The top 10 game engines as selected by Develop continues

The Top 10 Game Engines â?? No. 4: Unity 3D

The top 10 game engines as selected by Develop continues today with Unity 3D. We will be revealing a new entrant to the list every day until this Friday, so keep checking back to see which other tech providers you should be looking at for your next project…

Unity 3D

Developer: Unity Technologies
Platforms: PC, Mac, iPhone, Wii
Browser support: Yes
Cost: $199 (Indie), $1499 (Pro), $399+ (iPhone), $15,000 (WiiWare, per title), $30,000 (Wii, per title)
Published titles: FusionFall (Cartoon Network), Zombieville USA (mikamobile)
Titles in development: Secret MMO by Funcom, other unannounced products
Middleware integrations: PhysX, Mono, more to come

We first covered Unity in these pages about a year ago, as it started to make more of an impact in the indie/low-end development market. For all its virtues, though, it was hampered by being Mac-only.

Unity 2.5, launched at GDC, finally brings the Unity toolset to Windows and all those developers unwilling to switch to Macs for the sake of a nice engine. The editor differs from many in being entirely visual-lead – assets can be imported into projects by a simple drag-and-drop (that actually opens the host application in the background to export with optimal settings) and scripts are linked visually.

The editor is also now completely scriptable, meaning that new workflows and interfaces can quickly be made up. Several members of the community have made new editors freely available, including a pathfinding module with automatic (and manual) nagivation mesh generation and behavioural tree editors.

The community is something that Unity Technologies considers a big selling point of the engine: the low entry point means that many hobbyist and indie developers are ardent supporters. As they rationalise it, when big triple-As like Funcom and EA embark on development, they’ve got a wide (and educated) support base and also a pool of ready-trained talent to recruit from. Parts of Cartoon Network’s MMO FusionFall were developed by community members, for example.

It’s also got arguably the best iPhone support, with the actual device acting as an input method to the editor to fine-tune accelerometer controls. According to the company, a new Unity-powered iPhone game is added to the App Store almost every day.

Other console support is currently limited to Wii, but support for Xbox 360 and PS3 is firmly within the company’s roadmap, as are the MMO functionality updates spun out from the success of FusionFall.

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