Eastshade is an interactive experience that is primarily concerned with being a world worth exploring for the sake of exploring. There are no enemies to kill, no dialogue dramas between acted characters to play out, and no towns to build. There is a world with sights to see, sounds to hear, people to meet (hopefully), things to find, and impasses to surmount.

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2 comments by DannyWeinbaum on Sep 3rd, 2014

The availability of amazing tools is helping us all make better games. At the moment, I’m mostly a one person team, but I’m not truly making a game by myself. If I make a fantasy cavern scene in Cryengine, to whom do I owe its beauty? My skills as an artist? The millions of man-hours that went into building the engine of which I had no part in? The fathomless ocean of computer graphics advancements that came before us of which I nor Crytek had any part in? If we are all creative snowflakes, then we are creative snowflakes that sit on a mountain of snow that has fallen before us. I want to talk about all the tools I’m using for the making of Eastshade.


At the center of this tapestry of game dev tools is the big U. In my life, I’ve spent considerable time in five engines: Cryengine, UDK, two proprietary engines, and the big U (fine I’ll stop calling it that). Unity is a game engine unlike any I’ve ever used, and I think its structure is revolutionary. Most engines have proprietary origins, and as a result, even publicly available engines seem built for a particular game, and then modified to be general. The legacy of fps is rampant in both Unreal and Cryengine. Unity is a general purpose engine from the ground up, and a blank slate like no other. Its a framework is simple, modular, and extendible. Everything is a gameObject with components attached. Every component is a class that extends monobehaviour. If I dreamed up an engine, the engine would work like Unity.


Among the great benefits of using Unity is the asset store. Other developers have built fantastically modular systems that you can purchase for almost nothing and plug into your game. There’s never been a better time to be a one-man-band. Since I want Eastshade to have a unique aesthetic, I generally stay away from models/textures/music/UI graphics/sprites or the like. However, the the extensions and utilities are invaluable.

UFPS - For me, the only price I paid for this asset was the time I spent learning how its insides work well enough for me to implement my own gameplay on top of it. Though I still get the feeling I’m not using it totally as intended, its player controller and input system are the backbone of the player controls in Eastshade.

Shader Forge - I actually would have had a really tough time building the look of the world without this extension. Every shader bar the foliage was built with Shader Forge. I wouldn’t have the chops to write something like a Y projection for moss and snow, or my own implementation of a global cubemap managing system had it not been for the simple node based workflow this asset provides.


Advanced Foliage Shader - The screen real estate that foliage takes up is considerable, and AFS, in addition to allowing my vegetables to flutter gracefully in the wind, looks beautiful.

DevConsole - A simple but important thing to have, I think, is a way to call certain functions from inside your game for debugging purposes. DevConsole makes it easy to define new console commands, even ones that accept arguments.

FogVolume - For all those foggy, foggy times. Inscattering is has a big visual impact on long site lines (which you should have a tone of!).

SplineBend - I use this for all my roads and paths. I love how simple and open ended this asset is. I prefer it to EasyRoads for sure. Thought I still use EasyRoads sometimes, not for building roads, but to shape my terrain oddly enough.

Shadow Softener - Soft shadows are nice, but nicer is the 10 fps I reclaimed when I started using this asset. Perhaps Unity 5 will negate the need for this asset, but currently soft shadows is essential for performance alone.

Every prefab placement painting tool on the store - I’m pretty sure I have them all now, but I’m skeptical to endorse any of them because none of them quite satisfy me. I’m half tempted to write my own at this point.

Honorable Mentions - I was using skyshop until recently, when I opted to use all my own shaders write my own cubemap controller. There were two reasons for this: The first is that Skyshop’s cubemap blending was more than I needed, as I found I only needed to tint my cubemap during weather changes, rather than switch to a new one. Lerping between cubemaps is pretty expensive, and I really didn’t like the implementation of how you just chose a blend duration and fired it off. I wanted my own night/day controller to drive the change. The second reason is that I found I never needed a full RGBA for spec and gloss (the skyshop shaders don’t allow you to pack the spec into an alpha channel). My last honorable mention would be Daikon Forge, which is a great GUI library, but turned out to be a massive mistake since the guy who made it just stopped supporting it. I made the call to switch to the new uGUI before moving forward with any more GUI stuff. I’ve been using the 4.6 beta and have yet to hit any showstopping bugs.

Git and SourceTree - This doesn’t belong in the Unity section but I’ve no other place for it. SourceTree is a wonderful GUI front end for the almighty GIT. It makes working with version control a lot easier for someone like me, who doesn’t wish to dabble in a command line console to submit and revert files. You may be wondering, “But aren’t you one person? Why do you need version control?” If your spending a lot of time on something its wise to be making iterative backups as you go, and as long as your making iterative backups you may as well be using an application to manage them. Version control is designed for that. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve needed to look into previous revisions after realizing I’ve messed something up.

Content Creation


Blender - I first learned the ropes of 3d with 3ds Max, and then spent my professional career as an environment artist so far using Maya, but despite having sunk so many hours into these other industry standard tools, I prefer Blender over them. I wrote a special exporter to make getting my stuff into Unity as easy and fast as possible.

Photoshop CC - I was using Gimp to save some money, but since Adobe did the 10 bucks a month thing I switched back to the tried and true. After using Gimp extensively, I can honestly say it has a long way to go before comparing to PS. All you have to do is try adjusting the levels of a 2048 and watch Gimp slowly loop through all the pixels line by line each time you nudge a slider to be convinced.

Unorthodox Game Dev Tools - If you’re a game artist and haven’t heard of this Photoshop plugin you should definitely check it out. Its the sweetest texture export plugin I’ve ever used, and its author is a nice guy, very responsive, and helpful.

3d Coat - Aside from being an excellent sculpting package, I love being able to drop a totally garbagy mesh (perhaps from a photo scan) in there and convert it to voxels, then convert it back to polygons and decimate it. I also use it for unwrapping organic things like rocks and tree trunks. Its got the best seam making tools I’ve ever used.

Lost of other things - I use quite a few other little programs for content creation often for very specific tasks. Among them are CrazyBump for texture creation, PhotoSculpt which can derive a height map comparing two photos of slightly different angles, and automagically tile textures with normal map and all, and fairly obscure (and free) MeshLab for its incredible UV-preserving mesh decimation features.

I think that’s most of the stuff I’m using. If people find this technical blog posts interesting I could write more about my technical challenges, and show some tools I’ve created myself for my own needs, but I don’t want to pollute this blog with content that doesn’t interest people, so if you guys could let me know if you dug this I would appreciate it!

Post comment Comments  (0 - 10 of 17)
SinKing Aug 12 2014, 6:57pm says:

I am intrigued, even though you are not making a mushroom-picking simulation. I just wonder about one thing - isn't this game taking place on Earth? Everything looks down to it, except the planet/moon on your new screenshots seems very large and blue to be mistaken for Earth's moon (ever though about why all the other planet's moons have names, but our moon is just called "moon"?)

I dig what I see this far, but I remind myself that all I'm seeing is a well-made map, not a game. I'm sure it was more than enough work getting this far with it, but I still don't clearly get the intention or direction this game is going to take. It seems like something like this would need a strong narrative like Dear Esther or a range of underlying systems beyond cold/warm hungry/fed to make it more interesting.

From a writing standpoint it could be interesting to add competition. You might find out you aren't alone, but you are competing with others for the same resources. Then you could have a choice between confrontation and cooperation. However, that's pretty generic again, so let's see what you will do on your own. To me, this game highly looks like it could have metaphysical aspects and a moral story ending. This doesn't mean it would be narrative or story driven, it would just mean working towards a goal, a finite solution for the game design. I keep watching this, updates are always nice!

+3 votes     reply to comment
DaAn2002 Jul 31 2014, 7:17am says:

wow this look amazing

+4 votes     reply to comment
Guest Jul 18 2014, 1:57am says:

Too bad that you have to make seperate account for indiedb :P
Looks awesome and it is on unity which is awesome

+1 vote     reply to comment
JLG81 Jul 15 2014, 6:20pm says:

dude you should def put in some easter egg hunts that would be so cool, like find a knome house with a little door at he bottom of a tree or some thing

+4 votes     reply to comment
DannyWeinbaum Creator
DannyWeinbaum Jul 15 2014, 7:04pm replied:

Oh for sure! I love stuff like that. Hopefully that will be one of the pillars of Eastshade

+3 votes   reply to comment
Guest Jul 14 2014, 6:47pm says:

No ennemies to kill ... so sad :(

I'm kidding! The look is just too beautifull. Good luck for your project.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Smallchange Jul 13 2014, 12:30pm says:

Well good sir, you have another tracker, looks promising, keep up the good work :)

+2 votes     reply to comment
Guest Jun 29 2014, 1:57am says:

Stunning. Absolutely amazing. Please, please do continue this. ^^ It's so beautiful!!!

+2 votes     reply to comment
MountainHermit Jun 27 2014, 1:12am says:

Looks great

+2 votes     reply to comment
drjd24 Jun 20 2014, 10:06pm says:

I want this to have an alpha/beta so bad right now :$. Watching this one for sure :)

+3 votes     reply to comment
DannyWeinbaum Creator
DannyWeinbaum Jun 27 2014, 7:34pm replied:

I'd also love to alpha test this! If only I had an alpha!

+2 votes   reply to comment
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@_joshrife hahaha oh Josh. That has got to be the most specific and cryptic hashtag on twitter.

Oct 21 2014, 8:30pm

Even with being aware of the deceptive illusion of sunk cost, its still so hard to cut features you thought were important #gamedev

Oct 21 2014, 7:52pm

Just played #TheVanishingOfEthanCarter for a few hours. I'm not sure where I was, but it definitely wasn't my apartment.

Oct 1 2014, 3:58am

@rpgwhitelock @ThomasPasieka This looks absolutely fantastic!

Sep 20 2014, 2:39pm

RT @rpgwhitelock: Remembered to update the project about page with some newer shots T.co #screenshotsaturday #unity3d htt…

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A solid 8 hours, a fresh cup of coffee, a youtube fire on the TV, and a wet autumn morning... Its a fine day for #gamedev

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RT @polycount: Here's something to play with: T.co

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@ThomasPasieka JL is more on key than usual, but sounds as ridiculous as ever. I will love them until the day I die non the less.

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RT @FuturePoly: Still a goodie: Bridging the Gap from Student to Professional w/ Jason Stokes & @horiadociu T.co If you l…

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@t_machine_org Maybe one day I'll make a landing page. I replaced my old stylized follow icons with the official ones. Much better. TY!

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