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Why Unity3D is good for indie and small studios
Why Unity3D is good for indie and small studios
By: Scarpelius on Dec, 06 2011
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A frequent question that new users ask when they see Unity for the first time, is why should I choose Unity over other 3D engines. And this has become a legitimate question after big names like Unreal and Crytek moved to the indie/hobbyist market. The promise of the game development "El Dorado" these names carries is more than a hook for every developer out there.

First of all we should say that no engine is a promise land. Most of the time an engine is particularly tailored to a type of game (being that arcade, 2D, 3D, first person shooter, role playing, real time strategy and so on). The more of these categories an engine touch, the less support for a particular type of game it has. Aside from the type of game you can make with an engine, there is a new factor that influence the decision to choose that engine: the platforms that engine support. This decision was easy in the past when there where only 2 main big platforms for a game: PC and consoles. Since we are interested in indie and small studios, the consoles with their huge license prices and tight control over the content of the titles was out of the question, leaving the small developer only the PC option. And in our case the MAC option which was all about Unity until a few years ago.

Today the platform option is a big issue for a small developer. Being able to target the smartphones and tablets is a top priority for many developers. The short cycle of development and the usually small length of a game that those devices impose is ideal for indie devs.

As someone who tried many years to break into the game development world, I found Unity 3D to be the easiest access point to make your dreams true. It might not be the state of the art and the flashiest engine around, but is a great tool to achieve your goal and in the end this is all it matters.

Bellow is a SWOT analysis of the decision to use Unity 3D as a main tool to create a game. It is made from the perspective of a small indie developer. I consider SO outweighing WT.

 

 Strengths

  • $1500 for PRO version
  • Free for the INDIE version with no commercial restrictions
  • Platforms: PC, MAC, IOS, Android, XBOX, Wii, PS3
  • Excellent editor
  • Easy to program in C#, UnityScript (javascript like language)
  • Easy to import assets (most of the time is drag and drop in asset folder)
  • Fast prototyping games
  • Webplayer penetration
  • Strong and helpful community
  • Plugin system allowing to integrate third party libraries
  • Documentation

 Weaknesses

  • Each plugin cost $1500 as well (IOS, Android)
  • Slightly old engine.
  • DirectX 9
  • The reluctance in adopting the novelties in industry
  • Webplayer limited cache
  • The lack of awesomeness
  • Unity Editor is 32 bits
  • Documentation

 Opportunities

  • Smartphone and tablet games
  • Web browser games with micro-transactions
  • Possibility to approach MMO with a 3rd party server

 Threats

  • The main threat is that you can loose time learning Unity while other major engine is going to release a better deal than Unity
  • Unity not keeping the pace with software advancement on some platforms (see Windows and DirectX 11)
  • Loosing focus and go for another flashy engine, only to be on the wave.

 

As always I would like to hear your opinions on this matter.

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