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Official: How Can We Serve You Better?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by bibbinator, May 14, 2014.

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  1. bibbinator

    bibbinator

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    Hi all,

    An exciting time to be making games these days, and we're glad if we played a part in helping people get into game development and make a career out of it. But things change and even before the latest discussions surrounding game engines we have been wondering what we can do to move from "democratizing game development" to be more focused on "customer success".

    We have such a huge community, and active too: more than 1,000 new posts a month. We have been discussing this for many months, and we have done a lot of things internally that aren't exactly visible from outside, but I would be very interested in an open discussion on how we can serve you better.

    Now this is likely to spawn all kinds of responses, and I'll likely put my foot in my mouth a dozen times, but hey, I'm a fallible human just like you :)

    Some fun-facts, observations and question to seed the discussion:

    * Unity has a crazy broad spectrum of users: from the largest studios down to a parent making a game on a weekend with their daughter and everything in between. And we have done a fair amount of talking to users and looking at analytics, and it's clear we can't make a simple divide between "Indies" and "AAA" audiences, it just doesn't mean anything relevant in the same way that "web developer" doesn't mean much anymore; it's too general and doesn't capture the challenges faced by our different types of users. Tell us who you are in this thread if you like; Freelance programmer? Student? Hobbyist? Artist? CTO of a big studio? It really helps us to know who we're talking to in order to give comments relevant to you.

    * Nearly all people that have completed games are making money with Unity think it's "really cheap" and we should charge more. Nearly all people who haven't completed game think Unity's the "most expensive thing on Earth". That's why we came out with a free version a long time ago to bridge that gap. There's a subgroup of users that seems to be making 3D games for desktop (e.g. Steam or Kickstarters) that feel without the Pro features they can't use Unity. How could we serve you better here and stay in business? Should Unity also offer a royalty scheme? Should we have extended Pro trial licenses? A Pro version with small watermark that you can use for development and then pay only on publishing? Ad-supported editor or something? Tell us what type of developer you are and what kinds of business model works best for you.

    * Many users wanted to make games for consoles but were blocked by numerous barriers to entry. Now, Unity Pro is essentially free or close to free on almost all platforms including consoles. Is this interesting to you?

    * Most games today are 2D games by a wide margin. Many more people making games in Asia than Europe. Many people in the forums seem to be making 3D games whereas most shipped games are 2D. Is it the case where it simply takes longer and is harder to make 3D games so you end up posting more here in the forums compared to the 2D game makers? What kind of games are you making? Where are you located?

    * We used to communicate a lot. Then we said some stuff, got busy with other stuff, and didn't tell anybody. Unsurprisingly our users got angry with us and we perhaps stopped communicating as much as we should for fear of making more mistakes. We bad. Got it. Question is now what to do about it. Internally we got a lot of stuff; roadmaps, various testing groups, info on features, technical info that's useful, etc. We're already getting better at communication the past couple of months, and we have a _ton_ of stuff in the pipeline, but what do you want to see? Are the technical blogs really helpful? Should devs reduce their workload and spend more time on these forums answering questions?

    * We used to sell software licenses only, now we also offer subscriptions. The pricing has been discussed at length in these forums and we're up to date on the pros and cons of price, but what about preferences? Do you like subscriptions? How important is it for you to own software license?

    * Unity is currently closed source and we have talked about whether we should change that model for years. One of the issues with open source is that while a tool is small and focused it's fairly easily to integrate community changes, but as it grows it becomes a tangled mess, bloated and difficult to fix. As a result most developers would stick with a certain build, use that, and only look at updating their source once their project is finished. With Unity, we have so much testing, integration and multi-platform experience we (usually) do a decent job of releasing builds that allow users to keep reasonably up to date all the time. How is your development structured? Do you like frequent updates with the knowledge your game will work on numerous platforms but no ability to tweak the source? Or you prefer to have source and manage it all yourself?

    * The biggest problem game developers have is: they have nothing to sell (for those that want to make games commercially). A lot of people are stuck in "development" instead of "shipping". People that ship games have all kinds of cool tools and workflows in Unity and they love Unity because it works the way they want it to, whereas we see a lot of other people struggling to get their games done. We're trying to help with that and have a lot of things we'll be doing in this regard that we'll talk about in the coming months. Meanwhile, what's your biggest problems getting your game done? Besides fixing bugs and getting better at communicating, what are the big issues you're facing?

    As people read the replies to the thread, please keep in mind that our vocal, active community all seem to be making similar kinds of games and so be careful that the info you see here doesn't necessarily apply to the majority. This also means I encourage those silent lurkers to delurk and have a voice; Making non-game apps with Unity? Making 2D games? Don't speak English well and are shy? Never plan to ship and think your opinion doesn't count? A total noob? Still a kid? Doesn't matter! We want to hear from everybody :)

    Cheers,
    Brett
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2014
  2. Meltdown

    Meltdown

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    I am a full time game developer at a company in New Zealand, on the side I have my own games company making its own monster truck racing title. I have been programming for 20 years and specialise in C# and Unity :)

    My suggestions...

    1.) I'd like to see more developer activity in the Unity forums. The Unreal Engine forums have developers in nearly every thread helping out and giving insights into undocumented parts of the engine and tips and tricks. It's very rare to have a Unity developer chime in on an issue.

    2.) I like the subscription model, I think it's the way forward. I think to remain competitive, but to also remain financially stable, Unity needs to go to a pure subscription model like others such as Adobe etc have done with a great success. Have one editor, that offers all platforms, for a low cost subscription fee of around $29.95 per month. Do away with Unity free. You can only login and use the editor if you have an active subscription.

    At this price point Unity will convert many free users to paying users at a low cost, while those who may have pirated Unity may feel the software is now affordable and do the right thing and get a subscription.

    3.) Setup a roadmap with voting like Epic has done in Trello for Unreal Engine. Let your customers see what you're working on and what has the most votes.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2014
  3. bibbinator

    bibbinator

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    Epic is just getting started and has a tiny community, and like us in the early days, were able to have a lot of devs answering in the forums. We can do that too, but it comes at a price obviously: is it worth our devs spending time answering loads of questions instead of bug fixes and new features? It's not all or nothing of course, but it's easy to say we want more of everything for less cost, but something's got to give.

    For subscription: Do you want to cancel at any time? What happens if you cancel? Does it become the "free" version with limited features?
     
  4. Meltdown

    Meltdown

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    I edited my original post a few times :)
    Please re-read, thanks!

    The problem with reverting to free is people will use Free then subscribe to Pro when releasing, then revert back to free, the model I suggest prevents this.

    Regarding developers in the forums, I'm not asking for devs to spend an hour a day reading the forums, I'm just asking for a little more visibility and insight. At the moment it's very rare. Just a touch more.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2014
  5. bibbinator

    bibbinator

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    @Meltdown

    Haha, okay. I'm too fast to reply ;-) Got to pick up my kids from school, so I'll be away for an hour...
     
  6. JasonBricco

    JasonBricco

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    I'm a programmer who has just started out within the last half of a year. I plan to make a career out of game development, and spend almost all of my time programming.

    I'm fine with the current model so far, but I'm only using Unity Pro without any add-ons at the moment (with subscription). The issue I'm going to face is when I need to buy add-ons for iOS, Android, Web GL, and who knows which others. Given that I've just started out and haven't sold any games yet, I don't have the funds to afford all this. Yet, I need pro versions to get my game out. So for me, some kind of payment method upon publishing would work better.

    I'm making a 3D very unique twist on a voxel game (place and destroy blocks).

    I love the blog posts, tutorials, and all the other content posted on the Unity website. I don't think that developers should slow down their work to answer questions, though. Perhaps have people dedicated to these roles, so that there isn't as large of a compromise being made (those dedicated people would have to have information from developers, but I would think it would be faster to get information from them and then take the time to write it out on the Unity website forums).

    I love the subscription. I couldn't afford the $1,500 payment upfront. As I said above, I'm just starting and don't yet have funds. When subscription was introduced, I was able to get the pro version.

    I have no desire for open source personally. I enjoy not having to worry about the source code - let other people handle that while I work on my own code. That's less stress on my shoulders. Others have pointed out that having source code access could benefit all of us because the community can help fix issues. As you pointed out, though, that may not work so well. I don't have experience in such an area, so I can't speak about it. But I do appreciate not having to worry about Unity's code.

    To be honest, the biggest issue I'm facing is performance. I'm not sure if this is the kind of thing you're asking. But a complaint I have is Unity's lack of support for multithreading. Making a voxel engine type game, there are many situations where multithreading would greatly improve performance. It seems as simple of things as testing for equality can't be done on other threads (unless I'm making beginner mistakes), and that's very much a hindrance.

    I'm happy to know the physics system in Unity 5 will support multithreading. That's a great start, as mesh collider building is having a huge hit on performance (I have my reasons for not making my own physics system...).
     
  7. XGundam05

    XGundam05

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    As a hobbyist and full-time C# developer, Unity has largely been great. I'd have to vote for keeping the free version though, as a continuous subscription for Unity would cause me to jump the fence completely ( the whole "cancel anytime and keep it" bit for UE4 is essentially free for hobbyists like myself).

    The things that have had me looking elsewhere have largely been the included tools (well, that and RenderTextures, I switched to Unity after XNA was abandoned by MS). An included shader editor would be nice. Maybe a simple/extensible node editor framework for the editor gui? I know node editors aren't that hard to write, but it'd be nice to have.

    The biggie is that the UE4 deal, at least for me as a hobbyist, makes the feature set of Free seem more like a promotional product for Pro. And it's really mostly due to the UE4 deal. It wouldn't take much to make me happy *cough* RenderTextures/Oculus Support *cough* with Unity in light of it though.

    Communication-wise, I think just passing more info, and more often to the community managers would go a long way.

    Edit: I also broke my cardinal rule of no Internet postings after 11pm for this >.> we'll see how that turns out tomorrow.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2014
  8. Doddler

    Doddler

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    I'm on the "I don't think it's too expensive" side. For me at least, I do work on contract, so if the companies that hired me had to pay royalties on the things that I've built, I wouldn't be able to use unity. It's an interesting twist, but makes me happy I can do business with unity. I don't mind the subscription model, but as mentioned it does seem to be disadvantaged in terms of pricing, especially if you plan to be a long term patron of unity. And I plan to be, because unity is great. :)

    One problem I've encountered, and I think is pretty common among unity users, is the farther away from the standard use case, how well features work gets a little shaky and 'just works' no longer applies. I've personally run into issues with trying to load/create audio clips at runtime, movie textures have huge issues (I've been reading some threads on the same issue reported back in 2009), and other things like lack of control over full screen and some default controls. Those are just issues I've had, but I'm sure everyone making a sizable game encounters many issues of their own with features that impact their ability to move forward on a project. I think open source, even if realistically isn't useful for most users, does offer the promise that you could un-stuck yourself if you encounter a bug that may or may not be fixed in a reasonable time frame, or that perhaps the bugfixing process could be democratized more.

    I do feel fairly comfortable upgrading to new releases even while working mid project, so I think that's a rather strong point in unity's favor. If there are issues in new versions, I don't usually encounter issues with regressions. I do think sometimes really minor fixes take a long time comparatively long to get out. Stuff like the "rect[2] == rt->GetGLWidth() rect[3] == rt->GetGLHeight()" error spam when using image effects and re-sizing the viewport is an example of a bug that was fixed really quickly internally, but we won't see it until... I don't know, there's no indication when we might get updates. I guess that's part of it too, the inability to plan around unity patches and fixes.
     
  9. bibbinator

    bibbinator

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    @JasonBricco, Xgundam05, Doddler

    Thanks for telling me about yourself and providing info, exactly what's useful for us! Be great if everyone does the same!
     
  10. HeadClot88

    HeadClot88

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    Ok my name is Ben and I am a Unity3D User -

    I am currently working with my Dad (A 10 yr.+ software engineer who programs in C#) we work out for our home. We are currently working on our first title. I am the artist he is the programmer.

    Communication - Show us the road map for the next few months. I know that these are subject to change but Show us the road map for unity for the immediate future (Next few months). I am interested in the new shiney performance saving features. :D

    Feature Suggestions - from an non programer point of view.

    A Visual Shader tool solution similar to shader forge. We do not understand shaders at all... Tools like shader forge and UScript are awesome but expensive for people with a fixed income and need to run a family as well.

    A Visual logic tool similar to that of Playmaker or UScript. Something that allows us to iterate on simple things as well as ship in a final game. - Doors opening, Triggering alarms, etc. I really do not want to bother my dad when he is working on core gameplay scripts to work on a door opening script.

    The editor has always felt bare to me as an artist - the lack of a easy way to block out something quickly and easily has always left something to be desired with Unity compared to other editors. (See Radiant or Source engine BSP/CSG tools) give me a tools similar to hammer or Radiant and but build from the ground up for unity3D.

    Terrain - I know I am not the only one on this however - The current terrain system is old and (might?) need replacing with something more efficient. Just saying...

    Accessibility -

    Unity Pro has always been a pie in the sky thing for us... Mainly due to its performance saving features we need pro for our game if we are to make the game world bigger... We are currently working on a small top down GTA clone. Things like level streaming, and Occlusion culling, etc. we are not going after making the next rembrandt of games. We will leave that to the AAA Studios. But we do need performance saving features - As well as the ability to drill down to find performance problems in our game.

    Graphics for us are secondary - However awesome lighting is always welcome :)

    EDIT 1 -

    Suggestion about Unity3D what would it take to open source it similar to what epic did? I would like see Unity go sub based - I made a post about this a while back... let me see if I can dig it up

    EDIT 2:

    Maybe it could do with some tweaking but overall... Unity makes money back on the sub license and people who have bought the pro license up front get to publish royalty free. Once again just a thought.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2014
  11. SteveJ

    SteveJ

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    I think these two points really hit the mark. The Pro product is expensive if you're working on your first game and you don't have any guarantees of success. That said, there are NEVER any guarantees of success, so you either have to be confident in your ability to make your money back, or you need to be willing to gamble. That's assuming you need Pro features, otherwise it's a no-brainer to grab the free product.


    Having shipped a few games and made quite a bit of money, I definitely don't think Unity is too expensive. I'm certainly not saying you "should charge more" though :)


    I do think the add-on platform prices could do with some revision. Paying the same amount for a single add-on platform as you pay for the "base product" (which builds to multiple platforms) has never seemed fair to me.


    Overall, I'm very happy with everything in the Unity world. I agree with the other guys that it's nice to see the developers in the forums answering questions here and there, but it doesn't break my heart when it isn't happening.
     
  12. TylerPerry

    TylerPerry

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    I'd like a IAP software built into Unity that could work on any platform, it would be awesome. I realise that IOS probably would hate it and not allow it but on Android, Web and PC it would be awesome. especially if developers could link their games so that say someone is playing on a tablet and they move to a PC they still have their IAP, because they would log in with their Unity Account and then add stuff like badges and whatnot also their Unity buddies that also have accounts and can see the games their friends like and play them.

    So it slowly eats up the world, than the evil that is Google removes plugins and everyone is like "Awww S***, my web player games don't work now" and Unity is like "Yo, ain't no problem, just install the Unity Arcade and play your game in peace(Almost wrote Penis there but saved it just in time)" so the word gets out about this program people can install and play the old Unity Webplayer games(Because, lets be honest WebGL will come too late and will be to slow) and secretly this was Unity's plan because now they can act all nice and be like "Oh, on the Unity arcade we will only take 20% of IAP sales if you upload your game to our servers", as instead of a simple browser alternative to play web players it is now a digital store. then the obvious move by devs is to start doing builds directly for the Unity Arcade of any size(Because games would be saved) and then Unity needs to change the name of the build option and have it that it automatically uploads to the Unity Arcade and bazzar! Unity now has a full on steam competitor and seeing that Unity engine sales will be tiny to the amount that the Unity Arcade is making they just give the engine away.
     
  13. David-Helgason

    David-Helgason

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    Thanks for joining this thread and I'll be trolling it as it evolves. I'm heading out tomorrow to speak at the DevGAMM developer conference in Moscow, so may not be super responsive for the next few days.
     
  14. Amon

    Amon

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    @ bibbinator @ David Helgason

    Do you remember ( if you were around then ) when Unity was Mac Only? Do you remember the plan, the strategy for improving Unity and increasing sales? Well, that was the Plan/Strategy that got Unity here where it is today.

    Just go back in time, take that Blueprint and pretend Unity is still Mac only and implement that strategy/plan again. Why? Well, that particular Blueprint turned out to be very effective and very powerful.

    Why waste it?
     
  15. bibbinator

    bibbinator

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    @HeadClot88

    Perfect, really helpful with the additional info. You'd be surprised at how many people fit your description and family-related team of people :)

    Terrain system is old. It's on the roadmap and progress has been made, but nothing that will help you in the next few months. We're working with Autodesk on FBX export related things, and we're looking to integrate our new PBR shaders into their tools to make it easier for artists to see their work in their tools and go straight into Unity. It's true that when there's an Asset Store solution we generally will try to solve other problems not already solved in order to provide the most robust set of tools we can as quickly as we can. That said, it's reasonable that we would work on some sort of visual shader editor and make that available to everybody.

    Noted on rest of your comments.

    Whether you have Unity pro or not, for a top-down GTA clone I wouldn't use streaming or occlusion culling. I would create pieces/blocks (not city blocks), props, scenery, etc. and assemble them into levels. Then I would write a simple C# tool that figures out how many of each type of block, prop, scenery, etc. could be on screen at once and create a pool-based system. This would be what a large studio would likely do, and this is why people love Unity because they can write such tools really easily that essentially allow each game to feel like a custom written engine tailored to their needs. I'll see about getting a blogpost with an example of this done.


    Good luck!
    Brett
     
  16. andymads

    andymads

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    I'm a programmer for a small UK based Indie. We've shipped several mobile games (3d 2d) using Unity.

    One thing I'd like to see:

    Give feedback on Feedback! Let us know that you're actively monitoring the Feedback section by commenting on the suggestions and stating the progress of implementation (if any) or state that they are not likely to be implemented, etc. If a suggestion is implemented then give details of when it is available.
     
  17. bibbinator

    bibbinator

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    Are you saying you couldn't get multi-threading working using the .NET libraries?
     
  18. Noisecrime

    Noisecrime

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    I strongly dislike subscription model for one simple reason, you never own the software.

    Now for many young users they wont care about that, they seem the cheapness, the ease of paying small chunks and jump in with both feet, but its a lack of foresight. I know personally when I get around to retiring I want to be able to continue to use the software I've developed expertise at, but its quite likely going to be hard to justify an on-going subscription when you no longer have income and have to survive off your pension (assuming you have one). I mean looking to the future everything is going to be subscription and unlike some its not going to be a case of a single subscription to one product but multiple, which means well you might be well off enough to afford some you may have to make choices between them.

    Often people say well you wouldn't keep using old software, which is simply not true. I still use PS CS2, have never had a need to update, heck I still have PS 5 (not CS5 just 5) on my old xp machine as it was so damn fast to use. With Unity although I own Unity Pro for 2.6, 3.0 and 4.0 I still used 3.5.7 for 90% of my projects due to legacy requirements and have only recently began to move new projects over to 4.3.4.

    Indeed one of the main reasons Adobe moved to a subscription model was that people and companies would often skip a generation or two in terms of releases, particularity for mature products like Photoshop where there are few innovative features left. Doing so enabled them to lock users in as well as encourage those users who used to pirate or who would choose a cheap/free alternative. However as I've explained above it is a short-sighted business model and I wouldn't be surprised to see it change eventually.

    Of course the solution is simple, just offer a method that means you get to keep the last version of a product once you hit a certain amount of paid months/years. This can easily be balanced against ensuring that a subscriber pays the cost of what it would have been to own the software under the previous model as well as ensuring that subscribers couldn't abuse the system. For example if I subscribe to Photoshop for more than 5 years, then when I stop I get to use the version up until I stopped paying for ever afterwards, but if I resubscribe then the 'buyout' option gets reset so I have to subscribe for another 5 years. Such a scheme provides the piece of mind to know that regardless of circumstance should you pay enough to cover the cost of the software that you will get to keep it eventually. Especially on Windows where software will tend to continue to work for far longer and many more versions than say on a Mac.
     
  19. bibbinator

    bibbinator

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    This is something we're experimenting on new ways to deal with this, and Graham's team is now making dot dot releases for enterprise customers and it might be something that if successful we can use to be much more rapid on our simple fix response. No promises, but wanted to let you know it's something we've already found a solution for possibly.
     
  20. bibbinator

    bibbinator

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    @SteveJ

    Yeah, we have a bunch of stuff to help developers be more successful in the pipeline. I know that may not help today, but helping developers from idea to app store is what we see as the next step.
     
  21. jonas-echterhoff

    jonas-echterhoff

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    I'm pretty sure David was around, I think I remember seeing him in the office once or twice back then ;)

    Looking at our strategy back then and now, I don't think much has changed, though. We are doing many things now that we could not back then because we were to small to handle the business side of it (like some of the middleware partnerships we have now, or console publishing support), but I don't think we stopped doing any good things we did back then.
     
  22. bibbinator

    bibbinator

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    Your wish is our command :) This is a great example of where Unity can hep with customer success and it's something developers struggle with as there are a lot of moving parts. Stay tuned.
     
  23. bibbinator

    bibbinator

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    Yes, this is a good idea. Over time we have amassed a lot of ways for users to express what they'd like. We do look at it, but it's a bit overwhelming with so many users and it looks like we're outgrowing some of the systems; they need an upgrade.
     
  24. minionnz

    minionnz

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    First of all, it's great to see you asking for feedback :)
    I've been messing around with Unity for a few years now, only really started to get serious about it within the last 12 months. I work full time so it's mostly experimentation in my spare time, haven't released anything yet - but I also have a few potential client projects coming up in the next few months.
    I really like Unity, I've looked at UE4 but feel it's far too early to make the decision to switch (for me anyway).

    Keep in mind that I'm also the type of developer to focus on building tools/extensions to Unity itself than create actual games - though I do hope to be able to release a game some day :)

    I'll give my opinion on each of your points/questions:

    Should Unity also offer a royalty scheme? Should we have extended Pro trial licenses?
    I'm on the fence about this. Royalties could benefit people who want to pay less up front but the fact that Unity doesn't charge royalties is a big selling point for a lot of people.
    Perhaps a n-tiered pricing structure would be more suitable - eg: Free, Hobbyist, Indie, Pro. I think you'll find that many people only need 1 or 2 features from Pro for a certain project so it's hard for them to justify the full cost of the upgrade.

    2D vs 3D
    I think 2d games are easier to make - it's a lot easier to draw a sprite in Photoshop than create a rigged, animated mesh in Blender (for me anyway).

    Should devs reduce their workload and spend more time on these forums answering questions?
    No they shouldn't - it'd be great if they could, but development should come first. Perhaps an occasional preview would help. In my opinion, it's not necessarily about having questions answered, just knowing that UT is listening to our concerns enough. (Xamarin? :))

    Unity is currently closed source and we have talked about whether we should change that model for years.
    This is a huge advantage that UE4 has over Unity (from my point of view). I'd love to see Unity go open source, even if it's just the editor and some of the engine (keep the deployment libraries closed maybe?) I know people often worry that open source software can turn into a big giant mess, but with some rules around submitting pull requests etc this shouldn't be a problem - I think you'll find that you'll attract a lot more tool/extension oriented developers which can build on top of Unity and make it an even better product. You have a huge community here, and many of them are experienced programmers - it makes sense to me to allow them to implement some of the minor bug fixes.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2014
  25. blueLED

    blueLED

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    Thanks for taking the time to get feedback from users.

    My situation is, I have Unity free at the moment, but purchased about 5 assets from the store. Not ready to dive into a Pro subscription just yet. Working on making my first 3D game, have coding experience, but primarily an artist. I have made mostly small Flash games that have made some ad revenue, so encouraged by that I want to step up to 3D now. Unity is the most accessible platform for this in my opinion.

    I think a great idea to rival UE4 is the watermark idea you mentioned.

    When I look at the license comparison chart, the only pro feature that really interests me is the post-processing effects, like DOF, bloom, motion-blur, color-grading, etc.

    Would it be feasible to make it so, if we choose to use those advanced effects, a small Unity watermark appears at the bottom right of the screen?

    Perhaps this watermark could also appear for some other pro-only features, like occlusion culling, or LOD support.

    With this, I believe you allow artists to match the graphical fidelity and performance that UE4 offers for $20, but instead for free. It would then be a no-brainer to opt for Unity I think, from an artist/indie developer point of view.

    Of course, when it's say 3/4 through development and nearing time to publish, I would then be ready to unlock all the pro features and remove the water marks and splash screen and start working on the final polish and testing. In which case, I would be okay with the subscription model (no canceling, one year minimum) at around ~$60/m USD.
     
  26. bibbinator

    bibbinator

    Unity Technologies

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    Hi noisecrime, thanks for taking time to post.

    So if you cancel the subscription and say it keeps working but won't update, is that good enough? If I then choose to reactivate, do I need to "catch up" on payments? Or does it just update to current and then can be cancelled again?

    Also, should we segregate licenses to only allow this kind of thing for individuals and not groups?
     
  27. HeadClot88

    HeadClot88

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    I agree with most of what minionnz said :)

    However -

    The multi-tiered pricing model looks nice upfront but I do not want the community to be fragmented in terms of what they can afford. But yeah... Just me though...
     
  28. bibbinator

    bibbinator

    Unity Technologies

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    @blueLED, minionnz

    Thanks for the replies. I also like the watermark idea (like how TV stations do it) because you can develop with the full feature set and then when you're ready to publish upgrade to some sort of license to remove it.

    But there's some though people hate watermarks, even if translucent and small in the corner, is this the case? Is it okay if we specified that companies can't use this model?
     
  29. bibbinator

    bibbinator

    Unity Technologies

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    Yes, this is the worry. It creates endless debates about what you get for what price.

    It might be better if it was tiered from a licensing point of view (individual, team, enterprise, education, etc.) instead of features?
     
  30. HeadClot88

    HeadClot88

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    This would be allot better :)
     
  31. EduardasFunka

    EduardasFunka

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    Hi,

    We are 3 game developers and we released our first game for kids, It took us one year to develop unfortunately our game not making money (actually making 5$ a day :( )... Right now we work for hire, and we need to buy a pro version to remove Unity Logos for a client.

    We played around in Unreal Engine 4 and we love what we found there and we sill love Unity. Right now we in situation that we need to buy Unity for a client, but we not sure if we going to use unity for our next title. We wait for unity5 and we will make final decision. Thank you for making amazing tool for a people to jump in to a game development.

    We don't need source code. We happy with questions answered by community members. We love asset store.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2014
  32. Chariots

    Chariots

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    I'll modify an earlier post of mine:

    Biggest problems of Unity for me:

    Lack of communication. You have no idea what is happening and what is going to happen. What are they working on, what is in 4.5, what are their thoughts on current pricing, what is actually in Unity 5? We have no real answers to those questions, -soon™, maybe, or we'll see- are the typical answers we get. I mean, Unity 5.x is going to have a major networking overhaul, and we only learned this by 1 dev post on the forum, which was the only information we got for about two weeks.

    Ultra slow bug fixes. Some of this is tied to the upgrade model and their release schedule around that. If the bug you are experiencing isn't widespread, only realistic timeframe that you can expect for a fix, is months at the earliest.

    Upgrade model. Natural result of this, is the gated features and fixes we see now. Level streaming is only fixed on Unity 5, 64-bit is only on Unity 5. Instead of releasing these features as they get ready, they are gated behind an upgrade. This is the natural result of an upgrade model, and cannot be avoided. I would rather Unity switch to subscription model completely, they wouldn't end up holding features for big numbers that way.

    Asset store reliance and slow features. Asset store is great, but having to rely on it for things that should be working out of the box, or should be included out of the box, is tiresome. I have no idea why Unity is taking so long for polishing or fixing their existing tools and adding new ones. David Helgason himself said that Unity has the biggest core engine team in the world. An example for this, Shader Forge. It is a great tool, it has been developed in half a year by a single developer. Sure, it is not feature complete yet, but it is getting there at a very rapid pace. Unity has been working on a shader graph tool for how many years with how many developers?

    Points I've made may not seem as big of a deal and business as usual, mainly because we didn't had any other reference point until UE4 public release. Things have changed. UE4 devs are crazy active, bug fixes are fast, source is there for you to get latest fixes at your leisure, subscription model means they will release features as they come, and amount of tools they provide out of the box is nothing short of astounding.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2014
  33. bibbinator

    bibbinator

    Unity Technologies

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    @Ukvedys

    Thanks for sharing your story and kind words. Games for kids is tough because you have two audiences: the parent and the child. Difficult to make money on that without clearly targeting. If you send me a link to your game, maybe I can make some product suggestions that might help.

    I know what client work is like too. I shipped more than 20 consoles games for clients on a budget and tight schedule for multiple platform using our own tech. Man, I wish I had Unity back then, and once it came out and was "usable" around 2.5 we switched and never looked back. I guess what did it for our studio was the massive productivity gains we got from Unity. Even if we had to work around shortcomings, that still took less time than it would have otherwise.

    Good luck!
    Brett
     
  34. SmurGoes

    SmurGoes

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    First off, this is an awesome initiative! Thank you for doing this!

    Personal info
    I am a mobile games developer both professionally and independently. I have worked with Unity since 2010. I use Unity at the company I work for and in my own company. The ambition is to some day work full-time in my two-man indie team.

    I delve into all aspects of Unity development; programming, UI, audio, 2D and 3D graphics. My indie partner is a programmer. Our focus is currently on mobile but we have ambitions to move over to PC as we grow.

    Feedback
    • Unity Pro should include all platforms (i.e. Android Pro and iOS Pro) at $1500/$75sub. If that was the case, I would get a $75 subscription in a heartbeat. I have always felt that the price of Unity Pro has been way, way high for mobile developers. The $1500 price tag for Pro is not a problem. The problem is the $4500 price tag for simply going mobile. The subscription does not mitigate this price tag either.
      Bake in all platforms into Pro and I think you will have a lot more paying customers.
    • People seem to not like Unity Free very much, which I find weird. You can go a long way with Unity Free, as long as you plan according to its limitations. I think Unity Free should be kept as it is, with the added support for Custom Splash Screens and Static Batching and Code Stripping. These features only help to serve the Free users into making better performing games, as well as making them look better. Which makes them more likely to succeed and thus purchase a Pro License.
    • Unity Source should be offered to those who specifically ask for it. The default should be closed source, as I feel you do a very good job keeping the cross-platform package solid and stable.
    • The Asset Store is a tremendously good idea and should be nurtured. Unity is so much more thanks to all the extensions offered by droves of talented individuals. I hope to see The Asset Store filled with more quality content. I have no trouble with most 3rd party developers, having had great use of Prime31's plugins and Brady's EZGUI.

    Again, thank you for doing this, I hope the community will take this opportunity to really speak their minds.
     
  35. EduardasFunka

    EduardasFunka

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    You can find our game here http://www.summerblog.me/. Id love to get suggestions. Thanks
     
  36. bibbinator

    bibbinator

    Unity Technologies

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    Noted on all your points, thanks.

    What would be a fair subscription model? Price? Cancelable?

    Can you tell me about yourself? Are you an individual making games? Team? Student? Company?
     
  37. Noisecrime

    Noisecrime

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    I'm a freelance developer from the UK working with various companies around the world often through design agencies or other developers. I've been a freelance now for 16 years and jumped ship from Adobe Director to Unity 2.6 when it became clear (some would argue long after it became clear) that Adobe had no interest in keeping Director relevant and when UT finally got around to making a Windows editor ;)

    I'm pretty fortunate in that i'm able to choose client projects that interest me, though this often has the unfortunate side-effect that few projects are ever exactly alike, making it somewhat stressful due to the very wide knowledge base required. Much is based around utilising new technologies and hardware such as mobile AR, MS Kinect, Phidgets (sonar detectors) and the like.

    The project are usually one-off 'installations' or 'exhibits' placed on-site in museums, corporate events, etc, though with the occasional browser based or more often these days mobile applications. These projects usually range from 2 to 12 weeks, most averaging about 8 weeks, which is usually far too short a time, but I have to work to client schedules where deadlines have often been fixed long before they think of hiring someone to do the work.

    The short project scehdules is probably one of the biggest reasons i'm using and enjoying working with Unity. The fact that it can be a very fast environment to develop with and agile enough to be able to swap or change out features on a clients whim at short notice.


    Actually I don't tend to make games, although that has changed a bit recently with investment into the Kinect side. Much of my work revolves around simulations, toys, interactive content, information etc, so it always makes me a bit sad to see Unity being so game focused and ignoring certain media support such as video.


    I would tend to agree that Unity Pro is relatively cheap, though it becomes less cheap the more add-ons you throw in, however I doubt i'd ever suggest you should charge more ;) In terms of value I think its easy to see that standalone Pro is pretty good, but as I get diminishing returns in terms of clients needing iOS or Android or Web (i.e. future of browser plugins), the overall cost for several or all add-ons is less favourable.



    Technical blogs can be great, I always enjoy reading stuff from Aras, though that's normally unofficial stuff on his site. The Unity blog is not bad but often lacks technically details.

    A great example of this is the post Aras made on his blog a few days ago about the changes to how Shaders are going to be compiled in 4.5

    I would like to see some improvements in developers spending more time on the forums, but I think this is mostly related to understanding certain blackbox aspects of Unity and certain poorly documented features (shader programming, editor scripting). Its a tricky situation though as I could see important high level developers easily being able to burn entire days just answering questions on the forums which would of course not be very productive for Unity development.

    I think perhaps some technical articles regarding the blackbox features and editor scripting could go a long way to address the imbalance we have seen. While writing the articles would take developers away from their work at Unity at least it wouldn't be an on-going thing like answering forum questions would be. A good case in point would be the current dicussion on the forum about Unity 5 removing some of the component shortcuts which has led to the knowledge that these shortcuts were never cached as many people had assumed. This sort of knowledge is vital to make the best use of Unity should you need to.

    In a sense though this also ties into making Unity openSource to a degree. Its not just that users can then fix stuff, but it means that we can also get a far better understanding of what is going on under the hood.


    I would love to see Unity open sourced if only for the reason above and that is to be able to see within the 'blackbox'. It could also be really useful for people to build bespoke versions that address some specific missing feature or bug that enables them to release standalone builds without having to wait for official Unity updates. However I'm less sure about its usefulness in terms of the community fixing problems due to the added level of management and organisation this would need. Having said that I could easily imagine that user fixes or suggestions that are 'proved' in a forked version of the code could give UT an upper hand in getting fixes implemented quicker though.

    So yeah I think it would be a great idea, but that community expectations would probably need to be managed, in that someone couldn't add a fix and then expect it to become official in a matter of days, if ever.


    I would just like to thank you for starting this dicussion and hope that it leads to some fruitful developments in the forums, for the community and for Unity. As you said I think communication from Unity to its users has been at a low point for quite some years. I remember hearing stories about just how responsive Unity were on the forums in the early days, but by the time I joined that had seemed to pretty much disappear. Its an unfortaunte side-effect of UT growing, so hopefully this initiative you've started will reverse this somewhat.




    I think my biggest current criticism of Unity updates is the lack of focus on implementing a large number of 'low hanging fruit' features that could make users lives so much easier. Simple stuff like adding a dropdown menu to access all the 'Project settings' instead of having to go through the menu system. Adding an empty gameObject to the hierarchy create menu. Adding a version number to each project shown in the project wizard etc. Stuff that I and many other users have requested for years, but never seem important enough to actually get implemented.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2014
  38. Aieth

    Aieth

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    The issue with using the free version of Unity for computer games is... that the graphics end up looking a lot like 2005. I can't name a single AAA games that shipped within the last 10 years that did not have any post effects. Even with Unity pro the graphical quality, without heavy modification, really is not up to standard. You guys obviously know this and the coming changes in Unity 5 are hopefully going to bring Unity into this decade, graphically speaking.

    Personally I feel that if it is economically viable for you investigating ad-supported editor and/or watermarks is a good way to go. The barrier of entry to Unity can go even lower (note that is not the same thing as barrier of publishing).

    As for myself, I'm a student trying to earn some money by improving the graphical quality of Unity. I'm in the process of writing my own rendering pipeline (all I am using from Unity is the Camera.Render command basically) meant for the asset store. So I am possibly a bit biased, but what I would love is more low level control. It seems low level control is coming on all fronts now (Mantle, DX12) and I believe it would be wise to "prepare" the engine for supporting this. More specifically, what I would love, is more direct control over rendering. I do not actually want to use Camera.Render(), just that there is no other reasonable way to do things without losing stuff like animations and/or multithreaded rendering. Unity does not technically need to "keep up" technically, it only needs to be made in such a way that the users can keep it up.

    Something like Unity or UE4 lives and dies with its' community. I believe maintaining a good baseline (for stuff like GUI, networking, graphics etc) and then exposing as much as possible of it so the users can either build on existing systems or create entirely new ones is the best way to go.
     
  39. Chariots

    Chariots

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    A more expensive subscription with a 1 year lock in would be acceptable for me, if Unity switches to it completely. Otherwise, current subscription and the lock in is not desirable in my opinion.

    We are a small, independent team, making a soon to be announced (within a few days actually) desktop game. We've had 3 years prior experience with UDK and a long history of modding various games before that.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2014
  40. bibbinator

    bibbinator

    Unity Technologies

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    Nov 20, 2009
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    Hey did you know we have support for cluster rendering and can render and sync across multiple screens for caves and 360 theaters? If it's interesting to you send me a PM and I'll see about getting you on the beta list of that.

    Good points. It seems knowing how to use Unity "correctly" is hard fought knowledge. We're doing something about that and releasing some starter kits using best practices, etc. along with increasing the number of blog posts and other technical info. We grew so fast for so many years, these important things didn't get as much love as they needed.

    Noted.

    Yes, we need to get better at this. But there's thousands of these things and it's a case where we need to get better at grinding through them. Graham's team is now looking at doing some of this stuff. He might be able to add more info here.

    Thanks!
    Brett
     
  41. Noisecrime

    Noisecrime

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    You're welcome. Yes that sounds exactly what I'd like to see, if only for 'peace of mind' and fully understanding that eventually software might stop working.

    There is a pre-determined continuous length of time after which if you cancel you get to keep a working version of Unity, but do not receive any further updates. Cancelling before this pre-determined duration would simply revert Unity back to free version. The duration would obviously be based on what UT felt was appropriate in terms of subscription earnings, for example once you had paid say $1500 you get to keep standalone.

    However to prevent abuse, if you then restarted your subscription then the continuous duration restarts too, meaning if the duration is say 3 years, once you cancelled you'd have to have a new continuous subscription for the next 3 years before you could cancel again and keep a working version.

    Its important to note that what i'm proposing should not be easily abused or seen as a method to reduce the cost of getting Unity. It is purely designed to allow subscribers to eventually keep a working version based on total income through their subscription to Unity. Sort of pay to own type of model built on top of the subscription model.
     
  42. Graham-Dunnett

    Graham-Dunnett

    Unity Technologies

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    We'll be making a lot of noise about this later in the week. It's something we have been working quietly on since we merged the QA and Support teams under Thomas Petersen (QA Director) back at the start of the year. The patch releases my sustained engineering team generate will not be official releases, but will be available for everyone to use.
     
  43. goatytimes

    goatytimes

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    Sep 23, 2013
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    I'd love to use Unity for simple indie games but I feel render texture support is a basic necessity for anything I want to do and I can't justify the price for pro. Even games in the 90's used render textures, so I think it's past due for this to be included in Free.

    Barring that, I'd probably be on board with a revenue plan or ad supported editor or affordable (<$400) lite version of pro. Whatever lets me develop a game without spending an inordinate amount just to get render textures.
     
  44. bibbinator

    bibbinator

    Unity Technologies

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    But, but... I loved 2005! But yeah, I get your point ;)


    Your wish is our command. We have some new interesting rendering pipeline work that Aras has been doing that would allow you to configure a rendering pipeline. Currently in alpha.

    Agreed. I think this is really what gave Unity the boost and still does. It's easy to modify Unity and bend it to your will even without source code than other engines are. We take this to heart though and will keep working to make Unity as flexible and bendable as possible.
     
  45. jonas-echterhoff

    jonas-echterhoff

    Unity Technologies

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    I believe we have made the mistake of becoming too reluctant to communicate our plans learning from past mistakes of making promises we could not keep (which was probably the wrong lesson learned, we should still talk about our plans, but be more careful not to promise things). I think we are on a good track towards changing this again, however - there is now more information about that networking stuff on our blog, for instance.

    We have some plans to address that by starting a team to do dot dot releases with important bug fixes, while the main dev team can continue to work on the next release, which would hopefully bring up the frequency of bugfix releases

    While I can tell you that neither 64 bit nor level streaming stuff has been held back intentionally to go into 5.0 (they just happened to be ready at that point), I agree that this is a problem with our current release model, and personally I'd rather get away from major releases, and always just release stuff whenever it is considered done. The difficult part is that it only really works with a subscription model (or if we were to come up with a completely different business model), which we could change to, but which would then disgruntle a lot of people who don't like that - plus it would be difficult to switch entirely at once, because it would break our revenue stream.

    For some features, it is hard to tell why it takes us so long to complete them, I agree. But I do think that the expectations people have for features implemented by Unity are very different from what people expect from asset store packages, so I think the comparison also does not quite hold up.
     
  46. Graham-Dunnett

    Graham-Dunnett

    Unity Technologies

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    Yes, fixing low hanging fruit is part of what sustained engineering will do. If we fix bugs that affect thousands of users it just reduces the volume of data hitting the bug database, the forum, answers and support systems. As an example, working out why ADB stops the editor from closing is something we're actively doing right now.
     
  47. Noisecrime

    Noisecrime

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    Thanks, i'm aware of cluster rendering, seen the Unite video and would jump on it in a heartbeat if I ever get any client proposals that could utilise it, though I'll be honest and caveat that with far too often clients come to me far too late in the process to actually have enough lead time to develop such projects.


    Very succinctly put, wish I'd written that ;)

    I made a change to my original post just now, but for me the post last week by Aras on his site '2014/05/05/shader-compilation-in-unity-4.5' is the perfect example of the sort of technical information and depth of learning materials i'd love to see coming from Unity.
     
  48. Regularry

    Regularry

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    First of all I guess I should describe what kind of customer I am. I am a hobbyist and although I don't post much I have been experimenting with Unity for a few years now. I haven't released any commercial games yet but I am retiring soon and plan to start a small business making casual games. I don't own the Pro version yet but was planning to buy it soon and have spent hundreds in the asset store so I am a paying customer.

    Prior to recently I was 100% committed to using Unity in my endeavors. I greatly prefer Unity's royalty-free pricing method and was very turned off by the idea of having to pay royalties with other engines. After having spent some time with Unreal Engine 4 however I now have become so enamored with it that I have done a complete turn-around and now plan to focus on UE4 exclusively (even in spite of the royalty based pay system which I really don't like the idea of).

    The main thing that I find more desirable about UE4 is that it comes with pretty much all the systems you would want built right into the editor. The Blueprint system in particular is very exciting. While I have some experience with writing code it is not a part of the process I particularly enjoy. The Blueprint system on the other hand is actually fun to use and encourages me to me to play around and be creative in a sandbox-like way.

    With Unity, to duplicate what UE4 has to offer the user must install a problematic nest of extensions that usually don't integrate together and often don't work well at all.

    It also creates a situation where everyone in the community is not "on the same page" so to speak. For example tutorials are usually going to be done using just the base features of the editor and not cover workflows involving extensions. Game components and templates on the asset store are all going to be standard scripts rather than tying into the visual logic extensions that are available. The Blueprint system and all the other built-in systems in UE4 solve these sorts of problems by providing a common framework for community efforts and assets to tie into.

    The other big thing that draws me to UE4 is the fast responsiveness of the developers to issues raised by the community. Updates come frequently and often contain fixes to issues raised just weeks earlier.

    Finally, I have always kind of had the sense that Unity was made by coders for other coders, and that anyone who doesn't love code in the same way isn't really considered a first class citizen. With Epic, I feel like they really want to delight the user in every way and empower everyone, including artists and non-coders, to have fun and succeed in their dreams. That is a pretty hard thing to resist.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2014
  49. Chariots

    Chariots

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    I have to disagree with this. Yes, peoples expectations for features implemented by Unity are very different from what people expect from asset store packages, however, there are lots of packages that provide better and more stable solutions than what Unity has to offer, and sometimes they deal with higher expectations than Unity. A good example for this, A* Pathfinding Project. It is better than the NavMesh Unity provides in every single way. It is more stable, more reliable and more open. On top of that, it doesn't only have NavMesh, but other pathfinding solutions as well, like waypoints or gridgraph.

    I think the comparison does hold up when asset store vendors exceeds expectations that are higher than Unity.
     
  50. NoPiece

    NoPiece

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    I'm a hobbyist and fairly new to Unity. I don't have plans to make a game commercially, so it doesn't make sense to buy Pro, but I'd love access to Pro features. One feature I am especially interested in is Oculus support (I have a dev kit on order). I'd love to see a full featured free version that restricted you from releasing commercial products (either via watermark, splash screen, licensing restriction, or some other way). If I put something together I did want to try and sell, I'd happily upgrade to Pro.
     
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