Unity 3 — What Feature is The Dev Team Most Proud Of?
Unity 3 is looking to be our biggest release to date — bringing with it source-level debugging, deferred rendering, best-in-class lightmapping and occlusion culling, and a unified editor. As we are getting close to the end of our pre-order window, I decided to asks members of the dev team what features they are most excited about.
Beast lightmapping — no doubt :) Never has lighting a scene been so much fun! Great interface and superb integration with Unity. It has actually changed the way I work, as I now do all my lightmapping/baking inside Unity, with Beast. I am sure 90% of the games we’ll see after 3.0 will look 10x as good as the ones we see today :)
There are BIG features, but I’m really enjoying the little scene view tweaks that improve daily use. Vertex snapping, look-at rotation, live previews for materials, dragging prefabs into the scene live with ray-snapping, interactive light gizmos, and rect selection — get used to them and then use a 2.x build and see how frustrating it gets. Unity 3 is going to allow for scenes to be constructed much more quickly and accurately.
Personally, I’m quite happy with all the behind the scenes stuff that went into 3.0 rendering — surface shaders, seamless shader compilation into OpenGL ES shading language, the way we encode Deferred Lighting buffers etc. But I doubt anyone except me would ever notice them :)
- It’s exclusive — very exclusive.
- No short circuiting semantics with this guy.
- It appreciates differences in people, or at least in operands, which is almost the same as people.
- It has an X in it. Everything that has an X in it is cool. And this one starts with an X.
I’m most thrilled about the new audio features. Big things like fx filters and reverb zones to add atmosphere to your audio are awesome, but little things like reliable synching of multiple playing sources is completely wonderful. Combined with spectrum analysis you can do things like procedurally modify colors, meshes, lighting, or anything else based on audio playback. As someone who wants to make synaesthesia-invoking music games, I am so happy that these features made it into 3.0.
I love the new audio features, especially the possibility to use audio to affect any runtime variable. I can’t wait to see what people get out of this.
The mod tracker file support might start a new epoch in music for games — or should I say a revival of the demo scene trackers.
I am also amazed by the new physics features. Cloth is a powerful feature that along with DSP effects and reverb zones will expand the way our users will present their game worlds.
I am really happy that we have managed to include a lot of details into the mix, audio preview in the scene, object selector, audio rolloff curves, UI for the player settings — I could go on and on. It soothes my perfectionist heart to see that many minor improvements in Unity.
Rune Skovbo Johansen
A few things that are exciting to me, and haven’t been mentioned yet:
- New font back-end and text input with IME support should make Unity far more interesting to developers targeting Asia and other markets that have unique fonts.
- A few very typical basic math functions have been added that you’d need in many games, but which are not trivial for newbies to come up with on their own: MoveTowards (for floats and vectors) RotateTowards (for rotations and vectors), and a some others.
- Lots of small bug fixes all around that improve stability and performance.
- Full debugging capabilities
I think Unity has made the transition to being a robust level editing tool — developers can place modeled objects from inside Unity as opposed to artists creating the whole level in maya/max. You could always use Unity in that way in theory, but there were some drawbacks why people didn’t do it workflow wise and feature wise when they were doing a high end production.
There is a bunch of stuff that contributed to it, in order of importance:
- Being able to lightmap from within Unity
- Static batching
- Being able to place things with the vertex snapping & raycast snapping
- Occlusion culling so you can get performance out of big scenes
- Being able to quickly find assets with the object picker
- Being able to search stuff in a super awesome looking way
Equally important is the unified editor; we actually managed to get all platforms back under one tool again. This is awesome right now, but we also spent a lot of time making it easier to add new platforms, so that after 3.0 we can add new platforms at the speed of a rocket ship.
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