Last week’s Unite 2023 event saw a massive amount of updates from Unity, the world’s largest real-time 3D (RT3D) gaming engine company.
The Unite 2023 event, a meeting of minds for Unity developers, solution providers, and executives, explored the latest updates on the leading platform.
In a keynote speech, Jim Whitehurst, Chief Executive, Unity, revealed a trove of new features from future solutions for the virtual content company. The former Red Hat executive unveiled several of the company’s premier features set for release late next year.
Addressing the audience on Unity’s renewed commitment to fair pricing schemes, Whitehurst said,
“Now, I’ll be upfront […] we should never, ever surprise you with a decision that has a material impact on you that you don’t know about. That’s something I will commit to you going forward. I know trust is something that’s earned. It’s not what we say, it’s what we do. So going forward, we will demonstrate that behavior to you and with you as we make decisions about Unity in our community going forward”
He added: “We’ll also show you our commitment to delivering the best possible game engine ever.”
The comment comes after former Unity CEO, John Riccitiello, resigned in late October after changing pricing schemes for the Unity platform, sparking public outcry across its developer community.
Introducing Unity 6 LTS
In the speech, Whitehurst unveiled Unity 6, the next Long Term Support (LTS) release of the platform. The update is set for release in 2024 and will offer massive performance and multiplayer game creation upgrades. It will also offer WebGPU support along with XR device enhancements.
Some of the latest tools on Unity 6 will pilot on Fantasy Kingdom, which will demo stylised environments created at Synty Studios. Each of the demos will showcase lighting, rendering, and scaling capabilities for Unity’s world-class solution and major improvements to its performance.
Whitehurst explained further,
“With Unity 6, even your existing SpeedTree assets will see a big performance boost in both CPU and GPU sites. Look, there are hundreds of trees rendering in this scene and what you’re seeing is on a commercially available desktop, but with Unity 6, you’ll be able to tap into these performance and feature benefits across platforms including mobile”
He added: “It’s now going to be possible to reach more platforms without a huge content reauthoring burden. So you’ll spend less time optimizing every asset trying to hit your target framerate.”
One of its top features, Adaptive Probe Volumes, will offer natural lighting scenarios in greater, more immersive detail. Tools such as graphics processing unit (GPU) Resident Drawer, GPU Occlusion Culling, and Spatial-Temporal Post-Processing (STP) will enhance the platform’s hardware optimisations, leading to increased performance and efficiency.
Unity 6 will also back its novel WebGPU graphics backend, allowing users and developers to operate Unity games across the web, anytime and anywhere. This includes a native app web view feature as well as browsers, unlocking support for upgraded rendering tools for next-generational graphics fidelity.
Enhanced Performance, Empowered Development
Along with Unity 6 LTS, the San Francisco-based company will add features to Unity 2022 LTS such as Data-Oriented Technology Stack (DOTS) support, along with a Universal Render Pipeline (URP) feature for graphics processing.
This will provide functionality in 3D samples where users can learn to scale, develop, and operate multiplatform graphics projects. Unity is stepping up efforts to boost streaming performance with its Unity Cloud solutions. In a bid to streamline and enhance content delivery,
These will incorporate tools like Unity Asset Manager, Unity DevOps, Editor tools, centralised Team Administration, and upgraded Dashboard user interfacing (UI) on Unity Cloud to vastly improve the gaming development lifecycle.
The solution is currently in early access across all Unity subscription tiers.
Channelling Unity’s Inner Muse
Finally, Unity announced at the Unite 2023 event it would debut next-level features for Unity Muse and Unity Sentis. The former will integrate generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) content creation facilities with Chat, Texture, Sprite, and other enhancements.
Leveraging natural language processing, the platform will produce answers, instructions, and code for developer projects. Sprite will also create on-the-fly 2D art in the Editor app for production-ready 2D and 3D developer projects.
Conversely, Unity Muse will launch after pre-release, with full support in late 2024. Features such as Behavior, Sketch, and Animate will boost productivity for character creations.
For example, Behavior will set up character interactions instantaneously using word prompts directly input in the Editor. Also, Animate will develop humanoid characters with simple text prompts, and developers can use Sketch to collaborate on mock-ups via the web prior to submitting them on Editor.
For world-building, Muse rapidly creates and modifies art for use in gaming and virtual, augmented, and mixed reality (VR/AR/MR) 3D environments. Users can then submit assets into Unity projects, in compliance with Unity’s copyright and ethical AI policies.
Subscriptions for Muse will cost $30 USD per month with unlimited access. Unity plans to update developers on its terms and conditions in the coming months.
Creating ‘Sentient’ Characters with Unity Sentis
Furthermore, Unity Sentis will empower creatives with embedded AI models in Unity Runtime for more efficient, capable operations for end-user devices.
For people using models from Meta Platforms, Pytorch, Tensorflow, and OpenAI, marketplaces such as HuggingFace and Keras, Sentis will leverage open ONNX file standards for imports and optimisations.
This can generate massive capabilities for intelligent non-playable characters (NPCs) complete with object recognition, open-ended quests, and other features with near-zero latency.
Sentis will remain in open beta for free ahead of its full release on Unity 6, the company added.
Unity Partners with Meta, Apple
Finally, Unity has announced its major partnership with Meta Platforms, where users can port Unity-based game titles to Instant Games on Facebook and Messenger, later next year as a beta version.
In addition, Unity will support Meta in developing mixed reality experiences and games for the Meta Quest 3 via its AR Foundation on the Quest platform. Doing so will incorporate MR templates for developing experiences using real-world environments.
Finally, Unity will also support development for the Apple Vision Pro. Revealed at the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) 2023 in June, Unity debuted its PolySpatial tool for creating stellar spatial experiences for applications on the Apple Vision Pro’s Shared Space.
For Unity, it announced its visionOS Beta for all Unity Pro, Enterprise, and Industry clients.