Unity game engine adds terrain engine, better shadows

OTEE has announced Unity 2.0, a major upgrade to their Mac-based game and simulation creation engine. The new release is coming this summer and sports major improvements. Users who buy a license to Unity 1.6 will get a free upgrade to 2.0 when it ships. It costs $249 or $1,499 for an Indie or Pro license, respectively.

Unity is used to create games for Mac OS X, Windows, the Web or as Dashboard widgets. It was created from the ground up to make it easy to edit content, and can be used to create demos and simulations as well. It’s designed to work on Mac OS X although it can deploy content for Windows as well. Features include Ageia PhysX physics simulation, advanced graphics and rendering effects, character animation support, JavaScript support, extensive support for 3D models and more. Unity has been used to create commercial games such as Ambrosia Software’s GooBall, Big Bang Brain Games from Freeverse and others.

New to the 2.0 release is a new terrain engine designed to handle “highly detailed and massively big worlds.” You can import heightmap images, use built-in drawing tools, render hundreds of thousands of trees, and deform terrain in real-time.

Also new in the forthcoming 2.0 release are dynamic, optimized shadows. Unity 2.0 now supports point lights, directional lights and spotlights, and even alpha-textured objects will cast accurate shadows.

Unity’s GUI creation system has been reworked wit dozens of object types including buttons and text labels, available in a CSS-style layout. Video playback both as 2D or 3D objects has been added, and a new streaming Unity Web Player will be available. A new networking layer makes it easier to add networking support to games. OTEE counts over 40 other features in the forthcoming version, as well.

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