Unity 5.3: All-new features and more platforms
We’re pleased to announce that Unity 5.3 is ready for download! Go grab it now. With this latest release, we’re bringing you a wide variety of new features and platforms!
- New tools: A MonoDevelop upgrade, multi-scene editing, 2D tools and automated unit testing
- Graphics optimizations, including a new OpenGL core, experimental support for Metal in OS X, and an upgraded particle system.
- Coming soon: tvOS support
- Improved platform support for WebGL and iOS 9
- Integrated in-app purchase support
- VR improvements and new VR learning samples
- And more…
So sit back, relax, and let’s take a look at what’s new in Unity 5.3:
New and upgraded tools
The Unity 5.3 release includes a variety of new tools to simplify and streamline your development process:
Improved scripting editor experience
Unity 5.3 ships with version 5.9 of MonoDevelop-Unity, a significant upgrade to the existing version of Unity’s scripting editor. In addition to an overhauled and simplified UI, debugging can now be performed by attaching to a desired target quickly and easily – saving multiple clicks over the previous workflow. We’ve also fixed a number of bugs and debugging issues to bring you a greatly improved experience when using MonoDevelop. Check out our blog post on the subject to learn more.
Easier scene management
The editor’s scene-editing capabilities are also getting a significant upgrade with the introduction of multi-scene editing. Unity now allows you to split a level up into smaller scenes, which has some useful applications. For instance, if your game includes a very large level, you may want to split it up to support streaming scenes dynamically and loading/unloading them from memory on the fly. Overall, this should result in performance gains when working with larger levels, giving you more freedom to build bigger in-game environments.
All-new 2D Tools
We’re continuing our commitment to improving Unity’s capabilities as a complete solution for 2D game development with some exciting new 2D physics tools. These include:
The Buoyancy Effector, a new 2D physics effector that provides simple interaction between objects and fluids and fluid-flow forces:
New Relative, Fixed, Target and Friction Joints paving the way for even more creativity in your 2D games:
Spot problems earlier with Editor Tests
We’re introducing a new way of managing and running automated tests from within Unity: the Editor Tests Runner. It’s an implementation of NUnit, a well-known .Net unit testing library. It allows you to author and run tests to verify individual functions in your code, enabling you to identify issues at an earlier stage in the development process.
To get started using the Editor Tests Runner, simply open up the Editor Tests Runner window, and define some tests that are appropriate for your project. Additionally, you can now configure our automated build service Cloud Build to run these editor tests automatically on your game project, allowing you to catch problems sooner and iterate faster.
More efficient rendering
With Unity 5.3, we’re shipping a number of new features which raise the bar for rendering quality and deliver improvements to rendering efficiency.
For starters, there’s a brand new OpenGL 4.x core, which will replace our legacy OpenGL 2.1 backend. This allows you to take advantage of the very latest OpenGL features on Windows, OS X and Linux, whilst also being able to scale to older versions of OpenGL, depending on the user’s OpenGL driver support. Note that in 5.3, Unity will default to the new OpenGL core, but you can switch to legacy OpenGL 2.1 manually to maintain previous behavior. Our current aim is to remove the legacy OpenGL backend in Unity 5.4.
We are also releasing experimental support for Apple’s Metal technology for standalone OS X builds in the Unity editor, granting you access to much faster graphics processing in OS X games. Metal can be enabled in the Graphics API selection dropdown in the Unity editor’s Player Settings window.
The bar for realistic graphics rendering in Unity is being raised, with the introduction of Screen Space Raytraced Reflections (SSRR). SSRR enables objects to reflect their surrounding environments more accurately than with reflection probes, and are dynamic, so moving objects in a scene are accurately reflected in surfaces. We recently released our Bedroom demo, which showcases the level of visual realism which can be achieved in a scene using SSRR.
Our implementation of SSRR is currently in beta, and available as part of the pre-release Cinematic Image Effects package. Please help us make it better by downloading it from the Asset Store and giving us feedback on the forum.
Unity’s particle system has received a substantial overhaul. All particle system properties can now be configured through script, giving you an unprecedented level of control and unlocking new creative possibilities. Plus, we’ve also added:
System Scaling: Control exactly how particles scale.
3D Rotation controls (full control of particle orientation and rotation on 3 axes):
Mesh Shape Source: You can now use a skinned mesh as a source for particle emitters:
New options to control particle collisions with 3D and 2D objects:
Shiny new features are one thing, but what about performance? Well, in Unity 5.3, the rendering of particles, sprites, flares, halos, lines and trails has got a performance boost, thanks to improvements in how the engine manages threads internally. Plus, we’ve updated our frame debugger so that you can run the tools on a remote device (e.g. an Android phone). For instance, this means you can see which shader properties are used by a draw call, giving you even more visibility and allowing you to troubleshoot rendering hiccups at runtime.
Plus, expensive shaders should now run more efficiently as we’ve taken steps to ensure that load times and memory usage are reduced. Lastly, we’ve enabled asynchronous loading of texture data from disk and time-sliced uploading to the GPU on the render thread. This reduces waiting times for texture GPU uploads in the main thread, which should result in overall improved rendering performance. Hooray!
Conquer the living room with tvOS
We’re happy to report that tvOS will be available soon as a target platform. It’s currently in beta for everyone to try (go to the forum to join), and will be released within the coming weeks in Unity 5.3.x.
tvOS target platform includes input device support for the Apple TV Siri Remote through the Unity Input API, and support for on-demand resources using Asset Bundles.
There are already a number of great titles made with Unity available on Apple TV today – check out this list of Apple TV games, or read our in-depth blog post that includes some great advice for aspiring tvOS game developers from dev.s who have successfully shipped an Apple TV game.
Plus, Unity 5.3 also comes with a slew of updates that will allow you to take advantage of new features in iOS 9 and tvOS, including 3D Touch on the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, support for iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, and Bitcode support. If you want to learn more about using Unity to develop for tvOS and iOS 9 using on-demand resources, head over to our blog post.
An Update on WebGL Platform Support
In March 2015, with the launch of Unity 5.0, we introduced publishing to WebGL under a “preview” label in the Unity editor. Since then, with the release of 5.1 and 5.2, we have delivered a series of improvements for our support of the platform. With today’s launch of Unity 5.3, we’ve decided to remove the “preview” label, and make WebGL an officially supported build target. It’s worth noting that work on WebGL as a platform is an ongoing work in progress – but we’re confident that our implementation works well within the current constraints of the ecosystem as a whole.
In addition to a number of bug fixes and more comprehensive documentation, the 5.3 release includes a number of improvements to WebGL shaders, shadows and file compression handling, all of which should translate to greater performance and increased graphical fidelity.
Browser support for WebGL has also improved significantly over the course of the past year, which means that the potential target audience for your games is constantly growing.
We are not yet at the point where all Unity features are supported in WebGL, but we are committed to the continued development of the platform, and look forward to bringing you regular updates on new features in future releases of the Unity editor. For a full rundown of the current state of WebGL in Unity, and the work that has gone into bringing WebGL support to the engine, check out our in-depth blog post on the subject.
What’s more, our Cloud Build service now supports WebGL as a target platform. Just configure your project once, and you can build and share your WebGL games automatically from the Cloud Build website. Read more about how to get started using Cloud Build for your game here.
In-app purchases made easy
If you’re currently monetizing your mobile title through in-app purchases, the chances are that you’re familiar with the work involved in configuring and maintaining integrations with different app stores.
With Unity 5.3, we aim to take the pain out of that process with a new service: Unity In-App Purchase. Unity IAP makes it easy to implement in app purchases into your application across the most popular app stores, and you can enable it directly in the Services window in the Unity editor.
What’s more, Unity IAP is integrated deeply in the Unity Analytics platform, allowing you to to continuously track in-app behaviour and make tweaks to your game based on actual revenue and purchase data. Currently Unity IAP supports the iOS App Store, Mac App Store, Google Play and Windows Store, and we’re exploring opportunities to support even more platforms in the future.
Get started with VR
We are committed to making the Unity editor a robust and fully featured solution for the creation of immersive VR content. Through our regular releases of the editor, we’re continuously improving Unity support for various VR headsets, including the Oculus Rift and the Samsung Gear VR.
Today we’re happy to announce that with the launch of Unity 5.3, we’re simultaneously releasing a new sample project for those looking for an introduction to developing VR content in Unity. The project is designed to get you started working in VR, with some low-nausea-risk examples of arcade content that work well in the VR environment. The sample project includes a VR cinema curved-display style menu, as well as four different mini-games with three distinct approaches to gameplay and player input:
Flyer allows you to pilot a spacecraft through an asteroid field using head tracking for input:
Maze is a top-down-view tabletop game that uses a combination of head tracking and button input to guide an avatar:
Target Gallery is a gallery-style shooter in which you aim at targets using head tracking:
Shooter360 is a 360-degree arena shooter challenging you to take out spawning targets all around you in a domed arena, designed to be played in a standing position:
This sample project is backed by a wealth of articles on how it was built as well as advice for beginners getting started on the Oculus VR platform. We hope they inspire you to take the plunge into VR development, and we can’t wait to see what you build.
Go grab it now
In Unity 5.3, we’ve compartmentalized the Unity installer in order to reduce download size and allow you to control what you want to install. Should you wish to, you can still download once and install on multiple machines by choosing the custom download location in the Download Assistant on both Mac and Windows. Learn more in this forum post.
…and much more
Had enough already? Too bad, because we’ve crammed even more goodness into Unity 5.3:
- Numerous bugs have been mercilessly squashed
- A new JSON API, that supports conversion of objects to and from JSON format – useful for client/server communication and saving/restoring game state.
- Multi-display support – render to up to 8 displays from a single application.
As always, you can find the full rundown in the release notes.