Day one of the #Unite2015 Boston conference is already wildly eventful, and the reason I know this is because the very first keynote of the day, hosting numerous guest speakers and a packed house of attendees, was basically a tooled-down synopsis of everything Unity and its development team are planning on covering over the course of the next three days.
It was all kicked off with an introduction to Unity from none other than John Riccitiello, the CEO of Unity Technologies. During his time on stage at the beginning of this keynote, he took his time to explain Unity’s mission, and it all came back to a singular message: Unity is a community.
There wasn’t a moment during his introduction that he wasn’t speaking about the incredible amount of developers working with Unity around the world (currently totaling around 1,000,000 per month!), the 174,000 unique games made with the engine to date, and a feature list on future Unity releases leading all the way into 2016 (more on that later in this article).
Wanting to really lend the spotlight to the people making use of Unity everyday, several developers came out on the stage to talk about their titles. We heard from:
- Lou Castle, Creative Director of Kixeye Studios, about their new mobile MMO RTS, War Commander: Rogue Assault, and how they are really trying to bring an authentic real-time-strategy experience to mobile gaming(which also highlighted the ambitious undertaking of developing more immersive and meaningful mobile games);
- Tony Cocoluzzi, Lead Developer of Studio MDHR, and the short but meaningful story of Cuphead, their incredibly stylized and gorgeous classic-cartoon style 2D platformer (and the strides they’ve made thanks to asset management techniques built into the updated Unity engine, using things like their “smart brushes” on tile maps and other components of their game to build their game more efficiently, and in a more user-friendly way;
- Patrick Naud, studio head of Square Enix Montreal, and their newest mobile undertaking, Lara Croft GO (and how the Unity engine enabled him and his team to make their newest mobile gaming experience universally accessible, over the Google Play store, iOS’s App Store, etc.)
Conference attendees were also treated to a bevy of technical knowledge and special plans for later iterations of the Unity engine. A mantra consistently showed up during this keynote: “Democratize, solve hard problems, enable success.”
To better explain the motive behind this mantra, we heard from several more guest speakers. Lucas Meijer, tech director for Unity technologies, delved into the strides Unity is making to bring the VR and AR experience to everyone by making building a VR game much easier than it ever was before, shipping Unity with multiple types of VR compatibility out of the box (Oculus Rift support, Microsoft HoloLens integration, etc.). And then, we got an enlightening (and hilarious) demonstration of the VR building in Unity, wherein a sheep was led into a machine by a sheep dog, and its wool was turned into a comfy-looking sweatshirt (damn right, I’d wear it). Thanks for the learning experience and the laugh, guy with the best title I’ve ever heard…”VR Dude” Pete Moss!
Numerous other people took the stage over the course of the first ninety minutes of Unite 2015 Boston (Patrick Curry, Director of Cloud Build; John Cheng, General Manager of Unity Analytics; Clive Downie, Chief Marketing Officer), and to sum up what they all had to say, all you need to know is every single one of these creative and engaging people is looking to make the lives of their developers and consumers easier. Through multithreading graphic optimizations, physically based rendering ease-of-use, ad and analytics integrations, and a much richer developer-to-user interfaqce/experience, Unity and its future releases plan to revolutionize game development, asset building, and community driving by blurring the lines in the definitions of those core groups, and intermeshing them with one another.
Unity wants you to play. Unity wants you to build.
Unity wants to unite us all. And over the course of its Unity 5.3 and 5.4 builds, it will be showcasing itself at the GDC Expo in 2016, and many other conferences over the course of that year.
Be sure to visit www.unity3d.com to view the full video of the keynote.
In the words of the aforementioned Clive Downie: