Unity: Pushing the Envelope in a New Direction
Over the last few years, Unity has made a name for itself as a first-class environment for creating gorgeous, cutting-edge 2D and 3D games that are capable of bringing the most beefy graphics cards weeping to their knees. During this time, however, we have kept our collective index finger fixed firmly upon the manic pulse of the indie scene, and we have observed the formation of a retrophilic counterculture.
In response to immersive, three-dimensional environments, some developers are opting for the elegant simplicity of 2D sprites. Instead of breathtaking photorealism, artists are making statements with bold, blatant pixelation. In lieu of being bombarded with 7 channels of eardrum-rupturing sound effects underpinned by the melodies of Grieg, Korpiklaani, E. S. Posthumus, or Diablo Swing Orchestra, gamers are treated to monophonic chiptunes reminiscent of a childhood well misspent.
We at Unity want the rest of the community to know that we feel your longing. We too are touched by the appeals of simplicity and elegance – of games that are first and foremost about gameplay, unique concepts, and imagination. These are games for which a kaleidoscope of sensory input would overwhelm players and detract from their key elements instead of enhancing them. These games are the reason why we have decided to push the envelope in a completely new direction.
Today, it is our pleasure to announce the Unity 1D Framework.
This powerful toolkit, completely integrated into the Unity environment, will allow you to pare your game down to the absolutely pure concept that resides at its core, while maintaining full integration with all of the existing tools that you’ve come to depend on: integrated physics; lightmapping and dynamic light probes; a flexible and performant rendering system featuring multithreaded, gamma-correct, HDR rendering; and of course the seamless, powerful art pipeline and ultrafast iteration time that have become Unity’s hallmarks.
What about audio, you ask? Not to worry! Unity’s sound engineers and hardware ninjas teamed up with device manufacturers across the board to implement and expose a full, cross-platform API for interacting with beep speakers on computers and consoles, including dynamic remixing at runtime, as well as high-performance beep emulation for mobiles, and even vibration/rumble and LED fallback, on supported platforms, for the deaf and hearing-impaired. Unity gives you the ability to submerge 3 of your users’ 5 senses in the raw single-dimensionality of your games – and we’re working on adding the other two!
While nobody can seem to recall precisely where the idea for the 1D initiative originated, our founders have been enthusiastic supporters from the beginning.
“Our focus since the 3.5 release has been on simplicity and elegance in every part of Unity,” explains CCO Nicholas Francis, “and our new 1D framework is sort of the distillation of that focus.”
CTO Joachim Ante prefers to concentrate on performance implications. “Actually, working in a single dimension allowed us to strip away a lot of unnecessary code and really optimize to the next level. Usually, I talk about performance improvements in terms of 5x or 10x, but in this case it genuinely is more like x10.”
“Unity is about creativity,” adds CEO David Helgason. “We’ve worked very hard to make sure that people have all the tools they need to create visually stunning games with mind-blowing, high-end 3D effects, but it’s just as important to us to support the folks at the other end of the spectrum, who want to make your jaw drop with nothing more than the sheer amazement of their ideas.”