Unity 5 Released, Including Fully Featured Free Version!
Gabriel Roşu / 2 years ago
Unity 5 is finally here! This has proven to be a quick response to Epic’s shocking shift in making Unreal Engine 4 free last weekend. Unity 5 brings “over a thousand” improvements, including making the engine 64-bit and adding support for 21 platforms.
In terms of more detailed improvements, the team at Unity call the new engine a “graphical powerhouse”. What they mean by this is that there have been a lot of changes in terms of rendering:
- Physically-based Standard Shader
- The new Standard Shader will make your materials look consistent in any lighting environment, across mobile, high-end desktop, and consoles. Apply it across 95% of the materials in your game, such as metal, plastics, wood, ceramics and cloth. Use it together with the new HDR Skybox, Reflection Probes and Global Illumination System to create stunning visuals.
- Real-time Global Illumination
- Animate lighting with Real-time Global Illumination built on Geomerics Enlighten technology. Achieve dynamic lighting treatments on high-end mobile, desktop and consoles, and for lower-end devices, create beautifully detailed results with baked artwork.
- HDR Reflection Probes
- Enhance visual fidelity with our new HDR Reflection Probes. Add richer detail by having any object realistically reflect its surroundings. Reflection Probes are easy to implement—just place a probe at any location in your scene to sample reflections for its surrounding objects.
Moving further under the hood, we see some major changes in the Editor as well, having added a new audio mixer, enhanced animation workflows and PhysX 3.3:
- The Audio Mixer
- Now anyone can massively improve the audio in their game! Our new Audio Mixer brings nested mixing workflows, with snapshots to capture mixes in different areas of your project, plus industry-standard effects to add immersive new depths.
- New Physics Engine
- PhysX 3.3 brings massive performance improvements to 3D physics in Unity 5. New multithreaded simulation is available for platforms that support it, and there’s a new cloth component for character clothing. New wheel colliders bring better support for suspension and tire force simulation. Collision detection is improved and bake-free scaled MeshCollider support is added.
- A more powerful Animator
- We added more flexibility to the animation system. Add State Machine Behaviours to states to give precise control of script functions during animation. Anything in your game that requires some kind of State Machine-like logic can now use our visual editor live feedback. A new Asset Creation API is now exposed so animators can now create all sorts of tools to create and edit animation assets.
Other improvements include WebGL Preview, which is a preview of the deployment support for advanced 3D and 2D content in modern browsers. It aims at enhancing support for HTML5 and WebGL applications through Unity Web Player, stating that the new improvements will “deliver performance at native speeds”. Aside from WebGL, Unity 5 now supports iOS Metal Rendering, taking full advantage of iOS hardware in order to achieve greater detail, smoother performance and interactivity in games at a lower CPU usage cost.
Also, Unity 5 along with Oculus are working to “further boost the exceptional frame rates achievable with Unity on the Oculus”. This means we are going to see a lot of developers taking an interest in VR technology and in return, we should expect a lot of titles supporting the technology in the future.
In terms of new features, Unity 5 apparently is heading “to the clouds”. The team has prepared a new feature for developers, namely Unity Cloud Build, along with a set of game performance reporting tools and analytics:
- Unity Cloud Build
- Unity Cloud Build brings the magic of build automation to all Unity developers. Unity Cloud Build automates the creation and distribution of builds, by monitoring your team’s source control, and when changes are detected, it builds your project for multiple platforms in the cloud. Your whole team is kept updated with email notifications, making it easy for them to install builds on their devices with the tap of a button.
- Game Performance Reporting
- Game Performance Reporting is a new cloud service for Unity Professional customers that provides developers with new tools for improving game performance, starting with a preview of exception logging. Exception Logging captures exceptions in editor, development and release builds, and delivers detailed reports that can be read via a web dashboard.
- Unity Analytics
- Our new cloud-based analytics tool is currently in open beta. Unity Analytics provides you with powerful yet simple-to-understand tools that will help you understand your audience and get actionable insights into your players’ behavior. With that knowledge in hand, you can then improve your players’ gaming experience to boost retention, engagement and monetization.
Other improvements and additions are as following:
- A 64-bit Editor to handle large projects
- iOS 64-bit support
- New Deferred Rendering
- Graphics Command Buffers
- Improved Linear lighting, HDR, Skybox and Cubemap workflows
- Improved job scheduling system, plus a new CPU Timeline Profiler lets you see and investigate multicore usage
- Improved NavMesh pathfinding system
- Integrated SpeedTree support to create lush, rich and dynamic vegetation
- New Frame Debugger to track down graphical issues in your projects
- Improved Project Wizard
- Updated Standard Assets
- New UI and scripting APIs for AssetBundle Build system
Lastly, Unity 5 not only brings a lot of changes in terms of features, performance and improvements, but in terms of pricing as well. The team seems to be working with having two “goals” in mind:
Goal #1 — One of the founding principles of Unity is the idea that we work hard to solve very hard technical problems so our developers / users won’t have to. For this to be at all relevant, our best tools need to be a great value.
Goal #2 — Deep in Unity’s culture is the principle of Democracy. The goal is to price in such a way as to reflect our principles. Democracy is the principle we were founded on, and it means we do our best to put Unity in the hands of developers, Indies or Pros, that may not have the resources to pay for it. It’s about enabling most everyone to create with the best tools we can make. I won’t get too soppy in this post — but is an honor for me to work in a company so mission driven and principled.
Unity 5 Personal can be downloaded for free over at Unity’s website.
This is reflected in Unity 5’s pricing. This is why the Personal edition can be downloaded for free over at Unity’s website. However, the free version does not include the analytics, cloud, performance reporting and some other features. This is why the Professional edition comes with a subscription fee of $75/month.
However, the subscription fee mentioned above is just for Indie companies. There are three more subscription options, which include Enterprise, Education and Industry Solutions which are offered to bring the best subscription package for the job at hand. The pricing and more detail about the subscription packages can also be found on Unity’s website.