Unity 5 Announced With Built-In Global Illumination

By William Usher 2014-03-18 12:55:19 discussion comments
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Unity Technologies has announced that the Unity 5 3D game engine is on its way and pre-orders are currently available for the new design program.

The video above gives gamers, designers and aspiring developers a strong idea of what they can expect from the new generation of games made within the Unity 5 game engine. If I must say so myself, this looks extremely promising and very impressive.

Unity CEO David Helgason chimed in on the new updates, saying...
“Every time we ship a new version of Unity, we’re looking to empower developers with technology that's more powerful and easier to apply than ever before,” ... “With the huge additions of physically-based shading, lighting workflows, a new platform, and a new built-in method for user acquisition, we’re improving Unity dramatically from both a creative and business perspective.”

One of the big things that a lot of people were looking forward to this generation was Global Illuminated Lighting. This feature can completely light an entire world with a single light-source, and even more than that, the light-source can be designed to provide real-time physical based lighting across various material surfaces. This feature was first introduced and brought to the forefront of game design in the early iterations of the Unreal Engine 4, just until it was realized that neither the Xbox One or PS4 had the GPU hardware capable of utilizing GIL, so the feature was sidelined. That last point became ever-so-clear in the PS4 Demon Knight demonstration.



Thankfully, Unity Technology is picking up the mantle and carrying the torch toward the future of game design that we all deserve. Their embedded Global Illumination is being provided by Geomerics' Enlighten.

This means that you can naturally light an entire world with a single light source, cutting down the need to have a lighting artist manually go through and light every single room or area, or in the case of Forza Motorsport 5, downgrade the real-time light casting and pre-bake in shaodws and light reflections. The fact that now indie games can have all the fancy AAA-style lighting at a fraction of the cost is awesome, right?

This feature, however, isn't worth much without physical-based lighting technology. What good is light sources if everything looks samey or like it was manufactured in a cheap plastic factory? Thankfully, Unity has implemented physical-based shader effects, so that various materials will be lit under various conditions according to their properties: Metal is lit as metal, leather is lit as leather, etc., etc.

The combination of these new features, along with better audio mixing, brand new WebGL access and the new lightmap preview system implemented directly into the engine, all adds up to make Unity 5 a prime-time source for indie and AAA titles alike.

You can learn more about the new updated engine by paying a visit to the official Unity Technology website.
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