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What would it take for Unity to become the go to engine of AAA developers?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Arowx, May 2, 2017.

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  1. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    Last edited: May 4, 2017
  2. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    Hmm. I have no experience with them so I can't evaluate them. I know Larian has really strong lore throughout the Divinity series, but it isn't "realized" as completely as something like Skyrim (or something like Dragon Age).
     
  3. Billy4184

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    The problem is that Unity are still trying to integrate technology from the forefront of half a decade ago in a way that doesn't compromise their ability to satisfy the main chunk of their target market. Unity does not have any problem getting the same people who create all these whiz-bang features in Unreal, Cryengine and Frostbite. If they wanted to create some in-house engine on par with Unreal or Cryengine, it would probably only take them a year or two.

    There is no shortage of capability at Unity.

    What there is a shortage of, is profitability to them of integrating AAA features into Unity. It's pure business. 99% of their customers will use Unity regardless of whether or not it has XYZ feature from Frostbite, because 99% of their customers will never create a game that would need that sort of thing, and also 99% of customers would not know how to deal with performance, graphics and hardware issues arising from that feature.

    Because Unity is not royalty-based, if an indie studio comes along with the potential to make a really fantastic whiz-bang game and needs all sorts of whiz-bang features, there's no real incentive for Unity to provide that, because one subscription is pretty much as profitable as any other, and these customers seem to be few and far between. But because they are smart, they made the asset store so they can gauge the extent of their errors, and correct them (by integrating assets) if they find out they are wrong.

    Think of it like this: imagine you made a game like Crossy Road, that was made of simple geometry, few textures and simple gameplay. You put it out there and become a multi-millionaire. And because you're smart, you put in some analytics to track player behaviour.
    Now let's say someone (or a few people) send you an email saying that they would really like it if you made it an openworld survival game with photorealistic everything.
    So you do some arithmetic. Maybe it cost you $3000 and 6 months to make Crossy Road. To make this game that these few customers want however, it might take you $1,000,000 and 6 years. So far, not very appealing.
    So do my players even want this game, you ask yourself. So you consult your analytics and find that most people playing your game play it in 2 minute sessions, on a 2010 phone with a 4-inch screen.

    So why would you cost yourself $997,000 and 6 years to make a game that by all accounts, very few people will actually play and which will destroy your current market share, when you're making millions from Crossy Road? It's economic suicide.

    And this is why Unity do what they do. They always have a good reason, of course.
     
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  4. gian-reto-alig

    gian-reto-alig

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    1. Somebody publishing papers on new technology =/= them actually developing that tech into a useful product. There is a lot of stuff being written and bragged about, in engine tech, that later turns out to be not quite that usable or good.

    Being at the forefront of engine tech is sometimes not the best idea from a business point of view.

    2. What does it matter? Its an inhouse engine! It could be driven by fairy magic and render 4k images at 120Hz using simply the power of imagination and still be of no use to you or me... apart from at least having something nice to oogle at while being ripped off by EA with a new Battlefront.

    What matters is when the technology trickles down into engines that actually are within our reach... like Unreal and Unity.

    3. Unity and Unreal both seem to have a pretty down to earth strategy. Both only shake the boat a little (Unity even less than Unreal), but thanks to that manage to keep a rather steady course that makes things easy for their customers.
    IDK how many times a new version of Frostbite will invalidate old code, and how often the engine team of a new game in development needs to patch up the code for a new frostbite release created by another team because they just didn't knew that the game in development had dependencies on X, Y or Z.

    Happens in Unity and Unreal too, I guess... but at least in Unity not as much anymore as it used to.

    Than there is the thing with Unity trying to be on any new platform coming along... This is where Unity "innovates". If this is a good or bad thing is up to you.

    4. Unity 6-8 years behind AAA engines? Well, not saying Unity is that advanced, but you give AAA engines way too much credit.
    In a world where game technology is still bound to low-mid end cheap gaming systems called consoles, every AAA game is using outdated tech and just tries to push that crappy hardware to its limits. AAA engines mostly will be concerned with optimizing for the crappy GPUs and CPUs of Playstations and XBoxes (not to mention Nintendo consoles), while waiting for the next console generation to introduce really new features.
    After all, if only PC Players can use a feature, which still is a minority in the minds of the AAA Publishers, why do more than a half hearted job?

    Anybody remembers the first few tries with making something useful with hardware tesselation when DX11 was still (relatively) new? Apart from the fact that the straightforward usecase was actually pretty S*** in a day and age when the true polygon count of ingame models is ever rising, what most stood out was the halfassed slopiness with which tesselation was integrated into halfassed PC ports, and how utterly crappy these were running on even quite powerful PCs. Tesselated flat walls, and tesselated Oceans out of view.

    So, even the most cutting edge engines will MOST PROBABLY only see real advancements every 6-8 years, depending on a new console lifecycle bringing the console hardware back to current midrange PC specs... until PCs start to get stronger again after 2 years.
    Why introduce a new version of Frostbite that can do 8k rendering and a kickass new AA algorithm when the current crop of consoles hardly can run the existing engine? Most probably you will try to optimize the current engine to maybe get some % more power out of the aging hardware.
    While that might be sometimes impressive, and can include some pretty cutting edge solutions, hardly the cutting edge tech you were talking about.

    Unity might be behind other engines... but I would be careful putting a number of years behind that. After all, Unity is lightyears more advanced in the tools and editor departement compared to some other engines... and contrary to what some may think, as long as you cannot pay tools devs to built a usable pipeline of tools for you, that is one of the most important aspects of a good game engine.
     
  5. neginfinity

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    If you wanna see a large number of research papers, you should look at GPU manufacturers instead.

    For example:
    https://research.nvidia.com/publications

    55 pages of papers.

    then theres' stuff from GDC presentations, SIGGRAPH, etc.

    One important thing is that research does not necessarily represent a usable consumer-ready/production-ready technology.

    Also... the thread reminds me of times when there were people thinking that selecting DirectX over OpenGL will somehow automatically result in better visuals.
     
  6. Assembler-Maze

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    I understand the stated point. Then, I only have a single only one and single question:

    From their commercials (Adam, Blacksmith) it is freaking presented like an AAA-capable engine, and with answers from other parts (including unity personnel) questions are answered to this question are responded with the greatest enthusiasm.

    My question is, if this engine is a low-end mobile-game friendly one WHY is it presented in commercials and by them like something AAA capable out of the box? That is my single question.
     
  7. neginfinity

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    The answer is ... it is not a "low-end mobile-game friendly engine". You can ramp quality up or tone it down, depending on your needs. Adam/Blacksmith demos pretty much show what you can do with unity if you have high-quality art team.
     
  8. Arowx

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    Good point. With demos like that why aren't AAA studios moving to Unity, there has to be a gap between what Unity provides and what a AAA engine provides, my question is what is the 'gap', graphical performance, networking, editor tools, art pipeline, team scalability...?

    Or is it something like the gap between a good game and a great game, lots of small things add up or subtract to make a difference. A bit like the Uncanny valley for human looking CGI.

    Or is it just a business decision, would a large studio be worse off if it adopted Unity?

    So your saying the gap is in the talent of the studios using the engine?

    Then why is it most of the changing engine stories are studios moving away from and not towards Unity. Are there any blogs where a studio has moved from another engine to Unity?

    Note: I have seen indies move from in house engines to Unity!
     
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  9. neginfinity

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    Yes.
    To be more precise - in the budget. More money means more talent and more people. With AAA budget engine doesn't matter much.

    How many of those stories are there? I recall two engine switch stories total. I also recall few stories where switching away from unity killed the project (going from unity to unreal 4 seems to be quite lethal). Those numbers are not really significant enough, due to HUGE total number of engine users.

    My bet would be on news you read creating incorrect perception of the situation (there's probably a proper name/term for that, but I forgot it). People who didn't switch most likely are a silent majority. You don't hear about them, because they don't feel the need. to announce "we're still using unity" every month.
     
  10. Billy4184

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    Because:
    • It's good marketing;
    • Unreal is trying somewhat to close the gap, demonstrating more mobile features and making mobile games, so Unity has to prove they are not severely lacking in any department (which is no doubt also why they are keen to get some kind of visual scripting in ASAP);
    • Maybe more people are making PC games and targeting steam, since the mobile market is beyond saturated.
    They have a good grip on the market, but if Unreal with their blueprints, beautyful grafx and decent mobile performance made a go at it, they would probably lose a decent chunk (and have already lost some slight ground in the last couple of years from what I can see, despite having wildly upgraded the engine).

    Besides, Unity 5 was all about that PBR, everybody was doing it and Unity had to get on board.
     
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  11. neginfinity

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    That's doubtful. Unreal 4 - based on my experience - does not have what it takes to steal unity's niche.
     
  12. Assembler-Maze

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    "It's good marketing;" - That is called hypocrisy. Present it as a full mobile-friendly or PC - cartoon only engine, not like a PBR thingy...
     
  13. Billy4184

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    Probably not now, but the question was why did Unity market the engine with a lot of graphics features over the last 2-3 years. I'm quite sure that they lost some ground over the last couple of years, and had they not done what they did, they would have lost much more.

    In the space of a few years, they:
    • Made the engine free;
    • Upgraded to PBR shaders, realtime GI etc;
    • Added very easy to use ads and IAP systems;
    • A bunch of other stuff such as post fx etc.
    If they were still where they were before Unity 5, I would absolutely not be here anymore and I doubt a lot of other people would either.
     
  14. Billy4184

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    Not sure what you mean - everything that Unity has shown is quite possible in the engine, despite some 'in-house' stuff they did for the demos. They did make a massive improvement on the engine. Graphics are on a whole nother level compared to before.

    They may have decided they are 'close enough' to Unreal that most people aren't going to worry a whole lot about the graphics aspect anymore. In fact going by these forums, it seems to be the case.
     
  15. Assembler-Maze

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    Now, I don't say they don't exist, but could you give us some examples of games that use all those features? PBR/GI on the desktop at a decent level?

    I know:
    - Prey for the gods
    - Stranded deep
    - Eastshade
    - Rust
    - Recore

    And to be honest they are not using the 'high-end' graphics. Maybe the GI with the light probe proxy volumes. But nothing gets close to 'blacksmith' or 'adam' in real time... In UE4 there are many games that get close to their demos (including their own games).

    Again, maybe I am just ignorant of some other high-end game?
     
  16. Billy4184

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    Actually I think those games are using a lot of what Unity can provide. The point is that it's a lot better than what it was before, to the point that it's become a non-issue for many people. They are still behind graphically, but not enough to make people want to head over and tackle C++ in Unreal, or deal with the lack of a multitide of other things that Unity has provided to make development easier in their engine.
     
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  17. Assembler-Maze

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    Yes, absolutely true. It fits the most need for many people out there.

    However I think that if they are presenting us demo's like 'adam' or anything else, they should also have those features usable inside the engine, integrated.
     
  18. neginfinity

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    I do not think that changes to the engine has to be a result of "losing grounds" somewhere.

    For example, Unreal 4 went free on March 2 2015, while Unity 5 was released on March 3 2015. Not enough time to "lose ground".

    I think it is just the usual gradual improvement.


    Wasteland 2 uses PBR, believe it or not.
    From upcoming releases, Pamela promises high fidelity.

    Besides, what does it have to do with anything?
     
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  19. neginfinity

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  20. Assembler-Maze

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    From having a demo to having them work in a real scenario is a looooong way :). I was only stressing out that in UE you 'can' using the stock engine (if you have something like a non-open world shooter) get the quality of the demo's. You can't do that with unity.
     
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  21. Kiwasi

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    You've seen enough of these threads by now to know the asset store doesn't count as 'the one true Unity'.

    :p
     
  22. Billy4184

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    Well, they've given out a lot of the Adam assets, what does it look like on your computer?

    I know some people are going to disagree with me, but I think that the Adam demo actually has a lot of weak points graphically. The characters and terrain often look poorly lighted, and the only thing that looks reallyy great is the hardsurface stuff/buildings. But even those to me have a slight sense of if I'm looking at a photograph inside a game engine - maybe they baked it to the moon and back? Overall it has an aesthetic that, to me, looks out of place in a game, even one that's striving for photorealism.

    For example, here's a picture of a somewhat bland, built up area that to me, looks great for a game:



    And here's the Adam demo, which looks, kind of great in some ways, but also somewhat flat:



    Is it shaders? Lighting? Postfx? Maybe, I don't really know. All I know is that every time I see a screenshot from UE or cryengine, it satisfies me in the same way that the top picture does, and the best screenshots of Unity always have something that leaves me wanting more.

    I'd really like to know what this is, because I like Unity and it's getting better, but it's still missing something graphically for me.
     
  23. neginfinity

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    A demo shows what can be done. A demo does not mean that it can be done easily.


    Same thing goes for Unreal engine.

    Grab any Unreal engine demo and try to replciate it quickly. Then see how it goes.


    It is about art team skill, budget and manpower. Not about engine.
     
  24. Assembler-Maze

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    Is that stuff made by you in unity?!?
     
  25. Billy4184

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    Do you think Unity did not know for years what unreal was going to do?
     
  26. Assembler-Maze

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    And the performance... Now I'm striving to get an empty scene with a terrain some trees and some patches of grass in it to run at 60FPS... And yes, there are 10 more rocks with 300 verts each, probs those eat up those nasty 10MS on the CPU :)
     
  27. Billy4184

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    No. It's rainbow six. I was just googling for a good picture of a simple built up area in an AAA engine.

    Unity is missing that aesthetic that all the other AAA engines seem capable of producing.
     
  28. Assembler-Maze

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    Yea, you got me scared there a little, I thought it was made in Unity :)

    And yes that is the same exact reaction my friends had when I've gave them the 'bs' unity demo. They said it was really not conincing.
     
  29. Billy4184

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    :)

    Here's another screenshot that I think demonstrates it even better - it's MGS 5. However the geometry and material details are quite simple. Yet it still looks fantastically appealing in a way that the Adam demo never does for me, despite being much more detailed:

     
  30. neginfinity

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    I don't know. Can't read minds. Wouldn't surprise me if they didn't know. Wouldn't surprise me if they knew.

    That does not exactly prove anything and only means you need to keep looking for different optimization techniques.
     
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  31. Assembler-Maze

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    Like the awesome uber-performant 'merge instancing', yes. And some extra smart instancing. But wait! they are not providing enough c# code for that...
     
  32. neginfinity

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    (-_-)

    ....

    I do not see "They are not providing..." as a good argument.
    You have enough stuff accessible to you to completely rewrite the whole render loop. If something is missing - implement it yourself. If you think another engine will do a better job - switch.

    Also, I'm done here.
     
  33. Billy4184

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    I think it's worth noting that in the link to the papers on the Frostbite site, there's something mentioned that seems to be similar to the scriptable render loop coming from Unity, so at least in that Unity might be said to be at the 'forefront'. In fact, they are at the forefront in terms of usability, by a long shot, but not at all in terms of raw features.
     
  34. Assembler-Maze

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    About switching i'm thinking. I don't want to just quit, I really want to make things better and see them grow, but if I can't use certain things, it's nothing personal really.

    However the "implementing myself" part does not really work all the time, despite my will to work on anything. For example rendering something in the standard pipeline (with shadows and lighting) with 'DrawProceduralIndirect' doesn't really work. Or submitting commands without index/vertex buffers attached, for SRV usage... So 'they are not providing' is am reality, not an argument.

    Again if you point me the way of doing that, I'll take my argument back.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2017
  35. ShilohGames

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    It depends on what you are trying to do. I really like Unity, and I especially love Unity 5.5/5.6. I am a huge fan of the new DrawMeshInstanced API method. I use that extensively to get solid performance. In my game, I have large space scenes with thousands of things flying around and easily get over 100 FPS on a modern PC.

    Here is a really extreme example. This scene has tens of thousands of laser projectiles flying around, and the frame rate was between 50 FPS and 80 FPS. The frame rate counter is in the upper left of the screen, and this was done with Unity 5.5. This scene was just for tech demo purposes.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2017
  36. neginfinity

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    You would need to ask specific questions for that. With small self-contained examples of the problem and exact description of what you're trying to do.

    I mean... it is possible to integrate raytraced object into standard scene - with lighting and all, and unity provides helper functions to the point where it'll be possible to run direct graphic api calls in native plugins. There aren't many things you wouldn't be bale to do with this kind of setup.

    Which means... if I were trying to use DrawProceduralIndirect and it didn't work, the first thing I'd do is reevaluating my approach. I.e. why it is drawproceduralindirect and not something else. For example, hardware tesselators are quite powerful, there are geometry shaders, and it is possible read/write data from textures in point.

    So, for me "they're not providing" sounds like a warning flag which indicats that it might be the time to triple-check selected approach to the problem.
     
  37. Rodolfo-Rubens

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    Totally agreed!

    And even if Unity is not the go-to engine for AAA, I think that nothing prevents AAA companies to use it and get amazing results, most of these same companies already has their own in-house engines and/or their engines of choice and maybe they are not willing to change.
     
  38. Ryiah

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    Wouldn't surprise me in the slightest. Unreal has always felt like it was targeting a completely different market of developers.
     
  39. Billy4184

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    Not lately. In the last couple of years, UE have definitely shifted down toward the top of the mobile market, see the links I posted above. They've released a few mobile games which was not what they used to target at all. They are definitely much more mobile friendly than they were before, and I would imagine they are going to continue to edge in from the top end of the market (hardware wise).

    I also don't think it's a coincidence that Unity's development cycle suddenly seemed to improve around the beginning of Unity 5. Although they take their time sometimes, they seem to me to be pushing features out much faster, and in much better state, than before.

    Anyway, to the question of why Unity was marketing itself on demos like Blacksmith and Adam: my money is that it's because of UE's shift closer to their market share. UE has a chance to make itself the best of both worlds (high-end PC and mid/high-end mobile, with mobile hardware improvements helping close the gap faster) and it's not something that Unity are going to take lightly.

    In part because of Unreal's demonstrated capability on mobile hardware, I'm seriously considering taking it up soon, and I'm sure a lot of other people thought the same thing as well. Throw in blueprints for all the code-challenged devs out there, and it's starting to look attractive even for simple games.

    I think what Unity need to do is move up faster than UE can move down, without compromising their ability to target low-end mobile. And scriptable render loops might just be the key to that, by enabling them to develop (or provide a friendly environment for the development of) high-end graphics frameworks to complement the stuff they already have, which seems to me to be optimised for performance over capability.
     
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  40. Ryiah

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    Last couple of years is still after they made the decision to target a different market of developers. It may not feel like it but it has been over three years since the initial release of UE4 for a highly affordable price. Before that there was no real indicator.
     
  41. ZJP

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    The fact that Unity IDE works on low/mid-range hardware is an important advantage for UT.
     
  42. neginfinity

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    Well, unreal engine is where projects go to die. That was a joke. Probably.

    Learning curve is steeper, and I saw several projects killed by engine switch. Basically, after switch people post "I can't believe how amazing everythign looks", and after this the project mysteriously disappears.

    Basically... I'd advise to play with UE4 for a month just so you'll bump into bazillion of engine issues specific for UE4. Right now you pretty much appear to see only positives about the engine, however, things like Unreal not having an equivalent to Mecanim can make your life really fun when dealing with it. Or their occlusion culling model.

    I also don't buy the whole thing about "Unity did X because unreal did Y which was threatening to Unity". I think that more likely sceanrio is that both engines had similar goals from the beginning.
     
  43. Billy4184

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    I have a habit of using 'couple' when I mean 'many'.

    My guess is that the people whose job it was to know, knew. Features like what UE4 had (or Unity 5 for that matter) take years to develop, it's not like you can just react to whatever comes along.

    Anyway, this is all just gossip, I have no idea if it's actually true. But for Unity and Unreal to both make a huge iteration on their engines at exactly the same time seems too much of a coincidence to me..
     
  44. Billy4184

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    Lol, sounds like some kind of UFO abduction.
     
  45. Billy4184

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    Of course I will, and anyway I thought it was pretty obvious from all my posts how much of an advantage I see in Unity's usability. I'm still here and I may not even change. And I'd rather stick to Unity tbh. But I have no doubt that I can master UE, the question is whether or not it's worth it for me and my projects.
     
  46. neoshaman

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    To me it seems that unreal have:

    - Stable performances out of the gate on simple games. It's easy to make something with problematic performance on unity, and generally the culprit is garbage collector, you can destroy and create too many objects without there being a hiccup. So the base line for basic action game is poor performance. I had this problem, and it mean learning a bit more about pooling and other quirks., ie one level of indirection before getting something good, and those indirection don't stop there.

    - Better generic graphic settings. Unreal is a team of people who worked together, a long time, on being at the top of graphical fidelity. They don't just have the tech, they have the know how, the pipeline and workflow, and a solid culture of visual tuning and photorealism. So generic settings are well tuned and work out of the gate, with all the minute attention to visual and performance. So far all unity demo has been done by contractual people with on the fly pipeline and workflow trying to work around the performance issues too on a small time frame, it's as easy to do as reading this run on sentences, they can't compare with unreal just yet.
     
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  47. zombiegorilla

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    Yes. That has always been, and will always be the case. Whether you are talking about large studios, small studios or individual developers.

    Read more stories. also not every studio is going to publicly talk at length about their tech. Seriously, successful studios aren't spending a lot of time talking about technical game development, they are talking about their game, and to their player base. Even internally, "engine" talk is rare, tech isn't that big of an issue, except for the a small group that has to directly deal with it, and even then the bigger issues/topic are design related.

    Moreover "switching" studios is a meaningless metric. Given that there are an insane amount of successful new studios that didn't even exist a few years ago, using primarily unity (mostly top people in large studios splitting off to create new ones, because the reduced cost of tech)

    Unreal pretty much had to come up with a new strategy. Their life blood was AAA developers, and they were bleeding those fast. A decade ago they were king and there were virtually no other options if you didn't build your own. As the game market grew in size and revenue, more large studios evolved their internal engines, or built them. While building an engine is a massive undertaking, it is also ridiculously less involved than it used to be. Meanwhile, Unity was growing at a massive rate, finding that sweet spot. With the growing amount of developers/studios, there were less options for licensings their premium engine as a revenue source, they were going to have to focus on just making games... which was getting much more competitive. They must have felt that competing with Unity was a better chance of surviving than being a game developer. (selling shovels and all that).
     
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  48. Deleted User

    Deleted User

    Guest

    A small demo doesn't mean much in the context of a game, if the objective is to essentially show off graphical prowess you'd be better off with V-ray or Brigade. If they developed their demo's into a full technically demanding game like Witcher 3 and get it to work well without loosing much on console.. Then it's worth being impressed.

    Edit: Wow that's too long..
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
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  49. pz90

    pz90

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2016
    Posts:
    3
    I also totally agree with @gian-reto-alig - there is a huge lack of focus as trying to be the jack of all trades. Which somehow is a good thing. Unity is an "enabler". But this is the same thing as with other technologies in startups.
    For example.

    If you would create a hybrid web-app (means it works as desktop web application as well as being deployable to iOS, Android or other operating systems), you s/would not create it with Twitter Bootstraps, jQuery and other ready to go libraries as they are too clumsy/complex/huge. Too much overhead. They are covering too many case you don't need.
     
  50. zenGarden

    zenGarden

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2013
    Posts:
    4,538
    I think it is related to scene composition, msg 5 scene is more open, less overloaded, it is more readable. Also the lighting, sky intensity, post effects and PBR materials looks more harmonized and better choosen.
    It is more related to artistic scene composition and lightening.

    For example this is an indie Unity game, but i find it's graphics and lightening set up very well choosen.
     
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