Unity adds 2D game development and works with Facebook

Version 4.3 of its development platform will have an integrated 2D physics engine

Unity Technologies is working on adding the ability to simplify 2D game creation using its cross-platform development tools, and has also worked with Facebook to make it easier for users to integrate Facebook in their games, the company announced at its Unite conference.

Unity's cross-platform development tools can be used to create games for a multitude of different platforms, including smartphones, PCs and game consoles, simultaneously. Until now Unity has focused on 3D game development, but that will change in version 4.3.

For the past year the company has been working on an integrated 2D physics engine and making it easier for developer to import, manipulate, and work with 2D objects. Users will be able to mix 2d and 3d as they see fit. During the keynote at Unite, the company demonstrated an "early internal build". Unity 4.3 is in beta and will ship next quarter.

Unity has also worked with Facebook on a new cross-platform SDK that makes it more straightforward to integrate a Unity game with Facebook's social network. Whether building for iOS, Android, the Web, or all three, the SDK lets them continue to write in C# and add features such as inviting friends to play a game, Facebook wrote in a blog post.

The development kit can be downloaded from Facebook's developer site or from the Unity Asset Store. To help developers get started, Facebook has also published a step-by-step guide that includes download instructions.

The ability to make money from their games is important to most developers. Unity aims to help its users in that regard with Unity Cloud ad services. It will allow developers to more easily cross-promote new games in their old ones and also trade installs with other developers free of charge. The platform will at first be compatible with Android and iOS smartphones and tablets, according to Unity's Todd Hooper, vice president of Online Services at Unity.

Developers who think that sounds interesting can sign up for a closed beta test. Studios like Kabam, Glu and Supercell have already signed on to participate, Hopper said.

Behind the scenes, Unity is working on expanding its Learn site where users can find documentation and tutorials. Only about 10 percent to 15 percent of what will be available to developers at all skill levels within the next couple of years is now in the site, according to CEO David Helgason.

Earlier this year Unity added a subscription payment model to lower the bar for getting people to start developing using its tools. Today, over 50 percent are choosing to pay US$75 per month. But even if a majority of users are now choosing to subscribe, Unity will continue to offer the option to pay for a full license, according to Helgason.

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