The first phase of our plan to create a networking solution that allows Unity developers to build multiplayer games for any type of game with any number of players is coming to a game engine near you soon.
Tyler LaGrange and Networking Engineer Mark Owen of React Games, have been using Unity Multiplayer (formerly known as UNET) in upcoming title Super Dungeon Bros since it won the Development Award for social games at Game Connection Europe 2014 and attracted funding from an independent publisher. It’s the studio’s first multiplayer game.
Tyler and Mark highlight a number of advantages to using Unity Multiplayer. One big benefit for Super Dungeon Bros, which will target desktop platforms, Xbox, and PS4, is that the underlying engineering framework is cross platform compatible, so very little customization has been necessary.
“We didn’t have to change the network code at all to port it from PC to Xbox. It just worked..”
Unity Multiplayer is flexible enough to suit a wide range of games with both a high level and a low level API. When the ReactGames team agreed to help out with a Unity Multiplayer demo for GDC 2015, they were able to get something up and running quickly just using the high level API and were impressed by how easy it was prototype and iterate.
With their game now well into production, Mark splits his time roughly 50-50 between the high level and the low level API. In general, he’s a big fan of the amount of automation Unity Multiplayer makes possible. “It generates a lot of code, saving us a lot of time.”
An innovative feature that Mark, who’s an experienced network engineer, highlights is the way that Unity Multiplayer combines a P2P and Client Server architecture into a hybrid where users can just switch between the two. It’s not something he’s come across before.
Once Unity Multiplayer is released, Tyler feels sure that we’ll see a lot more multiplayer games being made with Unity. Indeed, with Unity Multiplayer following the usual Unity paradigm of allowing anyone with an engineering background to pick up the tool and start using it, he confidently predicts that Unity Multiplayer will help introduce networking to a number of people who haven’t tried it before.
“No-one is saying that making a networked game is super easy, but if you do it in the right way, and start planning your networking implementation from the start, it doesn’t have to be a major pain.”
This is something the team have learnt the hard way as Super Dungeon Bos wasn’t originally conceived as a multiplayer game. However, Mark has found that Unity Multiplayer has actually catered well for that scenario, even though it’s not what he’d recommend doing.
In developing Super Dungeon Bros, Tyler’s team have employed Mark as a fulltime networking engineer with three other members of the team helping out from time to time. Overall, Tyler estimates that adding the game’s networking is taking up between 10 and 20% of their engineering resources.
If you are considering a multiplayer game, Tyler and Mark have some advice:
- Determine what type of game you’re making and do your research and planning up front
- There are lots of cool implementations out there – have a look at what other people have done
- Don’t be afraid, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes initially
Best of luck, React Games!