Unity3D For Free

By Jim Rossignol on October 28th, 2009 at 6:44 pm.


Awesome news for aspiring game designers: The Unity Indie package, formerly $200, is now free, with the pro package remaining at $1500. You’ll remember I chatted with their tech lead last month after playing about with the tech. Here’s the blurb: “Unity Technologies has always believed that the best technology and products should be made available to all developers. We want to accelerate the availability of high quality interactive content,“ said Unity bossman David Helgason. “With the explosive growth in new platforms and performance improvement in our Unity suite of products, we believe that there are no technical hurdles remaining for high quality interactive content everywhere. Now we are removing financial hurdles as well. Unity is mature enough and easy enough to use that it can be the entry point for those developers taking their first steps with the technology.”

And it looks like their servers are getting hammered right now.

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43 Comments »

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  1. Jacques says:

    Great news, I think we’ll be doing some Unity work in college this year.

  2. CMaster says:

    Awesome news.
    I was thinking te other day I should maybe have a look at Unity, followed by thinking “how much do I have to pay to have a go”. Handily, the answer now is “nothing”.

    Of course, how many of those kids out there making flash games and animations actually paid for that…

  3. Torgen says:

    So, link is to demo, but demo is now not time-limited?

    • Rohit says:

      I’m confused about that as well.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I assume you can activate the demo for free. As in get the “indie” licence for nowt. But it’s timing out at the moment…

    • pepper says:

      The demo is the compleet indy version, except with a timer. So i presume they removed it. The pro version is also the demo, only those futures are locked.

  4. duel says:

    mmm, easy to use engine. sounds good.

  5. ourdreamsoffreedom says:

    Windows, Mac, but not Linux?

    Also, PhysX?

    Meh.

  6. LionsPhil says:

    While I have no love for proprietary browser plugins (they are massive security holes, if nothing else), the open-source alternative with authoring environment is…where?

  7. Tinus says:

    Awesome news! Even though I feel kind of weird, having payed the 150 euros for the package.

  8. LionsPhil says:

    Capital-T-Tim: Don’t be a tool. Unity aren’t doing this out of the good of their hearts as a gift to indie developers. They’re doing it to gain market share, and that then means they can derive value from lock-in. It’s the same reason Microsoft will sell you Visual Studio cheap cheap cheap as easily as they can without getting more hassle about “OMG ANTICOMPETITIVE”—make it easy for you to develop for Windows, and then you and your users end up depending upon it.

    • Patrick says:

      VS isn’t cheap at all. The toy versions are free, though, if that’s what you mean.

      You can develop Unity on XCode or VS, on Mac or Wins. Does ‘anti-competitive lock-in’ just mean it can’t run on linux and isn’t GPL’d?

    • Capital-T-Tim says:

      Unity giving their powerful tools to indies for free is undoubtedly a good thing for both gamers and developers I believe it’s something to be excited about! We’ll see more games from more people! The fact that Unity are themselves a business and not a charity doesn’t change my excitement one bit.

      It’s not fair or reasonable for me to expect everyone to share my enthusiasm for this, but I don’t understand these sort of joyless snipes. There’s no law that says you have to be negative and snarky just ’cause it’s the internet!

    • Stringycustard says:

      I’m glad they are doing this, hopefully it will start to take away the monopoly of Flash in the online market. The latest few Flash IDE iterations are a horrible mess and this might spark Adobe into either creating a real product through competition or releasing their own lite version of Flash to the market in a similar manner. The only way to currently learn how to use incredibly expensive tools legally is through companies that can afford them – 30 day trials do not give one enough time to become skillful at a product. Maya has a similar thing, all of which encourages new designers and developers without them having to pirate or spend vast amounts of money and then realise they don’t actually want to develop in X program.

  9. Patrick says:

    You don’t have to use the browser plug in. It’s just a deployment option, along with a windows and mac executable.

  10. linfosoma says:

    Im still very interested to see what the folks from Interstellar Marines can do with the pro version of the engine.

  11. james b says:

    we are developing our first game with unity (we are a bunch of animators and artists by trade) its going great…however do feel odd cos we bought a couple of unity indie licensees only 2 weeks ago… but such is life i guess.. i would love to know how it compares to other ‘proper game engines like unreal and cryengine etc….

  12. LionsPhil says:

    @Patrick: Arguing the economics of software development is not my plan this evening. In short: the value of software like this is the degree of lock-in it can maintain—how much they can charge you to stay with them, rather than jumping to a completing product. That’s what the term means. Most lock-in is usually artificial, e.g. proprietary file formats, rather than based on actual feature advantages. In Unity’s case, I have not used it, so cannot comment upon that aspect from an authoring perspective.

    As for VS, the student licenses are a complete steal. If you’re attending a university or such, they’re very likely covered by your fees s.t. you can use VS for free under pretty liberal terms (because, again, Microsoft benefit if Computer Science students learn to code for a Windows world).

    I do ask you this, though: you spend a year making your cool indie game in Unity. Can you now port it to Linux (see World of Goo for this not being pointless)? Can you add a feature the Unity engine doesn’t support but which is nonetheless feasible for computers in general? Or are you restricted by these third-party developers, and unable to migrate away from them because your year’s work is in their proprietary authoring format/language?

    Free formats matter a hell of a lot more than free software, per se.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Argh. See, this is what happens when I’m trying to do other things with my evening. Clearly, I did comment upon it, because I fact-checked against Wikipedia.

    • Patrick says:

      You can import assets from pretty much anything, including blender. The scripting is in Mono, JS, or Python (Boo). You can use OpenGL or DX. Plug-in support requires the Pro version. There is no Linux version, but you can deploy to PC, Mac, Web plugin, iPhone, Wii and (soon) 360.

      I’m not sure what file format lock in you’re speaking of. Your art assets will certainly be reusable, but you will not be able to easily remove Unity from the game that you have written for the Unity engine. I suppose that’s the lock-in that you’re apprehensive about? Locking you into a mere six platforms?

  13. Premium User Badge

    Flimgoblin says:

    woot!

  14. Bagalot says:

    If you know or can pay or have access to a team of programmers to create an engine from the ground up to make it as entirely flexible as you’d like, be my guest. Those of us indie developers who don’t are happy to use a free engine that can make a browser distributable game. Unity is a pretty sweet engine from the little I’ve used it and the people I’ve spoken to who have used it more. I do not know what level of code access you get with the indie license, but for the vast majority of things you want to do, it’s likely you won’t need to alter the engine all that much.

    For the most part, Linux is not a large concern in terms of market potential for games. It’s a smaller share than Mac, and that itself is not even usually worth considering unless you’re sure you’ll have a built in audience there. Using any game engine means accepting the constraints of it. If those constraints are beyond what you can tolerate, find a different engine or (god help you) build your own.

    • LionsPhil says:

      @Bagalot: This would be the purpose of an open-source solution, or at least a source license like Epic. (I note that Unity apparently offer one, but can’t find pricing information offhand.)

      As I noted to ourdreamsoffreedom, the OSS world is kind of lacking in competition here. Blender supposedly has this kind of capability, but seems chronically unpopular. CrystalSpace claims an actual game working alongside Blender, but hands up everyone who’s heard of Yo! Frankie. OGRE is, by design, only a solution to part of the problem (and IMO they completely screwed up by making using it with SDL nontrivial). None of these, AFAIK, have cross-browser plugin versions. (Largely because “in a browser” is a terrible way to run anything, but unfortunately it’s become horribly fashionable.)

      Plus, presumably people will winge about C++ (What, what’s good enough for John Freaking Carmack isn’t good enough for you? You’re in game development. C++ is great for high-level conceptual modelling while maintain fine control. Eat your goddamn greens.), when Unity offers “scripting”.

    • LionsPhil says:

      @Bagalot: This would be the purpose of an open-source solution, or at least a source license like Epic. (I note that Unity apparently offer one, but can’t find pricing information offhand.)

      As I noted to ourdreamsoffreedom, the OSS world is kind of lacking in competition here. Blender supposedly has this kind of capability, but seems chronically unpopular. CrystalSpace claims an actual game working alongside Blender, but hands up everyone who’s heard of Yo! Frankie. OGRE is, by design, only a solution to part of the problem (and IMO they completely screwed up by making using it with SDL nontrivial). None of these, AFAIK, have cross-browser plugin versions. (Largely because “in a browser” is a terrible way to run anything, but unfortunately it’s become horribly fashionable.)

      Plus, presumably people will winge about C++ (What, what’s good enough for John Freaking Carmack isn’t good enough for you? You’re in game development. C++ is great for high-level conceptual modelling while maintain fine control. Eat your goddamn greens.), when Unity offers “scripting”.

      (Sorry if this ends up a double-post. The RPS comment system is having issues again, it seems.)

  15. humptygrumpty says:

    @LionsPhil – OpenGL through the HTML5 canvas – it’s being implemented (very much beta) in webkit at the moment… you can probably check it out through one of the mozilla firefox dailies.

    http://blog.vlad1.com/2009/09/21/webgl-samples/

    For more info :]

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yes, but I also said “authoring environment”. Opera have had 3D canvas support for ages (although I believe they’ve stupidly done it differently yet again), and particularly…let’s say “geek perverse” people have done raycasters in JavaScript with 2D canvas, or even table cells. That’s only half the problem.

      (Plus, hideous efficiency problems, although Squirrelfish Extreme and V8 are at least finally treating JavaScript to some proper compiler engineering.)

  16. getter77 says:

    Nifty development! Surely going to keep this in mind.

    I wonder what the GG/Torque folk are thinking right about now in terms of strategy?

  17. jimigor says:

    I have been using Unity to create a third person action game over the last 14 weeks at Uni and have to say that its a great engine,however it has quite a few problems with regards to memory leaks/handling.

    We had to split our level into 4 different scenes so that the editor would not crash due to running out of memory. And even then you got to be careful. When using the editor and changing scenes instead of replacing the stuff already in memory it simply adds it ontop. So switching scenes a few times and the editor will crash. This is with 3.5gb of ram, but i would be the first to say our game is not very optimised.

    Aside from this problem it is a great engine and of course it goes free once I have finished my game/course lol.

  18. Starky says:

    I’m loving the promise of Unity.

    I’m not a game designer (I’m a musician by night, Electrical engineer by day) but I enjoy having a fiddle in SDKs.

    I’ve abandoned so many game idea’s because trying to do anything in most SDKs/Engines is just beyond me, the time and effort needed is just too much – A few times I’ve tried to get others involved but to no success.

    I’m an amateur who likes to fiddle, I made a few maps for Natural selection, counter strike and HL1, I tried making a few stand alone mods using Source SDK, I’ve made silly stuff for Fallout 3 and Neverwinter Nights – but trying to make idea’s reality defeated me so many times. It was just too much to get my head around, too much to learn for making a silly little idea a reality.

    Silly little idea’s like a game of space invaders to help me learn (and in term maybe teach others) musical scales – Having each row/level of enemies be a scale and as you shoot them they play the tone they represent (maybe even sing it out in pitch “e-flat” instead of an Eb beep).
    But learning how do make something like that, even in something like flash would have taken more effort than simply learning the scales the old fashioned way (which never really stuck for me, I still need a cheat-sheet for some of the rarer scales).

  19. Blather Blob says:

    It just worked for me. I installed it, ran it the first time and it said it needed a license, would I like a 30-day trial. I said yes and it popped up a web browser that asked me what type of license I’d like: a free license, or a 30-day trial of the pro version. When I clicked free it said “Thank you” and Help->About now says “License Type: Unity”, nothing about expiring.

    So I think they made this decision after they finished 2.6, but before they uploaded it. Just go along with it talking about a 30-day trial until it offers you the choice of a free version or a trial of the pro version and you should get it.

  20. VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    I’m a programmer, and love the work in actually building the engine and toolsets for a game. But I’m also really interested in checking out Unity now, as the free version looks like it could be a really great tool for prototyping, and they’ll have the hook to use it to go beyond that.

    • pepper says:

      It is a great way to prototype, stuff that takes you a lot of time in other packages(converting from one coordinate system to another(local> world etc)) doesnt take any time at all, functionality that is built in the engine as a standard.

  21. Matthew says:

    If you bought Unity Indie less than 60 days ago you’ll be offered a full refund in the next few days. Anyone who has ever bought Unity Indie will be offered a $400 discount towards Unity Pro (which you can’t use if you refund, obviously).

  22. pepper says:

    Awesome! Been working a lot with Unity3D and i must say it is one of the best 3D engine packages out there. Not because of the graphics but because how easy it is quikly develop games with it.

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    Flimgoblin says:

    @LionsPhil I don’t think it’s just an attempt to get market share so they can do vendor lock-in. But you’re right that it’s definitely to their benefit. This isn’t altruism – it’s going to benefit them almost as much as it benefits people who want to experiment with it and build something. But that’s just business…

    Take a look at the terms. The indie version is only for use if you have a turnover of less than $100k.

    So, you can experiment with it, put a game together and get it out there – but if you’re successful you’ll need to get the Pro version for the next game (by which time you’ll be quite happily successful and more than willing to pay for the license).

    In the mean time it gets them a much bigger user base of indies which makes their dev community that much more attractive – if you’re able to post on a forum and get an answer about why networking XYZ thingummy isn’t working quite right without having to buy a support contract that makes things much more attractive.

    They don’t need to cripple their software and sell it back to you in pieces to benefit from this. The changes from Indie -> Pro (apart from maybe the realtime shadows) are all pretty much stuff you’d only need if you were working as a studio rather than a small indie single dev/small team.

    • Premium User Badge

      Flimgoblin says:

      Plus Unity iPhone is still 400 dollars so if people want to publish on the iphone they get a share.

    • mrrobsa says:

      Aha yes! This is the engine where shadows cost extra. I giggled the first time I heard that.
      (Realistically I am pro-Unity as it lowers barrers of entry for practicing game designers)

  24. jph wacheski says:

    I will be trying it out now too,. looks like it has some rather niffty features, even in the now free version.

    If you want a Free/Open Source IDE that does openGL with shaders and generates single .exe files of under 64k as well as slightly larger OS X and Linux then you should have a look as the Z Game Editor [ zgameditor.org ] it is an amazing and powerfull app,. not nearly as full featured as Unity, but in many ways better as well,. so most definetly an interesting option.

  25. MrTambourineMan says:

    Nice, I’m gonna make Doom5 in the next couple of weeks(Doom 4 is being developed by some lamers I thinks), stay tuned.

  26. Eplekongen says:

    What the hell?! This is huge news! I demand caps in title!

  27. drwr says:

    Panda3D is fully Free/OSS, cost-free, runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux, and is weeks away from releasing a feature-complete browser plugin system with full download management. It’s a system geared more towards coders than artists; you can use it in any Python (or C++) authoring environment you like.