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Do you eye your competition in terms of other engine packages and worry about the features they're implementing? Again, you're moving to territory where you might be competing with Unreal and Flash and XNA. It's a complicated question.
DH: We watch everything and look at everything; we're curious, technical guys, so we are always curious about how people are approaching different problems. But really, we're in a luxury situation where we're profitable and growing really strongly. In that situation, the only thing that you can really do is look at your customers and your potential customers and just service them incredibly well. It's a bit different if you're maybe trying to bootstrap something from nothing and still losing money and so one, but we're in this amazing situation where we just think about adding value.
TH: I think that's where other companies may have failed in the past; they spent too much time looking at and worrying about the competition instead of acting on your own vision.
I think that's where we've had this nice thing from the start; I think that, when these guys created this company, they laid out this path and said "This is where we want to go, and this is how we want to get there."
We stayed on that path. We haven't been pulled away from it because, "Oh no! Company X did something different," so maybe we need to rush off to that. As he said, we're curious technically; we've got to keep eyes on the competition because you need to know who's doing what.
But we've got our own vision, our own path, and staying on course there has been successful for us. I don't see us deviating from that.
But, you know, yeah, we look around. We've got a good friendship going with the CEO over at StoneTrip just from seeing him at conferences and whatnot, just kind of comparing notes, but we're on our path, so we're going to stick by it.
Is one of the main priorities for Unity 3 to just make things convenient?
TH: Well, I think that's always a goal for us. For editing, we want the tool to kind of recede out of the way as much as possible so you're just focusing on content design and development. The more you have to think about the tool, the less you're thinking about the game you're making. So yeah, that's always a goal; that's been the design from the purpose -- easy to get into; productivity's always a focus; that sort of thing.
DH: One thing that we're really proud of about Unity 3 is that we added all that functionality without making it more complex. It looks exactly the same. I think that we added like two buttons or something. (Laughs)
TH: It's about more than just keeping it easy; a lot of people think, when you keep it easy and make this easy-to-use tool, "Oh, that's for kids, then," like somehow that doesn't mean power.
I think that people are coming around on that, though.
DH: I think that the EA announcement kind of drove that in if people were in doubt. Those guys can have any technology they want; they have many engines in-house, and yet they adopt Unity in a really broad move.
Can you discuss your priorities in extending Unity's functionality?
DH: Yeah, our focus is really making -- we're just a tool-maker, right? So our focus is of course in just building the primitives that people can build on top of. As you may have heard, the whole Unity editor is written in Unity. Everything you see there -- the Inspector and everything -- is actually written in scripting. The cool thing is that you can basically extend with new panels and functionality, and there's a whole plethora now of neat extensions.
TH: There's things like GUIX, which is UI development tools. They become first-class citizens, so inside the editor here you can kind of drag-and-drop all these panels around to get the layout that you want. So you can have a split-screen like this. Anybody's third-party extensions get the same handling and treatment inside the editor as our own. So once you make these kinds of extensions, whether it's your own proprietary one...
Three Melons, who made the Star Wars Quest for R2-D2 game, made a little tile-map editor tool. They did that in like a day and a half to two days; they made this tool that ended up saving them countless days of having artists come in and snap things together whereas they can sit there and tap a few buttons and build it out. It's nice because they do become, again, the same as any of our own editor windows, so, to answer the question "How good of a UI can you do or how deep and involved?" you just point to the editor and go, well, that kind of UI is what's possible, so.
Do you curate these in any way on your site?
DH: It's just the community, so people find them themselves. Sometimes we speak of them and point to them, but we don't actually aggregate them in any way.
TH: Yeah. We do things like, as they come up and available, we can post that on Facebook or Twitter to just give them a little lecture and some highlighting, but the community does a pretty good job of just promoting content itself.
Has it gotten to the point where it's become viable for people to develop extensions of Unity and license them?
DH: Mm-hm. There are businesses doing that.
TH: Unity iPhone Enhancement Pack; that's one that's been out. Rob Terrell's the guy who makes it, and he's always trying to stay a few steps ahead of us. It's like a hot $99 add-on for our iPhone product, and he's had a pretty steady business going for a year and a half now or something like that. GUIX is another one.
CMUNE is one of the companies; they did Paradise Paintball. They've got a Facebook integration platform you can use. There's dimeRocker up in Canada. There's a bunch of these that are coming up that are serving on either you buy it and license ir or kind of as a service, ongoing. Prefab sites are selling ready-made content for use in Unity. All across the board is a kind of ecosystem.
DH: Some of those are doing fairly well; it's still early days in that sense, but I think everyone who is doing really good extensions in Unity is starting to sell them successfully. Then, in a way, it's a waiting game for them for us to grow, and we are growing; so I think everyone will catch up. It's really healthy. The books are out; there's magazines as well -- and of course services businesses like Unity training, Unity development for others; so there's a bunch of companies kind of making a living on top of us.