Developing your own custom game engine can be an incredibly expensive proposition, even for AAA studios. Why hire another staff solely to code an engine when you can simply use and modify a great existing one like Valve’s Source engine? But for smaller and indie developers with shallower pockets, neither is a viable option, which is where the Unity 3D engine comes in. Unity Technologies has just announced the fourth edition of its flagship game engine; packed with more features than previous versions of the development platform at a price point that any developer can afford, Unity 4 is aimed at the developer on a budget, while still being more than capable enough to power a triple-A title.
One of the biggest selling features of the fourth version of Unity is the brand new Mecanim animation technology, which encompasses a whole suite of features dedicated to making animating a more fluid and less tedious process, enabling animators to bring characters to life with only a few mouse clicks. According to Robert Lanciault, the lead developer behind Mecanim, “The introduction of the Mecanim suite of animation tools into Unity will completely change how developers integrate interactive animations and will result in awesome new gameplay experiences from the Unity community. These tools will allow animators to work directly in Unity to create advanced and detailed animation blend trees and state machines for incredible and natural character animation.”
Unity 4 is also compatible with Microsoft DirectX 11; this ensures that developers can use harness the power of the GPU in exciting new ways, such as increased shader capabilities and tesselation for smoother models and environments. In addition, Unity 4 has been optimized for mobile profiles, making it easy for to create high-end graphics that will scale well for both mobile platforms as well as powerful PCs.
Unity 4 is also multiplatform, allowing studios to effortlessly bring their games to as wide an audience as possible. For web game developers, Unity 4 has made it very easy to develop on the Unity 3D platform and then publish their games to Adobe Flash, making it the premium platform to bring 3D content to the Web’s most widely used rich media format. And for all those Linux users who have been clamoring for more support from game studios, Unity 4 fully supports standalone Linux desktop publishing at no additional cost.
Unity 3D’s latest version of their game development platform is shaping up to be a real powerhouse, all at a cost that will allow indie developers more flexibility than ever before. Unity 4 is currently available for preorder at their website (www.unity3d.com).