Unity and the No Good Very Bad URF

I’m doing something I’ve never done before on this blog: I am setting up a reminder to check back on this post on a specific date. In this case, that date is January 1, 2024, and I’m doing so because I’m really interested in what happen next in this little saga that burst into being during Apple’s iPhone event on September 12th.

Some brief background: A company called Unity makes a game engine called Unity. It is free to use and very popular–over 38,000 games on Steam use it. The company has long advertised that it is royalty-free. Larger dev teams do pay, as Unity’s enterprise subscription plan costs thousands of dollars per dev–but any revenue you make from your games is yours to keep.

This is set to change on January 1, 2024 when Unity introduces URF (they don’t call it that, but I totally do, because it’s the sound most devs make when looking at the new pricing schemes that were announced while everyone was watching the unveiling of the iPhone 15), or Unity Runtime Fee. Whatever you do, don’t call it a royalty!

Basically, if your game hits a threshold for revenue and installs, Unity will charge you a fee (to be assessed monthly) per install. For smaller games, it will be 20¢ per install. If a person installs your game on two devices? That counts as two installs and you get dinged 40¢. The install number will be based on “aggregated data” Unity gathers using proprietary means. Or, as the entire internet has correctly surmised it: Trust us!

To say this new scheme has not gone over well would be a grand understatement. Unity has already sent out corrections, clarifications and some minor walk backs, but they have, to many devs, already irreparably broken the trust between them. And even with the clarifications, you still end up with stuff like this:

  • If your game is on Game Pass (Microsoft’s subscription gaming service), you, as a dev, will not have to pay the URF.
  • Does this mean Game Pass games have no URF?
  • URF NO!
  • Unity intends to bill Microsoft.


Some devs have said they will never use Unity again. Some have even vowed to switch engines on games in progress–a huge and costly undertaking. No one is happy about this, and no one should be, because the whole plan is harebrained and ill-advised. The string of clarifications show that it was obviously pushed out without any careful thought or consideration. Unity has also deleted their TOS changes from GitHub and removed parts of its TOS, rewritten it, then, as the cherry on top of the poop cake, stated that this will apply retroactively to every game in release NOW as far as determining those minimum thresholds. It’s Vader’s “I am altering the deal” except with fewer Stormtroopers in the background.

Why is this relevant to me? Well, it intersects several of my interests: gaming and tech. Also, I have been using Unity for my own indie game, and while I would need about 50,000 new friends to hit the thresholds where I’d have to pay the URF, this is such a cosmically scummy move that I am considering moving everything to another game engine.

The two I am most strongly considering are:

  • Godot
  • Unreal

Technically, I have prior experience with the Unreal Engine, if you count the UT levels I made, uhm, almost 20 years ago. How much could it have changed since then, really?

The main pros for Godot are it’s open source and free, so there is no possibility of URF-like shenanigans happening. The main cons are the resources for it are far fewer than Unity, and it’s not as full-featured or simple to learn.

For Unreal, it’s also free until you generate revenue over $1 million U.S. (a boy can dream) and even then, they only take 5% of total revenue. It has a lot of resources available, but the engine is honking big, designed more for giant 3D games, and not so much 2D indie platformers. So it may be serious overkill1Serious Overkill is also the name of my Cure cover band.

For the moment, I am going through Godot’s documentation to see what I think. At this point, even a complete reversal from Unity would probably still make me hesitant to go back to it.

We’ll see what happens on January 1st, though!

I am a Sr. Gemfinder

I made a terrible mistake. Actually, I made two terrible mistakes:

  1. I got into a creative funk. Technically, this isn’t a mistake, but it still feels like one.
  2. I re-installed Bejeweled 3. This was definitely a mistake.

On the other hand, I’m now a Sr. Gemfinder1This is kind of a dumb rank. I mean, the screen is literally filled with gems. Or maybe it means I’m a senior, age-wise, and because of my old and ailing eyes, I should get an award for just seeing the gems at all., see:

I mean, I don’t need to be solving the climate crisis or brokering world peace here, but I feel like I should be doing something more substantial.

I have a solution! I’ll switch to the Mac. There’s no Bejeweled there!

Right after just one more game…

Partying like it’s 1998 (with Unreal)

Don’t shoot the Nali! Also, there are more colours in the game than brown, I swear.

After some chat about the olden days of gaming in Discord that include recollections of the original Unreal, released in 1998, I felt the silly urge to re-install the game–and did!

For other people who are thinking, perhaps unwisely, of giving in to their nostalgia, here is what I did:

  • Went to my gog.com library to install the game from there. It turns out I never got the game on gog.com. I then checked Steam. On both platforms I have:
    • Unreal Tournament
    • Unreal Tournament 2004
    • Unreal Tournament 3 (re: UT2007)
    • Unreal 2
    • No original Unreal. Sad face.
  • I pondered whether I wanted to buy a 25-year-old game, but the decision was made for me because Epic delisted the game on all digital stores last year (along with all the others I listed above).
  • I dug out my binders of game CDs (BOGs) to see if I had my original Unreal disc. I did!
  • I dug out my USB DVD drive and plugged it in
  • I inserted the CD and waited to see what would happen
  • I got a pop-up about compatibility mode, clicked OK and waited
  • The installer launched!
  • The game installed!

Amazingly, the unpatched original CD version actually worked. It defaulted to 800×600 resolution. I then applied the UnrealClassicPatch227i, a community-made patch that builds on the efforts of Epic to allow the game to work with modern renderers and fixes a few bugs and glitches. The patch is on the community site OldUnreal, found here.

I made the following change to the console in the unreal.ini file, found in the Unreal/System folder, under the [Engine.Engine] section. This enables the UT-style Umenu system, which gives access to some of the newer options (and makes changing keybinds easier, too):


The original line is Console=UBrowser.UBrowserConsole.

I set the resolution to the same as my monitor, 2560×1440, which looks fine, though the HUD shrinks to micro-sized. Apparently HUD scaling is coming to the 227j patch.

I originally chose OpenGL for the renderer, but it was too dark and changing brightness had no effect. I switched to the Direct3D 9 renderer and was able to change the brightness from Impenetrably Dark But Undoubtedly Moody to Moody But I Can Actually See Some Things Now.

Finally, I installed some high resolution textures, which look fine, though there’s a jarring difference when you see a fuzzy original texture next to a high-res one. You can fix most of these by also installing the HD Skins pack, available from the same link. HD Skins is actually a mutator, but the readme.txt file doesn’t note that you must start a new game to first enable the mutator. You can save the configuration so the mutator always runs after that.

The game itself plays great, of course. I could probably run it at 100,000 x 100,000 resolution and still get 140 FPS. Now we’ll see how long a 25-year-old first-person shooter can hold my interest.

Bonus shot:

Looking back at the crashed Vortex Rikers ship you escape from.

When the system knows you shouldn’t read the comments

Ars Technica has a story on how Linux has now surpassed the Mac on Steam, thanks to the popularity of the Steam Deck, which uses Linux as its OS. The race between Linux and Mac is close, but compared to Windows, it’s like a 100-meter dash where the first runner finishes in 10 seconds and the other two cross the finish line an hour later1Windows:: 96.21%, Linux: 1.96%, Mac: 1.84%.

But this post is about that old internet maxim, “Never read the comments.” On Ars, you can vote a post up or down. Too many down votes and the post gets hidden (though you can always click to see it). You know you’re in for a fun ride when the first four posts in a comment thread are hidden:

The first post was a benign but contentless “Ok…”, the second post a comic that Wheels of Confusion points out may have gotten the order of the panels wrong (and for proper comic effect/ting, he is right). The third post was the word “green” (presumably a suggestion for the colour of the dragon, another content-free contribution), while the fourth was the following insightful reflection on the first post: “Sensing pissy Mac fan boy. Could be wrong, could be right.”

It’s actually not nearly as bad as I would have guessed!

For context, here is WoC’s post, which includes the comic in question, in case you are lazy, like me, and don’t want to click links and stuff:

I have to admit, when I started this post, I hadn’t looked at the comments and thought they’d be particularly dumb/juicy. Instead, they’re just kind of lame. This will teach me to look for blog gold in a pile of…stuff that isn’t gold.

Mini golf, July 9, 2023: Two men and a pair of balls (and putters)

Jeff and I finally returned to Eaglequest in Coquitlam to play 18 holes of mini golf for the first time in a few years. It was fun!

The weather was nice–sunny, but not overly hot (around 25?). Being a Sunday, it was quite busy, and we did have a family eventually catch up to us, but let them play through, and it was fine otherwise. We never felt rushed. The kids were playing in that style little kids favour for golf: Everyone hit their balls one after the other, then general chaos all over the hole until mom goes, and they clear out and move on. It’s fun to watch–for a time.

As for us, we usually end up being only a stroke or so apart, with Jeff often taking the edge, but I was in rare form today!

Technically, we both got a hole in one, Jeff on Hole 2 and me on Hole 13. I say technically because every hole has a Hard and Easy option and being hardcore mini golfers, Jeff suggested we go for the Hard holes. Jeff’s hole in one came when he accidentally sank his first shot into the Easy hole on Hole 2. Whoops! Mine was the normal way on Hole 13, which proved to be lucky for me.

I usually start strong and fall apart toward the end, but this time I started out with my worst hole – a par 5 on Hole 1, then stayed pretty consistently around par after that. Jeff seemed to have a knack for making the ball veer just slightly left and won the Most Balls to Catch The Rim Then Go Rolling Past it Like a Rocket using Gravity to Slingshot it Out of Orbit Award. He corrected this after a while, so we both finished showing off the awesome form we knew we were capable of. You know, as hardcore mini golfers.

Here’s the official™ scorecard:

A view of (part of) the course:

A short video of me almost getting a hole in one on Hole 17:

Jeff getting ready to tee up at Hole [unknown because I cut the sign off, oops]:

Wordle sells to the NYT, tech sites react in (word) pictures

The cute and unassuming word game Wordle, which somehow became a massive hit recently, has been sold to the New York Times for a sum “in the low seven figures.” This is very nice for the author of the game, but it likely means its time as a benign internet craze will soon come to an end, as it seems inevitable that it will end up behind a paywall with the other games the NYT offers.

While I only have four shots below, I am sure more than a few others had variations on this theme. Who would have guessed, right? Also, this is likely my first and last post on Wordle. For now, you can experience the game for free right here.


This is pretty dang lazy. 0/5


Succinct. Maybe a little too succinct. 2/5

Ars Technica:

This is entirely pedestrian, but gets the point across. 3/5

The Verge:

This one actually follows the rules of Wordle. Kinda clever! 4/5

My detailed analysis on the proposed Microsoft purchase of Activision Blizzard for US $68.7 billion

mosaic alien on wall
Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Pexels.com

First, what does it say about me that when I see “analysis” in the title, the anal part leaps out? Does this make me a perv? A butt fetishist? I can’t answer these questions, only raise them.

On the subject of Microsoft buying Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion, a few thoughts in list form:

  • That’s a lot of money.
  • Really, think about what this says about the size of the video games industry. I remember when the home market crashed in 1983 and some thought it would all go away, that we’d go back to checkers and playing outside. Haha, nope!
  • People thought Microsoft was silly for paying $2 billion for Minecraft, but that game manufactures money. I would not have predicted that from the early alpha days of 2011. So maybe close to $70 billion for an entire passel of games (and tech and employees) will pay off sooner than you might expect, too.
  • The conventional wisdom is this will clean up the rotten, frat boy culture in Activision Blizzard’s executive suite, because most of them will be ejected once the deal is complete and Phil Spenser assumes control as Xbox CEO. The downer part is most of these cretins will get fat rewards on the way out, essentially getting away with it.
  • Still, better that they’re gone in the end.
  • I still don’t care about the five million different Call of Duty games, and suspect I never will.
  • I am, however, interested in certain Blizzard games becoming available on Game Pass. Specifically, I’m interested in playing but not actually buying Diablo II: Resurrected, so this deal is really about saving me $54.99 before tax.
  • I might try World of Warcraft again. Maybe.
  • This will make it easier to play Diablo IV with a clear conscience, assuming it’s actually good. Mind you, improving on the story of Diablo III is a pretty low bar.
  • Possible modern version of Rock and Roll Racing.

Welcome to 1993 (again), courtesy of Grandpa Apple

Apple has awarded the 2021 Mac Game of the Year Award to…


Yes, the same game that came out in 1993 for the Mac. This is a full 3D version of the game, but it’s still got all the same puzzles, so it’s really just a nicer-looking version of the same game that came out 28 years ago and ran on System 7.

Is it fair to say this sums up gaming on Macs? Not entirely, but more than a little. Kind of embarrassing, considering there were better contemporary games that could have been highlighted. Apple is devolving into the corporate equivalent of the dad-soon-to-be-grandpa who’s grown conservative, has questionable taste and likes his food packaged and processed, not that hippie natural stuff.

One billion gold

That’s how much gold my Season 24 wizard Blastbury has piled up in Diablo 3.

Am I done with the game now? I think…I’m pretty close. This time for real! I’ve gotten to the point where I’m getting four of every legendary item. This makes them feel more off-the-rack than legendary. I’ve done all the bounties repeatedly. I’ve done enough rifts that I would spontaneously name my child Rift if I had one. Tyrael has thanked me a thousand times for making the world safer. I’ve heard every stupid thing the enchantress says countless times over.

If there is anything left that I haven’t seen, I can’t say I feel I’ve missed out.

I’ll transfer stuff to the non-season stash when Season 24 ends on December 5th. And then, just maybe…I’ll uninstall the game, forcing myself to fill [Diablo 3 time] with [something else].

I will update in six days.

Games of video

Video games or videogames?

Which is it? Does it matter?

FAKE EDIT: My in-browser grammar checker has flagged “videogames” as wrong and bad and since this happened on the internet it must be true. Question settled.

Next question: Are video games real? When I first played Pong (I am old) it seemed kind of unreal (not to be confused with the video game), but I’m pretty sure I was not in some kind of holographic reality at the time. Although it was the 1970s, so who can say for sure?

Anyway, when I think of Intellivision (a video game console from the late 70s), my thumbs still hurt thinking about that horrible disc controller. It was horrible.

This concludes my thesis on video games.

Diablo II: Resurrected thoughts and things

I played the recent open beta of Diablo II: Resurrected, the gussied-up version of the now 21- year old Blizzard game, and have some thoughts.

Note: I am not unaware that Blizzard as a company is a bit of a dumpster fire at the moment, with lots of stories coming out about a toxic work culture that has spawned multiple sexual harassment lawsuits. For this post I’m just sticking to the game (except at the very end).

First, D2 is surprisingly pretty. If you hit the G key in-game, it will toggle you between the original 800×600 graphics and the fancy new version:

The player characters and NPCs have all been redone as 3D models and look good. The druid and others no longer walk with a “I have to pee really badly!” animation. And as you can see above, the whole world has been lovingly redone with more detailed, higher-resolution textures.

The sound and music, always excellent, remain untouched.

A few modern updates to the game have been made–note the re-arrangement of the action bar into something more befitting a modern game. You can also choose to auto-pick up gold. There’s a generous shared stash that eliminates the need for mule characters.

But as I played the through the first few quests, the one thing that struck me the most–and what hasn’t changed from the original–is the tiny inventory. In the early game especially, gold is precious and you want to sell everything you don’t use, but your inventory fills up so quickly that you will need to portal (or walk) back to the rogue encampment multiple times to sell all the junk you’ve been carrying. This gets tedious really quickly and could have been solved by increasing the size of the inventory. It doesn’t need to be doubled or tripled, just enough that you could, say, do one quest and not have your inventory overflowing multiple times just getting to the quest. But the devs have drawn arbitrary lines in the sand on what they will and won’t change.

Also, there is the price, which is $54.99 Canadian. Again, despite the improvements, this is a 21 yar old game.

Just this week, another revised version of Myst came out. This one is on an entirely new engine (Unreal), offers a fully 3D world with free movement and also includes VR support. Myst is one of the best-selling games of all time. The new version is selling for $33.99.

Blizzard is grossly overvaluing Diablo II. Yes, some people–a lot of people–will buy it regardless of price. I’m not one of them. Given how stingy Blizzard is with sales, it will be a long time before it reaches what I consider a reasonable price–if ever.

And then there is the train wreck that the company is currently, and would I buy the game even if it was $33.99? And the answer is no, I wouldn’t. Not now. I’ll need a better price and evidence that Blizzard is changing its ways as a company before I give them more money.

But Diablo II: Resurrected is pretty. I’ll give them that.