RPS & Unity: Rock, Paper, ShotgUnity

Last month Jim did a pretty extensive interview with development suite Unity Technologies’ co-founder Nicholas Francis. It got me thinking dangerous thinks, bold game design thinks well above my station. Jim and I started talking about those ideas, and following the news that the indie version of Unity was to become free that final arbiter of involvement – personal cost – was swayed. We would make a game.

Yes, I’m going to try and make an RPS game, in two months, using the freely available indie version of Unity3D. You’re going to help, if you like. So begins Rock, Paper, ShotgUnity.

What makes me think we can even attempt this? Because Unity is an unusual tool for making games. From the outset it’s designed to be easy to use, predominantly visual, focused on getting game assets in and working as quickly and painlessly as possible. In a former life as PC Format magazine’s Games Editor, I once interviewed a a number of devs about modding and how things like CounterStrike really benefited from rapid, iterative design. Make something, let it be played with, see what works and what doesn’t, tweak, play, tweak, play. Unity is like that. It demystifies the game-making process to the extent that, even if you’ve no previous experience in development or modding, you can download Unity and by following some simple tutorials have your own games up and running in hours. It’s true, try it.

But Unity isn’t some modern day SEUCK, it’s the fully featured development suite behind dozens of pieces of indie excellence like Off-Road Velociraptor Safari or PuzzleBloom. It’s fast becoming the engine of choice for iPhone games and when EA moved Tiger Woods PGA Tour online they chose Unity as the engine to do it.

So I’m going to have a go. Rock, Paper, ShotgUnity will be a First Person Shooter themed around the RPS website, just to see if that can be done, and we’re going to chronicle the process here, in bi-weekly posts and on a special room in the forums. We’re going to explore the process of game creation with the Unity tools and perhaps even inspire you to try it yourself.

Now, it’s important to stress that I’m no coder. I feel the same way about logic as Neanderthals felt about lightning and Republicans feel about science – it’s the proverbial square peg to the gaping round hole where my mind should be – so I’m going to make use of a lot of the free-to-use scripts that come flowing like logical mana from the Unity community and tutorial packages. This is the Ace up Unity’s sleeve. It’s surrounded and supported by a creative community that’s filled with helpful types, all too willing to share their knowledge and even their code to help budding indie designers start along the road to development. Fortunately there are whole enclaves of the internet devoted entirely to Unity tuition, so this isn’t going to be a tutorial, instead we’re going to learn what it’s actually like to make a game. We’re going to stand on the shoulders of giants, and make something that works. In two months. Yes.

But what will Rock, Paper, ShotgUnity be? Well, I’ve already said it’ll be a shooter – possibly not the easiest choice for our first project, but then I’m like that – but what’s going to make it Rock, Paper, Shotgun-y? Well we’ll start with weapons. A rock, a paper and an elephant. No wait, an elephant is too ambitious. Let’s try a shotgun. The Rock will be a tool you can throw to distract enemies who’ll follow it for a limited period of time. The Paper will be a newspaper, providing invisibility by operating on the childhood principle that ‘if I can’t see the scary things, they can’t see me’. In other words you’ll be able to sneak around behind the Daily Rag and be ignored by baddies, but then you won’t be able to see what you’re blundering into either. And finally, and this is a masterstroke, the shotgun, right, will let you shoot stuff. It’s genius.

This weeks’ aim is to get some of those basic mechanics in place. In other words a means of moving a character around the game world in a FPShooterly fashion, a test environment to move it around in and then getting that shotgun up and running. Come back Saturday, I’ll let you know how that went…

If you’re interested in contributing to the Rock, Paper, Shotgunity project, with code, art assets, sounds or just ideas, then keep reading. We’re going to be setting up specific requests for content in the next few weeks. Swing by the Forums where we’ve prepared a special room, just for you. Maybe we’ll even come up with a better name for it. Who knows!

This ongoing series is being written by RPS comrade in righteousness, James Carey. Responsibility for developing the RPS game lies largely with him, although we’re all going to be poking our fingers into the fatty underbelly of his design. It’s a dirty job, etc.


  1. RogB says:

    ooh interesting. 10+ years Maya artist here who has been thinking of dabbling with unity recently. Make it zombie related and i’ll be in ;-)

  2. Flimgoblin says:

    Been playing with Unity a bit of late (though hampered somewhat by lack of artistic ability) – happy to lend a hand with some scripting if you need.

  3. LeFishy says:

    Sweet. If you need any hints I’ve been using Unity for a year or so now and I’m so glad people are now able to use this utterly fabulous piece of software without financial investment. I’m searching for inspiration for my next project right now.

    • LeFishy says:

      Those weapon designs are absolutely fantastic too. Forced blindness for invisibility is a brilliant mechanic :>

  4. Sceptrum says:

    Name the shotgun “Scissors”. :P

    Will follow this project with keen interest.

    • aldo says:

      I think ‘scissors’ should be the bad guy, frustrated at his (for scissors is, indeed, an anthromorphic pair of scissors, perhaps left handed ones to emphasise sinisterness) usurping by shotgun, a fact only compounded by his inability to form lasting relationships beyond fatally truncated one night stands.

    • yhancik says:


      It makes me think of Clock Tower’s Bobby ;)
      link to en.wikipedia.org

  5. Pod says:


  6. Metal_Circus says:

    I’d contribute, except I am completely talentless in every single way.

  7. Schmung says:

    Count me in. Done a fair bit of work on mods and suchlike before, so why not.

  8. nemolom says:

    I like this initiative. Looking forward to reading about your experiences with it. I’ve been wanting to use Unity myself, but this far it sits unused on my desktop. This might be a good way for me to learn about it.

  9. LeFishy says:

    If anyone is looking to learn I can highly recommend the video tutorials at http://www.learnmesilly.com I used them when I first started and they really gave me a leg up learning the syntax and important methods of unityscript.

  10. Senethro says:

    What flavour of shotgun are you going for? Pump action? Double-barrelled + break open to reload? Semi-automatic combat shotgun?

    • Spacewalk says:

      It needs to be one that you can flip-cock. Like the one in Terminator 2.

      Also there should be motorcycles and chainsaw duels.

    • Patrick says:

      I just hope the game let’s me “flip-cock” whatever that is.

  11. Tinus says:

    Splendid idea!

    I’ve been using Unity for various projects since it was released for windows, and I have about 5 years coding experience. I’d be happy to help out with some C# if the need arises.

    A quick (and not-well-thought-through) suggestion: Give the Rock weapon a rpg-like leveling system to instil it with some personality. You could train it to become a master of deception, distracting everything where it lands after a throw. Or you could train it to massively grow in size, first allowing you to throw it into the face of any man, and at top level allowing you to squash entire groups of men. It could become an animate object, or even become self-aware at some point. Heh, say at the first few levels your rock is just your average rock, nothing fancy. You throw it around a bit, and after a while the game notifies you your rock has just leveled up. But it does nothing. Persist until rock-level 5 though, and suddenly it opens its eyes (yes, eyes!) and gains special abilities.

  12. Jazmeister says:

    Oh, you’ve so got to make fun of the gutter press with this game. Randomise the headline of the rag!


  13. salejemaster says:

    this really sounds like it is going to have some stealthy sneaking about in maps :) love the idea

  14. Psychopomp says:

    It needs Horace.

  15. Schaulustiger says:

    Scissors should be sold as DLC.

  16. CMaster says:

    I’m in – was planning to learn Unity anyway – got it and some tutorials downloaded, started work on an old-school shooter.

    You perhaps don’t need to rely exclusivley on freely available scripts KG – I’m sure there are plenty of RPSites who can help with making modules. Also, Unity does come with an FPS movement module as part of the island demo.

  17. Aubrey says:

    Idea you’ve probably thought of: Put lots of barks on the enemies, Thief style, so that when you blind yourself to turn invisible, you can navigate using their audio barks.

  18. cypher says:

    Sounds like a cool idea. I’ll try and help if I can, I may only be a lowly student with an understanding of OO programming, but I have a will to learn!

  19. AndrewC says:

    I have a list of people I’d like to shoot.

  20. Clovis says:

    You know, Roger Ebert wrote a movie. Is this really a path you want to go down? Seems like a “this way madness lies” kinda’ thing, maybe. Or maybe it leads to awesomeness.

    • tmlxndr says:

      Thing is – Beneath The Valley of the Dolls was incredible. Just insane. If RPS produces something 10% as good, I’ll be very pleased. I await with baited breath.

    • tmlxndr says:

      Oh Balls. i was thinking of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, not Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens. Still, with a title like that, it’s got to be good, right? Right?

    • lePooch says:

      The whole French New Wave of cinema started from movie critics making movies. Albeit movies that deliberately broke the rules. So, this may be a Good Thing – I think. Then again, breaking the rules of a game, by definition, is bad.

      I would definitely enjoy working on this, though I have no idea what Unityscript is, i am familiar with C#

  21. James Carey says:

    Ooh it’s great to see such enthusiasm :) You’re all good eggs.

    There are indeed a bunch of FPS mover scripts and prefabs bundled with the tuts and also on dotted around the Unity community. As with most of the stuff I’ve seen so far though they need a little tweaking to get them to behave how you need them to in your games. My plan is to get a working framework that allows basic FPS movement and the shotgun, up and running this week, having already ploughed through a bunch of tutorials, then we can then monkey around with the more complicated Rock and Paper scripts over the coming couple of weeks.

    Homework assignment: Arty types take a look at the ShotgUnity logo I threw together and do better. It shouldn’t be difficult…

    We’re going to put some sort of pipeline together where those who want to contribute can upload assets against a ‘needed’ list. We’ll let you know more about that at the end of the week when the next ShotgUnity post goes up. Or possibly before…

    • CMaster says:

      Well, pre-mades are only ever likley to be a starting point, rather than doing the whole job.

      We do after all, need to add double-jump to any RPS game.

  22. Gap Gen says:

    Will it run on rockpapershotGNU?

  23. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Primary Fire: can be thrown to hurt enemies.
    Secondary Fire: can be thrown to stun enemies, needs to be charged.
    Special: landslide, triggered by enemy presence or manually.
    Suicide: can be throw at a surface to ricochet against your head.
    Primary Fire: sharp paper-planes home in on enemies.
    Secondary Fire: stationary stealth as you leisurely browse the Sunday Papers.
    Special: papers temporarily circle around and impair enemy vision.
    Suicide: a thousand paper cuts.
    Primary Fire: shells.
    Secondary Fire: use as a bat to deflect rocks.
    Special: create stationary traps with rigged shotguns.
    Suicide: hmm, better not go there.
    Of note, suicide can hurt nearby players, potentially even killing them. Scissors should be a bot whose Special move is I Don’t Feel Like Dancing.
    What I’d really like to see are character standoffs like in General Chaos. As in, if two players get close together there is a chance they’ll take it to melee blows or some other manner of conflict. While they are doing this, they are invisible and invulnerable to any form of fire from other players and there is a visual cue that this is happening by comic-styled smoke and lightning. Here’s what I mean at 1:50:

  24. AngryAnt says:

    Awesome idea with the newspaper and I completely second Jazmeisters idea about the headlines!

    Looking forward to your updates on this and don’t forget to stop by the IRC channel for community assists link to unifycommunity.com

    PS: Unity3D is just the domain name. The product is Unity and the company is Unity Technologies ;)

  25. Joe Robins says:

    Cool, I would encourage you to make use of the following resources:

    link to forum.unity3d.com
    The unity forum, great place to get questions answered

    link to answers.unity3d.com
    This relatively new site has been created to allow common questions/answers to have a home

    the Unity IRC community: irc.freenode.net, group #Unity3D (you will need an IRC client such as mIrc or Colloquy). This is a great, friendly irc channel and I am sure you will be welcomed by all :)

    link to unity3d.com
    videos from the Unite conferences are an invaluable insight into various elements of Unity
    and I’d highly recommend that you attend the Unite conference if you get the chance!

    link to unity3d.com
    These two tutorials introduce various elements of unity to you, if you are more tutorial inclined :)

    link to unifycommunity.com
    The Wiki is a great community lead resource with free to use sample code and additions to unity that is constantly growing and well worth looking at.

    link to unity3d.com
    then of course there is the documentation, which is divided up into scrpiting, component reference, and the manual itself.

    Welcome to Unity :)

  26. Ian says:

    The enemies had better be AIMs.

    • Psychopomp says:

      One of the levels should be an L4D2 comments thread. In it you play a neutral party, who has to navigate his way through the bile, hyperbole tossed around by both sides. The boss is a pair of strawmen.

    • Psychopomp says:

      I was about to say this wasn’t meant to be a reply, but this works.

    • Clovis says:

      I want “MW2 listen servers” and DRM as enemies too…

    • Clovis says:

      Bonus points if the DRM actually eats children in the game.

    • Psychopomp says:

      The listen server is a level, the boss has massive host advantage?

  27. DJ Phantoon says:

    “And finally, and this is a masterstroke, the shotgun, right, will let you shoot stuff. It’s genius. ” It really is.

    However, why two months and not three?

    Also, if you make this multiplayer you will have won at the internet forever.

  28. Psychopomp says:

    Anonymous Coward said:
    One of the levels should be an L4D2 comments thread. In it you play a neutral party, who has to navigate his way through the bile, hyperbole tossed around by both sides. The boss is a pair of strawmen.

    (Wasn’t logged in when I made that post, so I can’t edit. Sorry for the triplepost.)

    One of the men of straw is a blind, sheep-like figure. He mainly just charges around at things, and if you leave him alone too long, he’ll heal a bit by eating a pile of dung.

    The other is a Scrooge-like figure. His weakpoint is his purse, obviously enough. If he catches you knocking out a single penny he flies into rage, and start throwing tersely worded posts at you.

  29. Hmm says:

    Boycotting it.

    • Clovis says:

      Boycotting and Pre-ordering here! It’s what all the cool kids will do.

  30. Quercus says:

    James, you have far too much time on your hands :)

    Personally I think Rock Paper Shotgun is an excellent name in its own right and certainly a good name for a game.
    The newspaper idea is cool – you could also add a secondary fire where you either roll it up to slap someone or flick it quickly through the air to inflict a small but painful paper cut.

    What would the adversaries be in the game? Accountants?

  31. yhancik says:

    I never touched Unity, but with some coding experience, I should be able to help if I find the time.

    Ideally we’d need a kind of wiki to put all the ideas together and discuss them

  32. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Boycott and Pre-Order should be a reverse CTF, where players who stay holed up on their bases, or are in the possesion of a “flag” the longer win. But each team has a spy of the opposing team whose job is to undermine the boycott by accessing a terminal and sending a Pre-Order.

  33. Radiant says:

    MILLIONS of devs whose games you have kindly said were a bit rubbish are waiting for you to fail.
    FYI :)

  34. MacBeth says:

    Anyone got any experience with the mapping tools? Am pretty handy with Hammer, and wondering if any of the skills are transferrable…

  35. Karry says:

    “Fortunately there are whole enclaves of the internet devoted entirely to Unity tuition”
    Yeah, like, whole two of them. Of which one is the actual official forum.
    Other than that its either commercial, or a couple basic tutorials.

    “Now, it’s important to stress that I’m no coder. ”
    Then you wont be creating anything anytime soon, no matter how free Unity is. Just forget about it. Someone who is not a coder will not ever make anything above a simple platformer.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Well, you’re a cheery fellow.

    • Clovis says:

      Any sufficiently intelligent person who has the drive to complete a project like this should be able to learn the programming skill necesary. It’s not like programming is actually difficult. Kids teach themselves to do it all the time in their teens. If you have a basic grasp of logic, you should be fine. There is no real “deep magic” required.

    • LeFishy says:

      Thanks. I’m not a coder by any stretch of the imagination but I have knocked together some fun concepts. The freeness of Unity has little to do with it. It’s more the fact that it provides a consolidated environment for asset management and scene building.

    • Jeremy says:

      True. The logic behind code is what needs to be learned, all you need for syntax is a properly thick reference :)

  36. Draken says:

    Sounds great, but is it going to feature a grappling hook?

    • Patrick says:

      To even bother making a game nowadays it should have the world breadth of Daggerfall, the complex simulated environments of Dwarf Fortress, and the graphical fidelity of Crysis.

      Also, the stability of Daggerfall, the interface of Dwarf Fortress, and the performance of Crysis.

    • Scandalon says:

      You mean a jetpack, surely?

  37. Vitamin Powered says:

    As a coder, I’d just like to say I’m in. I’ve got a bit of experience with the 3D as well, if that’ll be any help.

  38. bill says:

    i want in. What’s unity?

    though for some reason, my first thought was a paper aeroplane to throw at people.

  39. Sp4rkR4t says:

    Sweet, this shall be very interesting. As a person who has been playing with Unity recently but doesn’t get anywhere project wise because I can’t keep to one idea for longer than 38.5 seconds I’d be glad to help in any way I can.

  40. ChampionHyena says:

    Ooh! Me! Me! I want a voice acting gig!

    That is, of course, assuming you can stand an American accent.

  41. Bret says:

    They had one of those in Marathon 2. Well, two of those.

    It was pretty awesome.

  42. Weylund says:

    Good luck. I had a ball when I checked out Unity a few months back. Some significant technical limitations – the indie (now free) version was a definite poor second to the Pro – but easy to use. I had excellent physics simulations (knocking down a brick wall with bowling balls) within about thirty minutes of first loading it. My coding experience (8 years as a pro AI dev, about 20 years of any-type-will-do coding) made no difference whatsoever.

  43. Eplekongen says:

    I draw stuff, art and shit. I will draw art for this game whether you want me to or not :)

  44. Some Guy says:

    just call it rockpapershotgame

  45. Joe Martin says:

    I’m assuming you don’t want yet another babbling writer, so consider me a reluctantly eager tester if you want.

  46. Mattaustin66 says:

    Be quite cool to take a few ideas from that japanese DS game, super retro challenge maybe..

    But with a web interface, and more PC centric, content..

    Good way to tie disjointed fragments together.. Guess wouldn’t even need to use that specific theme, just using the web interface to tie fragments together..


  47. Jacob says:

    May I propose DLC or a sequel that supplements ones arsenal with a lizard… and a Spock?

  48. joseph says:

    It’s the same for me. sigh. :)

  49. ChampionHyena says:


  50. Riesenmaulhai says:

    It’ll surely feature lots of Chaos.