Unity 5: Graphical Powerhouse For Free (Almost)
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Unity 5: Graphical Powerhouse For Free (Almost)
12 March, 2015
Interview
Report

Before GDC 2015, Unity Technologies launched a huge press conference for developers devoted to showcasing its latest Unity 5 engine. 80.lv was lucky enough to get to the press section and have a talk with some of the people behind the new technological breakthrough.

Graphical Overhaul

Probably the biggest advantage of Unity 5 that has been extensively featured during the whole press conference, is the graphical power of the overhauled engine. Developers added a plethora of new features into the project. This includes physically based shading, real-time global illumination (Enlighten), and cool reflection probes. All these features help studios create visually stunning games.

  • unity5-press-conf-80lv

Camouflaj is among the some of the first studios that managed to use all the power of Unity 5. The company used this engine to develop the PC version of its popular episodic adventure game, République. According to the game’s designer Paul Alexander, Unity 5 proved to be a great help for the whole team (you will be able to read more about République’s remastering in the upcoming interview).

When we started to develop République in 2011 Unity was not a household name. It was a little bit of a gamble for us when we started developing with that engine. Luckily, it really paid off. The great thing about Unity that is most enticing for developers is the incredible flexibility and abundance of features.

You’re able to do things that would be impossible to do without a large studio. If you’re a small studio you could do things with Unity that would be impossible with any other engine. Asset Store is a great help for us. Sometimes you’re not required to enter the code at all. You just download what you need and put in the plugin. It’s impressive.

The features that they’ve added in Unity 5 really embellished the advantages of the engine. Things like physically based shading, real-time global illumination that were previously only available on big engines, are now available for everybody. I think we were very lucky to get in Unity so early.

Paul-Alexaner-80lv

Paul Alexaner, Camouflaj, Designer

Flexible Editor

During the Unity’s presentation, a very sleek demo called The Blacksmith was shown. This is a really high production video with nice animations, lots of great effects, and top-notch 3D models. You can find the complete description of all the graphical features showcased in the demo here.

However, what really blew our mind is that the whole scene was later recreated on scene in a couple of minutes by Unity founder and CTO Joachim Ante. This is a great demonstration of the simplicity and incredible flexibility Unity is known for.

  • Unity5-Editor-Demo-80lv

Unity Technologies said that the new editor is even more powerful with 64-bit support. It provides big improvements to animation, physics (PhysX 3.3), and audio tools. Basically, the company managed to fit in a full-fledged mixer into the engine (this feature was showed in another demo).

Thanks to the flexibility and abundance of materials in Asset Store, one can build a prototype with Unity in a matter or days:

You don’t have to make games from scratch. We have Asset Store that allows you to prototype the game very quickly with art and models. We also have new sample assets for first person, third person, and others types of games to really make a prototype in a matter of hours or even minutes. And you can always use Asset Store to really enrich your product and make it more graphically stunning.

Carl-Callewaert-80lv

Carl Callewaert, Unity Evangelist

Multiplatform Beast

  • Unity5-Multiplatform-80lv

The biggest advantage of Unity 5 is still its impressive multiplatform capabilities. The engine can be used to make games for 21 platforms including consoles, mobiles, and PC. One of the newest features people talked about quite a lot during the previous year, was the implementation of WebGL. This basically means that right now you can make a Unity game for the browser without worrying about the customer not being able to play because the Unity Web Player wasn’t installed.

unity5-multiplatform-80lv

We’re really thinking about the multiplatform, trying to make it very easy and accessible for the user. For example, if you use some particular assets from Asset Store they automatically work for mobile, as well as PC. A lot of features also work for mobile out of the box. No optimization is needed. It’s so easy.

Carl-Callewaert-80lv

Carl Callewaert, Unity Evangelist

One more thing

unity5-ecosystem-80lv

Unity 5 is an ecosystem. It’s much more than an engine. The company continues to work on several additional services that help developers create even more successful and effective games.

Unity Technologies is working on several tools that help developers build successful games. We have our own analytics tool, which is already in beta for the community to try and track all that information. These solutions combined with Cloud Build and other features of Unity 5, allows developers to greatly reduce the game creation time and analyze the data faster.

Carl-Callewaert-80lv

Carl Callewaert, Unity Evangelist

***

Unity is a powerful competitor in the engine market. With Unity 5 available for free for beginners (Personal Edition) and relatively cheap for professionals ($75 per month), a lot of developers will be able to try this product. However, there are other products that are available to users for free such as Unreal Engine 4. There are a lot of other tools as well but we will just have to wait and see if Unity has enough power to win the engine war.

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