Unity Engine games developed with SpatialOS' cloud-based multiplayer Game Development Kit (GDK) are now in violation of Unity's terms of service, according to SpatialOS maker Improbable. The decision imperils the operation of many in-development game projects, including some that have already been released to the public.
Since its open beta release in 2017 (in partnership with Google), SpatialOS has allowed developers to easily integrate mass-scale multiplayer into their games by running a persistent version of the game in the cloud. But Improbable now says that a recent change in Unity's terms of service means the SpatialOS is essentially blocked from working with the Unity Engine.
The newly updated clause 2.4 of the Terms of Service now specifically excludes "managed service[s] running on cloud infrastructure" which "install or execute the Unity Runtime on the cloud or a remote server." Though the terms of service were changed on December 5, Improbable says Unity confirmed directly to them this week that the update "specifically disallow[s] services like Improbable’s to function with their engine. This was previously freely possible in their terms, as with other major engines."
Be interesting to see how this progresses. Is the marker for when the Unity Engine began to fall? Lumberyard would be something people could migrate too. i'm not 100% convinced 'cloud gaming' will make me stop buying a gaming computer, but having cloud based backends for MMO/Multiplayer games is a big deal
Builder Jacob Sadovich, who is probably best known to the LEGO community for his LEGO Ideas winning ship in a bottle project, has given us a very different, but equally impressive new model. At first glance it looks like a well built if fairly typical Classic Space star fighter, but look again and you’ll see it’s built to a much larger scale — a scale that allows him to pack in the details, from the clutch of wing mounted missiles, to the huge turbine intakes on each thruster.
Designed around the Technic LEGO figures from the late 1980s, this ship really is huge. Zoom into the front canopy and you can see Jacob’s modified pilot up close, replete with bespoke Classic Space uniform.
There are more surprises to be discovered when viewed from behind.
A rear mounted gun turret completes the military feel of this superb spaceship. Beautifully formed form an X pod, it pays homage to iconic World War 2 planes such as the Lancaster Bomber.
Pinball machines bring out the kid in all of us, hanging out in an arcade losing quarters and setting high scores. And the Classic Space era of LEGO sets appeals to so many of us who got our first LEGO sets back in the 70’s through 90’s. The Brothers Brick contributor Bre Burns hits it out of the nostalgia ballpark with a fully functional LEGO pinball machine called “Benny’s Spaceship Adventure.” She spent several months perfecting the design with over 15,000 LEGO bricks, including LEGO Mindstorms NXT programmable bricks to make sounds and count your high score.
Bre has kindly shared loads of details about her LEGO masterpiece, which stands over two and a half feet tall, exclusively with The Brothers Brick. Let’s pull back that ball launcher, flick those flippers, and learn more about this amazing LEGO creation!
But first, let’s take a look at the pinball machine in action as Bre shares its working features and tells us a little bit about the design process in our latest TBB video.
The complexity of creating a fully functional LEGO pinball machine is rather mind-boggling to those of us who work mostly with System bricks. What’s truly astounding is that Bre herself is new to Technic — Benny’s Spaceship Adventure is her first major LEGO Technic and Mindstorms project!
Bre tells us that the pinball machine incorporates three LEGO Mindstorms NXT “brain” bricks (one “mother” and two “subordinates”) connected to each other via Bluetooth. These NXT bricks control 9 NXT servo motors, 7 touch sensors, 2 color sensors, 2 light sensors, and 2 ultrasonic sensors.
In addition, the game includes 7 sets of LEGO PowerFunctions lights, at least 10 9-volt PowerFunctions single-bulb lights, a 9-volt double-bulb flashing light, 4 M motors, and 1 XL motor. Light-up features are further enhanced with a 9-volt fiber optics element.
The entire pinball machine can run on three or four PowerFunctions battery boxes, but can also be powered using an old 9-volt LEGO Trains speed regulator plugged into the wall.
Even the bouncing bumpers user LEGO rubber bands (more than 30), and the balls themselves are LEGO! Bre used several LEGO Mindstorms steel castor balls, of which one to four are on the table at any given point in time (depending on your luck and skill).
Bre tells us that she first came up with the idea for Benny’s Spaceship Adventure after Emerald City Comic-Con (ECCC) in March 2017, and spent the next few months building the first version, with a “mad dash” to finish it ahead of BrickCon in October. She unveiled the current version at this year’s ECCC in Seattle, just over a year after she began building. Overall, she spent between two hundred and three hundred hours to design, build, and program the pinball machine.
For those who played with Benny’s Spaceship Adventure at BrickCon last year, we asked Bre about the differences between the earlier version and the current version. How did the design and functionality improve? “At BrickCon, it wasn’t very functional due to programming bugs and limited strength in building connections that didn’t survive the drive to the Con,” Bre tells us. “At the time, removing the tabletop (or playfield) was the only way to get inside and fix things, which was really difficult.” But today, the machine includes lots of little doors and drawers to get inside and tweak or fix things, as well as much stronger connections to improve stability during gameplay and transportation for display.
Bre entered Benny’s Spaceship Adventure in a LEGO Technic contest called “Amazing Technic Machines,” and it’s no surprise to us that her amazing machine won! LEGO sent Bre several of the components she needed to finalize her creation, including the parts she used to build the movement feature with Benny’s Spaceship on top of the rear panel.
We asked Bre what she learned from displaying her final version at ECCC in March. “At ECC I realized,” she says, “That, like most real pinball pinball machines, leveling issues, realignments, and periodic breakdowns needed to be addressed, but I was able to achieve my goal of giving a couple hundred people the opportunity to play it.”
Resources, software, & tools
But before LEGO sent Bre a whole bunch of free brick, she had to gather most of the rest of the 15,000 parts. How did she do that? First, she planned sketched everything out on pen and paper to help estimate what she would need. Next, she turned to LEGO Digital Designer, but that turned out to be rather inefficient, “due to the need to see all the physics in action.” Nevertheless, she designed some of the side panel artwork digitally before she began sourcing various parts from the LEGO Store Pick-a-Brick wall (“at least 20-25 cups”), BrickLink, and eBay.
The mosaic parts were created by overlaying a digital LEGO grid, created by a computer program that Bre’s fiancée uses at work, onto images. The program was then used to place digital bricks into the images to get the right looks and part-counts. Printouts were used as blueprints.
We wondered how she managed the cost of purchasing multiple NXT bricks. “I began purchasing the robotic components on eBay,” she says,”And kept with NXT because I couldn’t afford multiple EV3s.” Bre then used the LEGO NXT-G software to program the bricks, learning as she built by watching LEGO Mindstorms tutorials on YouTube. Here’s a bit of the program Bre built to run her pinball machine.
This early version of a flow diagram illustrates just how complex the interactions are between the sensors and other input devices, the Mindstorms NXT “brain” bricks, and the various motors and other output components.
Challenges & obstacles
Bre set herself a particularly challenging goal — use only official LEGO products. What impact did that constraint have on the process? “No gluing, screwing, fabrication, or modification of any of the parts, including balls, rubber bands, and even the use of the LEGO NXT-G software instead of another programming platform.” We watched Bre build and rebuild her pinball machine during BrickCon and ECCC, and continue to be impressed with how committed she has been to this goal!
She also tried to build the table itself as close as possible to a 6.5-degree standard pinball grade.
How the heck do you move this from place to place without it falling to pieces?! “I get asked a lot about this,” Bre tells us. “The machine sits on a custom piece of plywood and is moved as a whole unit. It can technically be broken down by taking off the tabletop (which is actually two parts), and sliding the faceplate (the Classic Space logo) through the top. But leaving these in place actually holds it together better, so I don’t take them off during transport. Honestly, it doesn’t transport well, because bumps eventually throw things out of alignment.”
Ultimately, Bre was fighting with the limits of the plastic medium and the laws of physics, which both proved the most challenging obstacles as the table flew apart repeatedly, hammered by steel balls in motion. But she persevered over nearly 14 months, with help from her fiancée Jessie, who designed the little control room and the platform for Benny’s moving spaceship, among other things. But LEGO is a global community, and Bre was able to collaborate not just with local friends and LEGO builders like fellow SEALUG members, but also people far away like Steve Hassenplug, who built one of the earliest LEGO pinball machines.
What is Bre the proudest of? “LEGO is meant to be played with,” Bre says, “And I wanted this to be an inspiration to young builders, so getting people to play it and seeing kids’ faces light up made all the difficulties totally worth it.” Her pinball machine is a wonderful marriage of functionality and aesthetics, with wonderful mosaics on the case surrounding an incredibly complex mechanical interior.
And what did Bre learn from this marriage of System, Technic, and Mindstorms? “Combining these elements is easier than some may think,” she says, “And that really enhances the build. I had only really used System until this point and learned how to incorporate Technic and Mindstorms by teaching myself from scratch. If I could do it, anyone can. It’s meant for kids, after all!”
Our thanks to Bre for sharing so much great information about her amazing Technic machine! See more photos in the gallery below…
Special thanks to Geoff Vlcek Photography for the onsite photographs from Emerald City Comic-Con (photos used with kind permission of the photographer).
If you love Star Trek, roleplaying games, or our Star Trek Adventures RPG show Shield of Tomorrow (or all three), the latest announcement from Modiphius is sure to excite you. Wave 2 products for Star Trek Adventures, their Star Trek RPG is promising supplements and miniatures for fans to enhance their gaming experience.
To start off, Star Trek Adventures players and GMs will appreciate how the two new supplements, The Command Division Supplemental Rulebook and the Beta Quadrant Sourcebook expand the game and capture the universe more comprehensively.
The Command Division Supplemental Rulebook is packed full of information for players and GMs, with a focus on Starfleet Command and the Admiralty, as well as expanding Social Conflict rules. After all, being brought in front of a table of Admirals, and being slightly insubordinate to them, is as much a part of the universe as holodeck and transporter malfunctions. There are more talents for the Command and Conn Disciplines, as well as a list of departments related to Focuses. Moreover, there are new starships, including the NX class, Oberth class, Ambassador class, Nebula class, and the Steamrunner class. (Keep an eye out for our full breakdown of this supplement in our exclusive overview, coming soon.)
The Beta Quadrant Sourcebook provides a significant amount of historical information on the Federation and its planets in the Beta Quadrant, as well as the Klingon Empire, the Romulan Star Empire, The Gorn, and the Orion Syndicate. It will also offer players new alien species to choose from during character creation, from Benzites and Klingons, to Deltans, the Xindi, and Zakdorn. Additional NPC starships mean Gamemasters can bring more ships, such as the mighty Klingon Negh’Var battlecruiser or the Romulan Bird Of Prey from the 22nd century into their games.
Beyond the supplements, Modiphius is also releasing sets of miniatures. Whether you’re a player or collector, the sculpts are enticing and dynamic. The two 10-model sets are The Borg set and the Next Generation Away Team set – 32mm scale and cast in resin. The Next Generation Away Team set includes male and female figures of humans, Vulcans, Andorians, Tellarites, and Denobulans. The Borg set is comprised of 5 female and 5 male miniatures (though there are only a total of 6 unique sculpts in the set.) You can check out individual shots of the miniatures in the gallery below.
Following in the footsteps of T-Mobile and Verizon, AT&T today announced plans to debut a new unlimited data plan that's available to all of its postpaid customers. The unlimited plan will be available starting tomorrow.
AT&T previously offered an unlimited data plan, but it was limited to customers who were also DirecTV or U-Verse customers.
According to AT&T, the new plan will provide unlimited talk, text, and data on four lines for $180, which is more expensive than T-Mobile's ONE data plan for four customers and on par with Verizon's pricing, also at $180 for four lines. A single line is priced at $100.
AT&T is including unlimited calls from the U.S. to Canada and Mexico and unlimited texts to more than 120 countries around the world. Customers are also able to talk, text, and use data in Canada and Mexico with no roaming charges.
"We're offering unlimited entertainment on the nation's best data network where and when you want to enjoy more of what you love," said David Christopher, Chief Marketing Officer of the AT&T Entertainment Group.
AT&T's $180 price point is after a $40 credit for the fourth smartphone line, which will start after two billing periods. Prior to then, customers will need to pay $220 per month for the plan.
The company's fine print says that AT&T "may slow speeds" during periods of network congestion for customers who consume more than 22GB of data, which is not a surprise as T-Mobile and Verizon's plans contain similar caveats. The unlimited plan also includes the Stream Saver feature, which downgrades video to 480p. Stream Saver is enabled by default, but can be turned off online.
With AT&T now offering an unlimited plan for all of its customers, all of the major carriers in the United States have unlimited data plans available, which is impressive because for the last several years, carriers like AT&T and Verizon have been heavily focused on eliminating their unlimited customers.
Sprint and T-Mobile have offered unlimited data plans since August, and T-Mobile's growing popularity and regular feature additions at an affordable price appears to have inspired AT&T and Verizon to re-adopt unlimited plans.
Verizon announced its unlimited plan earlier this week with inclusions like 10GB of tethering data and HD video streaming, spurring T-Mobile to implement similar changes. With T-Mobile's new tethering offerings and higher-quality video streaming, it continues to offer the best value at $70 per month for a single subscriber (Verizon's plan is $80). Sprint's plan is priced at $55 per month, but its coverage can't compete with T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T, and AT&T's plan is the most expensive of the four at $100 for a single line.