About Unity 3D first-hand. Interview

    The other day we talked with Oleg Pridiuk, a technical evangelist from Unity Technologies . He talked about who should work with Unity 3D , what are the advantages of this engine compared to others and how they manage not to spoil their karma.

    This is not a translation or reprint.

    In what year was the company founded and where?
    Everything happened in Copenhagen. Figures: where, how, and by year, and by name, and by major milestones can be viewed on the official website .

    Probably, of the interesting moments, it can be noted that the guys made the game (on the site they are three of them in the photo). In fact, there were a little more. They made a game, and began to write their own engine. Then it was fashionable to write your engines, everyone did it then. And the guys realized that they like it more than creating the game itself. And they decided to focus on the technology itself.

    How many developers are currently using Unity?
    It depends on how you count. Downloaded - more than a million. Regular users - more than 300,000.

    How many games are made on Unity? In general, for different platforms?
    We do not spy on users :) Therefore, I do not know.

    And according to your estimates?
    That is, thousands or millions? I know for sure that a lot. These are really thousands of games. If only because we have a lot of users of free versions, where the entry threshold is zero. I took it, downloaded it and did something. And posted on the site. And how, to count or not to count?

    And what is the difference between the free version and the paid one? Why can not I use it for free all the time?

    And why then buy paid? What does she give?
    The paid version does not give, but takes from the developer 3 thousand dollars (laughs).

    And what kind of developer gets it?
    Different chips open. First of all, there is a banal opportunity to disable our splash-screen. And then there are the developmental subtleties, on which there is a very beautiful tablet. The main idea is that it is quite possible to use a basic license - until, for example, you need to connect plug-ins.

    That is, you can do something simple for beginners on the free version, but if you want to do it seriously and for a long time, then you need a paid version. Right?
    Well, it is very difficult. That is, in fact, the most serious limitation of the free version is that you can not use plugins. If you do not connect plugins, then everything basically works. Well, yes, there are no beautiful shadows there, there are not many high-end features. But everything works. Well, what is a simple game ...

    iFart , for example :)
    Well, iFartcan be done with both free and paid. I saw really cool games that are made on the free version of Unity. The free version is interesting, first of all, for indie teams. That is, when you don’t know whether you will succeed or not, you need a prototype to get the money, right? Well, you sit down a team assembled from friends. The free version supports version control, that is, you can make one project with five, six, ten. Well, you sit, gnawing this project on Saturdays, Tuesday evenings, and so on. And when it takes on some form in which it can be shown to an investor, a rich neighbor, to someone else, then you show it. Or you collect money and buy, for example, the opportunity to release it on Android, iPhone or flash.

    That is, would you recommend Unity to young developers who are just starting out? Can they figure it out without problems?
    In general, practice shows that they are the easiest to deal with Unity, because they don’t need to study the features of the piece of iron, features of the platforms, they don’t need to think which Android version is supported and what is not supported; what to do if the screen resolution in one phone is one, and in another - another. That is, many, many problems are solved by Unity. The bulk of the complex work we have already done for the developers.

    What is the advantage of Unity over other engines for developing mobile games? Let's compare you with Cocos 2D and Marmalade.
    Our engine is not sharpened for one specific case, it is quite universal - this time. And two - you see what you are developing. The game is immediately visible in the window, there is an editor. This chip means a lot. It helps to work much faster. You do not need to imagine how it will look, you do not need a device all the time.

    Those. very good visibility, it’s clear what you are doing.
    Well, as if in Visual Studio, you can also see what you are doing, because there are convenient buttons and everything is done beautifully there. And here the final result is immediately visible. That is, not what you do, but the end result. And this is very important, because the game consists of many small pieces. And it’s one thing to see how your little piece looks, and it’s another thing to see how the whole game looks, including your little piece. And this is exactly what is important.

    Anything else offhand?
    So everything else is also our advantage. Good team, communication. No, I’m joking, of course, but ideally, the advantage depends, firstly, on the type of game you are doing, and secondly, on the platform, on what you want.

    There is an opinion that Unity is too heavy an engine for two-dimensional games. Is this true or not?
    Frankly, Unity's problem is that in the standard package it does not have a 2D framework. This means that it does not help to easily make 2D games. It does not interfere, but it does not help. In fact, for a 2D Schnick, now bare Unity is just a renderer, and sprites, other necessary 2D engines, you need to write yourself, look for other people's free ones or buy.

    About the severity. The bare Unity player, that is, runtime, takes, depending on the settings, 5, 6, 7 MB of memory. Is it hard or not? I think the basic 2D game, if you write it, for example, on your native Android API, you can shove 2 MB. And we only have runtime 7 Mb. But if we consider more complex games, then the “advantage” that Unity brings is less. But this is not the most important thing. Unity's core value is that it saves time. That is, if the game is not made in order to become the smallest, to be the 2D-shnoy, but there is a desire to quickly get the product so that it takes off in all the tops and become successful, there is a desire to then port it to other platforms - then Unity has sense to use. And if you are interested in playing around, writing your own renderer, tormenting yourself with platform bugs, it works on one iPhone, but not on the other, One Android is buggy, crashes, something else, please. And in Unity we are trying to solve everything on our part.

    We work directly with platform manufacturers. Moreover, if we say that we have a partnership with Apple, this means that our developers work directly with their developers. Why is this beautiful? Faster communication is understandable. But most importantly, the right people hear the right questions and get the right answers. And we instantly solve the problem with the manufacturer of the future cool device. That is, we have an entrance to the right doors to solve the necessary issues very quickly.

    Recently, there was information that Unity will support Wii U.
    Moreover, Unity is the main development environment for games for Wii U. And this tool will be distributed through the Nintendo channel.

    But how difficult / will it be for developers to port, for example, their existing mobile games made on Unity to Wii U?
    The Unity editor, which will be able to port to Wii U, will be in a separate version. That is, for example, in Unity Pro, the developer has purchased iOS, he also buys Android. The Deploy to Android button immediately becomes active - and all is well. The Wii U version will only have one Deploy to Wii U button. What does this mean? This means that it will be a separate editor, distributed, as I said, by the Nintendo channel. He will open Unity projects. This means that in it it will be possible to open your project for iPhone or for Android and convert it to Wii U. And in reverse the same way.

    In general, will you support other consoles? Here is Ouya, you already support her, okay, but something else?
    Ouya we support - now the guys are working with Union, our publishing division. When the iron appears, we can talk about its software support. In the meantime, as we all know, the guys have a lot of money and great ideas. And support ... This word means a lot. You can support morally, but you can physically.

    In general, all is well. Do Unity have flaws?
    There is. Everything has flaws. Unity is not created by the gods.

    Well, the secret of creating Unity has been revealed!
    Yes, Unity made a couple of smart guys, and then a couple more were added to them. And all of us, by the way, are 203. This is, given all of our developers, sales managers, marketers, etc. all over the world, in all offices: in Seoul, and Shanghai, and Tokyo, and Seattle, and San Francisco, in Stockholm and Copenhagen. Only 203 people.
    But we talked about the flaws.

    If you suddenly don’t remember, I can tell you from Wikipedia.
    Oh, by the way, let's read it, I will comment with pleasure.

    In Russian Wikipedia there is such a column: advantages / disadvantages. There are two flaws, one of which is very funny. It is written that Unity does not support Symbian 3 and Windows Mobile. This seems to be the worst flaw that could be.
    Yes. But the problem is what we support.

    Do you support? You see, but Wikipedia does not know.
    Maybe Wikipedia did not read our announcements. The trick is that there were initiatives from Nokia (it was many, many years ago, when Nokia was big) to support game projects, including Unity on Symbian. And we had prototypes that worked, that is, it was possible to port there. And these were the times when the iPhone was still small. But the problem is that there are a lot of people inside Nokia, and they could not agree among themselves. That is, they built this tower of Babel and constantly something they did not succeed. Therefore, for our part, we did not show very strong interest, because we had some idea of ​​what was going on there.

    But one of the initiatives Nokia still brought to the end. Through Union it is possible to deposit money on their Meego.

    Do you support Windows 8?
    And Windows 8, and Windows Phone 8.

    And who do you have in Russia?
    By Russia? The question is also very philosophical. What does it mean to deal with Russia? To conquer is what it means: to conquer by sales, support, marketing, what? What is involved? In Russia, developers, users are sitting, they want to make games, they do not differ from the Chinese, nor from the Americans, nor from anyone.

    Maybe, by the way, there are some features for users?
    I do not even know. Here I look at the graph - Moscow is the seventh in the number of Unity users. In any case, in Moscow we already have one percent of all users - on a global scale, this is a lot.

    What about Peter? In St. Petersburg, do not use Unity?
    And in St. Petersburg, the indies are sitting. So recently I told one big investor who came with his millions that everything is very cool in St. Petersburg. That in Moscow there are large offices, a lot of money, boring production, working conditions such that to me, as a European person, they seem strange. And in St. Petersburg, people are doing their projects, doing something cool, usually called the word "innovation." So, innovations are born in St. Petersburg. At least in terms of game development. And it is very close to me.

    Do you help developers somehow? Can they count on your help and so on?

    That is, if a developer decides to use Unity, then he writes to you, and you help him and answer all questions if something is not clear. Right?
    Yes and no. There are expectations. If you expect that after buying Unity someone will make a game for you, then this is not so. And if you think that something should work, but it does not work, then yes, of course we will answer, see what happened. In general, we have a huge popular forum where hundreds of thousands of users, and they all communicate, help each other.

    Community is like?
    Right. The ecosystem around Unity, it is very developed. And this is important for both small and large teams.

    Here, probably, one of the cool tricks is that we have an Asset Store, i.e. a store where you can buy various items for the game. This means that, for example, there is an artist who receives conditionally 2-3 thousand dollars a month; one of his working days, for example, costs 300 dollars. If he draws, for example, some kind of car model or something else half a day, then it will cost $ 150. And so, in the end, you can buy a car, wood, closet for 5-10 dollars in a store. How much money will you save? Lots of. Yes, this is the same tree, this same car can appear in another game, including among competitors, conditionally. But the game has hundreds of assets, hundreds of thousands of assets. If one tree matches or one of some model, it is not scary.

    Or scripts. It is clear that what you can buy, it most likely will not solve your problem, but even if it solves it 30%, then developers based on a ready-made script will write a solution much faster that will fit 100% of current tasks. That is, you need to write, from scratch, some complex system, but pay $ 50 and add, say, half, or even 70%. But it is still incomparably faster. As a result, little money can speed up the development process and save.

    Can you provide some kind of marketing support for Unity projects?
    We have a gallery where we post games, we have a newsletter where we boast about projects that we liked, and if you ask to promote a good project, we will promote, of course. Is free. There is Facebook, there is Twitter. And the most interesting, probably, is that there is Union. That is, these are guys who have a catalog of games; you can sign an agreement with them, and they will add your game to their catalog and, conditionally, will go and try to sell it to manufacturers of TVs, new platforms, including Ouya, which we mentioned today, Blackberry, Nokia, in some Chinese application stores where the entry threshold is very complex.

    But publishing or PR of some game is not our main task. At the same time, it’s clear that we communicate with a lot of people, we and Google are asking what game to feature. And it is clear that we share our thoughts. But this consideration is not a marketing tool. That is why Google comes to us? Because we honestly answer which games we like. They come and ask what is new, interesting. Well, this and this, they saw, they played, it will be released soon. Here is the contact of these guys. But you cannot order such a recommendation from us.

    But it makes sense for us to write and tell about ourselves. This may turn out to be a letter to nowhere, because we, however, get a lot of letters, but it can shoot.

    How do you plan to develop? Maybe you have some grandiose plans to take over the universe?
    Yes, we are thinking of taking over the universe, why not! (laughs)

    But is there no concrete plan yet?
    In fact, there are key points where we are frankly weak now, and we are solving them. One of them is 2D and GUI. And the way we solve them, we have already shown. This is at the stage of an almost finished prototype.

    One of the main reasons, that is, a feature that Unity loves for, is multi-platform. Add new platforms - yes, if they are good. If the Web GL standard appears and it shoots, why not make Unity Web GL. And then suddenly all the games that you made on Unity, you can immediately port to Web GL. Or some new Ouya, for example, will fire, and Unity has already made a port. That is, we want to help developers make more money without any huge effort on their part. If a new promising platform appears, it will not necessarily make a new game for it, it will be possible to easily port the existing one using Unity.

    We try to be closer to the developers - listen to them, take into account their opinions. Even if it costs us money. Still, the huge community of people who trust us, all this unspoiled karma, is much more important than anything else.

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