Unity is a cross-platform game engine that many indie developers use to create 2D, 3D, AR, and VR games. It has a lot of tools and features, like a visual scripting system and a comprehensive set of animation tools, and it supports multiple platforms. Unity has a large community of users and developers, and it has different payment plans to suit different developers’ needs.
In this article, we will look at the key features and tools of Unity and weigh the pros and cons of using it for indie game development. We will also look at case studies of successful games created with Unity. Finally, we will consider what indie game developers should think about when deciding whether to use Unity for their projects.
What Types of Games Can You Make in Unity?
You can create various types of games using Unity. Here are a few examples:
- 3D action games: You can use Unity to make a lot of 3D action games, like first-person shooters, platformers, and adventure games.
- 2D games: Unity can be used to make 2D games, like platformers, puzzle games, and side-scrollers.
- Mobile games: Unity’s support for mobile platforms lets you make games that can be played on smartphones and tablets. This includes a lot of genres, like puzzle games, action games, and strategy games.
- Multiplayer games: Unity can be used to make multiplayer games, like first-person shooters, MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) games, and real-time strategy games.
- Casual games: Unity can be used to make casual games that are easy to pick up and play, like puzzle games, matching games, and endless runners.
Overall, Unity is a versatile game engine that can be used to make a lot of games across a lot of genres and platforms.
What Tools Does Unity Offer?
Unity offers a wide range of tools and features that can save time and streamline the development process. Here are some of the tools Unity offers for developers:
Visual Scripting System
Unity’s visual scripting system, allows you to create gameplay mechanics and other interactions without writing code. This can be particularly useful if you are not a strong programmer or you want to prototype ideas quickly. If you have Unity 2021 or above installed, you have it within the editor. Otherwise, you will have to download it manually at https://unity.com/features/unity-visual-scripting#ready-get-started–2.
Unity has a comprehensive set of animation tools, including support for animating 3D models, 2D sprites, and skeletal animation. It also includes an animation timeline and animation curves for fine-tuning animations.
Unity includes a physics engine that allows you to create realistic physical interactions in their games. This includes support for “Rigid Body” physics, collisions, and “Ray Casting”.
Unity’s graphics engine is designed to support a wide range of graphics technologies, including support for 3D models, 2D sprites, and particle effects. It also includes support for multiple rendering paths, such as forward rendering, deferred rendering, and light pre-pass.
Unity includes an audio system that allows developers to add sound effects and music to their games. It includes support for 3D audio and features for creating audio events and managing audio clips.
Support for Multiple Platforms
Unity supports a wide range of platforms, including PC, console, mobile, and web. This allows developers to create games that can be played on a variety of devices. If you want to know more, check out this post: https://support.unity.com/hc/en-us/articles/206336795-What-platforms-are-supported-by-Unity.
Unity has an asset store that allows developers to purchase or download a wide range of assets, including 3D models, audio files, and particle effects. This can save you time and resources by allowing you to use pre-made assets rather than creating everything from scratch. Start downloading assets here: https://assetstore.unity.com.
What Are the Pros of Using Unity?
Every game engine has pros and cons. Let’s go over some of the advantages and disadvantages of using Unity for game development. Here are the advantages of using Unity for game development:
1. Wide Range of Tools and Features
Unity offers a lot of tools and features for game development, like a visual scripting system, a comprehensive set of animation tools and a robust physics engine. This makes it good for a variety of game development projects. You can read more in the feature set documentation: https://docs.unity3d.com/Manual/FeatureSets.html.
2. Large Community and Lots of Tutorials
Unity has a large community of users and developers, which means there’s a lot of resources and support available for developers using the engine. This includes forums, documentation, and tutorials (written and video tutorials).
3. Multiple Platform Support
Unity supports a lot of platforms, like PC, console, mobile, and web. This lets you create games that can be played on a variety of devices.
4. Unity Asset Store
Unity has an asset store where you can purchase or download a wide range of assets, like 3D models, audio files, and particle effects. This can save you time and resources by letting you use pre-made assets instead of creating everything from scratch.
5. Extensive and Detailed Documentation
Unity have a large database of documentation pages for each system within the editor and every concept you can use in your game. See the documentation here: https://docs.unity3d.com/Manual.
What Are the Cons of Using Unity?
Here are the disadvantages of using Unity for game development:
You can use “Unity Personal” for free as long as your revenue from your games is below $100K in the last 12 months. Any revenue above that amount will require you to buy a unity subscription. This means that you will have to pay a monthly fee to use it. You can see the payment plans at https://store.unity.com/compare-plans.
If you have a limited budget, you can try using Godot. Godot is an open-source and free game engine. For more information about Godot, read my Godot Game Engine Review.
2. Performance Issues
On more complex games, Unity may experience performance issues, such as frame rate drops or long build times. This can be frustrating for developers and may require the use of additional optimization techniques to improve performance.
3. Third-party Dependency
If the company that develops Unity goes out of business or makes big changes to the engine, it can have a major impact on your game and development process.
4. Large Project Files
Unity project files can take up a lot of your free disk space, which could cause a problem while developing your game.
5. Limited Support for Certain Programming Languages
Unity mostly supports C# as its programming language, so developers who are more comfortable with other languages might have a harder time using Unity.
Unity can be complex to learn and use, especially for new game developers. It may take some time to become proficient with all its tools and features.
What Video Games Were Made in Unity?
Here are a few examples of successful games that were created using Unity:
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Ori and the Will of the Wisps is a platformer game developed by Moon Studios and released in 2020. It was created using Unity and sold over 1 million copies in its first month. It received great reviews for its gameplay, art direction, and music and won several awards at The Game Awards 2020.
The game tells the story of a small white guardian spirit named Ori on his journey through a magical world filled with challenging puzzles and combat. Ori must overcome obstacles, defeat enemies, and uncover the mystery of the lost spirits.
Cuphead is a 2D retro-style “Shoot ’em up” game developed by Studio MDHR and released in 2017. It was created using Unity and sold over 4 million copies in its first year. It received great reviews for its challenging gameplay, art style, and music and won several awards at The Game Awards 2017.
The game is set in the 1930s and follows Cuphead and his brother Mugman, two characters with cup-shaped heads who made a deal with the devil. They must defeat a series of bosses to repay their debt. The game is challenging but fair and has retro-style graphics and a jazz soundtrack.
Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game developed by Niantic and released in 2016. It was made using Unity and was a massive success, selling over 4 million copies and earning over $4.5 billion worldwide. It became hugely popular and is still played by millions of people around the world.
Players in the game catch, train, and battle virtual creatures called Pokemon in the real world using GPS. Players can find and catch Pokemon in various locations and battle them at designated Gyms.
It is important to note that while the previously mentioned games were highly successful, this does not guarantee the same level of success for all games developed using Unity. It is worth noting that these games had large development teams and significant budgets, which contributed to their success.
What Should You Consider When Choosing a Game Engine?
1. Compatibility With the Project
It is important to consider whether Unity is the right game engine for the type of game you are developing. While Unity is a versatile engine, it may not be the best choice for every project.
2. Cost and Budget
Unity is a subscription-based game engine, which means you will have to pay a monthly fee, if you require advanced features or go over a certain yearly revenue. This can be expensive, especially for small indie developers or those working on a tight budget. It is important to consider whether the cost of Unity is feasible for your project.
3. Learning Curve
Unity is generally considered to be easy to learn, especially for those with a programming background. However, it can still have a learning curve, especially for those who are new to game development. It is important to consider whether you or your team have the time and resources to learn how to use Unity.
4. Performance and Optimization
Unity is generally a reliable game engine, but it may have performance issues on more complex games, such as frame rate drops or long build times. It is important to consider whether your game will require additional optimization techniques or if the performance of Unity is sufficient for your project.
5. Customization and Uniqueness
While it is possible to customize Unity to some extent, developers may be limited by the tools and features provided by the engine. This can impact the uniqueness or originality of the game. It is important to consider whether Unity’s customization options are sufficient for your project.
6. Dependence on a Third Party
If the company that develops Unity goes out of business or makes significant changes to the engine, it can have a major impact on the game and development process. This can be risky if you are relying completely on the engine for your project. It is important to consider whether the potential risks of relying on a third party are acceptable for your project.
Unity is a powerful and popular game engine that is widely used by indie game developers and small teams. It offers a wide range of tools and features that make it easy to develop games of all types and genres. However, it is important to consider the potential costs and limitations of using Unity, as well as the potential performance and customization issues that may arise.
Ultimately, the decision to use Unity or another game engine will depend on the specific needs, resources, and goals of the game developer. It is always a good idea to research and compare different game engines before making a decision, as the right game engine can have a significant impact on the success of your project.
To learn more about game engines and game development in general, read my blog Night Quest Games Blog. I wish you luck and success in the future!