in mind during the design process. In addition to this, how the user navigates through the application is important. If there is only one way to get from the home screen to an option, and it’s via a lot of screens, the whole experience is going to be tiresome. Therefore, make sure that you create navigation maps early on to determine the route for each part of the experience. If a user has to navigate through six screens before they can reach a certain page, then they won’t be doing it for very long! In saying all of this, don’t let the design overtake the practicality of the user’s experience. For example, you may have a beautiful UI but if it makes it really hard to play the game or it causes too much confusion, then it is pretty much useless. Particularly during fast-paced gameplay, you don’t want the player to have to sift through 20 different on-screen elements to find what they are looking for. You want the level mastery to be focused on the gameplay rather than understanding the UI. Another way to limit the number of UI elements presented to the player (at any one time) is to have sliding windows or pop-up windows that have other UI elements present. For example, if your player has the option to unlock many different types of ability but can only use one or two of them at any single moment during gameplay, there is no point in displaying them all. Therefore, having a UI element for them to click that then displays all of the other abilities, which they can swap for the existing ones, is one way to minimize the UI design. Of course, you don’t want to have multiple pop-up windows, otherwise, it becomes a quest in itself to change in-game settings. Programming the user interface As we have seen in the previous section, designing the UI can be tough and requires experience to get into, especially if you take into consideration all the elements you should, such as the psychology of your audience. However, this is just halfway through. In fact, designing is one thing; making it work is another. Usually, in large teams, there are artists who design the UI and programmers who implement it, based on the artists’ graphics. Is UI programming that different? Well, the answer is no, programming is still programming; however, it’s quite an interesting branch of the field of programming. If you are building your game engine from scratch, implementing an entire system that handles input is not something you can create with just a couple of hours of work. Catching all the events that the player performs in the game and in the UI is not easy to implement, and requires a lot of practice. Luckily, in the context of Unity, most of this backend for UIs is already done. Unity also provides a solid framework on the frontend for UIs. This framework includes different components that can be easily used without knowing anything about programming. But if we are really interested in unlocking the potential of the Unity framework for UIs, we need to both understand and program within it. Even with a solid framework, such as the one in Unity, UI programming still needs to take into consideration many factors, enough to have a specific role for this in large teams. Achieving exactly what designers have in mind, and is possible without impacting the performance of the game too much, is most of the job of a UI programmer (at least using Unity). Four types of UI Before, moving on, I just want to point out a technical term about UIs, since it also appears in the official documentation of Unity. Some UIs are not fixed on the screen, but actually, have a physical space within the game environment. In saying this, the four types of interfaces are diegetic, non-diegetic, meta, and spatial. Each of these has its own specific use and effect when it comes to the player’s experience and some are implicit (for example, static graphics) while others are explicit (blood and dirt on the screen). However, these types can be intermixed to create some interesting interfaces and player experiences. For Angel Cakes, we will implement a simple non-diegetic UI, which will show all of the information the player needs to play the game. Diegetic Diegetic UIs differ from to non-diegetic UIs because they exist in the game world instead of being on top of it and/or completely removed from the game’s fiction. Diegetic UIs within the game world can be seen and heard by other players. Some examples of diegetic UI include the screens on computers, ticking clocks, remaining ammunition, and countdowns. To illustrate this, if you have a look at the following image from the Tribes Ascend game, you can see the amount of ammunition remaining: Non-diegetic Non-diegetic interfaces are ones that are rendered outside of the game world and are only visible to the player. They are your typical game UIs that overlay on top of the game. They are completely removed from the game’s fiction. Some common uses of non-diegetic UIs can represent health and mana via a colored bar. Non-diegetic UIs are normally represented in 2D, like in the following screenshot of Star Trek Online: Spatial Spatial UI elements are physically presented in the game’s space. These types of UIs may or not may be visible to the other players within the game space. This is something that is particularly featured in Virtual Reality ( VR) experiences. Spatial UIs are effective when you want to guide players through a level or to indicate points of interest. The following example is from Army of Two. On the ground, you can see arrows directing the player where to go next. You can find out more about implementing Spatial UIs, like the one in the following screenshot, in Unity by visiting the link to the official documentation at: Meta Lastly, Meta UIs can exist in the game world but aren’t necessarily visualized like they would be as Spatial UIs. This means that they may not be represented within the 3D Space. In most cases, Meta UIs represent an effect of various actions such as getting shot or requiring more oxygen. As you can see in the following image of Metro 2033, when the player is in an area that is not suitable for them, the view through the mask begins to get hazy. When they get shot or engage in combat, their mask also receives damage. You can see this through the cracks that appear on the edges of the mask: To summarize, we saw the importance of UI in game development and what are the different types of UI available. To know more, check out this book Unity 2017 2D Game Development Projects written by Lauren S. Ferro & Francesco Sapio. Read Next: Google Cloud collaborates with Unity 3D; a connected gaming experience is here! Working with Unity Variables to script powerful Unity 2017 games How to use arrays, lists, and dictionaries in Unity for 3D game development