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Getting Your Unity Game on Vita with "Unity for PSM"
by Travis Jones on 04/15/14 07:51:00 pm   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Who? What? Why? Huh?

Hello, my name is Travis, principal developer of Box House Games.  Since January, I have been working on my first "I'm going this alone, I'm making a product, and I'm going to sell it, gosh darnit!" indie project.  [Truthfully, it's the 3rd or 4th iteration of a basic concept I've been tinkering with since last summer, but January was when a lot of the pieces fell together into a cohesive whole and became a "product" in my mind.]  Since this is my first product, I knew it made the most sense to fall back on as much "out of the box" technology as I could without shoehorning in elements I didn't need.  For me, this meant using Unity as a game engine - it allows me to quickly prototype ideas, it's fairly easy to use, and it has a free license that doesn't restrict me in any way that significantly affects my project or its design.

One of the biggest selling points for me is Unity's support for a wide swath of different platforms: Win/Mac/Linux PC, Mobile, Web... heck, even consoles if I can get a license.  Of course, therein lies the rub: some platforms have an additional cost associated with them.  Imagine my delight when I heard that Unity would be supporting the Playstation Mobile platform for Vita [which has been free since around last May].  For one, I like the Vita... it's a neat bit of hardware, and I want to see it shine.  For another, using the PSM platform to sell games on Vita is free.  And if it doesn't take significant effort to support a new platform, that's just going to expand my potential audience even further.  Fantastic!

So, the information is out there to get up and running using Unity for PSM, and you can get much of it just by following the resources linked to by that story I mention above.  However, I would like to compile as much of the process as I can, with some added details and explanations of things I didn't find so clear when I tried to get running with this.  Hopefully this will be of benefit to others thinking of using this method of getting their games onto the Vita.

From A-to-B (-to-C-to-D): The 4 Big Steps to Running on the Vita

1) Register as a PSM developer & Apply for PSM Publishing License

The first thing you will have to do is register as a PSM developer.  This more or less flags a Sony Entertainment Network account that you have (or create) as a developer for Sony's PSM platform.  If you have an existing PSN account, you can use that if you'd like [I used mine], but you should also be able to make a new account if you'd like to keep your developer info separate from your personal info.  Just follow the steps and input the relevant info; it shouldn't be difficult at all.

So, once you have registered as a developer, you can sign in to the PSM DevPortal and apply for a PSM Publishing License.  This is what will allow you to generate a publishing key, deploy to the Vita for testing, and (eventually, this summer?) sell your game on the Playstation Store.  Again, just follow the steps and input the info requested.  However, you will have to wait before you are approved.  For me, it took a little less than a week, but your mileage may vary.  You will eventually recieve an e-mail with your confirmation and instructions on where to go to "purchase" your license.  Don't worry, it shouldn't cost any more than the low, low cost of $0.00.

2) Install & Setup PSM tools

There are basically 2 parts to this: The PSM Tool Set that you install on your development machine, and the PSM Development Assistant that will be installed on the Vita.  The relevant installation files (including the special version of Unity needed - see next step) can be found here.  You will pretty much want to follow these directions for this step (and those that follow, really).

There are some caveats, though.  One, you might have to install the PSM Tool Set before setting up Unity.  Two, when setting up the Proxy Server Settings, you might have to select "Not use proxy server."  This is where I ran into most of my issues, so I have tried to explain these issues and others in more depth below.

3) Install Unity [special version with Vita support]

You made sure to download the Unity editor customized for use with PSM, right?  If not, try the "Download the public beta of Unity for PSM" link from this post in the Unity PSM forum.  It is important to download and install this version of Unity, as the regular version does not have support for deploying to Vita using PSM.  I must have not read that detail in the instructions I followed and was very confused when I could not "Build & Run" my game on the Vita.  I would expect this to show up in future updates to Unity, but for now you will need the special version.

4) Deploy to Vita

So, after you have 1 - Installed the PSM Tool set and generated your publisher key, 2 - Installed the PSM Development Assistant on the Vita, and 3 - Installed the special version of Unity with PSM support, you can finally try deploying a Unity project to the Vita.  You will continue the directions above at this point.  The examples in these instructions assume you will be building the sample Unity project "AngryBots," but it will work just the same with any existing project you may have.

In short: You should make sure that the Vita is connected to your development machine via USB and that it is currently running the PSM Development Assistant.  Then, go into the Build Settings menu in Unity and switch the platform to "Playstation Mobile."  If you've already generated your publisher key, you can click "Build & Run" and your project will be copied over to the Vita momentarily.

Alright, now you should have your game running on a Vita for testing!  Good job!

Some Important Notes & Information

  • In case you are wondering and I wasn't clear about this earlier, using Unity for PSM will work for Free as well as Pro Unity licenses.
  • Again, you must use a special beta version of Unity that has support for PSM Vita builds.  The regular version of Unity does not support this build target.
  • When I first tried generating a publisher key using the "Publishing Utility for Unity", it did not save the key correctly.  That's okay, it saved on the second attempt.  This didn't matter, as this is my first and only project (so far) as a PSM developer/publisher.
  • The proxy settings for the publishing utility have been giving some developers problems.  I do not use a proxy, so choosing "Not use proxy server" worked for me.  If you do use a proxy and still have issues, try the troubleshooting page in the PSM Unity docs or try the Unity or PSM Developer forums.
  • The reason you may need to install and set up the PSM Tool Set first is that the installer will set up the proper environment variables for Unity to use when building and deploying to the Vita.  For some odd reason, even though I did this, Unity still got confused and threw some errors.  After closing and restarting Unity, though, it worked.  If you need to, make sure you have the SCE_PSM_UNITY and SCE_PSM_UNITY_DATA environment variables set up and pointing to the proper directories.
  • Again, make sure that the Vita is connected via USB and running the PSM Development Assistant before trying to deploy your build to the Vita.  It will fail otherwise.
  • Make sure to check out the Unity PSM forum and PSM Developer Forums for any other issues you may encounter.  This is all still in a rather young state and a number of problems have already been experienced by other developers.  Chances are you will find someone who can help you.

Thats All Folks!

I hope that was at least a little useful to someone out there.  Has anyone else tried Unity for PSM yet?  Have any other issues you would like to share?  What has your experience been like so far?

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Simon Prefontaine
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Thanks for the article!

I got my game running on the Vita just a few days ago, without too much hassle. I did notice that some of my materials aren't displaying like they were on PC and on my Android device. I haven't really looked into it yet, maybe some renderers behave differently on PSM?

Travis Jones
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I believe that others have experienced some rendering issues as well. Definitely check out the forums and see what issues others have experienced. The Unity forum for PSM devs will probably have the best info, as many of the developers there have been using Unity on other platforms as well.

Stephen Northcott
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Thanks for the article. I was kind of aware of this happening somewhere in the periphery of my mind, but had managed to let it slip through the cracks. This motivated me to get signed up. :)

The Vita is a great little device, especially for games that really need joysticks. I have a couple of shelved projects which I was experimenting with using a full Sony DevKit setup, but as they are part time projects I am more likely to get them done in something like Unity - where I can prototype in spare moments.. from the sofa! ;)

It seems a lot of people are hoping for OS X support, and I just don't see that happening any time soon. So I was wondering if you have any experience of importing projects from "standard" Unity into the Vita version? From my perspective I am hoping to prototype on my MacBook Air, and then fire up a PC with the Vita tools when I have a more complete project...

Travis Jones
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I'm glad I could inspire you to try this out! :)

I'm not sure what you're asking about importing projects from "standard" Unity. It sounds like you might be concerned that you cannot deploy to the Vita from OS X. [I believe the special beta version with PSM support is Windows only for now.]

I have been developing my project using Unity 4.3.x before trying the Vita, and it worked just fine in the version with PSM support after I installed that. This is, of course, still on Windows. But I don't think you should have any difficulty moving your project files to a PC for Vita deployment, if that's what you're asking. Do make a backup of your project directory before switching, just to be sure, but it should just work.

Stephen Northcott
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Thanks. You answered my question. I have read that a few people had had some problems using shaders from existing projects in the Vita Beta. That's not such a big concern to me. Being able to prototype the core game on OS X is my main preference, just because it's my dev environment of choice for personal projects.

I did a test yesterday migrating a project from OS X to PC and into the Vita Beta and it went ok. :)

Bryson Whiteman
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Thanks for the lowdown, Travis!

Any word on what game you're working on? ;)

Travis Jones
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Not a problem; I hope you found it useful.

I will have more to say about my project itself in the next month or so. Right now, I'm busy cranking out an alpha build. Feel free to follow me on twitter (@BoxHouse_TJones) for the info when that happens.

Nicholas Romeo
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Great guide, thanks so much for putting this together. As a student developer who carries a Vita around a lot anyways I imagine being able to hand a Unity prototype over to a prospective employer would be a pretty powerful asset. Good luck with your project!

Amir H Fassihi
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So you say it is not necessary to purchase a Vita DevKit? Are you sure the Unity License for Vita is free?

Travis Jones
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If you release as a PlayStation Mobile Developer, yes, it should be free.

This is different from regular "native" Vita development, however. For one, you don't get a dev kit; you use a regular, commercial Vita for your testing. You also have to use either the PSM SDK or Unity, both of which are C#, so no native C++ development.

The analogy I would use is the difference between development on the XBox 360 through XBLIG using XNA and releasing an XBLA game.

If you are making a game on custom technology or using C++, you will not be able to use this method. However, if you are using Unity, this is a perfectly valid way of releasing your game on Vita. And yes, you can use the free Unity license.

One caveat not mentioned in my guide is that actually selling on the PlayStation store will not be available until this summer, but you can at least deploy to your Vita for testing in the meantime.