Announced today at the Game Developers Conference, Unity Technologies is offering Unity 5 as we speak.
Featuring an all-new physics and graphics engine, the Unity 5 engine will host a Cloud-boosted system with a feature rich editor and industry leading multi-platform support. Looking to help you develop beautiful games and designs “out of the box”, Unity 5 will significantly improve its lighting engine and will focus on small team construction, as highlighted by their “blacksmith” demo, developed by a team of three in-house at Unity. [Image above]
In this high quality demo, blacksmith is developed with fantastic particle effects, high definition details, strong lighting and pre-rendered assets which have the quality of any AAA title today. In the full breakdown shown by the Unity development team assets are whipped around quite easily, showcasing how a small team could develop a game very quickly in the new Unity 5 by popping in their designs and applying the fantastic new lighting elements. With lighting elements which have multiple levels, Unity 5 features soft lighting such as ambient sky colors, but also light which bounces off surfaces appropriately and traditional hard lighting.
With their second demo showing off a re-release in the new Unity 5 engine, Unity Technologies announced “Republique: Remastered” and helped indie publisher and developer Camouflaj to rebuild the title in a full redesign which allowed the game to work its own lighting engine. Rather than meticulously draw in each source of light to simulate realism, Unity 5 helped out the team and it shows quite clearly as the title was released on Steam just last week.
Unity 5 will help developers with Unity Cloud Build services in-engine as well. Saving developers last year with over 150,000 builds developed in games and other projects, saving 4500 hours of work, Unity Cloud Build will be available for free with upgraded options available to teams which are interested. Hosting the service options over at build.cloud.unity3d.com, four tiers exist in the cloud-based system, free, Pro [$25/mo], Studio [$100/mo] and Enterprise. Focused on dedicated build servers, Unity Cloud is designed to help teams in multiple locations, or those interested in a cloud backup to have a central location that you can trust.
Unity 5 isn’t just about developing games, as advertising opportunities are unique on the platform as well. Highlighting information surrounding Hipster Whale, the development team behind Crossy Road, Unity Technologies showcased how small development teams can make it big with Unity advertising systems which are un-intrusive and profitable. Crossy Road made over $1,000,000 in its first 45 days from release, and Unity Technologies made a point in saying that over $3M in revenue has now been generated for the indie studio in total since launch using only Unity advertising. In fact, four of the top ten games available on iOS today use Unity ads, and enjoy success therein.
Soliciting themselves as a “values led” democracy, the pricing model may not reach the fully-free level that Unreal Engine 4 just hit, Unity 5 will release at the same rate that Unity 4 had been sold under – $75/month or $1500 for a buyout of the engine, with no royalty commitments in the system. As Unreal Engine 4 is now fully free monthly but asks for royalties afterward, this is an interesting move by the company for their “pro” edition. Announcing the “Personal Edition” today, Unity 5 will now offer high quality power to small development teams with the Personal Edition with fully free development – no royalties. Almost sticking it to Unreal Engine 4 with an introductory level model, Unity 5 is making waves today and is ready for your start-up development cycle today.
Just as with lighting, audio reflects off of objects in a natural way in Unity 5 as well. With the use of “snapshots”, the new Unity Engine can apply filter effects for spacial audio cues. In example on stage today, Unity 5 allows you to bleed sounds through walls while driving these sounds into their natural volume if you walk into the opposing room. No specifics were given as to if these sounds will change based on bounce-audio as the ambient lighting will.
Unity 5 will be available on 21 different platforms, including web browsers, mobile devices and game consoles. WebGL is fresh to the engine with Unity 5 and will allow developers to build games exclusively for mobile browsers without the end-user restrictions of Adobe’s Flash Player. Similar to how Flash Player works, WebGL with Unity 5 will bring all of the resources mentioned in Unity Technology’s demo today without downloading the entire game in a client. Using WebGL 2.0, the high definition graphics and lighting we’ve been speaking on will run natively with about 1.25x the system resources required for your games. This allows for PC based design in the HTML5 era where people expect their media immediately – a fantastic option for titles like Tome: Immortal Arena which we gave our PAX 2014 Editor’s Choice without knowing that it used Unity in a browser today and in our test. Unity 5 will allow console development to proceed with the same tools, rather than switching tools to develop on Xbox, Wii U or PS4 today. This is a fantastic adaptation for the engine.
Unity 5 development will reach out to the Oculus Rift just as it had in the past. Featuring built in native support for Oculus, Unity 5 features an Alpha program for virtual reality support which will cut down on latency times for game and program developers. Oculus will release this Alpha program into open Beta testing for development teams with Unity 5 in about one month, leading up to a virtual reality game jam coming this year. Closing out the event, former EA CEO John Riccitiello brought up David Helgason to the stage, the founder of Unity Technologies. Reaching back through the show, Mr. Helgason hit on the Unity team’s progress from Unity 1 through today and summarized the event by saying that the team will not stop here, continuing to push the envelope for mobile, web and high end developing of games and apps. We look forward to seeing more from the Unity Technologies team and it will be interesting to see how the arms race between this team, the Unreal team and CryEngine throughout the coming years.