One of the new key features for scalable game engines designed for both small and large development studios is a microtransaction store. For game development this makes a heck of a lot of sense, because instead of buying a bulky license to use the latest and greatest game engine, you instead get to pick and choose what assets you want included, so this way you're wasting money on things you don't need.

Unity 4 will make full use of the microtransaction store, enabling developers to buy animation, rigging and scripting services for a number of features, and pre-orders for Unity 4 are currently underway.

In an interview with International, David Helgason, co-founder and CEO of Unity Technologies, spoke openly about the design philosophy behind Unity, as well as some of the upcoming features for the Unity 4 engine that will put it in the big leagues alongside the CryEngine 3, Luminous Engine and the Unreal Engine 4, saying...
"Although we're passionate about small developers, we're also proud to now be serving bigger and bigger companies," .... "That's important, because it makes sure that we push the bar really high, and then everyone can be well served. We don't want to be providing second-tier tools to anybody."

This rings especially true with their purchase of Mecanim, a middleware suite of animation tools that basically enables Unity developers to fully maximize the animation possibilities of characters and groups similar to NaturalMotion's Euphoria engine, the same tools that helped power Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto IV and Red Dead Redemption. Helgason went on to say...
"We keep pushing, and with Mecanim and the animation system, in some sense it's the first time that one of our key features is ahead of anybody else... One of the ways that the independent part of the industry has lagged behind is - of course, and very naturally - in animation. It's expensive to do and the tools have to be very good. This will make a big difference."

Mecanim's animation suite in Unity is very similar to the services offered by Mixamo, which grants developers and enthusiasts a cash-shop to buy individual animation sets, rigging and more for custom or pre-designed characters. Even better yet, Unity 4 will support importing of third-party motion-capture data, animation scripting and animation rigging, so technically you could use something cheap and convenient like iPi Soft to do your mo-cap and then import it into Unity 4. Perhaps you might want to tweak the animation transitions a bit so you buy a package of altered animations from Mixamo and then dump all the data into Unity 4 and make the necessary changes, cutting down on both time and money to fully animate a character or two.

Helgason also wanted to stress the importance of Unity 4's compatibility, saying...
"We spend as much or maybe more energy on making sure all of these things are compatible with new platforms and the most important platforms,"...

"Linux is something we've had a lot of questions about from the indie community, and the Humble Indie Bundle has showed that there's a business on Linux. So we're trying to commercialise on something we've been working on for a long time internally - we actually had some of our engineers kind of doing it in their spare time and on weekends.

We'll be the first mass market engine to support Linux, and it's not the biggest user-base, but it's a very passionate group of people that are willing to pay, they're smart, and they really love the platform.

A list of features for the Unity 4 can be viewed below and you can also check out an animation demonstration of the Unity 4 in action with some parkour stunts and free-running. For more information be sure to visit the Official Unity Website.

Unity 4 Features: • Shuriken particle system supports external forces, bent normals and automatic culling
• 3D texture support
• Navigation: dynamic obstacles and avoidance priority
• Major optimizations in UnityGUI performance and memory usage
• Remote Unity Web Player debugging
• New Project Window workflows
• Iterative lightmap baking
• Refined component-based workflows
• Extensible inspectors for custom classes
• Improved Cubemap import pipeline
• Geometry data improvements for huge memory and performance savings
• Meshes can be constructed from non-triangle geometry - render points & lines efficiently
• Search, live preview and buy Asset Store assets from the Project Window




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