To all of you great folks out there that didn’t made it to the Unity 5 catch up in Los Angeles last month, it was a good one. Carl Callewaert and Mark Schoennagel from Unity came down for a chat and the wonderful folks at Microsoft hosted us in their snazzy Playa del Ray offices. Once again, a huge thank you to Mark and Carl for taking the time and to Microsoft for being so incredibly supportive. Bug sout out to Grant Viklund, who organizes the LA Unity User Group every month with out ever a word of complaint! If you get the chance, join the LAUUG Meet-Up and donate a couple of bucks to show your appreciation.
Carl spoke about Unity 5 and showed of the latest build. He showed how easy it was to use Unity’s new PBR lighting system just by placing and manipulating light and reflection probes. He showed how easy it was to create day/night cycles by blending between environment maps and how well the lighting system reacted. For those of you that might not know, PBR stands for Physically Based Rendering and uses a unified lighting approach to rendering. A standard set of physical properties are applied to all objects in the scene and a highly optimized shader stack does all the work. It relies heavily on reflection maps because its based on the principal that every object is reflective, just in varying degrees. Check out the results on the Unity site and read a way more conclusive description of how it works 🙂
Carl also covered some other little tid bits like the incredible improvement in the Unity physics engine. I believe they rewrote it from the ground up and the results are insane. Something like a 10X improvement in performance and Carl demonstrated it by just pilling up tons of objects with out any noticeable slowdown. The new audio engine also looks dope. It has a more professional audio chain that allows for grouping audio sources and chain them through filters and scriptable events. Im over simplifying it a lot but as someone that just finished an audio game, I wished I could have gotten my hands on this stuff sooner.
Mark then whipped through his deck on Unity and the Samsung Gear VR. While he was speaking, a demo unit was passed around and it really blew my socks off. To get that kind of VR performance from a mobile device was not something I could have imagined. Even the form factor and usability was great. No clumsy set up, no long adjustment period and no motion sickness. Mark was kind enough to shoot us his deck and you can check it out below.