VR Research and Game Development (Update 5): Unity 2D Training

Unity is still kicking my ass, but I’m looking at this guide:

http://unity3d.com/learn/tutorials/modules/beginner/2d/2d-overview 

Coincidentally, it’s their own guide to their 2D modules. 2D in Unity seems to work in a rather odd way. It is actually NOT 2D (GASP!). As a standard camera view, it’s an ortographically projected camera onto 2D sprites that you can assign different heights to. Or at least that’s who I understand it so far. Even a menu in a 3D game is actually just a 2D plane in a 3D space, but with a different camera and controls attached to it.

Now, to illustrate my point, here’s what the 2D sample game looks like in Unity when you Play it:

example1

Looks perfectly 2D, eh?

Now, I’m gonna blow your mind. Here’s what the game actually looks like in Unity’s Scene Editor!

Boom! 3D

Boom! 3D

Had your mind blow yet? No? Tough crowd.

Now, here’s my interpretation of things:

The point is that the Unity 2D engine is actually a disguised 3D engine. That in and of itself can be a bad thing and a good thing at the same time (at least to my limited understanding). The bad thing would be that a 2D Unity game would run slower than a 2D equivalent made in another engine specifically made for 2D because that engine would be more optimized for the pipeline. Unity might have made optimizations in order to allow for more 2D stuff, like sprite animation and sprite deformation, alphas maybe, stuff like that, but I’m not quite sure because I haven’t read up on it yet. From what I’ve seen in a few 2D examples on the vast community of the nets, 2D seems to be handled just fine performance wise, but I suspect that might be because of the other thing that computers are really good at doing nowadays:

3D Acceleration! See, since Unity2D is just 3D sliced in a plane, that means that the principles through which the 3D pipeline still applies to the assets, which means that your huge overpowered monster of a video card. Because those are more and more ubiquitous, that means that we’re generally gonna see good performance. Another advantage that the 3D rendering allows us is having awesome stuff like albedo maps and multiple dynamic lights and even pixelshading all in a 2D game.

Example? This sexy thing made by Anton Kudin for his game Megasphere:

Pretty sweet, eh?

I’m an extremely long way away from being able to do that though, but Anton’s giving me hope by making something so utterly awesome in Unity.

Now, what I’ve said up here should be taken with a truckload of salt. It’s how I see things after trying to bump into how things are made behind the scenes. I do not actually KNOW if what I’ve said is true (but it sounds alright? maybe?). Or maybe it’s all a bunch of hooey.

Regardless, if you might be interested in trying out Unity, it’s free as long as you don’t have a hit out trying to sell. It’s a great training exercise for your noggin, and who knows, maybe the next great hit is one of your making.

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