Game Development Milestones 2019
Some of the greatest advancements for Game Development came in 2019. Here are a few.
2019 for Game Development
With each succeeding year Game Development is being propelled forward to amazing new horizons and the year 2019 was no different. Now that 2019 is over and we’ve stepped into a new year which marks the beginning of a whole new decade lets look back to what the Game Development industry has offered in the year 2019.
1. Game Engines
Unity has been a favorite among the Indie developers, especially in the Mobile games segment. In the year 2019 Unity Technologies brought forward some amazing new developments to its game engine. Here are some awesome developments to Unity Engine.
The long-awaited 2019.3 update was released as a beta in late August 2019 and it brought forward a plethora of new features and a revamped new editor UI. Some of the features include updates to the Physics engine, Package Manager Improvements, updates to Animation and Rigging in the Engine, updates to the terrain tools including the addition of ability to create holes in the terrain which is a great addition for level designers and environment creation processes, Universal Render Pipeline improvements(called Lightweight Render Pipeline prior to 2019.3), and the most awaited Ray Tracing in High Definition Render Pipeline or HDRP.
Unity had been adapting to DOTS (Data-Oriented Technology Stack) and 2019.3 and 2020 updates of Unity Engine will bring forward a full-fledged implementation of DOTS in Unity. Also with Unity’s recent partnership with Havok developers can leverage the power and robustness of Havok physics along with Unity Physics for any specific requirements and the transition is seamless as developers can switch between the physics solvers without having to re-author any of their content. On their blog post Unity Technology state
Unity Physics will suffice, while others will want the benefits and enhanced workflows of Havok Physics. Ultimately, there is no right or wrong choice, as we illustrate later in this blog post. You can switch between either solver without having to reauthor all of your content completely.
The only thing not in the favor of Developers is the price increase which goes into effect on January 1, 2020, at 12:00 am UTC. But this price increase helps Unity Technologies invest in new technology, services, and features as stated in their blog post regarding this matter.
Epic Games’ Unreal Engine has been a very robust and reliable game engine since its beginning and Epic Games seems to make Unreal Engine as accessible as possible for Indie Game Developers. The year 2019 brought forward some amazing advancements to Unreal Engine and it’s integrations.
One of the greatest news is the acquiring of Quixel Megascans, one of the leading source of photo-scanned assets for asset creation, which brings the power to create AAA quality assets to the hands of Indie Developers. The best part of this merger is that the assets are provided for free to the Unreal Engine users and subscription prices for other Quixel licenses have been sliced in half. For Unreal Engine, known for its unparalleled graphics fidelity, this adds even greater possibilities and ease for games developed in it to achieve unprecedented photorealistic visuals. This along with improved Ray Tracing with the release 4.23 Unreal Engine is among the best Game Engines to choose if you need amazing Visual Fidelity.
Along with this Epic Games Unreal Marketplace giveaway continues for another year. This giveaway provides great premium content for free each month which is very useful for Indie Game Developers with tight budgets.
Just as the trend of Subscription models for software licenses are prevalent in the industry now more and more software companies are opting for a free to use version of their software for ease of access and for acquiring more users. Buildbox seems to have gone in a similar route with a new free version of Buildbox being released along with its existing subscription model.
The Pro plan as of January 2020 costs $499.99 per year with all features while the free plan lacks certain features like Desktop export, Customizable Splash Screen, and IAPs.
Buildbox has always appealed to Game Makers who don’t want to delve into coding. Buildbox is also great for conceptualizing new concepts and gameplay with special attention towards Hypercasual genre.
Other Game Engine Releases
Cryengine 5.6 was also released in late August 2019 with some new features along with some improvements upon existing features like support for Micro-Facet Multi-Layer Materials, the addition of Area Lights, Full body IK Ragdoll, and many more.
By the end of 2019 in December Amazon’s Lumberyard 1.22 Beta was released with new automated tools for bundling assets for release with a game called the Asset Bundler tool.
Blender has taken over both the Game Development and Movie industries by storm and with the new Blender 2.8 release in 2019, there has been no better time to switch to Blender for Asset Creation for 3D Games and other 3D related disciplines. Blender has been developing into a robust package with tools for many fields such as VFX, Modeling, Sculpting, Animation, etc and with the most awaited release of Blender yet, 2.8, the industry landscape has changed drastically. Find more about Blender and many more free software here.
Many big studios are embracing Blender as their primary 3D Suite and Blender has received many grants from Companies such as Epic Games. With AMD, now a patron for Blender, and Epic Games providing Blender Foundation with a mega grant of 1.2 Million USD the funds for Blender are surely skyrocketing which is awesome news as with these funding Blender can possibly get even more features packed into it as it always has.
Blender is the greatest thing that could have happened to an Indie Game Developer who is tight on budget as the number of features it offers could have easily cost a fortune to license using any other software and their subscriptions.
Krita is a free open source Digital Painting software made by artists. Just like blender it is full of features and is very reliable for Digital Painting and asset creation for all kinds of art fields including asset creation for games.
The latest version of Krita, 4.2.8, has been released on November 27, 2019, and some of the features include Wrap-around mode, Brush Engines, Vector and Text, Brush Stabilizers and productivity features like Layer Management, OpenGL, PSD Support, Full Color Management, Python Scripting and more.
The Gaming industry has been going through a vast change with more and more games providing immersive gameplay with vast immersive worlds and creating those assets one by one is a humongous task. For this procedural asset creation procedures have been on a rise now. Houdini is one of the leading tools for Procedural asset creation pipelines which increases the asset production pace exponentially. Meeting deadlines has never been easier.
Houdini 18 was released in 2019 and it brings great feature additions and enhancements to the reach of Game Developers. Features include Vellum Cloth simulations, Solaris for look-dev, Enhanced Pyro FX and more. Each year Houdini is growing even more robust and 2019 has been no exception.
3. Games Marketplace
Talking about Game Development without mentioning the changes to Games Marketplaces does not provide the full picture of the changes the industry has gone through in 2019.
Like the case of software companies, Game Marketplaces are going the subscription route. This is especially good news for the game developers who can get a continuous flow of cash for their hard work and investments. Since most of the software used are subscription-based a continuous revenue can help a developer sustain properly without much budget issues. Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass have recently been subscription-based services and here are some details regarding them.
In 2019 Apple revealed Apple Arcade, a subscription-based gaming service with which you get access to exclusive content with a monthly fee of $4.99 and you also get the first month for free.
Apple Arcade is especially great as you can game on all your Apple devices seamlessly and can pick up from where you left. The synchronization on multiple devices is a great USP of Apple Arcade.
For developers, it is a great platform for getting their games into more enthusiastic hands and having a steady source of revenue and that exclusivity can really be a charm.
Google Play Pass
Google also launched Google Play Pass, Google’s take on subscription-based gaming and application services, for Android devices in late September 2019. The subscription price is $4.99 per month. Currently, Google Play Pass is only available in U.S. and International availability is soon to be announced. Google Play Pass is not limited to only games as Apple Arcade is and also provides users with a good selection of applications too for a subscription. Though Google Play Pass does not have the exclusivity that Apple Arcade has.
Developers can contact Google via forms available on the Google Play Pass website and have their game on Google Play pass if approved.
4. Other great advancements
Google Launched Stadia which is a cloud-based gaming service that offloads all the computing to Google servers so you can enjoy all kinds of high-end gaming without having to build an ultra-high-end PC.
Real-time Ray Tracing
With advancements of Nvidia’s RTX series of GPUs, Real-Time Ray Tracing has come closer than ever and many AAA games have already begun adapting Ray Tracing in their latest releases. One such game is Battlefield V which looks absolutely stunning.
Ray Tracing for games is one of the greatest achievements for Game Development in 2019 as it is literally a game-changer. With higher and higher devices being upgraded to RTX GPUs and also AMD coming into the Ray Tracing segment it has never been more affordable to achieve the highest quality gaming possible.
AR and VR Advancements
By the end of 2019, we also saw great leaps in the field of AR and VR with more and more companies adopting VR and VR Gaming is also on a rise. VR has been more prevalent in comparison to AR though.
Artificial Intelligence Advancements
AI has stormed into all kinds of Industries and it surely does surprise with all the capabilities and feature extensions it brings forth to the Game Development pipeline. It might sometimes be subtle but essential like in the case of AI Denoising and Nvidia Deep Learning Super Sampling(DLSS) or more visible and exciting features like the Nvidia GauGan for making photorealistic images with segmentation maps, AI has always been able to surprise us no matter what. We are certain to see more AI advancements in the upcoming years.
All in all 2019 was a great year for Game Development and with the beginning of a new decade with 2020, we can only imagine what unimaginable advancements are going to come forward by the end of the 2020s.
**VOiD1 Gaming is not sponsored by any of the above companies. This list is in no particular order and preference of the softwares are solely dependent on the user interest. All trademarks appearing in this list are registered trademarks of the respective companies.**