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Switching Game Engines Halfway Through Development

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the don't-change-horse-renderers-in-the-middle-of-a-stream dept.

Programming 127

An anonymous reader writes: Third-party game engines are wonderful creations, allowing developers to skip a lengthy and complicated part of the development process and spend more time on content creation. But each engine has its own strengths and weaknesses, and they may not be apparent at the beginning of a project. If you realize halfway through that your game doesn't work well on the engine you picked, what do you do? Jeff LaMarche describes how he and his team made the difficult decision to throw out all their work with Unity and start over with Unreal. He describes some technical limitations, like Unity's 32-bit nature, and some economic ones, like needing to pay $500 per person for effective version control. He notes that Unreal Engine 4 has its problems, too, but the biggest reason to switch was this: "Our team just wasn't finding it easy to collaborate. We weren't gelling as a cohesive team and we often felt like the tools were working against us."

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Rise of the middlemen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47681917)

The increasing costs of making games have made middleware game engines popular because most software development houses can't afford to build their own engines (not enough time or money). And with middlemen come absurd fees and restrictions.

Re:Rise of the middlemen (2)

mythosaz (572040) | about 3 months ago | (#47681941)

$500 per developer doesn't seem particularly absurd, nor have I heard of any particularly onerous restrictions on using these engines.

What's $500 work out to? A day's pay?

Re:Rise of the middlemen (4, Funny)

mark-t (151149) | about 3 months ago | (#47682069)

About 3 or maybe even 4 days pay, more likely. We're talking game devs here. Not exactly the highest paid in the industry.

Re:Rise of the middlemen (1)

omtinez (3343547) | about 3 months ago | (#47682925)

You are being modded as funny but as an ignorant mortal let me ask you... Are you being serious? I thought that software engineers in any industry were paid significantly better

Re:Rise of the middlemen (2)

Rinikusu (28164) | about 3 months ago | (#47683035)

Games development is one of those fields where everyone wants to do it*, so the games companies can afford to pay peanuts. Get them in, burn them out, get a fresh batch in. EA is notorious as a meat grinder: fresh faced college grads go in, meat comes out, jaded, exhausted, and relegated to working on ancient VB apps for the rest of their careers (I jest). Granted, it's not like they're getting paid minimum wage; from a pure numbers standpoint they do okay for themselves. But those numbers are eroded when you factor in the fact that sure, you're making $80-100k, but you're also working 120 hours/week since you're exempt. Family life? Good luck. Hell, good luck finding the time to meet the ones you want to start a family with.

*Seriously, how many software developers do you know that came out of college saying "Golly, I really can't wait to work on making SSRS reports with pie charts for some MBA to use in a meeting to justify replacing me with an H1B?

Re:Rise of the middlemen (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 3 months ago | (#47683321)

New grads might make half of even that amount, in my experience.

Admittedly, I've never worked for EA, so I've never seen anything resembling 120 hour work weeks. I have seen 60 hour work weeks, however... as a matter of regular course.

Re:Rise of the middlemen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47684147)

The correct number for engineering is ~37.5hrs/wk.
More than that and the average engineer just does negative work (bugs due to lack of sleep / lack of focus).
40 isn't a bad compromise
45 is noticably less productive
50 gets you missed deadlines and bugs
60 gets you, well... [wikipedia.org]

Ãs Free Career Advice/Pet Theory (1)

sonamchauhan (587356) | about 3 months ago | (#47684179)

Principle 1. Create something you own

Spend time and energy making something that: (1) you own fully (2) is of value to others (3) you can exchange for value
This is because you can only ever give what you own. Examples: a mobile app, personal skills, bookshelf. Even raising poultry/vegetables in your backyard counts - you exchange these with yourself for money (a.k.a. 'saving cash').

Note, 'Writing code for cash' fails on point (1), but 'Honing C++ skills' ticks all three points. A life devoted tohelping others is the best deal of all - you exchange your life for treasure in heaven.

Principle 2. If you cannot work for yourself, search for a workplace like how long term investors search for stock.

Consider the most famous one of them all - Warren Buffet. He uses 'intrinsic value' to value stock. Companies with price to intrinsic value ratio (lets call it 'P/V' for this post) lower than 1 are more likely well-managed but undervalued -- and hungry to be valued higher -- so Warren 'buys' those companies.

My pet theory: unlike Warren, you want to 'buy into' workplaces that are consistently profitable and whose P/V ratio is as close to 1 as possible. This is because such companies are typically profitable, well run and will treat you fairly -- leaving you enough time and energy for Principle 1.

Let take a look at Netflix (NFLX) -- a well regarded company with a demanding work environment -- their ratio 1.85
  http://www.gurufocus.com/term/... [gurufocus.com]
(To check others, replace 'NFLX' in the URL with another stock ticker - remember, its the median ratio we're looking for)

NFLX (1.8) , AMZN (4), and EA (2.5) for instance, have high 'stock price/intrinsic value' ratios. So, while these are very successful companies, these are more likely high-pressure work environments with little time to yourself outside of work. Even GOOG (1.6) and APPL (1.5) are getting a bit up there.

Going lower: SPLS (1.3), MSFT, WMT (Walmart), BA (Boeing) (all 1.2), and INTL (1.1).

Now the magic unity figure -- BRK.A (Warren's Berkshire Hathaway itself), BAC (Bank of America), PFE (Pfizer) - all around 1. Strangely, so is ODP (Office Depot - 0.97).

Further down seems to be the domain of banks -- FNF (Fidelity National -- 0.9), PRU (Prudential - 0.28), MS (Morgan Stanley - 0.26), JPM (JP Morgan - 0.27)

Re:Rise of the middlemen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47684545)

relegated to working on ancient VB apps for the rest of their careers (I jest).

That's definitely a "haha, only serious" joke. I wrote a real-time service technician tracking application, complete with google maps integration, that they use every day, but all they do is complain when the dodgy off-site SQL server we're forced to use makes it occasionally freeze and hiccup. The stupid little VBA script I wrote for Excel to sort number and letter combinations numerically first (e.g. make "20A" sort before "101B"), now that to them is high wizardry, and now I'm flooded with requests to make Excel jump through various silly little hoops like a circus dog.

Re:Rise of the middlemen (2)

mark-t (151149) | about 3 months ago | (#47683233)

Entirely serious. I've worked as a game dev for 6 years, and I know of what I speak. Okay, it might not work out to be *FOUR* whole days pay, but very easily three to three and a half. Salary ranges in my experience range from about $36k/year to $52k/year... but even with the latter, $500 still works out to 2 and a half days of pay. Also, usually with the higher pay grades comes a greater expectation on the part of those above you that you would be willing to work extended hours on projects, and probably only leaving work at something resembling regular business hours maybe only 2 or 3 times in a single month.

Basically, you do it because you love programming games. That's it.

Re: Rise of the middlemen (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about 3 months ago | (#47683497)

52/235 = 221
Just saying...
And there are other costs associated to a salary than the pay, benefit costs and structuring costs.
For salary of 52k, 500 is the cost of two days at most.

Re: Rise of the middlemen (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 3 months ago | (#47684493)

Fair point, I didn't actually sit down and do the math... I just typed what I had estimated to be about right without actually doing the calculations.

However, 221+221=442, not 500. So that's not 2 and a half days, but still (just) more than 2 and a quarter, and technically closer to 2 and a half than it is to 2.

Re: Rise of the middlemen (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about 3 months ago | (#47685077)

I also told you about other costs than the pay.
It usually costs two times the pay to the employer.

Re:Rise of the middlemen (1)

jythie (914043) | about 3 months ago | (#47684265)

It is not unusual for game developers to start at around 30k. There is such a supply glut, and so much of it is kids coming out of 2 year schools and still essentially being high schoolers in their ability to think things through, it is a situation ripe for abuse.

Re:Rise of the middlemen (1)

SuperDre (982372) | about 3 months ago | (#47684529)

uhm, with $500a day times 20-23 a month is about around $10-11.5k a month, well please point me to a company that has a salary like that for the level of work a gamedeveleoper does.... if it's half of that i think you might be glad...

Re:Rise of the middlemen (1)

PRMan (959735) | about 3 months ago | (#47682079)

Yeah, let's spend a month rewriting our code so that we don't have to pay 2 days' wages as a fee...

Re:Rise of the middlemen (2)

mark-t (151149) | about 3 months ago | (#47682121)

More like 3 or 4 days wages, actually... and for each and every person in the studio who willl need access to it. For every 10 people you have on the dev team, that's a whole month of salary being spent just on licensing.

Re:Rise of the middlemen (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 3 months ago | (#47682275)

And if you have a hundred, it's like a whole year, man!

Re:Rise of the middlemen (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | about 3 months ago | (#47682319)

That sounds unlikely...at 3 days, that comes out to under $42k, and at 4 days it comes out to just over $31k. 42k would be low for an entry-level video game developer in a low cost of living area even as just a salary. But a common rule of thumb is to take salary * 2 as an employee's total cost. $31k would be nearly unheard of -- only an indie title.

This particular team has membership in the US, Canada, and the UK, and is done by remote work, so it might not actually cost them salary * 2 since office space is an enormous part of that. Still, I'd be shocked if anybody made that little, except maybe a summer intern.

I'd expect the average all salary to be in the low 6 figures, and certainly the all-in cost to be around there.

And all of this is angels on the head of a pin, because even 4 days' salary is small unless you can replace what that thing is doing in less than 4 days (or use half the team to replace it in 8 days, etc.).

Re:Rise of the middlemen (1)

pjt33 (739471) | about 3 months ago | (#47683593)

$42k would be low for an entry-level video game developer in a low cost of living area even as just a salary.

You're thinking in US terms. It's pretty good in the UK (25k GBP, which is the top end of what the main UK graduate careers site [prospects.ac.uk] thinks an entry-level game programmer might get).

Re:Rise of the middlemen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47683111)

Having worked as a game developer, I can say you are talking out of your ass. $500 is less than a day's pay, even 10 or 20 years ago.

Re:Rise of the middlemen (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 3 months ago | (#47683249)

Having worked as a game developer myself, for three different game studios in the past 6 years, I can confidently say that I am not talking out of my ass, to use your turn of phrase.

These days, if you work in a game studio, you do it because you love programming games, not because the pay is anything great.

Re: Rise of the middlemen (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 3 months ago | (#47683303)

That might have been true 15-20 years ago during the dotcom bubble, but hasn't been true since. Not even slightly.

Re:Rise of the middlemen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47682761)

Unity is so unstable they will save a lot of time in the long run. Unreal is several leagues better in terms of stability and capability.

Re:Rise of the middlemen (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 3 months ago | (#47684023)

There are other advantages ya know, from what I understand Unreal has top notch documentation, its well optimized so it runs on a pretty wide range of hardware, and of course the Unreal mod community can help your game get modders up to speed generating content to help give your game legs.

Re:Rise of the middlemen (1)

BarbaraHudson (3785311) | about 3 months ago | (#47682113)

It's $19 per month per developer for their latest engine, and 5% of all revenue once your game ships. Unreal Engine 4 [unrealengine.com] ncludes source, downloadable assets, etc.

Re:Rise of the middlemen (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | about 3 months ago | (#47682343)

That's a ludicrous "version control" fee. Given that you have to set procedures anyway, for effective work flow and creating production releases, it sounds like someone made a mistake in the licensing. What feature could it possibly be adding when you can do robust software management and collaboration at github.com, bitbucket.com, or any of the git repositories with commercial support services?

Re:Rise of the middlemen (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47682753)

Well, considering unity is a real piece of shit as well, $500 feels like gauging. For the quality, I'd expect a product that doesn't have all kind of strange idiosyncracies and incompreshensible behavior. In several instances, Unity broke so badly that a reinstall did not fix the problem, and an OS restore was required. $500 for a revision control system written by those same morons? No fucking way.

We've got it working decently with git. Content is a bit trickier, but we manage.

Re:Rise of the middlemen (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | about 3 months ago | (#47683547)

If you read the article, the $500 fee isn't really the primary issue. It's only particularly galling because it appears that the fee is used to license a product that's more or less a workaround for an abysmally poor-performing editor. That fee is in *addition* to everything else, if I understand correctly. I mean, 45-minutes to load a project? Are you kidding me? How do you even manage that on modern hardware? There's nothing more frustrating than a clunky workflow or limited tools that you have no way of fixing yourself. That really seemed to be the driving factor in the switch.

I've worked on large games before (200+ developers). We used our own custom engine and tools, and our designers could start up the game editor and be working in about half a minute or so. It's not impossible to keep things nice and snappy for the end users, even with *massive* amounts of content. You just have to be a bit clever about things.

I think that's a potential problem with a company that does nothing but write engines for others to use. They don't have to actually talk to the people that are suffering because of poor decisions they made, or crappy limitations that they never bothered to address. It makes a big difference when you can walk down the hall and watch people at work using the tools you made. There's a pretty big difference between a fully featured game and little tech demos or samples.

Damn, I still can't get over that 45-minute+ load time. There would be blood flowing in the isles if we made our designers go through that, and rightly so.

Re:Rise of the middlemen (1)

bigtedthecow (1029662) | about 3 months ago | (#47683945)

It's not 45 mins load time. It's 45 mins if you need to swap platform with huge numbers of assets. This triggers Unity to convert all the raw assets (max,maya,psd etc) to the native targets. You COULD do what other engines do and just only accept already native assets, by forcing artists to dick about exporting every time they want to look at something in game. Unity's art workflow is brilliant IF you are sticking to one platform. But YES they should include the caching feature as standard (which, once converted to a platform allows all other team members to get that converted asset instead of converting themselves)

Re:Rise of the middlemen (1)

jythie (914043) | about 3 months ago | (#47684263)

Depends on how tight your budget is and how many people that has to cover. I am not familiar with Unity's setup, but that price might include having to cover artists, level designers, etc, which can add up quickly if you have a moderate sized team.

Re:Rise of the middlemen (1)

Joviex (976416) | about 3 months ago | (#47684781)

Its more than 500$.

Its 1500$ a seat, plus $1500 for iOS plus $1500 for Android, PER PERSON. Then another $500 if you want the cache asset server.

So, it could easily be 5k per seat. Now, is that alot? To me no, but I am used to bootstrapping CG workstations that are 3k a pop with 10k worth of software on them.

But when these are things that should not really cause problems i.e. versioning? and that you can't work around with an easy solution like git/hg/perforce, that makes pipeline a little awkward. So when you see software that accomplishes the same workflow sans the hacky ass workarounds, for "less" upfront money? Water flows to the least resistant path.

Reasons not to switch? One word: (2)

supersat (639745) | about 3 months ago | (#47681951)

Daikatana [wikipedia.org]

Re:Reasons not to switch? One word: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47682189)

Daikatana [wikipedia.org]

I'll see that and raise you Duke Nukem Forever.

Re:Reasons not to switch? One word: (1)

BancBoy (578080) | about 3 months ago | (#47682309)

Forever-ever? Forever-ever?

Re:Reasons not to switch? One word: (1)

Hamsterdan (815291) | about 3 months ago | (#47682673)

HL2: Episode 3

Re:Reasons not to switch? One word: (1)

turp182 (1020263) | about 3 months ago | (#47682689)

Not applicable, Duke Nuken Forever is what happens if you swap out the game engine half a dozen times during development.

Re:Reasons not to switch? One word: (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 3 months ago | (#47683097)

Switch engines, switch engines again, sell control of the company, switch engines again, back burner it, defund it, fire the developers, tie it up in court, sell it to a new shop, and then release it.

Did I miss anything? :)

Re:Reasons not to switch? One word: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47683703)

Did I miss anything? :)

The hype videos that kept the dream alive.

Re:Reasons not to switch? One word: (3, Interesting)

RogueyWon (735973) | about 3 months ago | (#47683687)

Prey and Duke Nukem Forever fall into the exact same category. Games which were pitched as "we will make the content on somebody else's engine", but which felt they had to play catch-up on engine tech.

When id released Quake 2, they caused an absolute cataclysm for many developers. In terms of looks, it was way ahead of the Quake 1 engine, particularly for people with new-fangled 3d video cards. Lots of people were out there making games on the Quake 1 engine, with contracts that gave them cheap access to the Quake 2 engine once available. The assumption had always been that porting from one to the other would be easy.

It wasn't.

So several studios, including those making Daikatana, Prey, Half-Life and Duke Nukem Forever had a choice between putting out a game on the old engine or restarting a lot of their work from scratch on the new one.

The ones who went for the latter option ended up in engine hell. Only Valve came through it reasonably well. They took a hit on Half-Life's release date, but basically hacked around the Quake 1 engine to replicate some Q2 features and to make the (highly successful) bastardisation that became known as the Half-Life engine.

Subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47681979)

Switching from an easier engine such as Unity which I would only consider for prototyping or really low budget games, to a high-end professional engine would obviously come with issues, but it sounds like it is easier than I would have thought. I've worked with Unity only because of time constraints and I'm the only one working on it from beginning to end. I'd use Unreal or even better make my own with OpenGL or DirectX if I could, but speed of production is the issue.

Simply put, this sounds like an issue with the conceptual design stage of the project, which I hope was mostly done before code was made. The project grew bigger than you thought it would. I suppose it is merely an issue of not knowing the correct tools for the job. I hope the unreal licensing fees don't break your profits, if the project gets finished. That would be the worst outcome.

Duke Nukem Forever (1)

phorm (591458) | about 3 months ago | (#47681981)

Sometimes a switch may be warranted if you're running into a physical limitation. One issue I could see is that - if upgrading just for the "looks better" factor - you might end up in the realm of Dude3d/DNF, where constant changes push your end date so far out it never reaches a realistic/satisfactory completion.

That said, I see the issue of switching as one of the weakness of graphical toolkits. The underlying code could be fairly engine-agnostic in many ways, so a full rewrite shouldn't be necessary depending on what the base language/structure is.

Re:Duke Nukem Forever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47682421)

Here's a better more relevant example [steamcommunity.com]
2012 - Unity
2013 - DK
2014 - UE4

On top of that, the subject matter is questionable. It's a "furry's vs human's" game

FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47682011)

Bullshit

Look in Unity = Look in Unreal (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47682037)

This managing partner has no idea how look dev works. Shaders are essentially written using the libraries from the GPU language. The GPU capabilities determine the look far more than the Engine.

I can attest that Unity can look as good as any Unreal game and have the assets to prove it.

Re:Look in Unity = Look in Unreal (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47682333)

Woosh

Did you read the article at all? It has nothing to do about quality of graphics, the article is about 2 things tools and collaboration. I've used both game engines for development and even though Unity is easy to pickup and build for, as already mentioned, collaboration is right out the window along with its tools. Unreal isn't great either but at least it offer a hell of lot better collaboration compared to Unity and this is the most important part of any team based development.

Being a Unity fanboy isn't going to help the engine get any better when the flaws are bloody apparently the stars in the sky.

Re:Look in Unity = Look in Unreal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47682399)

I'm talking about the first two pictures in the article. First one looks BONK and is the first impression you get of Unity. This is FUD because you can easily make them look thee same. As far as collaboration and version control goes - use SVN or GIT for free. 5% of gross is bonkers considering what it costs to market a game. Those costs come out of possible profits. This article is misleading on a number of fronts and looks to be FUD placed and paid for.

I've read the article and used both engines. I use whatever works best for my team.

Can we rid the word of "Gelling"? (0, Troll)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 3 months ago | (#47682067)

I am really, really, tired of that word. It is pitifully overused by management from one end of our continent to another. I just got used to being on a constant watch for paradigm shifts and now I am told I need to make sure that my team is gelling sufficiently. We need to campaign to have that word striken completely from the English language; gel should not be a verb for that sense.

Can we rid the word of (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47682097)

A consensus on this issue is starting to gel.

Re:Can we rid the word of "Gelling"? (1)

BillX (307153) | about 3 months ago | (#47682885)

Just wait 'til they start touching your bases. I could do without that.

Re:Can we rid the word of "Gelling"? (4, Insightful)

JanneM (7445) | about 3 months ago | (#47682897)

One function of special vocabulary is for specialists to easily communicate. But another, important, social function is as a badge of in-group membership. If you use the words correctly (from the point of view of the group) you show that you belong, and that you probably know and understand all the other explicit and implicit rules of the group. If the word use spreads too far it loses this function and the group needs to find new words and expressions instead.

You dislike "gelling". You dislike "paradigm shifts". It would probably be a fairly risk-free bet on what you think of expressions like "optics" (as in "the optics of this decision is good") and the like. You dislike these words and refuse to use them. Which signals to management people that you are not management and should not be treated as part of their in-group. "gelling" works exactly as intended, in other words.

Asking for words to not be used like this is futile. It would be like asking people to no longer care about fashion (another in-group signal) or to not form groups of like-minded people at all.

Re:Can we rid the word of "Gelling"? (2)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 3 months ago | (#47682981)

You dislike these words and refuse to use them. Which signals to management people that you are not management and should not be treated as part of their in-group. "gelling" works exactly as intended, in other words.

You have a valid point. However, slashdot is not intended as a forum for middle management to trade buzzwords. Slashdot is supposed to be for technical discussions. Arguably even if we can't permanently strike "gelling" from the English Language it should be reasonable to present an argument against using it here.

Re:Can we rid the word of "Gelling"? (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 3 months ago | (#47683105)

We could run that idea up the flagpole, to the cloud, to have a meeting of the minds. Then we could do lunch. Have your people call my people, and we'll set up a thing.

I think I just made myself nauseous writing that.

Re:Can we rid the word of "Gelling"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47684181)

Synergy, damnit, SYNERGY!

Re:Can we rid the word of "Gelling"? (2)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | about 3 months ago | (#47684385)

Hey, at least you're not leveraging synergy to effect a value-add win-win amoung thought-leaders, increasing mindshare and gaining net.

I have a true question. (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 3 months ago | (#47682109)

Lets say I know how to make quality games in OpenGL already. Is there a reason for me to pick up Unity or UnrealEngine? To me, it seems like they don't have all the possible features having access to the raw data at the lowest level gives... Including really cutting edge networking techniques. I know all the jobs are looking for Unity developers, but it feels like I won't have as much control over the details. Should I spend a few months and learn Unity, or should I be content with getting things done at a lower level?

I've been tossing the idea in my head for an Xwing vs TieFighter(like) MOBA in my mind, and it wouldn't be out of the scope of what I could do in 2-3 years.

Re:I have a true question. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47682145)

What in unity prevents you from using cutting edge network techniques? If you pay for pro you can dynamically link C++ extensions. C# gets compiled AOSP so it's probably fast enough to do what you're trying to do regardless. Direct GPU access isn't hidden from you via shaders.

Yes (5, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 3 months ago | (#47682211)

A game engine is a very, VERY big enterprise to make, particularity if you are talking one with modern 3D graphics. It is a big undertaking even for a company who's done it before and has a decent team of people. You will spend a lot of time and effort on it, and it still might not end up being very good.

Game engines get a lot of that low level hard work out of the way. That's why they are so used. You see even large development studios with big budgets license an engine because the cost of doing so is far less than the cost of properly developing their own.

If you want to build a game engine, that's great, but make that your goal. Build an engine for its own sake then, if you have one that seems to work well, think about using it for a game. Don't set off to make a game form the ground up, it isn't likely to happen.

Re:I have a true question. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47682525)

fyi, the upcoming Unity 5 has a completely new network stack on the way and the details on their development blog so far seem pretty good. Unity 4 networking is a bit rubbish natively, but there are third-party solutions that work or as other replies have noted, you can use the pro version and write raw sockets or use your own plugins. Good luck.

Re:I have a true question. (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | about 3 months ago | (#47683643)

UnrealEngine gives you complete source access. You can do whatever you want to the engine. If you want to spend a lot of time on access to the raw data at the lowest level instead of game design, then you can do so.

Unity is 64 bit now (4, Interesting)

Hadlock (143607) | about 3 months ago | (#47682153)

Kerbal Space Program (a bleeding edge physics sandbox game built in Unity that includes orbital space travel) had unofficial 64 bit support back in... February '14? And now has official 64-bit support.
 
$500/developer is pretty cheap, did you buy the developers $250 Chromebook "workstations", too?
 
Anonymous poster slamming Unity and praising Unreal 4 right after the Unreal team announces huge cuts due to lack of engine uptake, and Unity flying high right now reeks of ad-placement.

Re:Unity is 64 bit now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47682193)

$500/developer is just for the content management system, without which any major change to the game takes most of an hour to process.

Re:Unity is 64 bit now (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 3 months ago | (#47682471)

Which sounds like their using unit on Windows Mobile devices or they've done something entirely retarded with their asset management workflow.

Re:Unity is 64 bit now (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47682249)

If you look at his twitter hes pushing Unreal pretty hard. Considering unity has had 64 bit since February I wonder how much epic payed him to switch.

Re:Unity is 64 bit now (5, Informative)

Goragoth (544348) | about 3 months ago | (#47682301)

Unity has had the ability to create 64bit executables for a while but the editor is still a 32bit program, which can be very limiting if you are developing a large game. A 64bit editor is scheduled for Unity5 and indeed one of the biggest selling points of the new version. There's no release date for Unity5 yet though and I imagine it is at least 6 months out, considering there is at least one more big update to 4.x coming (4.6, which will include the new GUI tools).

Re:Unity is 64 bit now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47682327)

Anonymous poster slamming Unity and praising Unreal 4 right after the Unreal team announces huge cuts due to lack of engine uptake, and Unity flying high right now reeks of ad-placement.

Where are these *huge* cuts announced by the Unreal Team? Yes, we know you're a Unity fanboy but can you back up your statements?

Re:Unity is 64 bit now (1)

pslytely psycho (1699190) | about 3 months ago | (#47683267)

And Unity 5 is supposed to support multi-threaded physics as well. That should translate into a huge performance boost.

KSP, a game created by people who have never made a game before, that pushes both Unity and the best processors to their max. A game actually written to take advantage of a premium system instead of being written to a console level and ported.

I find it amusing that an Xbox One and PS4 would rank as low end computers for this game.

So much for Next-Gen.

Re: Unity is 64 bit now (2)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 3 months ago | (#47683339)

Why is that amusing? It was true for last gen as well. And the one before that. Simply, a $300-400 computer designed for low power(low temps), small formfactor just won't compete with a $750-$1500 computer without those requirements.

That is just a fact of life, no matter how it upsets fanbois.

What amuses me is the angst over "why does Skyrim run at only 30FPS and make me motion sick?" and "why aren't there 64 player maps like on PC?" Well duh.

Re: Unity is 64 bit now (1)

pslytely psycho (1699190) | about 3 months ago | (#47683415)

I just find the hypetrain amusing. And before they announced specifications, I truly hoped they would be a bit better than this. I mistakenly thought (I am not in the industry so this will show that ignorance) that the mass purchasing power of a new system would of generated a more capable machine in that price neighborhood.

I never expected them to compete with a full on gaming PC, Just more capable than they turned out to be.

On the plus side, I shouldn't have to upgrade for quite a while,

Yea, I fanboid (is that even a word?) KSP a bit, hard not to admire what they have accomplished. (It also was 64 bit on Linux long before there was a stable Windows release)

Re:Unity is 64 bit now (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 3 months ago | (#47683721)

Kerbal Space Program (a bleeding edge physics sandbox game built in Unity that includes orbital space travel) had unofficial 64 bit support back in... February '14? And now has official 64-bit support.

And KSP is full of weird engine based bugs, and the "official" 64 bit version is even buggier and (per the dev team) essentially use-at-your-own-risk.

So no, it's not *quite* as simple as you would have it. (And yes, I do play KSP.)

Version control (1)

freeze128 (544774) | about 3 months ago | (#47682199)

Why is version control $500 per person? Haven't they heard of Subversion or GIT? These are problems that have already been solved!

Re:Version control (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47682455)

Based on TFA, it seems like they are using version control but pulling down changes can/will trigger Unity to rebuild its cache, which can take 45 minutes or longer on a dev machine for a sufficiently complicated game. The solution is a $500/seat asset cache server.

The summary says effective version control, not version control.. It got me too!

Re:Version control (4, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | about 3 months ago | (#47682481)

Because the author is calling asset management 'version control'.

The author really doesn't know what he's talking about and if you look at the full article, it shows.

Another example would be that they basically rewrote the game, with no art and assets ... and then claim it looks better because of the Unreal engine, and not the fact that they changed the textures.

Unity isn't the problem. The project management and developers are.

Re:Version control (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | about 3 months ago | (#47682619)

Unity isn't the problem. The project management and developers are.

This is generally the case, tools do matter, but people matter much more.

Give a brilliant team a conference room and a supply of paper, pencils and food and they will turn the world on it's head. Give a team of idiots the best tools that money can buy and all you'll get is a steam pile of fertilizer.

(Give the brilliant team the best tools... though, even if it only makes them 1% more efficient it's still cheaper than the tools.)

Re:Version control (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47684177)

You can stymy the best developers and artists with shitty process. They're not claiming it looks better due to unreal, RTFA. They are claiming the PROCESS is better and THAT allows more time doing what the team is good at, instead of wrestling with shit tools.

Re:Version control (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47684275)

Other highlights: developing on Mac, teal & orange, Unity editor crashes at 32-bit memory limits and he "wasted weeks of time figuring out the problem", and "Unity seems to have been built for very small development teams."

Re:Version control (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47684307)

You're talking out of your asshole. Unity's version control is pure garbage and broken. Asset management has to through their broken asset manager tool or Unity itself won't see the charges. Unity is a single person tool that has grown, but they have no understanding of team collaboration. It's been a massive Achilles heel, which they refuse to address.

They don't fix bugs, and expect their customer to find workarounds.

They pust the asset store to fill the void of missing functionality, except the asset store is a free-for-all with zero quality control and no comeback for things that simply do not fucking work. Plus it's rife with stole assets. Furthermore, the asset store doesn't have it's own namespace. Ever tried using two modules that share the same functions and variables? It's a fucking joke.

Unity is about to die, they change profession prices, want customers on subscriptions, don't fix system breaker bugs. Meanwhile Unreal are basically giving away UE4, with source, and offer a %age of sales model for the professionals.

So try learning a little about what you speak about, you'll look less of a twat.

Re:Version control (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47684413)

"Because the author is calling asset management 'version control'."
Can I ask, as someone who has never worked in games and probably never will, what asset management is if it isn't VC?
TIA

Re:Version control (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47682501)

If you RTFA, it's $500 per user for their fancy caching server which is significantly faster bringing in changes.
As a 17 year veteran of the gaming industry I can tell you that git and subversion are jokes. They would fall apart with the quantity and rate of change of game-sized datasets. The only industrial-strength source control I've used is perforce. It still has its issues, but it doesn;t fall apart when the datasets are large.

Re:Version control (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47682565)

git is mostly gibberish to me so far :)

Re:Version control (2)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | about 3 months ago | (#47682869)

I've used all of them, quite effectively. Sorry, but Perforce's overly centralized control and the administrative expense of error prone Perforce management makes it unusable for long projects. The centralized control is too vulnerable to central administrator errors, such as having to delete content and accidentally deleting the only copy. Subversion has some similar issues, and relatively poor performance and very confusing upgrade cycles to deal with.

Git is working out _extremely_ well for small and large projects in my experience, and its ease of replication and offsite management are far superior. Bitkeeper is comparable to git in performance but now badly lags in cross-compatibility features and broadly available hosting resources like github or bitbucket.

Re:Version control (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47683545)

I've used all of them, quite effectively. Sorry, but Perforce's overly centralized control and the administrative expense of error prone Perforce management makes it unusable for long projects. The centralized control is too vulnerable to central administrator errors, such as having to delete content and accidentally deleting the only copy. Subversion has some similar issues, and relatively poor performance and very confusing upgrade cycles to deal with.

>

Nothing is ever really deleted in SVN. If you don't know the tool, blaming it for features you think are missing is asinine. git has some advantages in certain areas but it's not all rosy - it has its drawbacks too. The main reason I'd use it is if the team worked in a distributed fashion and didn't have convenient access to a central repository, or if I didn't trust my developers not to do something malicious. (SVN security and access control isn't very good).

Re:Version control (2)

MtHuurne (602934) | about 3 months ago | (#47683441)

Git is used to maintain the Linux kernel; I don't think any game has a rate of commits that comes even close to that. The problem you're referring to is probably that Git is not designed to handle large binary data efficiently. That doesn't make it a joke, but it could disqualify it for a particular use.

Re:Version control (1)

Ja'Achan (827610) | about 3 months ago | (#47683553)

The emphasis was on "change of game-sized datasets", Linux kernel patches contribute on average 3,509 LoC per day [pingdom.com] , which is about what, half a MB per day?

Re:Version control (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47683723)

For the last game I worked on (out of the industry for a few years) a MINIMAL dataset to build the game was around 50gb, which didn't include movies or multi-lingual audio. I checked today, the kernel is a little over a gig of source code which is small potatos. Before that game shipped there were well over 300K commits over the three years of development. I have no idea how many terabytes the history database was, but the bluearc storage wasn't cheap to store it.

Re:Version control (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47683579)

They are talking about 3d models, texture maps, sound, music, world maps, animation, rendered movies.
These need to be version controlled as well and the disk requirements are a lot higher. Some of the assets such as movies can be rebuild, but the movies themselves you want to also keep on version control as cache.

Poor planning? (2)

Reibisch (1261448) | about 3 months ago | (#47682445)

Switching game engines halfway through development says more to me about a lack of proper requirements analysis and planning than it does about the benefits of one engine over another.

Uneducated/inefficient developers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47682505)

You have to be running a dipshit-show if end up in this kind of a mess. Research the engine first before starting your project. Nowadays an engines benefits and limitations are presented quite accessibly for the general public through forums, shared developer experience, and the countless games they've already been used to create.
This is just the mark of an idiot developer. I remember talking to a member of 38 studios before their collapse, where they were using Unreal Engine 3, but they'd "decided not to use the material editor and go with something third-party", which is unarguably one of, if not the best and most flexible feature in UED3.0.
But hey, they did alright, right??

Re:Uneducated/inefficient developers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47682617)

I don't agree. Requirements change. Game visions change. Teams change. Targeted platforms change. Everything changes, time doesn't stop and whatever the target is probably doesn't stop changing until a few versions after shipping. Technology is hard and there probably isn't a 'right' choice, so they found themselves wanting or having to change.

DayZ just did this (2)

DeathByLlama (2813725) | about 3 months ago | (#47682537)

Planning correctly can save you a lot of time and money... not to mention heartache.

Re:DayZ just did this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47684071)

Planning correctly can save you a lot of time and money... not to mention heartache.

and buttache.

Re:DayZ just did this (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47684207)

Yep, like the time I was aiming for your mom's vag and ended up in her anus. Shouldn't have rushed but "in the end" she enjoyed it anyway.

Re:DayZ just did this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47684205)

Planning up front is nice, then something changes, or a feature you were counting on from a vender doesn't work. Software projects CANNOT be effectively built with a "big design up front" model. It is a recipe for bankruptcy and shitty products.

Unreal doesn't work well on iOS (1)

edxwelch (600979) | about 3 months ago | (#47682543)

He claims that Unreal engine works well on iOS, but this is not really true. Basic features like dynamic shadows are not supported at all and performance is pretty poor - you really need a A6 based device to run it well.

Speaks the truth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47683531)

As a man who worked enterprise for many years he is spot on

I don't think he cared about the $500 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47683551)

... but he cared about the 'why doesn't that work out of the box' part.

As another data point, I bought War for the Overworld early access and they don't (or didn't, I haven't checked in a while) have a Mac beta because of some Unity problem. I wouldn't trust the cross platform-ness of a game engine much when it's being programmed in C Sharp, to be honest. It smells like "all we know to do is Windows, and there is an overworked intern doing the other platforms".

Hesitation kills (1)

jarmund (2752233) | about 3 months ago | (#47683697)

Well, not really... but it should be avoided for one obvious reason: Delays in a potential switch will only make the porting take longer. I can only speak from experience in regard to this android project of mine - I first started out in AndEngine due to the fact that simple things were simple, with ready-made libraries for most of what i wanted to do. However, with time, the effective speed of the project was slower and slower due to AndEngine's complete lack of documentation, coupled with some performance issues. In the beginning I was doubting whether i had chosen the right engine, and I came across libgdx as a potential replacement. However, silly me concluded "I'll get this and that feature done and get the next alpha version up and running before I'll test with a different engine". My conclusion: If in doubt, try swapping the engine as fast as possible. It also enables you to rewrite parts you perhaps approached the wong way to begin with, from a design-perspective

Not a planning issue in this case. (1)

EnglishTim (9662) | about 3 months ago | (#47683791)

There are several comments suggesting that they had simply planned badly at the start of the project, which had resulted in a bad engine choice.

He actually mentions it in the article; Unreal Engine 4 only became available at a feasible price when they had started the project.

This guy doesn't know Unity (4, Insightful)

nsxdavid (254126) | about 3 months ago | (#47684667)

I hate to say it, but this Jeff guy is fairly cluesless when it comes to Unity. And is, therefore, in a poor position to give any useful insight into Unity vs. UE4.

My studio (of roughly 27 years) has used a lot of tech in its time. We even developed our own engine, HeroEngine (used in games like Star Wars The Old Republic MMO). We've made lots of games and have lots of experience with Unity. I used Unity to do the Android port of Temple Run, and we've made a lot other titles with it too. We're currently working on a marquee franchise for a major publisher... using Unity.

Unity is not just for small teams. Jeff didn't do his homework on this one. Our team is 27 strong, using git for version control. We use a deep feature-branch approach and it works well not only for our developers, but our non-techies: artists, designers, sound guys, etc. Sure there are issues with Unity and version control, but you find ways to make it work through convention and approach. Same thing happens in all Engines. They all have their issues. The only engine that put collaboration at the forefront was our HeroEngine, but even that has issues. Though we sold off that tech, you can still check it yourself... just Google.

The 32 bit editor limit is true, but is it really an issue? It never has been for us. His problems smell strongly of bad development practices... they can't seem to manage their memory resources well and that suggests other major issues in their group. Just reads a bit amateur to me. No engine will save you from bad practices. The game builds are 64 bit, and the Editor will be also in Unity 5 (how did he not know this?).

It is notable that the guy is fascinated with a lot of things in UE4 that, as it turns out, you can also do as well or even better in Unity. He loves, for instance, Blueprint visual scripting... did he bother to check out uScript for Unity? He loves the node-based Shader in UE4.... well there is ShaderForge in Unity. He loves Physically Based Rendering in UE4 but doesn't mention Alloy in Unity. Sure some of these things are add on costs (usually pretty tiny) and there are also lower cost or sometimes even free alternatives to many of them. The best part is you can mix and match which pieces work best for you. If you don't like UE4's node-based shader... tough! But in Unity you have a few to pick form..... .... or better yet, you can make your own! The best part of Unity is how seamlessly extensible the editor is. This is a huge productivity booster. Every game we do we create custom tools that enhance the efficiency of the designers and artists. It's so easy to do, you just naturally create augmenting tools as the need comes up. Our designers and artists can do amazing things without ever having worry about writing any code... much less even a visual scripting system. This is because we made the tools specific to the game that let them express what they need all from the inspectors and the scene tools.

Another cool thing: make a great addon that is generally useful... then wrap it up and sell it in the Asset Store. Monetize that sucker! Or give it away for free if you like.

Is Unity perfect? Nope. But it is insanely efficient for developing games. Works with any sized team well enough, and creates titles that run across tons of platforms. And the Asset Store is a treasure trove of extensions that just make it better and better all the time.

The places where it falls behind a tad are either addresseable from add ons, and ultimately in Unity 5.

I am not advocating that one choose Unity over UE4... but if you are going to make an argument, at least make a balanced one with all the facts. I would take his critique with a grain of salt. Try each engine yourself, but make sure you take the time to fully understand both the tool and its eco-system and how it applies to what you are doing. And above all, make sure you have sharp developers on your team who understand the fundamentals. Like I said, no tool will get you out of a jam of your own making.

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