Why I’m switching to Unity

Well, Enola has been released and even if we’re still missing nightmare mode (plus a few other adjustments), I’m still scratching my head as to what to do next.

(The truth is I’m already working on something with other people, but I can’t talk about that just yet).

Anyway, things on the game development tools have changed a lot since I began working on Enola. I am not sure if I’m right, but I get the impression UDK is will be left behind at some point now that UE4 is out. So, one way or another there’s the chance I’d need to switch to either UE4 or something else.

For some time I was thinking the logical step would be to switch to UE4, but during this time I’ve been keeping an eye on what Unity is doing. Finally, a few weeks ago I decided my next project (meaning the next project I “write” or “direct”) will be developed with Unity, and here’s why:

 

UE4 seems to be a resource hog.

Well, on my desktop computer UE4 runs kinda smoothly, but my Macbook Pro sometimes has issues keeping up. Now, here’s the problem, that MBP is a few months old freaking Retina Display computer that can handle big images, video editing and even 3d applications just fine. Maybe the Geforce GT 750M is not well suited for high end gaming, but I am not working on high end game development, so I don’t really care if it can’t run [insert new AAA game here] at 1080p at constant 60fps (on a side note, the Retina Display resolution is actually above 1080p…). When the computer has problems running the Epic demos at a smooth framerate (say, 60fps), I have a problem, and I’m not talking about the “Elemental” demo, but the basic office interior demo.

My desktop computer is not *better* than the MBP. Actually it’s slower, with less RAM, but it has a freaking 4Gb Quadro card. Tiny difference…

 

Unity can target more platforms right off the bat.

Since you can run UE4 on the Mac, you can compile the games for the Mac too. However, considering what I said on the previous point I wonder if it’d be a good idea. However, I’m not just speaking about Mac, but also Linux (if I ever think that’s a good idea), Playstation platforms and Xbox One.

Unity can also build for mobile, that’s secondary since I’m not into mobile games.

 

Unity has a big add-on ecosystem.

If there’s one thing I find interesting is the Asset Store. It’s not like I’m looking for a “press here to create cool game” engine, but having a lot of resources at your disposal always helps, specially since I am not a programmer, and it’s not like I can easily code things (actually Kismet was one of the main reasons why I used UDK for Enola).

Right now I already have PlayMaker, a module to create point and click games, and a few other things, so I have enough to experiment at the moment.

Besides, Unity has a lot of online resources, tutorials and such.

 

I am not a graphics whore.

Using a very high end engine like UDK, and now UE4, sets certain expectations in the look department. It doesn’t matter if you picked UE4 because of the blueprints system (or UDK for Kismet, for that matter), your game better look like an AAA title or else it means you didn’t take advantage of the engine.

Unreal is not a “rendering engine.” It’s a “game development” engine and that means “taking advantage of the engine” can mean different things to different people, but not everyone shares the same view since many believe taking advantage of the engine means adding bloom and lens flares. Also, just because the engine supports a wide variety of rendering features doesn’t mean you have to use them, or that you will be able to use them (due to skill level and whatnot).

I think this is a big problem, because your options are make it AAA quality or make something completely different (like Antichamber) because your skills may not allow you to go full AAA-quality.

Unity doesn’t come near UE4 when it comes to graphic fidelity, but it can produce very good quality with some work, and there are also some very cool material libraries available on the Asset Store (see previous point).

 

Licensing differences.

Unity Pro can cost $1500 (or more, depending on the add-ons you use) right off the bat, while UE4 is available for $19 a month (Unity Pro costs $75 a month if you use a subscription). On the other hand you can use the free version free of charge, and release commercial games with it. So, here UE4 has the advantage because the initial cost is much lower, and I have to admit UE4 wins here, as long as you don’t go over a certain threshold where royalties paid start to go over whatever initial cost Unity would have.

 

I make somewhat simple games.

I mostly like story-driven games with simple mechanics because I am not a programmer. Enola is a small and simple game and yet it’s over 1Gb. Unity games can be much smaller. I noticed this when I made a small UDK game with only one level and a few objects, and it was over 150Mb in size, while the Unity projects tend to be smaller. It’s not fun to end up with really big installers for a game that isn’t really that big, and then upload those with a somewhat slow internet connection.

Maybe in the future I will work on some sort of story-driven open world sandbox game, but that’s not happening any time soon.

 

There’s no reason why my simple games would require a killer computer.

Back to the first point, a game engine will usually require more resources for development than for running a game. That doesn’t mean I can run UE4 (or UDK) games on any computer I want, but many computers (including old computers) can run Unity games.

I have an old Dell laptop with integrated graphics. That laptop doesn’t even allow me to install Enola, but the “angry bots” Unity demo sorta runs (at roughly 30fps). So, what if one of my simple story-driven games appeals to people who don’t have Titan cards and such? Yeah, saying “sorry, your computer is not good enough to run my simple point and click game” would be such a great answer…

 

That doesn’t mean I will never use UE4. I actually have UE4 and the full source, and if I work on a game with someone else, and that person wants to use UE4, I will use it. However, UE4 and UDK will not be my default game development tools from now on.

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~ by nemirc on October 28, 2014.

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