My Project Search & Replace tool is now live in the Unity Asset Store! This tool has already saved me time in developing games by doing some heavy lifting. I wrote this because I felt that Unity could use a solid, generic search & replace system.
Watch the video below to see the tool in action and if you’re a Unity user I think you should buy it. 😉
And I’m just getting started. I have a number of features that I’d like to expand upon in the backlog. Such as searching and replacing prefab instances and more complex search/replace interactions. I would like better methods to search custom serialized data as well. These are all use cases that I’ve uncovered myself as I actively use the software in my own games.
The process of bringing this plugin to life has been exciting for me. My first step was to do some basic research to make sure I was not re-inventing the wheel. I have a few plugin ideas, and I spent some time really looking at the packages that exist for sale. I attempted to gauge how well packages were doing commercially to see what people actually cared about. While most of the data for this is not available, I found that most successful plugins used Youtube and, hey lookey, Youtube views seemed to be a good metric.
I then proceeded to do ‘customer interviews’. Asking devs what they felt were missing features in Unity, and generally getting as much open-ended information as possible. The idea behind customer interviews is to determine a pain point and then work towards a solution. What was interesting about this process was that I was able to easily identify search & replace as a pain point, but most users seemed to either think it was solved ‘good enough’, or that it was endemic to the software and just soldiered on.
It felt like I was on to something. But the people I interviewed seemed to be unable to clearly say ‘yes i need this specific feature’. Thankfully when I started showing the alpha software to users, the feedback was very positive. Users could easily see how the tool could benefit their workflow.
What’s great as well was I showed the tool to an artist who immediately saw the benefits to their workflow. I had completely neglected artists from my testing, which is an oversight on my part. Designers, artists, musicians, QA : there are a LOT of people who use Unity in different capacities and I think as a developer I forget that as Unity gets easier and easier to use, more types of people are using it.
Advice for Developers
Some advice based on my experiences:
- Research the ecosystem: there are a lot of assets in the store. Try to find something someone hasn’t already made.
- Find the pain point: Get as much info as you can by interviewing your potential customers.
- Interpret the feedback: People will tell you problems they need solved, but can’t give a good solution.** Be creative in finding solutions.
- Get out of the house: I went to game dev meetups, game jams, GDC and college groups. I met a diverse set of developers and realized my audience is probably not who I think it is.
- Eat your own dog food: The first time I used the tool in a real project I realized I was on to something. I also found bugs, missing features and bad UI. If you can’t use it yourself, who will?
**I usually call this the ‘dialog’ problem. If something is unclear in a game, and you ask the player how they would fix the problem chances are they will say ‘I’d pop up a dialog that says X’. If you listened to this advice and didn’t creatively solve the problem, you’d have ‘Reading Dialogs: The Game’.
Free Copies Available
Hey thanks for reading this far! I have a VERY limited number of free copies I can give away. If you create Unity-related content such as Youtube tutorials, etc. please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I may be able to get you a freebie.