unity ver­sus un­real

pro thoughts James Bur­rows, Wayne Jack­son and Mar­cell Rideg of Im­mer­sive Stu­dios dis­cuss the con­sid­er­a­tions you need to make when choos­ing be­tween the two lead­ing game engines

3D World - - CONTENTS -

Find out when to choose one en­gine over the other

As an im­mer­sive tech­nol­ogy stu­dio, we cre­ate a lot of projects in-en­gine, from VR to AR to games. As a rule we work in ei­ther Unity 3D or Un­real En­gine, but which we use de­pends on a va­ri­ety of fac­tors – not least the views of our dev team. Here we run through a few key ques­tions to ask your­self be­fore mak­ing your choice.

What level of vi­su­als are you af­ter?

One of the main dif­fer­en­tia­tors is the qual­ity of vi­su­als. Un­real of­fers high-fidelity vi­su­als straight out of the box, whereas Unity – while still able to pro­duce high­qual­ity vi­su­als – takes a lot more work to get your as­sets look­ing close to the same level as Un­real. And even then, it won’t pro­duce quite the same qual­ity. It’s for this rea­son that you’ll find Un­real used more on big games and pro­duc­tions from large stu­dios – and why we chose it to cre­ate a VR con­fig­u­ra­tor for the hy­per­car Brab­ham BT62. So, if you want as close to pho­to­re­al­is­tic as­sets as pos­si­ble, it’s quicker and eas­ier to achieve this with Un­real.

What de­vice is your project aimed at?

If you’re look­ing to cre­ate a project to run on lower-pow­ered de­vices, such as mo­bile phones, then the high pro­cess­ing power de­manded by Un­real isn’t nec­es­sar­ily for you. This is where Unity re­ally comes into its own. Orig­i­nally de­signed to run on de­vices like con­soles and phones, Unity en­ables you to cre­ate com­plex projects for low-end de­vices with­out re­quir­ing such a pow­er­ful PC setup as Un­real. If, on the other hand, you’re cre­at­ing an ex­pe­ri­ence for high-end de­vices then ei­ther Unity or Un­real will set you right. But that also de­pends on…

What’s your team size?

The con­sen­sus amongst the col­lec­tive ex­pe­ri­ence of the Im­mer­sive dev team is that to get the very best out of Un­real, you need a large and spe­cial­ist team that’s ded­i­cated to dif­fer­ent parts of the process – for ex­am­ple some­one ded­i­cated just to par­ti­cles or some­one just to shaders. Unity, on the other hand, is much eas­ier for devel­op­ers to get to grips with straight away – mak­ing it a good choice for one-man bands and smaller teams to cre­ate an ef­fec­tive ex­pe­ri­ence. Its as­set store is also sig­nif­i­cantly big­ger, mak­ing it sim­pler to pop­u­late your game or ex­pe­ri­ence if you don’t have a mas­sive team.

are you a de­vel­oper or a vis­ual artist?

There’s no doubt about it, this seems to af­fect your pref­er­ence. Our devel­op­ers pre­fer Unity, but our vis­ual artists opt for Un­real – and this is purely down to the dif­fer­ence in vi­su­als. Both game engines of­fer the same sort of func­tion­al­ity and ca­pa­bil­ity, just pack­aged in dif­fer­ent ways. For a while now, the lines dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing the two have started to blur as Un­real – start­ing out as an AAA game en­gine – aims to make it­self more ac­ces­si­ble for smaller teams and ex­pe­ri­ences, while Unity – orig­i­nally pre­ferred by in­die stu­dios for sim­ple games and ex­pe­ri­ences – con­tin­ues to work its way up to the top by adding pro-level fea­tures. The main dif­fer­ence is vis­ual qual­ity and your tar­get plat­form – but we think it won’t be long un­til both engines reach a sim­i­lar level in both re­spects. In which case, soon it’ll sim­ply be a case of per­sonal pref­er­ence.

FYI Get in touch at [email protected]­mer­sivevr.co.uk or visit weareim­mer­sive.co.uk

mar­cell rideg, james Bur­rows and Wayne jack­son at im­mer­sive stu­dios

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