Unity 3.x and 4.x going forward

June 24, 2012 in Technology

Unity 4 was just announced, and many of you are probably thinking about if you should upgrade to Unity 4.0 now or later.

Whither Unity 4.0?

We realized that it wasn’t scalable for us to keep grouping everything together in super-massive releases. Therefore we’re trying to spread them out instead. That’s unfortunately meant that not everyone feels there’s enough value in Unity 4.0 for them. In that case, you’re of course welcome to wait with upgrading until you feel you get enough value for your money.

The alternative is to keep the stuff that is ready longer, just because some other features are not ready yet. That’s less awesome, so we’d rather offer features up sooner, and only wait with the stuff that isn’t ready. So to summarize, Unity 4.0 is just that – the first in a series of Unity 4.x releases, during which we’ll have some sweet things to share. More on that in upcoming posts.

Now, what about Unity 3.x?

We’ll keep delivering critical fixes for 3.5 at least through 2012. This means, when iOS 6, or Android 4.1, or Mac OS X “Mountain Lion”, or … comes out, and if some things in Unity 3.5 break because of them, we’ll fix them. These problems are usually in the form of “new mobile compiler toolchain breaks something” or “new popular phone is out with not-too-good drivers and some shaders do not work”, or other serious ship-stopper issues. We’ll simply fix them in minor 3.5.x releases.

Right now, Unity 3.5.3 is being tested (current release is 3.5.2), and will be out soon. (Edit: Unity 3.5.3 is out!) It improves some things, particularly some mobile performance regressions compared to Unity 3.4, improves mesh data handling in general, and fixes a bunch of issues. Here’s what it will have in more detail:

Geometry data improvements

Unity can now completely remove parts of mesh data that are not used anywhere. For example, if you have a mesh with normals, tangents and two UV sets, but none of the shaders in any of the game scenes need tangents or UV2, then tangents and the second UV set will be stripped out from game data completely. The result is smaller game size, smaller memory usage, and faster performance for code parts that access mesh data often, like skinning and dynamic batching.

You can already achieve this in previous Unity versions by carefully setting up mesh import options (not generating UV2 when not needed; turning off calculation of mesh tangents etc.), but that’s quite a lot of manual work. In Unity 3.5.3, all that is completely automatic, just one option in Player Settings.

In addition to the above, for procedurally created meshes, we’re extending mesh.Clear() function to be able to keep existing vertex layout. In Unity 3.5, Clear() was clearing mesh data completely, meaning that not only vertices and faces are gone, but vertex layout (whether mesh has normals or tangents or colors etc.) was reset to contain “nothing”. This is not very efficient if you’re recreating the mesh with different vertex count, but keeping the vertex layout the same. We’re fixing this, Clear() will take a parameter whether to keep the vertex layout or not (defaults to keep it).

A small feature for 2D games

Some 2D games use a perspective camera to get parallax effects or because they want to mix some 3D elements in. However, for sorting semitransparent objects, Unity was taking actual distance from camera to the object as sort criteria, which produces wrong sorting order near edges of the screen. 2D games are better off sorting by “distance along camera’s view direction”, and in Unity 3.5.3 this mode can be set on your cameras.

Fixes

There’s about 40 issues fixed in 3.5.3, mostly falling under mobile (Android or iOS), editor, rendering and Native Client areas. This includes stuff like: working around a peculiar compositor bug on Kindle Fire that was affecting semitransparent objects; fixing some splash screen orientation bugs on iOS; fixing fog not rendering correctly in some shader model 3.0 shaders and so on.

So to recap, Unity 3.5.3 will be out real soon, and we’ll follow up with other 3.5.x releases through this year. Now go make some games!

Comments (47)

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  1. mindlube

    June 28, 2012 at 9:35 pm / 

    Now go make some games! …
    Roger that!

  2. Nathali Abbortini

    June 28, 2012 at 8:22 am / 

    It would be nice if we could see more demos of the “interactive indirect illumination” feature from Ninja Camp VI .
    And also the “iterative lightmap baking” from Unity 4 ………………

  3. jakeliu

    June 28, 2012 at 7:52 am / 

    never mind I saw they update the License Comparison page, before it was show all those 3.5 features are 4.0 feature, now it show new to 4.0.

  4. Born for go

    June 28, 2012 at 5:23 am / 

    This is very good news. Unity Technologies, thank you very much.

  5. jakeliu

    June 28, 2012 at 12:51 am / 

    oops math error I guess my game logic going to have problem lol. ya but you know what I mean. Current pricing is too high for version upgrade, character animation might be useful to many, but that seems like main feature they are pushing also I don’t like Unity3D push feature announce on 3.5 like Flash support and Navigation system. And then repeat announce that is 4.0 feature.

    So are we going to charge again for Linux $400 and $1500 pro version? and all the 4.x feature going to show up in 5.0? Everything is not clear to me. well it your software I guess you can do what ever you want.

  6. Chris T

    June 27, 2012 at 11:31 pm / 

    It’s good to see a statement about the support of the 3.5.x branch, I’ve been asking for this since the 4.0 announcement.
    However, I’d be much happier if the commitment was to support 3.5.x with bug fixes through to at least 2013 explicitly!

    As a one man band, buying Unity Pro + iOS Pro + Android pro under 2 months ago was a major investment for me, and upgrading to 4.x so soon doesn’t make any financial sense for me when it’s not new features that I’m looking for, but continued support of new iOS and Android platforms.

    I’d expect at the very least 18 months continuing support for a product while it’s still available for purchase, and by my reckoning 3.5 was still being sold at up until the point that 4.0 was announced and the store was switched to being a “pre-order 4.0 and get 3.5 in the meantime” this month.
    So effectively only committing right now to a minimum 6 months support isn’t very reassuring to my mind.

    The comments about UDK costs only kicking in at $50,000 are something that will make me take a look at UDK I think.

    Chris.

  7. Aras Pranckevičius

    June 27, 2012 at 10:30 pm / 

    @jakeliu: your math seems to be a bit off ;) Yeah, initial purchase, if you get “full pro” of licenses, comes out at $4500/2 = $2250 / year = $187 / month. However, upgrading (for example, from 3.x to 4.x) right now costs $600 per pro license ($750 and 20% rebate right now), so that’s $1800 for next two years, or $75 / month. But yes, getting Pro licenses of everything is not very cheap.

  8. jakeliu

    June 27, 2012 at 7:38 pm / 

    Cost too much for the upgrade and overall fee for the product. Please show us some kind 4.x roadmap and how long will 5.x come out ( in 2 years maybe?) or the investment for Unity Pro and add-on would be too costly for most of us.

    Should lower the fee for Pro and add-on make Unity allow more people to use it.
    $1500 (pro) +$1500 (iOS) +$1500 (Android) / 2 years = 3500 /2 = $1750 per year or $145 per month that cost too much, even Adobe master suite cost only $50 per month.

  9. Nathali Abbortini

    June 27, 2012 at 5:31 am / 

    It would be nice if we could see more demos of the “interactive indirect illumination” feature from Ninja Camp VI .
    And also the “iterative lightmap baking” from Unity 4 .

  10. Matt

    June 27, 2012 at 4:22 am / 

    @Aras – Are you able to provide more information on what features are definitely/possibly coming to Unity 4.x?

  11. Aras Pranckevičius

    June 26, 2012 at 9:45 pm / 

    @Keo: just like with Unity 1.x, 2.x and 3.x – we do an initial “major release”, and follow up with a number of free feature releases. With Unity 3.x, for example, we did 3.0, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4 and 3.5; and each of them added a bunch of features. Unity 3.5 certainly has a lot more than Unity 3.0 did. Likewise with Unity 4: we’re releasing some stuff in 4.0, more stuff in 4.1, and so on.

  12. Keo

    June 26, 2012 at 6:31 pm / 

    So does this mean the fully featured Unity 4 won’t be released until next year?

  13. Chris

    June 26, 2012 at 9:32 am / 

    When I read about 4.0, I did have an initial reaction of “That’s it?”, but your explanation does make some sense. I don’t think I’ll be immediately upgrading to 4.0, but it’s good to know about (and keep an eye on).

    The camera feature for 2D games is very appreciated. I’ve encountered that situation a few times.

  14. Nathan

    June 26, 2012 at 8:09 am / 

    I figured that was what was going on. A friend of mine and I were talking about that when 4.0 was announced. Unity’s been really good about releasing major free updates, which I find particularly exciting to not have to pay every time they add something cool or just plain useful. :)

  15. Social Bookmarking

    June 26, 2012 at 5:27 am / 

    Thats too good!!.. i really enjoyed reading it..

  16. Ashkan

    June 26, 2012 at 4:33 am / 

    Are these pre order prices or the upgrade will remain $600 in general?

  17. Matt

    June 26, 2012 at 2:20 am / 

    Really looking forward to seeing the roadmap for Unity 4.x.

    State the caveats you feel necessary to cover yourselves (front and centre and in a large, bold font!), but please tell us about all the exciting stuff you’ve got planned!

  18. Aras Pranckevičius

    June 25, 2012 at 9:49 pm / 

    @jake: if you buy Unity now, you will get 4.0 (and whole 4.x line) automatically. If you have bought Unity 3.5, for example, three months ago, then yeah, you will get 3.5.x updates for quite a while, but no major new features.

  19. Bruno Xavier

    June 25, 2012 at 9:39 pm / 

    @jake, those new releases from Google and Apple will be supported by Unity 3.
    UT will release fixes for them.

  20. jake

    June 25, 2012 at 9:14 pm / 

    This is not good!!!! If people purchase the 3.5 Pro version and you guy will stop supporting the by end of this year.

    Say they also purchase the Android or iOS version
    $1500 + $1500 = $3000

    by end of this year, Google or Apple release update to their OS to 4.1 or 6.1. what happen to those people? will they not able to create the game even they spend that much money. If that is the case I might have to consider other game engine will better support to their software. I don’t be the one who spend $3-4000 and end up will obsolete techonlogy.

  21. X

    June 25, 2012 at 5:38 pm / 

    The 20% discount announced today is appreciated, Thank you Unity. We’ve were inspired by this major price hike to begin porting some of our Unity titles to UDK (that new $50k revenue in UDK limit is very high for most indies), C++ is very close to C#. However, we now, thanks to the price accommodations you’ve made, will keep Unity in the forefront of our interactive pipeline, at least for the near/mid-term, until we see if the v.5 prices are exorbitant(like the v4 ones were initially, imo).

    2 requests, if anyone at Unity is reading:

    #1. Please share the v.4 roadmap, even a rough one, even if you need to legally state that its all tentative, etc. We need to know if the $1800 its going to still cost us to upgrade Pro/iOS/Android will add any value to it(like 64bit editor support, or perhaps Linux Editor support). Freedom from our desktop environments becoming iDevices (Win8 & OSX 10.8) is needed by a growing number of devs, admittedly not a majority at this point in time, but its growing. Especially given many of the Autodesk & Foundry apps are now native on LInux, with more becoming linux native constantly.

    #2. Please add to iOS pro the feature UDK has had for a long time now, The ability to develop & test an iOS title in Windows. We understand an app must be built and submitted on OSX. But its VERY convenient to be able to develop, test(and testflight) on Windows, not only OSX, which is the case with Unity iOS pro. This is VERY limiting compared to UDK that allows us to develop for iOS on Windows, able to do everything, even install and run on the device, just not upload to the appstore on Windows. And its “free”, until you make $50k in revenue, which most indies never make in a single title, thus its “free” until then. We want to stick with Unity, but we’re jealous of the UDK devs that aren’t tethered to OSX to develop & test their Mac & iOS titles. ;-)

  22. Geoff

    June 25, 2012 at 1:50 pm / 

    The upgrade fees from 3.x to 4.0 seem pretty steep compared to 2.x to 3.0. As I recall when upgrading from 2.x to 3.0 there was a pretty decent discount for doing the pre-order ($300 I think? It’s been awhile) and it was a much bigger release so it was a no-brainer for us.
    We invested in Unity for it’s mobile support and it seems that after a strong start with Unity 3.0 mobile is taking a back seat to AAA features. The only mobile feature I saw in the Unity 4 update is the addition of shadows. That’s cool and all but hardly worth the $2500 it would take to upgrade my current seat.
    There’s just not anything that compelling about 4.0 to interest us. Honestly the Unity 3.5.3 minor update caught my eye more than anything in the 4.0 announcement. I’m hoping 4.1 or 4.2 will add some features that will change my mind.

  23. Ashkan

    June 25, 2012 at 11:02 am / 

    @Joze and others in the same situation
    I agree it’s hard for an indie and having a time based subscription is a good way of licensing. For someone like me it’s two years but for many others it’s a few months. Maybe it’s a good idea to count last month users as new unity 4 licensees. :)
    For those who compare UDK to unity i should say that epic games is not only a tool developer and licenses it’s tools to bigger companies with bigger prices. They sell and publish games too so it’s possible for them to add indies with a business model like this. Personally i think now unity reached the position that they can sell unity 4 to professional companies with bigger prices and hopefully be able to sell to somaller teams with less prices. Previously they had to sell to EA with the same price because they were not powerful enough and price could be a good temptation to push it forward.

  24. Matt

    June 25, 2012 at 8:50 am / 

    We have the same issue as Jose. As a three person team, we broke the bank getting our pro licenses at 3.5.1 a few months ago. We absolutely love unity, but we won’t be able to upgrade to 4.0 at the upgrade price as it stands. The Autodesk license method he mentioned sounds much more straight forward. There’s nothing to be surprised about if I know I’m buying a year’s worth of licenses.

    Nevertheless, it’s nice to know that the 3.5 generation will still receive updates “at least through 2012″. The 3.5.3 features mentioned above will make our work much more pleasant.
    Thanks Unity team!

  25. imaginaryhuman

    June 25, 2012 at 7:36 am / 

    I second the notion of seeing a new roadmap for all of the 4.x features that are planned with some details about them.

  26. Nathali Abbortini

    June 25, 2012 at 7:12 am / 

    I mean some more demos of it.

  27. Nathali Abbortini

    June 25, 2012 at 7:12 am / 

    It would be nice if we could see more of the “interactive indirect illumination” feature from Ninja Camp VI .
    And also the “iterative lightmap baking” from Unity 4 .

  28. José Moreira

    June 25, 2012 at 6:57 am / 

    @Ashkan

    I’am not complaining per se.
    I love unity and i don’t think that i would EVER change! I’m just saying that the payment system, should be something more like AUTODESK (or Solidworks) for example.

    You buy 1 year of subscription, you get 1 year of releases (upgrades or new versions) and that’s it.

    ON TOPIC: I do hope to bet enough money to buy the new unity 4, i have some crazy ideas :)
    Thanks for not leaving 3.5.2 as it is :-/ another company would just left it to die alone.

    Cumpz

  29. Firegod

    June 25, 2012 at 6:44 am / 

    I too feel ripped off. Ive spent thousands on unity licences which are only 6months old, and the upgrade pricing to v4 is terrible. I for one will never upgrade at these prices. The cost should be scaled to the amount of time you have got use out of your current licence. I think im a pretty typical indie and struggle to make a few thousand per game, the UDK licence with a 50k threshold now looks very tempting. If unity doesnt get thier licensing costs back to reality soon, i predict many will abandon unity for something else.

  30. Ashkan

    June 25, 2012 at 6:44 am / 

    @Jose you know you could guess it, They always show something new in unite, They are clearly working on new animation system and renderer with dx11, at least from GDc it’s clear.
    So with enough study you could guess however the time of preorders were not clear. We ourselves bought in 3.x pre order erra.

    I think a roadmap is partly clear and partly not. from GDC presentations APEX and more physx stuff like fluid maybe are clear additions. I hopef or softbodies too but just for fun.
    Some others like OpenGL 4 can be expected to be side by side with directX and Windows phone might become a publishing platform but clearification of other features that are being worked on might be good and add to unity’s value.
    The company to me is very healthy and is going the right direction in terms of features and prices and … but it’s just me. others might thing another way.

  31. José Moreira

    June 25, 2012 at 6:09 am / 

    I bought unity 3.5.1 thinking about the future updates which i as hopping to be 3.6.
    As a indie developer i kinda fell tricked, spent a lot of money and now i wont get 4.0, and no 3.6. That means no new features ever. Knowing what i do know, i should have waited :(

    Please, don’t get me wrong but this situations are kind of sad.

  32. Dan Woolley

    June 25, 2012 at 2:18 am / 

    Thanks for the post, nice to see support for 3.5 will continue for this year. As for Unity 4, it didn’t even occur to me that it wasn’t good value. As with Unity 3, this is an investment in the 4.x series. It’s easy to think that great releases like 3.5 are free updates but, they are not. We invested in them when we purchased 3.0. I’m sure it’s this investment that allows Unity to continue to develop at the pace it does.

  33. MrMetwurst

    June 25, 2012 at 2:04 am / 

    @Mo

    As far as I recall, navigation was never a promised item in V3.0. UT added that in V3.5 as a surprise I’m pretty sure to everyone. If it doesn’t do what you need there are still free options availble in the asset store which should fulfill your requirements.

    I don’t think your argument that you bought V3.0 for the navigation holds much water sorry, as it was never an addon that was even mentioned as a possible promise in V3.x.

    Sorry, but it just sounds like you’re drawing at straws for arguments sake.

  34. X

    June 25, 2012 at 1:46 am / 

    after reading the post from “Mo”, I totally agree. We’ve spent thousands on Unity licenses, but this “v4″ upgrade doesn’t even begin to warrant a 56% upgrade fee, which is 3,863 sales @ $.99 you’ll have to make as an #IndieDev in the app store just to afford an UPGRADE of #Unity3D to v4! #howRealisticThat

    $2550 to upgrade Unity with iOS and Android pro is just WAY beyond what MANY indies can afford. $850 for Unity pro upgrade alone is more than 50% of the original license fee! #UDK doesnt charge you until you hit fity thousand $50,000 in revenue! We’ve been with Unity since version 1, but this current upgrade cycle is eroding our support for Unity. We WANT to keep our development in Unity, but with UDK now supporting FLASH/iOS/&LimitedAndroid support, its hard!

  35. X

    June 25, 2012 at 1:35 am / 

    Thanks for the clarification, I too wont be upgrading until Unity support 64Bit like UDK does. And an EASY way for make me upgrade my pro licenses is to release a LInux Editor, not player!

  36. Mo

    June 24, 2012 at 10:56 pm / 

    I do not like that core navigation features are being held hostage behind an $800 upgrade. The Navigation system from 3.0 was shipped incomplete, and now to get the dynamic obstacle avoidance which is absolutely necessary to a navigation system in a shippable game I have to pay AGAIN.

    As far as I am concerned, I already paid for Unity navigation when I bought Unity 3.0. I have been unable to use it in its current state, and have been patiently waiting for features to be added. But since Unity 4 has a significantly smaller feature list than any other major Unity update, you are taking a what should be a simple point release and using it to round out the list of Unity 4 features to justify the price of upgrade.

    And on top of it, you RAISE the upgrade price. This is completely unacceptable. When I bought Unity 3.0 I was unaware of the features navigation was lacking, and that they would REMAIN lacking indefinitely. How am I to know you won’t pull the same nonsense with mechanim? What vital and necessary feature of your new animation system will I be paying $800 dollars for a year from now when Unity 5.0 comes out?

    I have spent thousands of dollars on Unity software over the years. I have dealt with the deteriorating community, lack of support, and slow pace of adding industry standard features. But this is asinine.

  37. Jan

    June 24, 2012 at 9:51 pm / 

    off topic: I have to agree with Martijn. In the last 3 years we have been using Unity all emails sent to the account executive we’re or not responded to or very very late (that is months). Then it was the email junk filter, change in account executives, relocation of account executive or…

  38. Lux

    June 24, 2012 at 3:56 pm / 

    Very nice news!

  39. Martijn Zandvliet

    June 24, 2012 at 3:35 pm / 

    Yes, do let us know about the roadmap for Unity 4. As long as I have an idea of what’s coming, I know what I’m buying.

    An updated list of planned features would be nice, I really liked the roadmap you published for 3.5. Plans change of course, so put that disclaimer in there, but it’s very reassuring to actually read where you guys are trying to go. I understand that marketing-wise you might want to keep a lid on things, but personally I prefer open communication to closed channels.

    Also, is there a rough estimate for major updates, like every 3 or 4 months?

    Anyway, thanks guys. :)

    P.S. I did want to leave a note regarding your recent email communication: I would appreciate it if you could tell your Account Executives to not pretend to be involved on a case-by-case personal basis. They are not. Instead they mass-emailing the customer base and are subsequently away on vacation. The emails are press releases in disguise, and its actually quite patronising to have sent them messages and receive nothing in response. If you want to send me product updates you are absolutely welcome to! Just don’t do it this way. :)

  40. Pepe Lamula

    June 24, 2012 at 2:48 pm / 

    … and on iOS?

  41. Erdener Gonenc

    June 24, 2012 at 2:09 pm / 

    Great news! Nice work… I assume autorotation splash screen orientation bugs on Android also fixed in 3.5.3 right?

  42. MeltdownZA

    June 24, 2012 at 12:52 pm / 

    The problem we’ve had in the past is with the sorting order in the editor of textured planes viewed with an orthographic camera. As they got near the screen edge they’d go further back. Not sure if this is what Aras is talking about but I hope it is.

  43. Imaginaryhuman

    June 24, 2012 at 12:47 pm / 

    I guess you could use a 3D camera to draw your 3d objects and then an ortho camera to draw 2d layers, which would circumvent the issue anyway? Although multiple cameras need more state changes I guess.

  44. MeltdownZA

    June 24, 2012 at 12:43 pm / 

    Good job guys.
    Very glad the 2D camera issue has been fixed!

  45. Aras Pranckevičius

    June 24, 2012 at 12:42 pm / 

    @hippocoder: no, it’s not faster per se. But it’s faster than trying to manually achieve correct sorting for a 2D game with a perspective camera (which usually involves making a ton of materials with manually set render queue indices). Or at least, much less hassle to implement ;)

  46. loopyllama

    June 24, 2012 at 12:40 pm / 

    Thank you for being so clear. 3.5.3 will help with my iOS game release. It happens to be a 2d game with 3d elements. I will be sure to share screenshots and videos!

  47. hippocoder

    June 24, 2012 at 12:30 pm / 

    Positive news guys, keep it up.

    Is the new camera sorting feature faster in any way for 2D?

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