Unite 2014 Conference Highlights Unity 5, Unity 4.6, and More!

Unite 2014 Conference

Unite 2014 Conference

Sorry, a little behind on this one!

Unity hosted the Unite 2014 Conference in Seattle on August 20-22. In addition to training for Unity beginners, the conference showed off new features coming in Unity 5 and updates in Unity 4.6.

Unite Conference

What is Unity About?

Unity published a new summary page, and asked “So, what is Unity about now?” during the conference. The Unity focus is not just on creating an engine. It is on creating an “ecosystem” for development.

“Your problems don’t end with shipping the game… They end NEVER! That’s why we want to be an end-to-end platform.”

David Helgason, Founder CEO of Unity Technologies

Road Map

Unity revealed a portion of their Road Map during Unite 2014. This gives a good idea of where the development will be going in the near future! Some of the highlights include:

  • Code Editor integration improvements
  • Nested prefabs
  • Prefab inheritance

Multi-Scene Editing

Even after Unity 5, new features are being developed for the Unity product. One of those is Multi Scene Editing, which will expand Unity’s ability to stream multiple levels. This will introduce a Scene Manager, which will selectively load and unload these levels as individual scenes in a single level. This makes aligning, loading, unloading, and balancing streaming levels much easier! Look for this capability in a future version of Unity.

Unity Cloud Build

The new Unity Austin studio will be running the Unity Cloud Build services. Cloud Build is a cloud-based platform which is aimed at easing the stress of building, testing, versioning and sharing cross-platform games. This continuous integration service will allow developer collaboration regardless of physical location, and provide data analytics (based on Unity’s recent acquisition of Playnomics).

The Unity Cloud Build service is not the same as Unity Cloud, which was announced at last year’s Unite conference.

Open Source Initiatives

Beginning with the recent release of the Unity Test Tools, Unity has started releasing source for unity components as open source. Unity components are licensed under a MIT/X11 license, and they encourage those who utilize them to similarly release under that license.

Unity Ads

Since acquiring GameAds, and rebranding it as Unity Ads, developers have received over $20 million in ad revenue.

Developers interested in ad sharing can find information on the Unity Ads website.

Everyplay

The former Applifier Everyplay app has been fully transitioned to Unity, and can be added to your games. Everyplay is a social feed that allows you to connect players.

75% of people discover their favorite games through video

Jussi Laakkonen, Founder & CEO of Applifier

Everyplay can be downloaded for free from the Unity Asset Store.

Technology

90% of game for the Oculus Rift are currently built on Unity, and now they are working with Samsung and Google to provide access to smart TVs.

The line of Smart TVs from Samsung allow not only Internet connectivity, but also access to music, games, and more through Samsung Apps.

Beginning with Unity 4.5, you can target Samsung Smart TVs.

Samsung has also announced that they are partnering with Oculus to create Gear VR, a consumer Oculus device for their Galaxy Note 4 smartphone. As they expand their device support, support for Unity is not outside the realm of possibility.

Unity 4.5 Hotfixes

On August 20th, Unity 4.5.3p2 was released.

Features

  • Android: Added the ability to deploy and run games on Android TV.

Fixes

  • (613485) – Android: Fixed mouse input for interacting with standard gui.
  • (620650) – Editor & Webplayer: Fixed crash when loading certain meshes imported with Unity 3.5.

    (613953) – Editor: Fixed Asset Store window showing up blank in DirectX 11 mode on some Intel graphics cards.

    (624456) – Editor: Multiple events in the animation window can be dragged.

    (615902) – Graphics: Fixed stencil modes only affecting front-facing geometry when shader has Cull Off.

    (623154) – Linux: Fixed text entry when pressing enter/return.

    (625805) – Mac OS X: Fixed full screen rendering at less-than-native resolution.

    (616562) – Mac OS X: Fixed a bug where certain third-party mice would cause the editor or players to take a very long time to start up.

    (625443) – Mecanim: Fixed bug where Animator.StartRecording would prevent Animator.Play from playing animations.

    (625893) – Substance: Fixed crash when loading a scene with an object that has a script with a ProceduralMaterial assigned to a Material property.

    (614950) – Windows Store Apps: Fixed exceptions which occur when trying to use reflection.

A week later (August 28th), Unity 4.5.3p3 was released:

Improvements

  • Graphics: Added Texture2D.EncodeToJPG with quality argument.

Fixes

  • (625705) – Asset Import: Fixed crash when plugin dll calls AssetDatabase.Refresh in type initializer.
  • (622971) – Editor: Fixed “ArgumentException: Invalid path” error that might occur with some custom windows.

    (627249) – Editor: SpritePacker will not crash packing sprites generated from textures with certain OnPostprocessTexture scripts.

    (616198, 587833, 587920, 596644, 626280, 627163) – Editor/iOS: Large memory-samples in profiler now work. Fix for the error “Buffer is not large enough for the message.”

    (627099) – iOS: Fixed handling of resolution preset in Player Settings.

    (584789) – iOS: Update and render additional frame after app suspension. Allows customising paused app’s thumbnail.

    (626470) – Mecanim: Fix crash when opening a project with Free License where Animator Layer Sync has been turned on by a Pro License user.

    (568678) – Shaders: VFACE pixel shader input semantic works now. Previously was not quite working on D3D9.

    (626858) – Windows Phone: Unity no longer generates empty files that cause XAP deployment failures.

And, just today, Unity 4.5.3p4 was released:

Features

  • Graphics: Added Visible in Background option to windowed fullscreen.

Improvements

  • Linux: Stop force-disabling sync to vblank when a compositing window manager is detected.
  • Terrain: Improved tree culling performance.

Fixes

  • (625668) – Windows Phone 8.1: Input.inputString now works properly.
  • (604443) – Graphics: Fixed textures in material property blocks (e.g. sprites) sometimes messing up other textures in the material.
  • (623554) – Editor: Fixed an issue whereby text went out of the TextArea in custom editor when return was pressed or multi-line text was pasted.
  • (none) – IOS: Fixed crash occurring when using webcam texture whilst privacy settings deny access to the camera.
  • (621819) – IMGUI: OnMouseExit not called when mouse is moved from a collider to IMGUI element that is occluding it.
  • (588549) – Physics 2D: 2D colliders marked as triggers now don’t affect center-of-mass or inertia calculations.
  • (626669) – Physics 2D: Rigidbody2D without colliders now has default inertia and center-of-gravity.
  • (none) – Graphics: Partial fix available for “allocation 0x00000000 already registered” error messages.

As usual, Unity Patch Releases can be downloaded from the Unity Forum.

Unity 4.6

The latest (and last) version of Unity 4 is now in open beta. While the nature of beta means that the final set of features are subject to change, this appears to be the latest release notes:

Features

  • New UI System: Design UIs for your game or application using Unity’s powerful new component based UI framework and visual tools.
    • Create UIs in screen space with or without perspective and with support for pixel perfect alignment, or in world space for simple creation of in-world interactions.
    • The layout system combines anchoring to sides, corners, or custom points in the parent container with the ability to stretch to a percentage or full extent of the parent width or height. Simple Scene View handles allows intuitive visual control and tweaking of the positional behavior.
    • Build up designs and customized controls composed of image, text, masking, and effects. All graphical components have full support for custom materials and lighting.
    • Built-in controls for buttons, sliders, scroll views, input fields and more have been designed for full cross platform deployment, supporting touch controls and mouse as well as directional navigation such as arrow keys or gamepad controls.
    • The UI system integrates with Unity’s animation smoothly, meaning that you can use state machines and other animation features to control your UI elements and panels.
    • The UI system is designed to be extensible so that it can meet the needs of your projects. Combine existing UI elements together to create new controls, extend existing controls, or write new controls from scratch.
    • Easily set up callbacks for your UI controls in the Inspector using the new persistent delegate system. A lot of functionality can be hooked up to your UI with no programming needed!
  • New Rect Tool: In previous versions, rect handles were used only in 2D mode and only for SpriteRenderers. With the introduction of the new UI system that is a hybrid of 2D and 3D, more explicit control is needed to be able to efficiently position elements. The new Rect tool in the main Unity toolbar can be used for sprites, UI elements, and any other object as well. The rect handles have also received an overhaul to be more consistent with the other tools, and to be more useful for a wide variety of uses.
    • Rect handles now support Pivot/Center mode as set in the toolbar as well Local/Global mode as set in the toolbar.
    • Rect handle squashing (holding Control/Command while dragging a side) now supports preserving volume rather than area when holding down Shift.
    • Rect handles for objects that appear small in the Scene View now show a disc handle that can be used to move the object in the plane of the rect. When zooming further in, the disc will fade out as the normal rect handles fade in.
  • Extensible Event Messaging System: Use and extend the new Event System framework. The system is used for the new UI to send and receive events, but it can be extended to support custom input devices and custom event logic.
    • Inbuilt support for touch and standalone.
    • Supports 2d, 3d, and UI components.
    • Extensible; add custom input handling and custom events.
  • Persistent Delegates (Unity Events): A new way to set callbacks via the UI and have them be built into a player. This helps non-programmers quickly add functionality to your application within the editor.

Improvements

  • Core: Added smart-allocating GetComponents<List> method which fetches components of type T and grows the list as needed. Non-generic version that supports interfaces has also been added.
  • Core: Add StopCoroutine(Coroutine) function.
  • Core: Add callback ‘OnTransformParentChanged’ to MonoBehaviour. Called whenever a transform, or one of it’s parent transforms has been reparented.
  • Core: Added Transform.SetParent method that optionally allows setting the parent transform without changing the local position, rotation or scale. For RectTransform it also doesn’t change the sizeDelta.
  • Core: Implement and expose Transform.TransformVector and Transform.InverseTransformVector so it’s no longer necessary to use localToWorldMatrix and WorldToLocalMatrix just to transform vectors with scaling included.
  • Core: Add Vector2.SmoothDamp to be consistent with Vector3.SmoothDamp, Mathf.SmoothDamp, and others.
  • Core: New API TouchScreenKeyboard.isSupported to check if platform supports on screen keyboard.
  • Editor: Reorganized GameObject creation menus with categories such as 3D Object, 2D Object, Light, etc. as well as improved functionality.
    • “Create Empty” now also appears in the hierarchy Create dropdown.
    • The context menu for Game Objects in the hierarchy can now be used to create new Game Objects as children.
  • Editor: More details on the error message when failing to add a Component due to already having another component that is incompatible.
  • Editor: If during play mode a hierarchy window takes too long to fetch new data a warning icon will appear to advise users frame rate could be affected based upon the chosen hierarchy sorting.
  • Editor: Make Scene View camera near and far clip planes use constant multipliers of size rather than four fixed ranges with fixed values that cause popping when transitioning over the thresholds of those ranges. The new ranges are about the same for close and medium zoom but has significantly larger near clip planes when zoomed far out, which reduces z-fighting.
  • Editor: Make main Game View used by CameraEditor visualizations and the Canvas be the last focused Game View rather than just the first Game View found.
  • Editor: Make sure the screen manager uses the correct game view size in the editor, which is only known on the managed side.
  • Mecanim: Allow animation of PPtr types in the animation window (textures, sprites, materials etc).
  • Mecanim: Only SendTransformChanged to transforms that are animated. Siblings with no animation will not receive SendTransformChanged
  • Mecanim: Only SendTransformChanged when transform values effectively change on a RectTransform.

Plus, as usual, bugfixes, documentation changes, and more! You can see full details in the Release Notes for Unity 4.6.

You can download the open beta for Unity 4.6 for free.

Unity 5

The beta for Unity 5 is shipping in the next month. The following will highlight some of the Unity 5 features demoed at Unite 2014; additional information can be found in the Annoucement of Unity 5 from GDC, earlier this year.

Physically Based Shading

One of the big things coming in Unity 5 is physically based shaders, which offer a huge improvement over traditional shaders.

Physics

IL2CPP and WebGL

IL2CPP is a technology that will allow components built in another language (C#, Boo, etc) to be recompiled into C++ code, which can then be ported across platforms. This allows native code to be utilized, greatly increasing the number of platforms that can be targeted, as well as enhancing stability and providing the same capabilities regardless of platform.

Browser-based games run under HTML5 using the JavaScript subset ASM.JS, which currently takes only a small hit on performance versus running a fully compiled game. Like the Unreal Engine, which has been running in Firefox for a couple of years now, Unity 5 will include the WebGL target. Furthermore, the WebGL target will be free to use for all developers, making targeting browser builds simple!

Lighting

Get It!

The patches for Unity 4.5 and the beta of Unity 4.6 can be downloaded now from the Unity website. You can start using the current version of Unity 4.5.3 for free.

We will look for Unity 5 in the coming months!

Browncoat Jayson

Join me in New Britannia!

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