For those who are not aware of Unit Game Engine, here’s a brief description:
”Unity is a cross-platform game engine with a built-in Integrated Development Environment (IDE) by Unity Technologies. It is used to develop video games for web plugins, desktop platforms, consoles and mobile devices.”
So basically, Unity is:
- A game engine, which allows you to run the games you create in a different environment,
- An application where you put together the visible parts of your game with a graphical preview and also use a controlled ‘play it’ function and
- A code editor
Let’s go further down the Unity lane and explore the story behind this technology!
When David Helgason and the 3 people team started way back in 2000, the idea was to make something on the lines of Apple’s Final Cut. Final Cut provides ammateur filmmakers with professional filmmaking tools at a reasonable price. So when Unity launched in 2005 it was providing the same support to game developers making Mac OS games. Since then Unity has metamorphosed into a multi platform game engine with the big break coming in 2008. In mid 2008, when Apple launched the App Store, Unity was the first game engine to support the iPhone. It was then that a large number of people started using Unity. Therefore the very idea from which Unity gaming engine was conceived is what makes it unique.
What makes Unity so popular for Game Development?
Unity is a practical and an easy to use tool which encompasses a few clever ideas.
1. A tool for Indie game developers
As said earlier, Unity works with the people and for the people in making games. The big guys have the budget, expertise and technology to build games. What really makes a difference is that game developers with low budgets can now not only build games but build games with tools same as those of the biggies.
2. Asset store
Unity boasts of a robust asset store where you can download game assets and functional extensions & ready made solutions which integrate in Unity. So besides providing a tool which lets game developers focus on creative elements Unity has helped leverage the basic idea to develop a community of developers helping each other with skeletal scripts and extensions to sprint through the development lifecycle. The environment can be extended so that it may be used for project maintenance and debugging. The store is a collection of 12,000 asset packages including 3D models, textures and materials, music and sound effects, editor extensions and online services.
3. Cross Platform
How can I miss out the USP of Unity when talking about the standout points. Games can be quickly and easily ported onto Android, iOS, Windows Phone 8, and BlackBerry. It also has the capabilities of development for Playstation 3, Xbox360, Wii U and web browsers. Unity has expanded its domain to support Sony’s PlayStation Vita adding another feather to its cap.
Unity has a fairly easy to grasp interface. While writing a code in Unity, you can create a logic around an object that can simply be set by dragging the codes in the IDE. In symmetry with this idea, an object through the IDE can be recovered via a code and is available for logical conditioning. This allows quick tests, prototyping, and balancing while the game is being built.
5. Recent 2D push
Developers have often been complaining about the 3D approach of Unity and it’s inability to support 2D games. With the release of Unity 4.3 in November, 2013, all the questions have been put to rest. Unity 4.3 has native 2D capabilities, supporting sprites and 2D physics, making it a great game engine to use for the development of 2D games. Unity is being used for all kinds of games – 3D, 2D and mixed approaches.
The Unity editor provides a drag and drop environment for creating games. It is possible to create a game in Unity without writing any code but most projects require programming chops.
Unity goes out of its way to make the game building process simple and hassle free. It gives you a set of tools for common image processing tasks when importing new image assets. Also, Unity directly imports MAX files.
Unity, as a development tool is completely free and royalty free. There are few different licensing fees for Unity. The Pro version which is $1500 offers more features than does the free version some of those being global lighting, render-to-texture, Mecanim IK Rigs and a custom splash screen. Thus apart from a few features, the free version of Unity is not much different from the Unity Pro version.
Having said this, Unity is a complete package that lets you simultaneously play your game, edit it, and test it as well, create environments, add physics and lighting, manage audio and video, handle animation, profile GPU and CPU performance, do multiplayer and all sorts of rather impressive things. It is a messiah for budding Android and iOS game developers which facilitates agile game creation allowing continuous releases and quick prototyping once you get the gist of how it works. So why the delay? Go and get building games.