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We recently shared our roadmap plans for 2021. Now, we invite you inside Unity to meet some of the teams working toward these goals. In this fourth post of our new series, we meet with the Visual Scripting team.

Our Unity 2021 roadmap explains our priorities for this year. Thanks to the excellent feedback we’ve gathered since that blog post, we’re even more committed to updating production-ready features and delivering new key features. Not only that, we’re determined to improve workflows and your overall quality of life when working in the Editor.

A key element of our roadmap is communicating with you, our users, about how we plan to put this into practice. By giving you behind-the-scenes looks at our processes, we hope to help you better understand how Unity is working to empower creators.

Meet Development Manager Adam Blahuta and Technical Lead Theo Richart from the Visual Scripting team. They’ll help us to understand what visual scripting is and why it’s one of the top six priorities for Unity in 2021.

If you’ve played Warhammer: Underworlds Online, then you’ve experienced visual scripting at work. Think of visual scripting as the workflow to create logic for games and apps without writing any code. This workflow uses visual, node-based graphs that both programmers and nonprogrammers can use to design logic or to quickly create prototypes.

This freedom to streamline creativity matters more than ever today, as we’re constantly reminded of the struggle for work/life balance in the industry. Adam shares how visual scripting could’ve changed his entire team’s workflow on previous projects: “I wanted to go back in time and bring visual scripting with me. I wanted to help the dejected level designer who I’d told for the upteenth time that another interactable he needed to get his scene ready for review wouldn’t get done right away because the developers were busy with other features. I wanted to beg for forgiveness for mangling my artist’s UI with my terrible integration of his vision. I wanted to get the precious hours of my team’s life back stressing over iOS hotfix submissions that could have been avoided if we’d just had the means to push logic to the server directly.”

By increasing the accessibility of visual scripting in the present, we open up opportunities for other use cases where coding has been the go-to digital solution. Could visual scripting be the way we connect with students in important sciences like robotics? We’re just scratching the surface of its potential. The magic of Unity is that once we put it in the hands of our community, you’re the ones that will really make it sing.

It’s important to note that visual scripting isn’t meant to replace coding entirely. It enables more seamless collaboration between programmers and nontechnical team members like artists and designers. Think of visual scripting as a high-speed commuter train. You know you need to get from point A to point B, and by cutting out unnecessary stops and delays, you get to your destination a lot faster.

“A good visual scripting solution is tantamount to giving control to users so they can more actively contribute to the game’s execution. Without it, the programmers become the bottleneck of all gameplay and artistic endeavors,” says Theo. “For users who have no access to programmers, the eventual goal is to ship visual scripting with an extensive library of high-level nodes like that, that can be repurposed for each project. We’ll announce more as we get closer to when.”

You can use visual scripting to:

  • Create scripted events like dialog between characters
  • Define new player skills
  • Produce VFX 
  • Add traps to levels
  • Insert nodes like spawning guards
  • Adjust trigger boxes
  • Pick the right animation for the scene
  • And more!

If you love writing code, you can still use visual scripting and code – the nodes are there if you need them, so you don’t have to choose either/or when it comes to how you work best. You can also use visual scripting to create templates for later projects. 

For all of these reasons, Unity is accelerating the development of tools and features for artists. Making the entire process of creating real-time, interactive graphics, content and experiences more intuitive and accessible for visually oriented creators a priority for 2021.

TL;DR: With visual scripting, you can streamline your creative process by having the option to use nodes to create quick actions, rather than coding. 

We hope that you’ve enjoyed seeing the benefits that Visual Scripting can bring to your projects and look forward to hearing your feedback. Head over to our forums to get more information and to ask questions.

 

22 replies on “The road to 2021: Visual scripting in Unity”

Sharing visual scripts is the worst part of using visual scripts. Here’s a solution I’ve seen used elsewhere.

One thing I really wish Bolt supported was a hash string thing for copying and pasting bolt code online. Here’s how it could work. You select the bolt graph things you want to copy and share from the graph. You right click and choose copy hash string. You then paste that hash string to a blog post, or forum, or chat, or wherever. Users can then copy that string and paste it into the Bolt graph and it appears. This would save me save so many headaches of trying to exactly recreate graphs from your tutorials and I get a tiny detail wrong.

I really wish you guys would actually finish something (you know, make it stable) before introducing “the next big thing” for a change.
I’m still waiting for things showcased 3 years ago to be production ready and all of them are a lot more important than visual scripting.

I see no mention of Bolt 2 here. Are you still looking to release that at some point? My guess is you’re assessing the rate of adoption to decide whether or not to invest more resources into Bolt 2.

Not in the form that it was originally planned as a disparate, tacked-on 3rd party product. The best parts of Bolt, Bolt 2, (and DOTS VS) are being integrated into a cohesive and unified suite of Visual Graph Tools (including Visual Scripting Graph, Shader Graph, Visual Effect Graph, and others) in Unity built with Graph Tools Foundation. More info (with specific references to Bolt 2) in this Visual Scripting roadmap update from Laurent Gibert, Sr Product Manager @ Unity

https://forum.unity.com/threads/visual-scripting-roadmap-update-september-2020.978732/

Thanks for the detailed response. Good to hear they’re being unified, I’m hoping the API will be public so we can build our own VS tools on top of it.

i think its pretty nice for artists and Manager to see how the code is working an make themshelf small changes if they want.
but as as programmer its a hell.

An advice: stay away from the crappy Bolt, I tried and after one month I rewrote everything, my manager was happy… Prefer Playmaker for sure.

I already knew that. Thanks!

What I meant is that if you want people who never have done programming to use Visual Scripting (it’s what this article is all about), you should take care are make sure they can learn properly without any obstacle. At the beginning of that documentation: “Note. For versions 2019/2020 LTS, download the visual scripting solution from the Unity Asset Store.”
(I’ve been using Unity for 9 years and I know the differences between the package version and the Asset Store version are minimal, but maybe a beginner don’t, and those little things may put him off)

Thanks again for taking time to answer my comment.

How would a new user of visual scripting know what the problems of the docs are versus their problems conceptualising what’s supposed to be going on, or is wrong?

Why would an experienced user be doing more than skimming the docs?

This isn’t chicken/egg.

The docs need to be excellent for a field of endeavour that’s attempting to be empowering. Nobody will do that for you, pay someone internally.

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