Technology Updates

Unity the Game Engine – Game Development Tool

Unity
Written by Team Maffat

Unity is a game development ecosystem: a powerful rendering engine fully integrated with a complete set of intuitive tools and rapid workflows to create interactive 3D and 2D content; easy multiplatform publishing; thousands of quality, ready-made assets in the Asset Store and a knowledge-sharing community.

For independent developers and studios, Unity’s democratizing ecosystem smashes the time and cost barriers to creating uniquely beautiful games. They are using Unity to build a livelihood doing what they love: creating games that hook and delight players on any platform.

unity logo

Unity Logo

DOWNLOAD AND GET STARTED

Get the free version of Unity for Windows. It’s fully functional, yours to keep and includes publishing support for the full range of mobile platforms, desktop and the Web. It also comes with a 30-day trial of Unity Pro, and additional Pro mobile deployment and Team Licenses.

Unity 4.6

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

(i) FOR DEVELOPMENT

          OS: Windows XP SP2+, 7 SP1+, 8; Mac OS X 10.6+.

          Windows Vista is not supported; and server versions of Windows & OS X are not tested.

          GPU: Graphics card with DX9 (shader model 2.0) capabilities. Anything made since 2004 should work.

          The rest mostly depends on the complexity of your projects.

      Additional platform development requirements:

  • iOS: Mac computer and Xcode 4.3.
  • Android: Android SDK and Java Development Kit (JDK).
  • Windows Store Apps / Windows Phone: 64 bit Windows 8 Pro and Visual Studio 2012+.
  • Blackberry: 32 bit Java Runtime (JRE).

(ii) FOR RUNNING UNITY GAMES

Generally content developed with Unity can run pretty much everywhere. How well it runs is dependent on the complexity of your project.                 More detailed requirements:

  • Desktop:
    • OS: Windows XP+, Mac OS X 10.6+, Ubuntu 10.10+, SteamOS+
    • Graphics card: DX9 (shader model 2.0) capabilities; generally everything made since 2004 should work.
    • CPU: SSE2 instruction set support.
    • Web player supports IE, Chrome, Firefox, Safari and others.
  • iOS: requires iOS 4.3 or later.
  • Android: OS 2.3.1 or later; ARMv7 (Cortex) CPU; OpenGL ES 2.0 or later.
  • Blackberry: OS 10 or later.

THINGS ABOUT UNITY

As developer tools go, Unity is incredibly successful. A massive 47% of developers in our survey us Unity for some of their projects and 29% use it as their primary development tool. This is not just Hobbyists taking advantage of the free licensing options, Unity is more popular with professionals in general and most popular with the Hunters (53% of them) who are trying to earn their living from the app stores.

3D and 2D game engine

unity2d game

Unity 2D Game Sample

Unity supports both 2D & 3D game development, which is quite unusual for a game engine. That said, Unity was really designed for 3D games with 2D support bolted on afterwards; the 2D features were initially just for building menus and other 2D screens needed in a 3D game, to avoid the need for an external tool. The features were quite generic and developers started building games with them; probably due to the broad cross-platform support. To their credit, Unity have supported this and continue to invest in the area.

Unity3D Game Sample

Unity3D Game Sample

Supported languages

Three development languages are officially supported: C#, UnityScript (basically JavaScript with type annotations) and Boo. The last of these, Boo is not widely used and probably best avoided. Given its name, you’d be forgiven for thinking that UnityScript is the main development language, it’s not. The Unity community has widely adopted C# and you’ll find the majority of plugins and examples use it. If you prefer JavaScript and only have a very simple project in mind then UnityScript is a good option. Once you start using plugins written in C# that potentially need to call back into your UnityScript you’ll find issues with compilation order and wish you’d gone with C# from the beginning.

Pros

Unity has a lot of great features:

  • Unity has a very strong community of asset and plugin creators – there’s lots of free and reasonable priced content available.
  • Unity’s visual editing tools are excellent and the editor can be extended with plugins.
  • It supports a wide range of asset formats and converts automatically to optimal formats for the target platform.
  • It supports a very wide range of platforms, mobile, desktop, web and console.
  • Deployment to multiple platforms is very easy to manage.
  • The 3D engine produces high quality results without any complex configuration (I’ve personally written a licensed game with Unity that Apple has featured in lots of countries).
  • There is a free license that covers the majority of features.
  • Paid licenses are very affordable for most professional developers, available on subscription for $75 per platform currently (some platforms are free).

Cons

There are a few issues which are worth considering before choosing to go with Unity:

  • Collaboration is difficult. Unity has an expensive asset server product to help teams collaborate. If you don’t use it, sharing code and assets between team members can be painful. The best option is to enable and use external source control but there are several binary files (which don’t need to be) that can’t be merged and updating assets often causes them to break things in scenes, losing connections to scripts and other objects.
  • Performance is not great – until very recently Unity ran almost entirely in a single thread and made almost no use of the extra cores in most mobile devices – this is improving in Unity 5. The compilers are not at all well optimised for the ARM processors in almost all mobile devices – Unity have decided to transpile to C++ and use LLVM to get a more optimised build rather than solve this problem directly in future releases.
  • The engine source code is not available. Even paying users don’t get to see the Unity source code, which means if you come across a bug in the engine you have to wait for them to fix it or work around it. It’s always going to be more critical for you than it is for them. This also limits the ways in which you can extend or customise the engine.

Overall, Unity is a great choice, particularly for solo developers who aren’t trying to push the limits of what the platforms can do.

 

i Hart

i Hart



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