Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Unity 4 is bringing changes to Unity and Cyka development

An image of the Unity 4 logo
This is epic...

Unity 4 is coming out soon, and it's looking to be a real game-changer for Unity-developed games (such as Cyka).  Basically, thanks to Unity 4, not only will have characters in Cyka move a lot better in the game thanks to a new Mecanim feature, but now PolyKhrome can offer Linux gamers a standalone desktop version of Cyka (though, a platform-independent web browser version of the game is still planned), we can offer some optional DirectX 11 features for the PC version of Cyka, and we can provide some better shadow effects to the mobile versions of the game.

Photo of Jake Kaufman
Jake "virt"Kaufman
I can even complete this game by myself now, if need be, thanks to the time-saving Mecanim feature and the further-improved updates to Unity, which is already the most streamlined workflow of any game engine around.  Though, I'd still love and plan to hire at least an animator, an environment artist, a character/prop artist, and another programmer, not to mention hopefully manage to gain Jake Kaufman for the music and assistance with sounds.

(By the way, if you've never heard of Jake Kaufman's work and don't know why I'm excited that I'll be inquiring him later on his soundtrack services, check his demo reel out and then please check this work out.  I'm a huge fan of his work, and I know that if I can get him (and he does seems to be pretty accessible), he'd definitely help bring out this game's awesomeness.  No guarantees, but we'll have to wait and see, and first get the game more together.)

Even though UDK is still technically more powerful than the Unity Engine, this next Unity release is going to be huge, and make Unity Engine even more a strong contender for indie game developers.  They own the Mecanim technology (they bought the small company who developed it for them) and it comes standard with Unity 4, which is something unlike anything other game engines really have right now (not even UDK, even with its robust animation system, has something quite like this).

Mecanim in Unity 4
Unity's parkour dude, running with Mecanim
Mecanim is a feature that allows you to use one animation you create for one model to be adjusted to other sorts of animated models, and have that animation adjust to the model and adjust smoothly between other animations.  It's just a fantastic feature and it's one that I've been watching them develop for a while.

It not only makes the characters look incredibly fluid with more natural motions in action, but it runs incredibly well on platforms without a heavy memory and processing cost (it runs even with mobile devices!), and most of time, it saves developers time.  Go here to watch a video to see Mecanim in effect.

There are so many goodies that Unity 4 now brings to the table that I will postpone the Cyka: Steamed Edition demo for Steam (developed with UDK) just to focus on fully utilizing Unity 4 for the standard non-Steam DRM-free cross-platform edition of Cyka (which would also save me from giving a whopping 25% of my Kickstarter funds just to Epic Games alone, just to use UDK at first).  I'm still making Cyka: Steamed Edition, because I still want a Steam-powered version for both PC and Mac.  But right now, Unity 4 really came at a great time, and I really want to give the main cross-platform desktop and mobile versions of Cyka my full attention with Unity 4.

- Brian

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