I’ve been using Unity 4 for a while now and I have released a few games with it on Windows Phone, iOS, Android and Windows 8. I love its approach to game design and its expandability. It is also a hugely supported platform and its asset store can really make a difference when you feel like you don’t want to reinvent the wheel but lack of a multi-disciplinary team to take care of things. Recently I was in Zurich for a presentation by Andy Touch of Unity who showed off a few really exciting things about the upcoming version of Unity, Unity 5. Boy I can’t wait for the final version!
Yesterday, Unity announced the availability of Unity 5 beta for pre-orders and subscribers. Since I already had Unity 4 Pro, preordering Unity 5 Pro came with a huge discount and the availability of the beta pushed me off the edge. I was going to get Unity 5 in the end, so better sooner than later:) So I got my hands on Unity 5 beta as a bonus and I’ve been playing around with it since yesterday.
At first, the environment seems to be more or less the same as before. That’s a good thing, since upgrading only to find that everything is different can really disrupt your daily work flow. I’ve made a copy of my latest project (this is STILL a beta, so no chances taken) and loaded it up on the new system. Unity 5 happily upgraded my project and scripts and loaded everything just fine. What I noticed immediately was how faster and more fluid the dev environment feels. Granted, I have 32GB of RAM on my system and the new editor is (finally) 64 bit so this plays a role I guess. My taskbar also has quite a few different Unity icons since I am doing some … things with different platforms and up until now each platform required a special build of Unity. Unity 5 seems to … unite the platforms since now I can see more or less everything in the Build menu. The licensing thing will get sorted out I get since my “normal” Pro license it not enabled with building to my other platforms (yet). But having a Unified Unity is a good step:)
I have not played with the One Shader yet (One Shader To Rule Them All – Unity 5 includes a nice physical based shader for all your shading needs that blew our mind at the demo) and I am dying to see the global illumination part, but one thing at a time. All the new 2D stuff is there of course (with some nice additions to the 2D physics engine) and I will definitely try out the new UI system. I’ve been using NGUI so far and I am fairly happy with it, but having something integrated in the system is a good thing, even as an option. The new sound system looks intimidating, since I am less than familiar with sound editing and engineering but again, it’s nice to know it’s there:)
Finally I would like to mention Unity cloud. I think they guys over there at Unity are definitely moving to the right direction, trying to provide a really complete package for game developers, especially indies, and that includes cloud services. This includes ads for all platforms, which might end up to be a big thing if they perform well, since it’s a pain to manage so many different ad sources on different platforms. I hope they go on implementing gaming services like leaderboards and achievements since in some platforms (I am looking at you Microsoft) an easily accessible framework does not exist.
Overall, Unity 5 will be a game changer:)