Unity Technologies is unveiling the Unity Icon Collective, a team of game developers who will create high-quality art for the Unity Asset Store that developers can use in their own games. The team will focus on creating triple-A imagery, or art for the best PC and console games.
The move is Unity’s attempt to move further up the food chain, from its roots in mobile games to the highest echelons of games, which is owned by rivals such as Epic Games Unreal Engine or in-house game engines like Electronic Arts’ Frostbite. It’s all part of Unity’s mission of democratizing game development. The first Icon Pack will be in the store on December 13.
The Unity Asset Store is a repository of reusable game assets which developers put up for sale for other developers to purchase. Peter O’Reilly, head of the store, said in an interview with GamesBeat that the store has 55,000 packages with more than a million objects. The store gets more than a million downloads a month.
But the quality of the objects in the store isn’t always the highest, so Unity set out to partner with leading artists in the industry to create Icon Packs, which can be purchased for $250 and which include modular art assets that can be customized by developers for their own game worlds.
“We have made massive progress with triple-A games, and we heard back that developers want triple-A-ready assets in the store that they can use today,” said O’Reilly. “We asked how we can solve for this and came up with something unique and interesting.”
The objects will be “game ready,” meaning Unity developers will be able to take the assets and use them easily in their own game scenes. The assets range from characters and environments to
art and animation.
Icon Packs are flexible, modular, and they have art from industry artists who have experience working on triple-A games such as Assassin’s Creed and Gears of War. The price is good, considering those art assets cost thousands of dollars to produce.
“The Icon Pack is a diorama of really high-quality art content with a back story and narrative,” O’Reilly said. “You can think of it as a scene, with a rigged character and animations.”
The first Icon Pack is Buried Memories Volume 1: Yggdrasil, which is based on the work of concept artist Johnson Ting.
The Collective’s first release will be an asset package set in a sci-fi universe called Buried Memories, which is home to a machine civilization that emerged from a significant earth-altering event. The Buried Memories Volume 1: Yggdrasil Icon Pack is available for pre-order today.
Buried Memories is an episodic series built around an intellectual property which sets the stage for a unique narrative and lore. Volume 1: Yggdrasil is the first volume in the series. Unity will continue to add new content to expand the universe of possibilities within the narrative and theme of the Buried Memories series.
This first pack contains a complete environment, a professionally rigged and animated character, shaders, textures, lighting, audio, and source files. In addition to the Icon Collective team, Unity also collaborated with several Asset Store partners, including Quixel, Pinewood Studios, Substance, and Rokoko, to incorporate professionally produced materials, textures, animations and sound.
“This lends itself to a sci-fi role-playing game,” O’Reilly said.
Quixel Megascans, which has the world’s largest library of scan content, provided access to beautiful photogrammetry scanned environment assets from their Lava Field biome to integrate within the scene.
With the Unity Icon Collective, Unity said it is committed to building a team of talented artists, animators, and designers from across the globe and providing them an opportunity to flex their creative muscles while also earning supplemental income.
The new assets are based on entirely new intellectual properties that Unity is inviting the community to help us build. Unity will publish a list of guidelines and specifications for building Icon-compatible art, so publishers and creators in the community can contribute their ideas to expand these worlds.
Unity also said it will provide existing and future Icon Packs for free to high-quality Asset Store publishers who are interested in building compatible content or want to showcase their tools or plugins.
Publishers who create Icon-ready content will be promoted across Unity’s existing channels, will receive a badge for qualifying assets, and will have an opportunity to join the Unity Icon Collective to continue working on content that Unity will release periodically in the upcoming year. The series will cover a range of game genres and styles.
O’Reilly said the team was working on the assets for a few months. The first contributing artists include Ting, environmental artist Callum Tweedie Walker, character artist Muzifal Mokhtar, sounder designers Glen Gathard Steve Whetman (Pinewood Studios), musician Nathan Cleary, animator Cyrus Lam, and cinematic artist Matteo Grossi.
The first volume is available for free to all Unity Pro subscribers of small studios with fewer than 10 employees. Otherwise, the assets in the first volume will cost $249.