Unity2D : hail to the king, baby!

So yeah, like I previously stated on the blog, I’ve been testing Unity2D a lot these past days (and a bunch of other stuff, as always).

Overall impression is “GUDDAMITFINALY!1!!!11!”. And Unity delivers. So in the past I wasn’t the first Unity3D supporter, on the main purpose that 3D is not a subject to be treaded lightly, and a hell load of noobs and idiots would start making stuff with the free version. Eventually I got to work a lot with it this year and changed my mind concerning its raw power. I mean, just look at the time I lost on Kerbal Space Program, and this marvel of procrastination is being made with Unity. And workflow is really great, their Entity Component system is awesome. Always had problems dealing with Monodev, but as a MS tech dude, I redirected every single code line to VS. And I frantically never touched a line of Javascript. Still have to do some progress on my problems with this language, and Unity’s implementation is just… weird.

One of the things I’ve always regretted with Unity was the absence of real 2D support. It was until now a 3D tool, and you’d have to hack it to get things to show up in 2D. And the fucking asset store taking advantage of that : no sir, I’m not paying 60 bucks to show sprites on a free game making tool. So being limited to 3D is kind of drastic. Like I said, 3D is hard, people expect so much from it, you can’t just go around making 3D stuff without having previous experiences. Stuff like shaders, LOD and animations just give the creep to any dev that knows, and despite Unity3D being a very well conceived tool, you won’t escape these matters. And god I hate the asset store. This thing is evil. This thing should be held responsible for all the crap shitty mobile devs create. I’m exagerating of course, I just have a problem with these guys saying “oh, Unity doesn’t do that? Let’s go waste $150 on a plugin/asset/code library!” when it’s something as simple as post process shaders or block level design.

Alright, let’s stop ranting for a second.

To sum it up, Unity2D is Unity3D with one dimension less. This means you’ve got SpriteRenderer instead of MeshRenderer, that you’ve got 2D prefabs, 2D physics, 2D post process, 2D goodness! It’s freaking awesome, seriously. I’ve never tried other 2D alternatives like GameMaker, but I suppose they offer the same type of pleasure Unity2D sends your way. Drag&drop your sprites, add 2 or 3 entities, and you’ve got yourself a working prototype. The fabulous idea to natively support spritesheets and atlas textures is just enormous and fantastic, and the animation workflow is fan-tas-tic. Going back to physics, I was really impressed they were able to keep almost all of their 3D conventions, with the ease and simplicity it procured. Of course, basic primitive shapes like rectangles and ellipses are available, but the sprite based collider is art. Creating custom colliders has never been this simple! The greatest thing of this all will remain their 3D/2D mixing : a 2D scene is just an orthographic camera with a bunch of 2D components, but still in a 3D scene. The point is, you can easily merge 3D elements into a 2D scene, and the contrary too, because nothing stops you from using a SpriteRenderer in a 3D Scene.

So to try it out, I recreated the core gameplay of my SpaceShooterz game, and this took me.. at most something like half an hour : background parallax, player spritesheet, enemy + basic move routine, shooting and killing. 30 freaking minutes, and not even trying hard.

So this is great news for indie devs. We get an awesome tool for free and the raw power to create very complex 2D gameplays in no time. Since Unity exposes free exports to iOS and Android now, including the long-awaited Windows Phone and Windows 8, you devs have no excuse! Go make some games! This comes at a cost of course : Unity is heavy. In the last year only, the package went from 400megs to a whole freaking gig. The interface also is a marvelous work of the kraken, but you can get over that. I would recommend a computer with good perfs and a big screen though, your eyes will thank you.

Anyways, have fun!