Santabot: A Unity3D Flash Game

All right, so a Christmas game like “Santabot vs. The Flying Saucers from Mars” may be a day late (or 364 days early) and a few quid short, but it’s the best I got at the moment. When the good folks at Unity3D announced the beta 3.5 preview version with Flash export I downloaded the thing as quick as I could.¬†After a few false and frustrating starts (had to install the app 3 times before it started working properly. Have no idea why – I haven’t heard that happening to anyone else), I was up and running.

After building a quick and simple game here are a few thoughts.

  • Unity3D is freakin fast. The game may be simple, but still it was just a day’s work. Building the same thing in plain ol’ Flash would have taken I don’t even want to think about how long. Even using a 3D engine like Away3D, it would have been a fairly substantial undertaking. Bottom line – if you’re looking to build 3D Flash games, Unity is the way to go.
  • The output files are a bit chunky. A developer build (which compiles much quicker) of the .swf file is around 16 megs. A compressed release build is still around 2.5 megs. Hopefully future versions of Unity will allow us to break up assets into smaller .swf files and load them at runtime as needed.
  • The jury’s still out on scripting in Unity. I’m sure there are some best practices which I have not discovered or learned, but writing code for Unity seems really clunky. It reminds me of the dark days of Flash (Flash 5, that is) when scripts had to be attached to MovieClip instances and refer back to the _root object to communicate with others. It may be nice if Unity implemented something similar to Flash’s document class to function as the Unity project’s entry point.

In any case, what little experience I’ve had with Unity, I’ve always enjoyed (installation difficulties aside). Now if I could just learn some 3D modelling software so I wouldn’t have to resort to just sticking primitives together like Legos in Swift 3D.

Anyway, you can check out the game here. Be sure to use a browser with the release version of Flash Player 11 installed. If you happen to try it in a beta version of Flash, very bad things will happen.

Maybe I’ll build it up a bit more and enter it in the Unity3D contest. I’m sure a lot can be done in the next 10 days or so…


  1. northwolf says:

    Will we write as3 code in Unity? I hope they can give us a good news in the future.

  2. Devon O. says:

    The javascript for Unity is so close to AS3 that syntax really isn’t an issue. Unfortunately trying to structure the code in an application is sort of a cross between writing javascript for the web and AS in Flash 5. Sort of a soup sandwich (i.e. a mess)..

  3. I advise you not to use JS, but C# instead. Sure, the syntax is something to get used to, but it won’t cost you too much effort.

    The pro’s are the use of native events (like AS3 Signals) and a very big .NET library you can use out of the box, which contains a lot of useful code like validators, formatters, converters, services etc.

  4. Devon O. says:

    Thanks for the tip, Bart. I always wondered if there were any benefits as I’ve heard performance is the same either way. The native events and additional tools could be quite handy, though…

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Devon O. Wolfgang

Technical Reviewer of “The Essential Guide to Flash CS4 AIR Development”

Contributing Author of “Flash AS3 for Interactive Agencies”

Senior Software Engineer at Meez

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