Unity's Future In High-Definition
February 29, 2012 Page 3 of 4
You're working with Massive Black on Mothhead. You said you worked closely with Madfinger on Shadowgun to see how certain systems in the engine would function in a game like that. It seems like these projects help you figure out how things are working.
EK: I would say Mothhead was a really good experience for us. Because we worked with artists that are not necessarily technical, in some ways. There are some people at Massive Black that are really technical, and some that are more or less painters, and it was really useful for us to really listen to their experience and how they are used to working with this, and also how a person with a complete artistic background is able to achieve something in Unity. I think that proved a lot of things about Unity, how smooth it is to use for someone who has doesn't have any technical interest, or technical background.
RZ: Shadowgun was a different example, because we worked very closely with them. But they are more technical, of course, than Massive Black. They already shipped games in Unity before, and they were very technical. So, the Shadowgun was more of a battleground for certain functionality, like the path navigation.
I remember the demo for Shadowgun at Unite was all about lighting.
EK: The particle system.
RZ: It was more to trial new features, but we worked closely to figure out the interface and what they actually need, how they would use it in the game. We had an idea with the light probes, but it was actually changed a couple of times in how it was presented, how it's structured, and how easy it is to use. Just put it in the game.
Madfinger, when they started, they were four people, and I think when they finished the project, they were seven. They were a small team, and it's very good to test on them, because they don't even have time for anything. All the features we give them, they have to be easy to use, and take as little time from them as possible. That was a different experience, but very interesting as well, working closely.
EK: It differs a lot from working with Massive Black, where we didn't develop that many new features for them. We were just bystanding, and answered questions when they had any issues, and gave them some hints and advices here and there. I think they managed by themselves pretty far, in fact. Unity didn't fill the same role as with Madfinger at all.
RZ: Well, Madfinger helped with optimizing as well. The project itself, it was a good battleground for optimizations for us. It was completely different how we work with one team, and how we work with another.
You just select different opportunities that you see. I imagine, to an extent you say, "Well, you're working on something cool, will we get something out of it if we pay attention to what you're doing?" How do you select who you're going to interface with on a deeper level?
EK: I think every project has some sort of interest. We come across them in very different ways. We try to pick out what the features are…
RZ: It's not like we have an algorithm. [laughs]
It's more about what's going to teach you something.
RZ: Yeah, exactly. It's not like it started to happen… We had it before -- to a lesser extent -- but for the iPhone when we started. I remember when we started, we had early beta releases. We were helping people quite a lot, just because people were coming from different backgrounds. No one had mobile 3D experience -- almost no one, you could say that. We had to help people quite a lot back then. I think we established certain links to certain developers.
I think Unity, even before that happened as well, was working with very closely with certain developers, just because Unity was very small. It was easy for a developer to talk to someone at Unity. I think it was happening all the time to some extent, and now we are figuring out a way to be more productive with that, and get more information out of that, and be more direct. We can actually benefit quite a lot from that. It's easy to get the feedback in a big chunk.
We are looking for someone -- for instance, with Madfinger, they wanted to release that game. It's not like we're giving them a feature they don't really want. That is the feature they want, and it's the feature we wanted to test, to get it better. It's a mutual interest from both parties. Finding people like that is always, of course, hard. We want them to be in the same time zone, for instance, so we can get feedback really fast and be able to sometimes meet in person.
EK: Good chemistry is really useful. It's not a criteria. Definitely not. We enjoy collaborating with these developers, so I think the most fruitful projects come out of a good collaboration, and the better connection we get, the more useful it will be.
I think that was a good case, from Mothhead and Massive Black, where we had really natural communication with them. It was really fluent, and smooth, and joyful, I think, enjoyable to work with those guys a lot. The same goes with the guys from Shadowgun.
I think selecting these projects comes very naturally. We have a good connection with our community, looking at all these community sites where we're always participating, and in general how close we are working with and helping out the users of Unity. It's a very direct communication we have with them.
RZ: Just coming to Unite helps, at the same time, because we meet a lot of developers, and we can see how that works, and we'll just talk.
EK: I guess the hard part about finding the developers is that there's so much going on right now. It's a lot of noise, when it concerns the developers. Almost everyone I speak with is having some sort of interest in Unity at this moment. Until you see something substantial, it's hard to determine whether it's worth putting in the time at this point. Everyone is speculating.
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