What is Unity?
Unity is a versatile development platform used primarily to build high-quality 2D and 3D games, we use it here to create Albert the e-learning hero for Virgin Media. Unity Unite is an annual conference for content-creators to learn about the latest developments in the Unity engine and is a great chance to talk to Unity engineers, experts and industry leaders. Having been to the European edition of the conference for the past two years, it’s the perfect way to keep up to date, pick up development tips and get feedback from the Unity team.
Exciting announcements from the keynote
- A new cross-platform augmented reality (AR) authoring tool
- Games in messaging apps, they announced a lightweight implementation of Unity for games to be played and sent through messages (not yet released but is in alpha phase).
- It was announced that Unity and Google Cloud have partnered to make the creation of performant and scalable connected games easier. Connected games are those that involve a level of interaction with other players; ranging from leaderboards (like those in Albert) to online first person shooters. They talked about the future of connected games and how connection with other players increases loyalty and engagement.
After the keynote, there were talks, workshops, demo games and lots of coffee because everyone knows developers can’t function without copious amounts of coffee 😃
Highlights from the talks
- Secrets to creating the best AR experiences – the speakers suggested adding AR as a feature to existing apps due to AR being quite physically involving for the user and draining to their device’s battery. They touched on subtle tricks to enhance an augmented object’s presence in the real world, such as a basic shadow and responsive lighting. Plus the importance of guiding the user with prompts and hints to prevent them getting lost in this cross reality experience.
- Bring a MOCCA game to life – Mika Rahko, co-founder of Futureplay games, spoke about the development process for their latest release Battlelands Royale. It is a MOCCA game which stands for multiplayer online casual competitive arena. He spoke about how they made the game from the initial stages of just having an idea and drawing up artwork to the initial limited release just six months later. The game has just been released fully and it was interesting to hear him talk about what he learnt along the way. One thing I thought interesting was their approach to generating ad revenue, they placed ads at a positive moment for the user and rewarded them for viewing the ad, this leaves a positive feeling with the user rather than a negative one (many games show ads when the player has just lost or died). He also spoke about the importance of strong initial prototypes if you want to get buy-in from people within your company and outside stakeholders.
Stand out games at Unity Unite
Harold Halibut was a headline game that was featured in the keynote. It’s an adventure game using entirely handmade models for the environment and is animated in the style of a stop-motion film. The developers did a fascinating talk on the process of making and digitising their real-life models and how they used Unity to add cinematic atmospheric lighting to create an incredible looking game. It is due for release in 2019 so keep an eye out for it.
Advice to others based on what i’ve learnt from going
There were a significant number of talks on AR and VR which indicates that these platforms are the future, so you should invest and build up knowledge in this area to make sure you’re not left behind. These are fast developing areas of technology where the rules haven’t yet been set, so it’s an exciting time to get involved and stand out from the crowd with new ideas. There’s lots of great content and tutorials from Unite and on Unity’s website so take a look!