Unity 4.1 is out. Although this blog appears to have become a release watch for Unity, it is because Unity has been nailing it.
Apple TV AirPlay
Unity 4.1 brings you full multi-screen AirPlay support. iOS device users running version 4.3 or later can use AirPlay to stream content direct to their HDTV.
What’s more, with AirPlay, they can use their iPad or iPhone as a game controller – running and controlling the game from their iOS handheld device whilst watching the action unfold on the big screen.
Read more about Unity for iOS here.
Apple TV and AirPlay streaming, Ouya, Steambox buzz and probably a Play! device soon (chromebox or buy up Oyua), and more are bringing a big change to the openness of console/tv game development. Everywhere games you take with you and new consoles really. This is a huge change in that sea. Native apps on the devices will also improve this new perception, as soon as Apple TV SDK is updated for apps (the other important part of this system) it will be a game changer for tv apps/games.
Apple is allegedly planning a special event for March that could introduce a software development kit (SDK) for the Apple TV, according to a research note to investors from Jefferies analyst Peter Misek. Basically, an SDK would allow developers to start submitting applications that would be optimized for your television screen and available for purchase via Apple TV. It could be the start of a whole new era of TV — and even gaming — by some predictions.
Just like chronically incorrect Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, Misek is under the assumption that Apple will eventually release a television set, which is what the SDK would pave the way for. He also expects the fabled Apple television set will have a screen size in the range of 42-inches to 55-inches that costs about $1,500.
And while Misek doesn’t expect Apple to mention the TV set at the rumored March event, he does anticipate that the Apple TV SDK will be available in September or October of this year.
Read more at http://venturebeat.com/2013/02/13/apple-tv-sdk-launch-date/#lXSIOTAYkr3qb6G8.99
AirPlay has always been possible and TV Out on Apple devices since they added it but Airplay for apps and games is a big change for consoles. Having that easily accessible for many game developers. Regarding apps on the actual Apple TV device, hopefully Apple does launch the SDK this year and it isn’t false hope like before but when Unity3D adds support for AirPlay it gets interesting. Lots of other games have this but it will be more common. Gaming in your living room with tablets (essentially the WiiU) is becoming more a reality. Lots of fun ideas for multiplayer, switching airplay streams for spectating and more. Yes tablets and pads might be more expensive, but the game markets are entirely different and tablets, phones, pods etc are all challenging both traditional console markets and traditional handheld markets and their pricing.
Get started in Unity 4.1 with some help from AngryAnt. AngryAnt’s DeviceDisplay sample on porting screen out to AirPlay in unity gist.
Unity also updated the Memory Profiler which is excellent, the profiling tools are getting better and in combination with XCode Profiling embedded is getting easier to iterate on.
Developers more than ever need to make multiplatform games and support iOS, Android, possibly Windows Phone + new console markets and the web (html5/webgl/unity/flash) and desktop (Win/Mac) that exist and are still quite large. Lots of opportunity ahead in disruption, Unity is in the apex.
Unity 4 is live, very fast after public beta.
Flash export, Linux export, DirectX 11, animation system and loads of cleanup needed are included.
Lots of great things in there but a huge one is namespaces in MonoBehaviours.
Scripting: MonoBehaviours can now be inside namespaces.
Previous to 4, you could have namespaces in dlls/libs you created with the overhead of managing separate dll builds for each platform define, but within the unity project this was not possible. Finally, classes with the same name can be in the same project under different namespaces. Yes their can now be two GameController or UIButton classes if they are in multi game loader and you don’t have to rename them GameShooterController and UIShooterButton, just put them in a namespace, welcome to the future of the past! I prototype lots of games and have a prototype project with helpers that I test many prototypes in, I hate having to name them so specific or devise hierarchies and base classes that facilitate that during prototyping or make a new project for similar naming, just want to see the gameplay and iterate fast. This actually helps that big time. With the asset store and many products using the same class names this is a welcome big change that is lost in all the other new features.
Another great feature is supporting Android extra OBB apk files for storage on larger games. (This can also be used in Unity 3.5 via an asset store plugin from Unity.
Android: Support for APK Expansion Files (OBBs) – effectively enabling applications larger than 50Mb in the Google Play Store.
I don’t see Shuriken full particle system scaling in editor or runtime yet. Shuriken particle system added in 3.5 is much nicer but scaling the systems is more difficult, not all properties were exposed to do that easily outside of the editor (like scaling at runtime). There is a Particle Scaler asset on the store that scales all the internals nicely but having this as a feature is needed yesterday. One project I worked on with loaded asset bundles at different scales had this problem and caused lots of rework scaling up the systems to work at the correct scale in the base app using the bundles.
Unity is a great system and there are lots of great changes in Unity 4, cleanup being some of the best of them. It has flaws but it makes up for it in intense help on shipping and getting to all platforms. It is a mammoth task to democratize game development and support so many platforms and developer types.
Pick it up! I have to figure out the best time to upgrade and move all current projects to it. I guess the holiday tasks are identified.
Pick up the public beta of Unity 4.
Looking forward to trying the Mecanim animation system. Mecanim combined with NavMeshAgents could be fun.
- Once imported as muscle clips, animations can be used with all humanoid characters with no additional conversions needed.
- Use the same animations on different proportion characters with no overhead or need for storing multiple versions of the clip.
- Map the bones of your model to human muscles with a single click, or fine tune the setup for full control.
- Slice up your authored or motion-captured animations directly inside Unity with the industry’s best tool for the job.
- Preview the animation as your drag the ranges of a clip.
- Indicators for pose looping quality and motion looping quality lets you easily pick the range with optimal looping.
- Differences between start and end pose is smoothed out by the importer to ensure perfect looping.
Real-time shadows on mobile to see if magic carpets are no longer needed in some cases. Then again we are still on mobile with a tight rendering budget on low end.
Unity 4 includes one of your most requested features: dynamic shadows on mobile devices. Add more realism to your mobile games with Unity 4, by casting hard dynamic shadows from directional lights.
One nice welcome is a licensing system, it is a pain when getting a new computer and it looks like Unity is going more self managed for this which is great.
License: New activation system was developed:
- Ability to un-license a machine yourself!
- Continuous license and content updates.
- Unity Account login for certain license types.
Also of course looking forward to the final Flash and Linux exporters. And any improvement to large lightmapped scenes is good.
cocos2d-x is the natural evolution of the cocos2d-iphone engine to C++ and it is stable and producing multiplatform games.
cocos2d-iphone is a great Objective-C game engine (and the first really) that began as a python engine called cocos2d and was ported to Objective-C + iOS early on in the iPhone SDK days. Arguably Unity and cocos2d are the two biggest indie engines on the App store. Cocos2D is a very simple engine and coming from Flash development many of the concepts are similar (i.e. Sprite, Actions/easing, Layers/Scenes (although slightly different), etc). But getting your Objective-C game to Android and other platforms is not a fun task. There are other options like andengine for android from cocos2d port but each port only gets you so far as you still have two codebases for one game on iOS and Android.
Unity obviously can open up platforms for you but cocos2D-x can also do that for 2D games across iOS, Android, Blackberry Playbook, Windows, Linux and more! This is possible because like oolong engine and other custom multiplatform engines for mobile the core is in C++ with presentation view wrappers/stubs in Objective-C++/C for iOS, Java/C++/NDK for Android, etc. The list of games shows that it is stable and a well treaded engine including games like Hero Academy from Robot Entertainment.
cocos2D-x even has a port of cocos to C#/XNA for Windows Phone development using all the classes you know and love from cocos2d. That is actually pretty sweet to have similar logic to reach Windows Phone (Unity and others bypass because there is no native access by developers sadly still, must, use, XNA — strange considering Unity pushes C# development quite heavily but I digress).
- cocos2d-x downloads
- cocos2d-xna downloads
- the original cocos2d from sweet python
- list of cocos2d-x games
- list of cocos2d-iphone games
Unity 3.5 was released and is a game changer even for Unity, download it now!. There are so many great new features that have already made development faster and cool features to help bring your games to Flash from Unity !
Since I have been using Unity fulltime pretty much on games like SupaSupaCross for SupaSupa Games (pick up a copy at Apple, Amazon or Google for your devices!) and Kimi Raikkonnen IceOne Racing for 24mas while at Impossible Interactive from my *drawlabs game studio, Unity has addressed some major trouble points when doing a full scale multiplatform rollout to mobile (iOS + Android), web and desktop.
One major problem was switching platforms and rebuilding the asset cache. Unity now has an Asset Cache server that will minimize library reimports so that it will be easy to switch platforms in minutes. I can attest that our projects towards the end were really painful switching platforms, no kidding 45+ minutes. Having that removed is oh so nice when you have 5+ projects that run on all platforms. The horror of accidentally selecting the wrong platform while you have to wait 45 minutes for it to convert one direction and then back is over. We actually ended having to have the projects on different machines and making two projects hooked to source control that were set to iOS and one to Android to help minimize this.
Occlusion Culling + Lightmapping
Unity updated and replaced the occlusion culling system for speed and better occlusion generation, taking the time down orders of magnitude. This version also is more precise and you can take the time to do detailed occlusion during development more often.
Lightmapping probes is also a very nice technique to integrate to get what looks like dynamic lights without having dynamic lights and the cost associated.
Source Control for Everyone
A big problem with the pipeline before was having artists work for a day or two and need Unity but they only had the indie version and thus could not participate in our Mercurial and git repositories. Now even the indie version has source control support (still with .meta files though which is a necessary evil for now — still going to have straggling metas when developers/artists remove/add one they didn’t edit).
Text Based Serialization of Scenes and Prefabs!
This one is epic, I loathe binary formats of old which turn files into blackboxes of repository filling chunks, now you can choose to serialize your scenes and prefabs in text which they have chosen very wisely as YAML. Perfect use case for YAML and now we can have 2+ people work on the same scene and not end up hating one another when the other has to overwrite all changes since they used to be all binary.
The removal of binary files in game development is very needed and one of the most difficult things to shake with all game engines I deal with. Binary files for development are bad… YAML, JSON, even XML is a better way so you can see what changed on each update not just replace the file.
At this point I love Unity for making my day faster…
That isn’t even the really cool stuff like Native Client Support and Flash Player Exporting!
Native Client Support
I feel this could be big if NaCL is adopted widely, this also helps with the Chrome Web store and again taking your game to places that individual development of the engine to do so would be non economical. Unity knows when to even overlook their own WebPlayer in favor of other players such as Flash and NaCL from Google.
Flash Player Export
note: (Still preview and will require extra license when final)
The big daddy setup to scrape up all the Flash developers. You can now develop Flash games inUnity using a better programming platform that Adobe was just too protective of Flash old guard to pursue 4 years ago, at least they are now. Flash 11 to Stage3D exporting to lower level Flash was a very smart move for Adobe at this point to keep evolving Flash. However with them dropping mobile player Flash’s future is still a little shaky as it loses developer mind share, typically that is fatal. One way to keep great game and interactive developers is what they are doing with Stage3D and Flash 11. Unity is very smart to jump in here and it is a great opportunity for both Adobe and Unity.
2 big pieces missing from the Flash version are terrain export and use of non Flash classes like WWW class. Unfortunately since this is the only supported Unity WWW class that works across all platforms well this may require some #if defs to route around web/service calls and rewriting web and or networking classes in AS3.
Since this is the first version and has such great potential for overtaking Flash gaming on the web with more native and lower level hardware access, watch this space to grow and be a game changer.
Flash features that are in and out of the current iteration
- Occlusion culling
- Basic scripting
- Custom shaders
- Animation / skinning
- Basic audio features, such as AudioSource / AudioListener
- Navigation meshes
- Baked substance textures
- UnityGUI, except for text input
- Realtime shadows
Limited support – features with potential issues
- Image Effects. Some work, some don’t.
- Not all parts of .NET scripting work (lambda expressions and LINQ aren’t supported, for example)
- GUIText will have a dramatic impact on performance
- The new Particle System (Shuriken) works, but scripts that use the Shuriken API will fail to convert to flash
- Unity profiler
- Asset bundles
- Text input in UnityGUI
- WWW classes. Note that you can write your own ActionScript that uses Adobe networking APIs.
- Raknet networking (if you need networking, you can write it in Action Script 3 directly, using flash API)
- Using VertexLit shaders in combination with:
- Specular highlights
- Spot lights
- Emissive material color
- Advanced audio features, such as audio effects. Also pitch manipulation is not supported.
- Deferred rendering
- AnimationEvents that carry arguments
More on Unity 3.5
Unity is fast. Unity 3.5 preview is available with exporting to Flash 3D/Stage3D available to test.
Unity has been very quick to add this to their editor and platform. I wasn’t sure how much Flash 3D would get traction if not for UDK and Unity support, as they also work so well on mobile devices. As everyone knows there is an immense mobile disruption and Adobe recently pulled mobile Flash player support. It is possible this will be resurrected as just the Flash Player when/if mobile ever really supports plugins in browsers well, current hardware and technology may be too early – the plugin may have also gone the way of the app on mobile. There is always a need for advancement to standards though, html5 is largely influenced by Flash and others. I think there will always be a need for technologies that are innovating ahead of standards, which leads to better standards later. Plugins are yet to exist on mobile in a useful way in favor of native apps, due to mobile device hardware limitations in the current generation. There will probably always be a need of some plugins for web games and interactives. And here Unity and Flash have been strong in that area, coming together to tackle 3D and hardware rendering is a great match.
Unity exporting to Flash Stage3D will provide a spark for the Flash Player 11 over WebGL as there is still some benefits to a proprietary solution to plugins currently. Internet Explorer is still holding out on WebGL and Flash 11 will be able to enter the IE moat. This export option allows another way to get your game on the web in a browser in addition to the Unity Player when exporting from the Unity tools. Game companies like Zynga, Playfish/EA, etc will probably be more apt to use the Flash 3D exported version rather than Unity Player only due to market saturation/penetration. I hope Unity Player support continues or possibly Unity gets bought by Flash and Unity becomes Flash. The integration could be good, but also bad for Unity if they don’t keep their player going so they don’t have to wait for the Flash Player standard from Adobe.
There is an immense market waiting for hardware accelerated games in the browser even for 2D games from core to social games, all of them need to move lots of sprites, logic and game renders around that require performance. Unity to Flash 3D has a slight edge over WebGL in that is is a single player and compiled assets, and supported by the best 3D/2D/game/interactive editor out there in terms of production pipeline. Flash Player is still compiled and a bit faster than WebGL scripted but there is still limitations on what you can do without a compiled app to run; interpreted code still adds heavy weight and delays to the 33ms needed on each frame for 30fps. An example of performance using Box2D across native to scripted rendering.
Unity has given us all a present to play with for the holidays, I am sure it will take some time to get right. But having this tool to iterate on and seeing what Flash 11 Stage3D can do as an export target will be fun.
There is even a contest that you can enter over the holidays to win some prizes and the entries are judged by none other than UnitZeroOne aka Ralph Hauwert, as well as Lucas Meijer and Unity’s CEO David David Helgason.
Unity 3.5 Preview
Thank you Microsoft. You have helped to make it easier to produce and convince clients and collegues to use html5 with your latest decision.
Since you are updating Internet Explorer in automatic updates to IE9 currently and hopefully for the future versions. Developing for the web became better as #html5 with canvas goodness is now market ready! (in a nearer term rather than a year or two possibly – still some time to propagate).
Good news, everyone! Microsoft has decided that the time has come to make sure that all users of Internet Explorer are using the most current version possible. To accomplish that goal, they’re turning on automatic updates.
Yes, Internet Explorer patches and new major versions are already available via Windows Update. But to move from one version to the next, it’s never been a fully automatic process. There’s a separate install window that appears for installing, say, Internet Explorer 9. For many users, the additional steps required were often enough to prevent them from installing a new version.
To clients, developers can now say that IE9 and up is the best target since Microsoft themselves are updating the browser in Automatic Updates for security and a better experience. They can tell clients that is is acceptable to build in html5 with canvas and with less tedium in making things work for IE7 and IE8, less middle man proxy technologies. Microsoft will also be less of a bad name for developers stemming from IE6 and lagged, slow upgrading software progress and users. For many clients that were risky on projects this wasn’t an issue, but deciding what tech to use and convincing others with so much old IE out there was difficult. Hopefully this helps soon.
Ryan Gavin, Microsoft’s senior director for Internet Explorer, pointed out several benefits. The overall security of the Windows user community will be improved as outdated browsers are replaced, developers can focus their attention on building sites using modern web code, and those who surf with IE will be able to enjoy the full Beauty of the Web.
Browsers that silently update like Chrome are the best model, but automatic software updates are also good. html5 is on soon when this kicks in across the world, it seems Microsoft plans to do this at different times around the world.
And so from now on, Internet Explorer will quietly update itself just as Windows does. Starting in January, users in Australia and Brazil will be the begin receiving automatic IE updates. Microsoft will then gradually extend coverage to other parts of the world as time goes on.
This news comes on the same day that Chrome 15 is now the most used browser in the world. IE9 could take the top spot for a while if all IE versions move to IE9 as IE is still 40% of the world share in browsers for all versions.
Ship it! html5 has entered the arena officially. And so it begins…
It just got unreal! Unreal Engine 3 can export to Flash 11 with Stage3D as an export platform. This is amazing news for game development and provides a strong competitor to Unity for high end gaming experiences that run in Flash.
The news was announced at MAX by Tim Sweeney:
On Tuesday during the Adobe Max conference in L.A., Epic CEO, founder and technical director Tim Sweeney announced UE3 support for Adobe’s Flash player.
Industry veteran Sweeney showed a live demonstration of UE3 running inside the recently-released Adobe Flash 11 during his keynote at the conference, using the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 game Unreal Tournament 3 as an example.
UE3 works well thanks to Flash 11′s hardware accelerated, programmable graphics pipeline, Adobe said. Flash is now “capable of running triple-A gaming content authored for high-end platforms using the industry’s latest tools and technologies,” the company said in a statement.
UE3 licensees will be able to access new Flash features, and more information is available at the engine’s official website.
Hopefully this will be included in the UDK soon if not in next months release.
But to calm the hype a bit, the reality is, it costs much more to develop a high end game in Unreal 3 compared to current web games but this will open up a whole new high end market and allow game developers to add another platform to export to. Game sites will become full on consoles.
Next-gen consoles for XBOX and Playstation aren’t being updated until 2013-14, that seems a long way away and they just might not exist as we know them when that time comes.
The next console just might be the web on any device, TV, pad, hardware consoles… Unreal and Epic are preparing for this multi-platform game development world along with Unity, Flash and others.
It’s alive! Unity Technologies has a preview of their Unity export to Flash 3D (Molehill now called Stage3D) posted. Unity and Flash exporting was announced earlier this year. This is great as it provides huge benefits for Unity developers and Flash developers for games.
Over the last few months here at Unity, we have been hard at work on, amongst many other cool things, the ability to publish from Unity to the Flash Player. This means that next to the already existing build targets of a Unity project, one will be able to target Flash with Stage3D, announced for Flash Player 11.
A sneak preview
Unity provides the 3d + editor pipeline tools that are arguably the best for web/mobile/desktop/console games. Flash it ubiquitous across all browsers and Unity content will be seen more often if users already have Flash and don’t need to download the Unity WebPlayer plugin. I do hope the Unity WebPlayer stays strong but if Flash 3D Stage3D low level player can integrate 3d with user interfaces kind of like how games use scaleform for killer interfaces layers on and into high quality hardware accelerated games, then we are all in for a treat, both developers, designers and consumers.
Unity is smart to provide more and more platform exports that are solid but I’d also like to see exporting to html5/WebGL. But for controlling the experience entirely in a plugin today, Unity and Flash are the top two interactive and gaming plugins that provide tremendous content and opportunity for the web. Unity also provides for better low level export to Android and iOS (in addition to desktop mac and pc, consoles). Seems like Adobe should buy Unity soon but hope that they don’t sometimes as the competition is nice.
How are the new Stage3D APIs different from the 3D functionality introduced in Flash Player 10?
In Flash Player 10, we introduced APIs that allowed ActionScript developers and designers to apply 3D effects to 2D content. Those 3D effects allow developers to add perspective and projection to content – which could also be described as 2.5D or “postcards in space.” Additionally, these 3D effects are software rendered and cannot be used for highly complex scenes with a lot of content to render.
The new low-level APIs will provide advanced 3D and 3D engine developers the flexibility to leverage GPU hardware acceleration for significant performance gains. Today, Flash Player, renders thousands of non z-buffered triangles at approximately 30 Hz. With the new Stage3D APIs, developers can expect hundreds of thousands of z-buffered triangles to be rendered at HD resolution in full screen at around 60 Hz. Using the new 3D APIs in Flash Player and AIR will make it possible to deliver sophisticated 3D experiences across almost every computer and device connected to the Internet.
Why is Adobe adding 3D functionality to Flash Player?
3D has been one of the most popular requests from our customers. Enabling true 3D experiences in Flash Player aligns with Adobe’s commitment to innovation and delivering a more complete Flash Platform.
Adobe evolved the web with video and now we are going to evolve the web again with 3D. From interactive websites, e-commerce, and marketing to gaming, 3D will be available to everyone, everywhere.
Does this mean the 3D APIs introduced in Flash Player 10 will be deprecated?
No, the initial 3D APIs introduced in Flash Player 10 continue to provide designers, interactive designers and developers a simple way to apply 3D effects to 2D content. The new low-level 3D APIs are targeted to advanced developers for building complex 3D experiences leveraging GPU hardware acceleration. Choosing one API over another one will depend on the use case and type of content created.
What are the requirements for 3D to work in Flash Player?
We are working to ensure 3D content always works with the best performance, regardless of context and hardware configuration. The 3D APIs will rely on DirectX 9 on Windows and OpenGL 1.3 on MacOS and Linux. For mobile platforms, Flash Player will rely on OpenGL ES 2.0. For those graphics cards that aren’t supported, Flash Player will elegantly fallback to a fast software rasterizer called SwiftShader, a technology licensed from TransGaming.
How do the Stage3D APIs compare to WebGL’s proposal to have the capability be available through browsers and HTML5?
In terms of design, our approach is very similar to the WebGL design. However, we offer a consistent, browser-agnostic solution that will enable advanced 3D experiences on almost every computer and device connected to the Internet. Additionally, GPU-accelerated 3D in Flash Player will build on all the expressiveness features that exist today in Adobe Flash Player.
Interactive on the web is changing at a rapid clip. The path of the next wave of ineractive and gaming on the web is beginning to materialize.
Adobe is going low level with Flash ‘Molehill’ 3D and hardware acceleration platform that companies like Unity will be including as an export target.
Microsoft has finally laid out their plans. Silverlight is alive with Silverlight 5 / 3D powered by XNA (any surprise? guess it isn’t dead) and hardware acceleration throughout Internet Explorer, this appears to be Microsoft’s version of the future.
Plugins like Flash, Unity, Silverlight, others will continue to push the bounds cross platform where standards cement the technology behind it for a platform to reach the next innovative step.
Mobile has blown up the scene with native and low-level focus, causing web platforms to also go low level for more performance thanks to Apple and now Android. Native languages like C, C++ and Objective-C came roaring back as the hardware was reset a bit back to late 90s/early 2000s processor and graphics power. However with mobile and cpu cost on platform as service system, native will stay more over the coming years.
Games, interactive and entertainment projects and apps are going to be even more fun. New opportunities all over the place. Game on!