The challenges behind the development of a 2D game are not the same as those in a 3D game. Unity have addressed these issues, and have announced the inclusion of a number of 2D specific tools for developers will ship in the upcoming Unity 4.3.
The four main areas that will be addressed are flat graphics, physics in a 2D world, animation, and collision detection.
Previewing a ‘lab’ build of the 2D elements to the audience at Unite 2013 in Vancouver, an appreciative audience played spot the new buttons. Starting with a 2D button to create a true ‘flat’ land in the Unity scene picker, Unity also adds in a sprite editor, and a new 2D physics engine that includes an improved polygon collision generation focused on the needs of 2D elements.
‘Dope Sheet’ functionality has been added to the animation system, to aid the animation of sprite frames, and the benefits of this new animation system have resulted in a new undo system. Nope, it didn’t get an ‘ooh’ from the audience either, but I suspect that once people start to see the impact on this in their huge 3D projects, this is going to be a welcome addition.
Once Unity 4.3 is released, the addition of 2D to Unity is going to make the middleware an attractive choice for many developers – 3D is popular, but it’s not a requirement. This represent a new area for Unity to expand into. If you wondered where growth for the game engine was going to come from in 2013 and 2014, here’s your answer.