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What’s New in Unity for 2019

Behold: the future of learning games!

Well…not quite. While it’s undeniable that Unity’s impressive ‘Megacity’ demo – featuring a massive cyberpunk cityscape packed with millions of objects – makes for a jaw-dropping tech showcase, the features showcased in this demo will likely prove more useful for developers creating commercial titles rather than educational video games- think well-known, publisher-backed releases like Colossal Order’s popular city-building sim Cities: Skylines or Moon Studios’ upcoming platform-adventure Ori and the Will of the Wisps.

But that doesn’t mean that Unity isn’t cooking up a smorgasbord of new features and improvements that will prove useful to a Unity-wielding learning game studio like ours!

Last October, Filament’s own Stephen Calender and Brandon Korth embarked on a 1,500+ mile journey from Madison, Wisconsin to Los Angeles, California to attend Unity Technologies’ Unite Conference – a three-day celebration focused solely on (you guessed it!) the ever-popular Unity game engine. For those unfamiliar, Unity is a popular cross-platform game engine used to create half of the world’s games– including nearly every one in our portfolio! Filament Games has been a Unity shop for a while now, and we’re big fans – which makes attending professional development events like Unite crucial for keeping our teams up-to-date on the engine’s tools.

At the show, the duo attended numerous talks and workshops focused on new Unity features and improvements slated for 2019, networked with fellow developers across industries like games, AR/VR, and film, and even had the opportunity to soak up some California sunshine along the way – needless to say, Unite Los Angeles was an unforgettable experience.

So unforgettable, in fact, that Stephen and Brandon wished to share their highlights with our blog readers! Recently, I had the chance to sit down and discuss their biggest takeaways from Unite 2018 as well as their most anticipated new features coming to Unity in 2019. Check out what they had to share:

Prefab Workflow Improvements

December 2018’s Unity 2018.3 release introduced a number of Prefab workflow improvements, namely Prefab Variants, Prefab Mode, and – a feature our team is particularly excited for – nested Prefabs. For those unfamiliar with the term, Prefabs refer to reusable, developer-defined building blocks which allow users to seamlessly insert multiple instances of a GameObject into a Scene – think repeatedly occurring objects like in-game foes or scenery like trees and shrubbery. Rather than simply copying and pasting an object over and over, though, Unity’s Prefab system offers a key advantage: automatically keeping the GameObject’s attributes and settings in sync across all copies, whether there exist 2, 200, or 2 million instances of that object within the Scene.

Inspired by the results of more than 150 surveys, interviews, and usability tests, the new Prefab workflows allow developers greater flexibility to make changes to Prefabs – both in terms of allowing multiple team members to make modifications simultaneously, and splitting up Prefabs into multiple entities for greater efficiency. With these improvements implemented, our teams are now able to dictate ripple effects of changes to projects far more efficiently than before – a significant quality of life improvement that will help optimize our workflow across all of our studio’s projects.

Check out the video below for a closer look at Unity’s Prefab workflow improvements!

Rapid Prototyping with ProBuilder

Prototype rapidly, play instantly, and perfect easily – once a popular download on the Unity Asset Store, 3D modeling and level design tool ProBuilder has now been elevated to official Unity tool status. At its core, ProBuilder allows developers to quickly prototype structures, objects, and environments within Unity – allowing our team to quickly lay out basic scenes and levels within minutes. ProBuilder integrates seamlessly with some of our other tools like Maya, features a dynamic and easy-to-use interface, and makes a perfect tool for designers to use to efficiently test and iterate their ideas directly inside a scene – needless to say, our studio is a huge fan of ProBuilder’s native Unity integration.

Discover how ProBuilder allows for efficient prototyping in the below video demo from Unity Technologies.

Scriptable Render Pipeline

First introduced in early 2018, Unity’s Scriptable Render Pipeline has exciting implications for our teams here at Filament, exposing Unity’s Rendering Pipeline and allowing our developers to configure a number of complex settings to their liking. In simplest terms, “Render Pipeline” encompasses a number of techniques necessary to make in-game objects appear on the user’s screen – for a closer look at Unity’s Rendering Pipeline, I’d recommend checking out this article. Previously, Unity developers faced a binary decision when it came to using Unity’s sole Render Pipeline: use it, or don’t. Now, with the option to choose between two built-in Render Ripelines – High Definition and Lightweight variants – in addition to customizing our own, our teams can more efficiently optimize our games both in terms of improving graphics and allowing our games to run on more devices than previously possible.

Want a closer look at Unity’s Scriptable Render Pipeline features? Check out the video below!

These are just some of the highlights for what Unity has in store for 2019. For a full rundown of the feature pipeline over at Unity, check out their roadmap – a useful outline of currently-released, in-development, and planned features and improvements. 2019 is poised to be an exciting year for Unity developers such as ourselves – what new features are you most excited about? Sound off over on our Facebook or Twitter!

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