Many video game development journeys start by answering the question, “Should we build our own in-house engine or use a pre-existing platform?” When choosing the second option, chances are you will decide to use Unity.
John Riccitiello, CEO of Unity Technologies, can best explain why they are so popular. In 2018, he visited TechCrunch Disrupt SF to speak about their video game development engine and how it prevails over the competition.
John stated that Unity has captured a large portion of the market, proven by the nearly 2 billion Unity games downloaded monthly.
Also, he added that their engine is compatible with over 25 platforms, including Android and iOS, Windows and MacOS, Oculus Rift, Nintendo Switch, and others.
This year, the company announced that Unity 2019 will include 283 new improvements.
This blog post aims to figure out how these new changes are going to affect game development, what makes Unity stand out from the competitors, and why Unity soft launches are so important.
Unity 2019.1 has a smorgasbord of new features available for developers, including touched-up graphics and lightings functions, artist toolbar and editor, mobile video game development, and code compiler. It provides general performance and workflow advancements as well.
The long-expected update includes functionality improvements that will be useful for graphics specialists, mobile game developers, and animators.
This is only the beginning. Unity is planning to continue their release stream by releasing Unity 2019.2 this summer and Unity 2019.3 in the late autumn.
Unity has also updated its Long-Term Support, which is aimed at those who want to produce their games by staying on a consistent version for a longer period. This new LTS does not include new features or functionality enhancements. Its update addresses issues with system crashes and includes only bug fixes.
Let’s see what exactly has been modified in the Unity engine and how these new changes are going to influence future development.
Unity 2019 focuses on greater performance and an advanced editor workflow. Thus, a new engine version has been introduced with the new Shortcut Manager and SceneVis controls.
The other updates include high-performance multithreaded Data-Oriented Technology Stack along with the Burst Compiler.
These workflow and performance changes will result in:
Unity remains focused on expanding its artist toolbar.
The company has now introduced an expanded Animation Rigging package. It enables game developers to add procedural movements on animated image skeletons in real time. It is now possible to manually create a character control rig hierarchy by applying predefined constraints from the library or generate custom ones with C#.
Additionally, the Timeline is now transformed into a validated signals package, which enables easier object interactions in the scene.
Due to the artist tooling update, graphics specialists and developers will be able to:
In the 2019.1 version, Unity specialists recommend using the updated Lightweight Render Pipeline, which enables better graphics and can be utilized on mobile platforms, powerful consoles, and also PCs.
The update is also accompanied by High-Definition Render Pipeline and improvements to GPU Lightmapper functionality.
These functionality modifications will make it possible to:
Unity 2019.1 also brings enhancements to mobile game development to avoid rebuilding app packages. Now, it has become possible to patch them.
Mobile Adaptive Performance has also been introduced in this release. It provides better thermals management capabilities and higher game management in real time. You can benefit from Mobile Adaptive by adjusting quality settings without overstressing the device.
This Unity 2019 mobile game development update will result in mobile battery life preservation, which will extend gameplay time for a more enjoyable experience.
Developers will also have more control over the decisions made by the mobile operating system such as what to do to avoid throttling or when to run at high clock speeds.
The competition for game development engines is tight. Despite the fact that companies such as Unreal Engine, Corona, GameMaker Studio, and others are fighting to maintain their positions, Unity remains a top performer, and for good reasons.
“Unity 3D is a powerful cross-platform engine that allows our teams to work and iterate quickly. Easy to start and hard to master, Unity is fun to use across developers of various skill sets. Multi-platform development, rapid evolution of the engine, development support and huge community make Unity 3D the engine of choice when we work on the next mobile game title,” comments Alexey Isaev, senior engineering manager at Innovecs.
When developing video games with Unity, you are not bound to a single platform. The engine supports more than 25 platforms, including mobile (iOS and Android), Nintendo Switch, Windows, Oculus Rift, PlayStation, Xbox, and many others.
In comparison, Unreal supports 17 platforms, and GameMaker Studio only supports 12. This is one of the reasons why, at Innovecs Games, we primarily use Unity for game development.
Compared to other asset stores, like Unreal, Unity’s is richer and contains more ready-made 3d models of characters and their surroundings, textures, and even sounds and particle systems. The store also includes different animation patterns, GUI generators, and, more importantly, editor extensions for AI management.
The asset store contains everything necessary for creating a top video game.
Compared to other engines, Unity has a very intuitive interface. It allows users to seamlessly navigate through the system and easily find necessary tools for game creation. Additionally, due to a huge online community and in-depth product documentation, it is easy to find the answer to any emerging questions.
Unreal Engine lacks this user-friendliness. When working in the editor, there are endless pop-up windows. You can spend hours unsuccessfully searching for necessary information.
GameMake Studio has the same problem with the interface as Unreal and also provides poor editor functions.
No matter which engine you select, you should be aware of its primary characteristics and some key peculiarities.
The requirements for using this engine depends on your purpose.
For game development, the minimal requirements are the following:
For playing games, the minimal requirements are the following:
Before using the engine, it is important to know which programming languages are supported .
Boo is much like Python. It is a CLI programming language that was used by Unity until 2014. Because of the small user base, the company stopped applying this language.
Projects in Unity include folders for the following items: temporary files, Library items, Assets, and ProjectSettings.
The Assets folder collects all game assets. This can be code, graphics elements, or audio. Every time you upload files, they go directly to this folder.
Then, the Library folder is created for anything imported from the Assets folder, like local cache storage.
The ProjectSettings folder includes all settings and the Temp folder contains temporary files.
The scene is defined as a set of objects. Each scene may include different decorations, obstacles, environments, and other elements.
When creating a new scene, you will see that it contains default components such as directional light and a view of the camera.
The scene can consist of multiple levels. When repositioning the camera or changing the player’s place, a new scene level is created.
Be sure to save by clicking Ctrl+S from time to time to preserve all levels and components.
Game objects are the elements that are visible in the scenes. Objects can be created by adding different components such as light, mesh filter, or mesh renderer.
Usually, the object has its Name, assigned Tag, and Layers. It also has the Transform property, which defines the size and position of the object on the scene.
Game objects are placed according to a system of coordinates: X (horizontal), Y (vertical), Z (depth of the screen).
Being aware of key Unity characteristics and how to develop your game with this engine does mean that it will be popular or successful among players.
After creating a ready-made product, it’s important to optimize and prepare it for release. The best way to check whether the game is going to fulfil your expectations is to soft launch it.
A soft launch is defined as a release to a limited audience. You choose the geography and number of beta users and provide them with access to the application.
Soft launches have become popular among game developers because such a tactic provides a number of benefits:
The geography for your game soft launch depends on your predefined target audience.
“The goal for a soft launch is to check a similar players behavior such as purchases or retention on a smaller scale before actually pushing the game in key geos. The location for soft launch depends on where you are going to release and operate the game. It can be Canada, Australia or Nordic countries,” comments Slava Taraskin, Head of Managed Accounts EMEA at Unity Technologies.
If your game is oriented toward major markets, it would be smart to launch the project in English-speaking countries such as US, which has 178.7 million mobile game players. Other locations include the following:
For the mobile game market, 97% of revenue is generated by Asian countries. Additionally, the minimal Cost-per-Install (CPI) here is $0,51. So, if your purpose is to soft launch the game to a wider audience, Asia-Pacific countries can be your choice:
By soft-launching your Unity game, you expect to see some results to allow for smarter decisions before release. Here is what should be measured after the launch:
The market share of the Unity engine is 48%, whereas its closets competitors (Unreal Engine, GameMaker, and CryEngine) have only 17% all together. This percentage clearly demonstrates the preferences of game developers.
Unity provides possibilities for developing 3D games, instant games, AR and VR entertainments, games for mobile/PC/consoles. The engine also suits the creation of AAA games such as Ori and the Blind Forest, Wasteland 2, Katamari Damacy Reroll, and others.
The engine stands out of the competition by providing rich asset store items, all-in-one editor, and easily navigable interface.
At Innovecs, our teams choose Unity 3D to build games that the players will love. We use the latest technologies and follow all Unity modifications and updates to deliver the best products.
Unity 2019.1 is the first release of the year and has brought a lot of new improvements. Unity 2019.2 and 3 versions are yet to come and will change the way games are developed. Let’s wait and see.