This sponsored post is produced in association with XIM.
Dedicated consoles, smartphones, tablets, PCs — everything’s a game platform nowadays. This is great for the people playing the games, but for developers creating them, fragmentation of devices, operating systems, and compatibility are a constant headache.
Despite the disparity given the variation in gaming platforms, one development tool appears to be uniting the industry: the Unity game engine.
Boasting 45 percent market share, with 47 percent of game developers relying on it, over 600 million people all over the world are playing games created using Unity across 21 platforms — from PC browsers to handhelds to VR gear. So what makes Unity an industry favorite?
Unity’s edge for developers
Depending on the complexity of a game being created, developers have a myriad of working elements under a single development studio. How efficiently they can control all these little things and how comfortable they are with their framework dictate how competently designed the resulting game will be.
Unity decreases the necessary complexity of game code — and also increases developer comfort and capability — primarily because it’s based on the high level programming language C#. “In my opinion, the first advantage is C# language itself,” says Andrey Rylach, Senior Unity 3D Developer for XIMAD Inc., part of XIM Inc. “C# is a high-level programming language which allows developers to enter the game development process easily. It is important because unlike other game engines based on C++, C# has many elements and techniques that have already been introduced. All that remains is for developers to use them.”
Developers coding on native environments either have to deal with low level languages or a combination of languages when they port the same game to a different platform. This also usually equates to longer and more complex development cycles and more teams for porting implementation. A mobile games developer, for instance, would require one team each for Android and iOS.
By leveraging its C# foundation and cross-platform integration, Unity developers can save a lot of time and shave a lot of complexity in their code. High-level programming code typically uses natural language compared to low level code, and a lot of the complicated expressions are automated. Lines of code such as “Hero.Attack()” or “Hero.Move(place)” are simply easier to write and decipher.
Add the ability to port games to multiple platforms and it’s easy to see why developers are uniting behind Unity. Andrey explains that “the same code, developed via Unity engine, can be ported on many platforms (PC, Mac, Android, iOS, Web, game consoles) with minimal modifications. It significantly helps reduce the effort required for the development of the game.”
What’s in it for gamers
Unity has undeniable advantages for developers, but what about the people playing the games?
It’s obvious that since the game creators are more efficient, they can develop better titles. They can spend less time coding and more time enriching the user experience. While it’s true that more efficient development teams create better games overall, what else does Unity do for the gamers who tap their screens or mash their buttons?
Unity’s powerful framework directly contributes to the success of its games. Despite supporting multiple platforms — or rather because of it — Unity offers developers a full range of 2D and 3D features and tool sets, so they can build more interesting features, better game designs, and more immersive playing experiences for their users.
Unity improves the overall game experience, and that’s at the core of any successful game. Successful Unity developers know that their audiences are in the market for creative, stable, and interesting games, not just tons of coding lines with a graphical user interface on top.
The development teams that Andrey works with compound the versatility of Unity with their own solutions, like the Multiplatform Solutions Framework (MSF). A tool that further simplifies the game development process, the MSF increases development efficiency by streamlining many aspects of the process such as storing files and player profiles on a server and integrating with social networks. With ready-made modules, easy game content customization, and in-game analytics, the MSF greatly increases the already efficient performance of Unity as a game engine.
This results in greater convenience for players. For instance, gamers who have the same profile on different devices can play their games across platforms and their progress will be saved under that single profile despite using different devices.
The centralization of data also helps managers handle the analytics side of the games much more effectively. Through one platform, they can track player purchases, playing time, logins and logouts, and even what level of the game are most challenging for players, and incorporate these points of data in their decision-making.
The challenges in the future of games development
Unity is truly an effective foundation for games development. Alex Bogdanovich, Department Head of XIM Wireless (part of XIM,Inc.), explained in an interview with VB just how much Unity directly contributes to a games’ success: “The powerful and useful framework is Unity’s direct contribution to the success of a game. It allows more interesting features plus cool game design while allowing developers to concentrate more on the user interface app experience. This translates to a successful and marketable product.”
For Andrey and Alex, Unity has allowed them to develop, deploy, and manage all the games they develop through one effective cross-platform dashboard that they use to help their clientele.
With nearly half the market rallying behind its battle cry, Unity seems set to take over the future of games development, especially with the recent release of Unity 5. But there are still some concerns that need addressing.
For one thing, Unity doesn’t have high barriers to entry — and this is generally in its favor. Any developer can jump into a powerful interactive development environment and create great-looking games. But not all that glitters is gold and not all aesthetically appealing games are worth playing. Hastily put together games have glaring downsides — for games that are heavy on design but light on quality assurance, for instance, they can drain device batteries quickly.
Unity is an easy tool for professional developers, but without putting critical thought into the design process, some developers can pack a lot of Unity features into a simple app disregarding architecture, QA, and testing.
Of course, these challenges are always present in an ever-growing industry. But in a landscape as huge as gaming, a plethora of crudely-designed Unity games can misrepresent the entire bunch. Unity is consistently a top choice for games development teams, but the engine alone doesn’t make the game.
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