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Unity 3 – What Feature is The Dev Team Most Proud Of?

August 23, 2010 in Technology, Unity Products and Services by

Unity 3 is looking to be our biggest release to date — bringing with it source-level debugging, deferred rendering, best-in-class lightmapping and occlusion culling, and a unified editor. As we are getting close to the end of our pre-order window, I decided to asks members of the dev team what features they are most excited about.


Roald Høyer-Hansen

Beast lightmapping – no doubt :) Never has lighting a scene been so much fun! Great interface and superb integration with Unity. It has actually changed the way I work, as I now do all my lightmapping/baking inside Unity, with Beast. I am sure 90% of the games we’ll see after 3.0 will look 10x as good as the ones we see today :)

Charles Hinshaw

There are BIG features, but I’m really enjoying the little scene view tweaks that improve daily use. Vertex snapping, look-at rotation, live previews for materials, dragging prefabs into the scene live with ray-snapping, interactive light gizmos, and rect selection — get used to them and then use a 2.x build and see how frustrating it gets. Unity 3 is going to allow for scenes to be constructed much more quickly and accurately.

Aras Pranckevicius

Personally, I’m quite happy with all the behind the scenes stuff that went into 3.0 rendering – surface shaders, seamless shader compilation into OpenGL ES shading language, the way we encode Deferred Lighting buffers etc. But I doubt anyone except me would ever notice them :)

Obscure features that are awesome: XOR operator support in JavaScript! XOR is cool because:

  • It’s exclusive – very exclusive.
  • No short circuiting semantics with this guy.
  • It appreciates differences in people, or at least in operands, which is almost the same as people.
  • It has an X in it. Everything that has an X in it is cool. And this one starts with an X.

Samantha Kalman

I’m most thrilled about the new audio features. Big things like fx filters and reverb zones to add atmosphere to your audio are awesome, but little things like reliable synching of multiple playing sources is completely wonderful. Combined with spectrum analysis you can do things like procedurally modify colors, meshes, lighting, or anything else based on audio playback. As someone who wants to make synaesthesia-invoking music games, I am so happy that these features made it into 3.0.

Nicolaj Schweitz

I love the new audio features, especially the possibility to use audio to affect any runtime variable. I can’t wait to see what people get out of this.

The mod tracker file support might start a new epoch in music for games — or should I say a revival of the demo scene trackers.

I am also amazed by the new physics features. Cloth is a powerful feature that along with DSP effects and reverb zones will expand the way our users will present their game worlds.

I am really happy that we have managed to include a lot of details into the mix, audio preview in the scene, object selector, audio rolloff curves, UI for the player settings — I could go on and on. It soothes my perfectionist heart to see that many minor improvements in Unity.

Rune Skovbo Johansen

A few things that are exciting to me, and haven’t been mentioned yet:

  • New font back-end and text input with IME support should make Unity far more interesting to developers targeting Asia and other markets that have unique fonts.
  • A few very typical basic math functions have been added that you’d need in many games, but which are not trivial for newbies to come up with on their own: MoveTowards (for floats and vectors) RotateTowards (for rotations and vectors), and a some others.
  • Lots of small bug fixes all around that improve stability and performance.
  • Full debugging capabilities

Joachim Ante

I think Unity has made the transition to being a robust level editing tool — developers can place modeled objects from inside Unity as opposed to artists creating the whole level in maya/max. You could always use Unity in that way in theory, but there were some drawbacks why people didn’t do it workflow wise and feature wise when they were doing a high end production.

There is a bunch of stuff that contributed to it, in order of importance:

  1. Being able to lightmap from within Unity
  2. Static batching
  3. Being able to place things with the vertex snapping & raycast snapping
  4. Occlusion culling so you can get performance out of big scenes
  5. Being able to quickly find assets with the object picker
  6. Being able to search stuff in a super awesome looking way

Equally important is the unified editor; we actually managed to get all platforms back under one tool again. This is awesome right now, but we also spent a lot of time making it easier to add new platforms, so that after 3.0 we can add new platforms at the speed of a rocket ship.

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23 Aug 2010, 4:37 am

I hope some of these work their way into Unite talks about the 3.0 features! There’s a lot to learn when 3.0 comes out…

23 Aug 2010, 7:10 am

Is there any light map compression in final game output like Halo ?

RAW Light map date make file-size bigger, not good news for browser game ……

23 Aug 2010, 8:06 am


They’re just like any other textures in Unity; you can set the resolution and compression per target platform, Unity takes care of the rest.

23 Aug 2010, 8:10 am

New engine… new era…Unity3…the awesomeness of game creation…brought to us on a silver platter! we cant wait… let’s go Unity3!

23 Aug 2010, 10:22 am

The beast lightmapping is awesome! The audo reverb zones are also ace!

23 Aug 2010, 10:33 am

I agree with Charles Hinshaw, all the scene view improvements are great. And all the platforms are unified now… bye, bye Unity iPhone 1.7, your scene view is a piece of !”·$%&/()=?¿

23 Aug 2010, 10:53 am

@FXCarl: Halo 3 uses special lightmap compression because they store spherical harmonics in the lightmaps, so that compression scheme is not much applicable to other lightmap types. In Unity 3, lightmaps are stored in “RGBM” encoding to provide more than standard dynamic range, and they compress with DXT5 very well (in fact RGBM encoding compresses better than traditional lightmaps). In short, yes, you can just DXT5 them.

23 Aug 2010, 2:39 pm

I’m pretty excited about the cloth generator. And if the cutscene editor from The Unite Summer of Code (started in 2009…) is included, that will make my day :D

23 Aug 2010, 2:45 pm

I think the Beast Lightmapping is going to be my favourite feature of U3.

23 Aug 2010, 4:12 pm

I agree with Joachim Ante. the editor is awesome and it’s usability is great. hopefully in next version we will see great networking and MMO development to make social and web based mmos easier. at least by adding the possibility of using unityengine.dll in other places like .net based apps.

Natalie Abbortini
23 Aug 2010, 4:23 pm

My favourites:

-Deferred rendering

-Beast lightmapping

-New shader effects

23 Aug 2010, 6:35 pm

I am so excited about everything. I will probably lock myself in my room for a month playing around with some of these things. Is there any news yet on what will be the separation between what is included in the different versions (i.e. Indie, Pro, iPhone, etc)?

Jason Amstrad
23 Aug 2010, 9:16 pm


When Unity3D 3.0 has been released,then will the documentation already be updated for Unity3D 3.0 ?

Or do we have to wait for the “new” documentation “after” Unity3D 3.0 has been released ?


23 Aug 2010, 9:22 pm

@Jason: the documentation on the website will be updated with 3.0 release. The documentation installed locally with Unity is updated with each 3.0 beta build.

23 Aug 2010, 10:43 pm

i really love unity 3d
but why do you people so hapy about static light maps
i just don’t get it
i like the new sound features tho :)

23 Aug 2010, 10:49 pm

Realtime lights can be expensive to calculate, especially if you want them to have high fidelity and bounce light. Baking the lighting into lightmaps allows you to have really great looking scenes which also have great performance. If you have some dynamic event you could also swap to a different lightmap after said event. And don’t forget that Unity lets you use realtime lighting up close and fade to pre-baked lighting in the background. Anyways, the feature preview video speaks for itself I think.

23 Aug 2010, 11:27 pm

“As we are getting close to the end of our pre-order window”

Speaking of that, I won’t be able to pre-order it until September, 1st, so my question is, will that window end before that date? I hope not …

23 Aug 2010, 11:30 pm

your right they can be a great deal for hand held devices
but (at least for me) light maps and dynamic object like player don’t mix well they make you feel “disconnected” from the scene .

Carlton Fisk
24 Aug 2010, 1:49 am

I like David Helgason’s shirt collar.

24 Aug 2010, 9:39 am


there is an “Signal based optimization” in halo’s compression sound useful(the Inter chart optimization and Sub chart optimization)

please see page 4 to 13 in this pptx

I think we can modify this method for our lightmaps. for example we can use RGB and Lum gradient instead original signal analysis. and I thinks this may reduce lightmap to quarter size and without big quality lose too.

before Beast, we are using 3DMax Auto-UnwarpUV to bake lightmaps, Artists often resize lightmap size on some especial objects because light/shadow details are not equally distributed.

    25 Aug 2010, 6:51 am

    @FXCarl: yeah, signal-based lightmap UV optimization is not in Unity 3.0. However, you don’t have to use Unity’s UV calculator; if you supply your own lightmap UVs (e.g. like you said – using 3dsmax with some manual editing), Unity’s Beast can just bake into that.

24 Aug 2010, 11:06 pm

It is indeed amazing to see how the features has grown to the point that it really feels like Unity 2.6.1 is really obsolete.
Cloth simulation in my opinion is the Must, I was gobs-mack when I saw demonstrating this feature.

Now the real question is:
What will be available in the Free version of Unity as opposed to the Pro version.
I can’t wait for the engine to be finally release as UNITY is really
a dream for every developer.

Now I really believe that the new step for Unity(Unity 3.5 or 4 who knows!), is to integrate a more robust animation system much more flexible that the one which is offer in 2.6.1.

Thank you so much guys for your excellent and incredible work.

Jason Amstrad
25 Aug 2010, 12:54 am


I agree that the cloth system in Unity3D 3.0 is a cool new feature.

But remember,we do not know if the guys from Unity meant that we can only create cloth from only a “square” polygon grid system for example a 4×4 grid,8×8 grid,16×16 grid etc,etc,…
Or if we can also make cloth from “normal modeled meshes” (the ones that you can model in a more complex way,like jeans pants,T-shirts,hats,etc,etc,…).

25 Aug 2010, 3:24 am

We have two different cloth implementations. A generic cloth system for full physics interatction, anything from hanging cloth pieces, down to softbody like objects that keep pressuare inside of the body.

The other system is for Skinned Cloth, which is not interacting with other physics objects and is highly optimized for high poly character cloth pieces and integrated into the Skinned mesh rendering system and uses the animated skinned mesh as the source for acceleration of the cloth. It looks pretty awesome.

25 Aug 2010, 2:44 pm

so… using the 3.0 cloth physics, could i use it for clothes for my characters?

Ethan Vosburgh
25 Aug 2010, 2:58 pm

@Michael – yes there is cloth physics for skinned mesh renders.

26 Aug 2010, 8:32 am

Wow, what can i say?
Everything is awesome!
Without going into each feature details:
New audio features, physics, rendering, shader system, beast, umbra, the tree editor, OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0 on Android/iPhone, PS3/X360 to name a few. Each of theses new features, keep the same Unity philosophy:
Fast, Easy and Unified, F.E.U!
FEU! In french means fire.
Yes, this is how Unity is now, is on fire! ^^
Congrats guys, so proud of being an Unity citizen!
Keep the “usual” hard work :)
Warm regards from Montreal Psychoz Interactive.

Herald Heemskerk
26 Aug 2010, 9:34 pm

Will Unity also have the newer viewcube type for jumping to different camera angles ?
The viewcube was introduced in Maya 2008.And Maya 2009,2010 and 2011 also have it.

Herald Heemskerk
26 Aug 2010, 9:42 pm

If you know what the viewcube is,then click here:

Herald Heemskerk
26 Aug 2010, 9:44 pm

Sorry,I meant to say:
If you do not know what the viewcube is,then click here:

27 Aug 2010, 11:29 am

We have preordered 3.0 and are testing already the beta version. It´s just awesome…wish we had more time to try all the great new features…but so far…my recommendation: Get 3.0 now, because it`s going to be more expensive and you really want to buy it anyway in the near future ;-)

Question: Will the new font back-end and text input with IME support also be available for the new Iphoneversion we also preordered? That would be great!

All the best to you!
Superwaugi (Artcue)

Gregory Pierce
28 Aug 2010, 9:07 pm

While I love it all… I mean LOVE it all, the Unified Editor is my favorite feature. I would have probably purchased 3.0 JUST for this. The new editor is excellent – can’t say enough how the new workflows are making it easier to get things done ;)

Matt McArdell
30 Aug 2010, 5:16 am

There are a number of great features in version 3. It would be good to see a breakdown of which features are available for the iPhone platform and standard vs pro.

30 Aug 2010, 12:04 pm

I am not so excited as i did not find any specific feature that other good game engine does not have.
If stereoscopy can be added it can be big achievement as currently game industry is talking about it, working on it and need it.

30 Aug 2010, 5:25 pm

Give us some warning before you release. I just know I’ll get the money together and go on the website only to find it’s been released and more expensive :)

30 Aug 2010, 5:47 pm

To those of you wanting warning before release or that are worried about the pre-release window closing, consider yourselves warned already! Stop waiting, get on it and know that time is already running short. You’ve had since March (GDC) and we’re going to release 3.0 as soon as it’s fully baked and ready and that’s not far off at all. With the release comes the fact that all of the currently discounted pricing goes away and will be replaced by our regular list pricing! So get on it, don’t delay, get crackin’, etc… :)

30 Aug 2010, 5:48 pm

Oh, and for those wanting the full [free]/Pro/iPhone/Android/etc. feature breakdown, please know that a new license comparison page is in the works and I think we’ll have it posted soon (this week?). Please bear with us as that’s in the queue right now!

30 Aug 2010, 6:52 pm

I would certainly love to see the comparison chart!
An informed purchase decision could not be made otherwise.

Herald Heemskerk
30 Aug 2010, 8:13 pm

Can’t wait either.

31 Aug 2010, 5:10 am

What kind of networking is in Unity3d v 3.x?

31 Aug 2010, 8:42 pm


Will we be able to use the Prismatic Joint of PhysX?

Copied from PhysX doc’s:
Prismatic joints are purely translational and only free to move along its primary axis. A good example of a prismatic joint is a shock absorber.


1 Sep 2010, 12:59 am

Will Unity 3 be able to do “Metal Cloth”? :)

From NVIDIA Website:

“Metal Cloth mode support to simulate deformation like dents in barrels, car bodies, or metal doors”.

I’m using Unity 2.6.1 (free edition) for my current mini game. However I know for sure that I won’t finish before Unity 3 is released. Will it be possible to port over 2.6.1 projects (non-pro) to 3.0 (non-pro)? Is it a good idea?

1 Sep 2010, 8:10 pm

@ZV: I’m working hard on the new license page but it’s requiring extra detail work we didn’t expect (layout issues now that we have so many platforms!). Stand by though, it should be available very soon. :)

@Scott: “networking” can mean many things, but as a whole the answer is “the same as we have in 2.x”. We have RakNet built-in for mulitiplayer games, but you can always use the player’s support for HTTP calls (get and post) or its support for socket connections to tie into any back-end technology of choice.

2 Sep 2010, 4:42 pm

Thanks Tom!
Very excited to see where you guys have taken Unity since I’ve jumped on-board.
(my favorite new feature: audio fft => any variable. yessss!)

6 Sep 2010, 9:49 am

@Scott: Notice that we have upgraded the version of RakNet used though. This brings added stability, bugfixes and allowed us to do some small tweaks to the API to make it even simpler to get a session going – regardless of network configuration.

jonas echterhoff
7 Sep 2010, 7:10 pm

@Sinan: we will not support the metal cloth functionality in PhysX for Unity 3.0. In summary, we did not find the feature to be developed enough yet to meet our user’s expectations so we chose to leave it out instead.

8 Sep 2010, 12:10 am

Ricky Helgesson:
@joints are purely translational and only free to move along its primary axis. A good example of a prismatic joint is a shock absorber.

The Configurable Joint can already handle prismatic joints perfectly. Thus we feel there is no reason to add a more specialized less flexible joint. You simply have to lock all the rotational parts, and use limits on the translation of the primary axis.

10 Sep 2010, 3:55 am

Will RakiNet integrate with Apple’s new Game Center?

17 Sep 2010, 1:39 pm

could i use the cloth physics (well, adapt it) to simulate damage on cars and things?

17 Sep 2010, 1:40 pm

damn already answered. another thing i am very disappointed with in unity 3. This just isn’t living up, for me, to what it really could be. Especially when most of the new features are pro only.

24 Sep 2010, 2:12 am

Ignore my above, could the cloth physics be modified by users to try and simulate metal?

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