Capstone Blog Series #3: Stuck in the Middle

Screenshot of the PlasticSCM home screen

Originally posted to on May 5, 2023

Hello again! In my last post for this series I discussed Unity, the primary tool that my group is using to complete our project. Today I’d like to talk a little bit about my experience with some of the other tools we’ve been using this term, and provide a little update on how things are going on my part of the project.

We have been using Asana for project management and overall I’d say it’s going well. Not only does it help keep us on track week to week, but it also provides a convenient record of what we’ve accomplished for our progress reports and check-in surveys. As I indicated in my last post we are using Unity DevOps for version control and that seems to be working out too, although it was definitely a rough start. It appears that Linux users like me actually still have to use PlasticSCM, which to my understanding was replaced by Unity DevOps. Unity also only provides repositories for certain Linux operating systems, they don’t provide standalone packages, and they don’t make generic binaries publicly available. Naturally my operating system wasn’t on the list, and because they don’t allow customers to download and install manually it appeared I was stuck. As an aside, you may also recall that in my last post I expressed some concerns about non-free software being a roadblock. This was definitely one of those times. I certainly wasn’t going to wipe my entire operating system so I toyed with the idea of spinning up a virtual machine with a supported OS, but that seemed extremely tedious. Thanks to a bit of digging in the Unity forums, I was able to find URLs to older binaries on one of their AWS servers. I replaced the version numbers with the current version and was able to obtain archives for the command line version and GUI. Installation from that point forward was simple, all I really had to do was unpack the archives, move the files, and run the provided script. While it worked out in the end it could have been much simpler, and I hope that Unity improves their Linux packaging in the future.

Moving on to my contribution to the project, I have had the strangest feeling this term that I am always behind and I can’t quite put my finger on why that would be. My team continues to meet our goals every week, including my portion, yet if I’m being honest I find myself wondering if I could do more. I think part of it is that game development is an entirely new experience for me. Not only have I had to familiarize myself with the Unity Editor, an extremely complex piece of software, I’m learning a new version control system, and this is also my first exposure to C#. I’ve spent so much more time preparing than anything else I suppose it just feels as though I haven’t done much real work yet. At times like this I often have to pause to remind myself that preparation is important. It’s entirely possible I’ll have to catch up a little bit in the second half of the quarter to compensate for getting my bearings in the first half. At the same time, it would have been absurd for me to expect that I could just install Unity and make a great game right from the start. I’m sure once we’re past the Midpoint Archive assignment I’ll feel less immediate pressure, so I think for now the best thing I can do is keep working towards that midpoint goal to demonstrate to myself that I actually have made a lot of progress these last few weeks.