Why Choose Unity 3D? (Part 2)
(by Ian Strandberg)
I’ve chosen to use Unity 3D more or less exclusively for my game development projects. I’m just getting started and that could change, but so far, I feel I’ve made the right choice. Essentially I believe that Unity makes it possible for me to come as close to being a one man band as I’m likely to get, and while I prefer collaborators, the only person that I know for certain where to find at all times is me.
In the last article I wrote about the flexibility of the graphics pipeline, the accessibility of Unity as a coding platform, the documentation, the community and its module architecture. In this article I shall touch on a few more points of importance as well as expose a couple of chinks I the armor that I’ve exposed so far.
The ability to publish to more platforms means the ability to put your game in front of a larger audience. Out of the “box” Unity allows you to publish for the web (via a player similar to the flash player), PC or Mac. A nominal investment (see below) gets you on iOS and Android and for a more substantial investment, you can get onto the Xbox 360 or Wii. That’s quite an offering for one package and that means inexpensive ports to other platforms for a project that shows promise in its initial home.
What’s more, rumor has it that when Flash 3D revs its engines in the near future, a new flash player target for Unity will be hot on its heels. This will essentially eliminate one of Unity’s biggest negatives for web games: it’s not flash.
To cut to the chase: Unity 3D is free… pretty much. That is to say there is a powerful, highly functional free version that leaves out a few high-end features but is a completely feasible development platform for web, PC and Mac all by itself. The details of the license are beyond the scope of this article, but if memory serves, you are required to purchase the “pro” version if your project makes more than 100 large.
Unity Pro is $1500. Going beyond web, PC and Mac, Unity Basic for iOS is $400 and Pro is $1500. Ditto for Android. I don’t know the costs for consoles but my understanding is that it is substantially higher.
“But I just want to make a 2D game. Why should I go with Unity?”
If you’ve got a team you can count on or time to ramp up on more than one platform, go with the platform that’s most suitable for your project. If, like me, you’re operating on the assumption that even your closest partners can be kidnapped by life at any time, go with the platform that keeps you independent.
Unity is not ideally suited to 2D games but it is far from crippled and its flexible nature and modular architecture gives it advantages you might not find in a 2D engine. Also, a number of enterprising individuals with much better developed programming skills that you or I have already done a TON of the work for us. There are a number of sprite management tools that are easy to use and greatly increase the performance potential of Unity as a 2D game engine.
At the end of the day, finishing projects is more important than optimal performance.
To Be Continued …
In the third and probably final installment I’m going to target some of the snags I’ve hit with Unity so far and how I’ve solved them.