After months of fairly extensive testing, Unity 2019.3 has been released. This is a fairly significant release for Unity with a bunch of great features and improvements, and caps off the 2019 tech release cycle. I’m looking forward to someday being able to use this with SineSpace.
Realtime Cinema Rocks
Unity also recently released the full Heretic short film, which was shot within the Unity engine. They had teasedus with bits and pieces all through the year, and it’s nice to see the whole thing. That’s a film technique known as realtime cinema. It has been gaining in popularity in the film industry over the last few years. The annual Sundance Festival even shines a spotlight on realtime and VR with the Frontier Slate. SL users and other gamers may know the storytelling style by the name Machinima. Regardless what you call it, Heretic is amazing. Check out the video, embedded above..
What’s new in Unity 2019.3
You can get the complete rundown on the Unity Blog, or watch the video above for some highlights. It’s a really great post, and definitely worth a read, but here are the highlights for me.
The new render pipelines are finally ‘solidified’ and have come out of beta. A couple years ago, Unity announced ambitious plans to create new render pipelines. This would give game developers powerful render engine options out-of-the box, plus the ability to create their own. In plain language, that would translate to either faster rendering, prettier graphics, or both faster and prettier. I like faster, and I like prettier… so in theory I think it’s a great idea. However, getting this stuff right takes time. In the process it seemed to me like Unity was rushing to market. Sine Wave was extremely wise to wait until after the new pipeline came out of beta before they start exploring it for the future of SineSpace. That long wait is over, and hopefully in 2020 we’ll get faster and/or prettier.
This one sounds super nerdy, but I’m super excited about it… PHYSICS. Unity has been doing a lot to improve performance. The Unity 2019.3 release sees some significant improvements in the actual physics engine it uses. Click here to read more about that. Better physics will mean better performance when it comes to things like shoot-em-ups, or vehicles…. or more importantly (to me, anyways), cloth physics. Dresses, skirts, coat-tails, and all those little details that BlakOpal and I want to make look even better in-world. This will be a big update for us.
Don’t Panic Just Yet
SineSpace bills itself as a next generation virtual world running on a modern game engine. While that is technically true, today there are a lot of special things to consider. The current released client as of this writing is 2019.1b46 (or 2019.1b44 for Windows users, and 2019.1b25 for Linux). That version of SineSpace runs on the Unity 2017.2 engine, which Unity stopped providing support for in late 2017.
It does make some sense for SineSpace to stay slightly behind the latest Unity release. For those nnew to Unity, a brand new TECH release typically has bugs that cause headaches for developers and creators. Check out this post for more information on Unity TECH and LTS releases. In my opinion, it makes a lot of sense to keep one major release behind current. They could also just stick to the LTS release, because that tends to be more stable and get better upport.
The SineSpace client app is now 7 major releases behind current. Skipping versions tends to make for more painful upgrades. At least that’s been my experience over the last few decades working with a number of different applications and systems. There are lots more changes that happen under the hood and more to test. It also increases the risk of broken content (which is already a challenge for SineSpace creators).
Things aren’t as perilous with the SineSpace Editor Pack. Technically, there is Editor Pack support for Unity 2017.2 through 2018.4. However, if you are using a version of Unity that’s newer than 2017.2, you will likely encounter problems. Anything that was added, fixed or otherwise changed in the newer version is something the client isn’t able to support. The scorecard on Editor Packs is only 3 major releases behind current, but with the caveat that there are several problems and issues.
Things aren’t as bleak as they may seem. Sine Wave has been working on 2018 engine support. There are experimental preview clients available for content creators. Warning, there are still a number of significant issues as of this writing. I hope that Sine Wave can get a 2018 engine client ready for release in the next few months.
What Can SineSpace Creators Do Today?
SineSpace Creators don’t have to do anything today if they don’t want to. In fact, if you’re a new creator or just still fairly new to Unity, I strongly recommend avoiding the Unity 2019.3 release for now. You probably have your hands full getting familiar with using Unity or SineSpace components to bring your creations in-world. Keep doing that. If you want to go the extra mile, dig around online for one of the many Unity tutorials out there. It’s a great and powerful game engine, but that also means there is a lot to learn.
If you’re more experienced, more familiar with Unity, and you’re feeling adventurous, then you may want to start experimenting. Get it here or use the Unity Hub to install it (more on that is available here), that great little app will keep your versions organizesd. Make sure you create a clean, separate Unity Project for any testing and experimenting you do in 2019.3. Don’t even think about upgrading your main SineSpace project to 2019.3 until after Sine Wave releases and Editor Pack that supports it.
That’s my rundown of the Unity 019.3 release. If you’re brand new to SineSpace and need help with the basics, check out this tutorial or check out these installation videos. The article will help you install and set up the Unity Editor to prepare and upload your creations to SineSpace. Similarly, if you haven’t already discovered it, this post will tell you all about the Unity Hub to manage your installations. Check the SineSpace Youtube channel for tutorials, and you can also watch this space for more tutorials in the future!
Do you have questions or comments? Please post in the comments below. If you want personal help or private training, please see this post. Good luck with your projects!