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Unity introduces new 2D tools

The Unity engine is best known for its 3D capabilities. Now Unity Technologies wants to better serve 2D game development with the introduction of new "2D first" tools and workflows.
There are a lot of 2D games available that use the Unity game engine, but the fact of the matter is that Unity was made mainly with 3D rendering in mind. But the company now wants to offer 2D game developers the same kind of support that it has for 3D developers. David Helgason, Unity CEO announced at its Unite conference in Vancouver that Unity’s new 2D Tools are now in beta. Finally addressing 2D game development is a major move for Unity. 2D-styled games have been booming, particularly within the independent game dev community. Unity already has a lot of developers – 2 million at Unity’s last count. Better support for 2D can only help to expand Unity’s wide reach. "The problem that we saw is that people who wanted to go 2D would go with other systems, different engines and SDKs," Helgason told us. "That makes us sad on its own, but we also felt like none of them were really offering useful workflows." Helgason hopes that by offering new 2D-centric tools, Unity developers will have a more streamlined, integrated game development experience. "People had workflows like this, but they were never integrated with Unity," he says. Currently in beta, this first iteration of the 2D tools will be included with the Unity 4.3 update this fall. Some of the improvements include a dedicated scene view that includes specialized 2D scene manipulation tools, Helgason says. "You’ll also be able to switch between 2D and 3D. A lot of the good games in 2D are actually mixing 3D – particle systems, things that are parallaxing. That stuff will be easier to do." Other additions that should make importing and manipulating 2D assets include:
  • a new sprite texture importer type
  • automated atlasing
  • dedicated 2D renderer component
  • A new “dope sheet” and visual sprite animation editing functionality for complex animations
  • Box2D physics engine integration
  • Polygon collider generation from sprite textures
"Some of the heavier stuff of the 3D engine, like the 3D physics system, can be cut out when you make builds that don’t make use of them," explains Helgason. "So if you make certain games – 3D games – the engine also slims down." "It's just about making Unity easier to use, making it slimmer."

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