Jim Sterling, second greatest Youtuber of
all time, recently spoke about Unity and how it has an image problem.
To condense it all down, people who make rubbish games typically use the free version of Unity,
which is the only edition that displays the Unity logo upon starting up the game. This
means that people associate Unity with rubbish games since any decent game made on it uses
the paid version and doesn’t have to show the world that it’s made on Unity.
Therefore, Unity=bad games. Even though great games like Cities Skylines and Hearthstone
were made on it! And probably some other ones as well, though admittedly I’m struggling
to think of them. But it doesn’t matter. The point is, good games CAN be made with
Unity, which means that a bad game should be blamed more on the team making it than
the engine that it’s built upon. This applies to every game, regardless of
game engine used. So why target Unity? Because it’s one of the most popular, free
and EASY game makers out there! It has lowered the barrier of entry for game development
and as such has fallen victim to all the rubbish games that were previously avoided by being
too hard for the developers to make. With Unity, anybody can load it up and within a
couple of minutes can have a playable if rubbish arena shooter.
I see this as a topic of debate, rather than a clear-cut issue of Unity being good or bad.
Let me explain. Back when I started mapping, I didn’t like
the tutorials available to learn from. They were long and inflated, far more complicated
than they needed to be. So I made my own series, deliberately kept shorter and simpler than
any others. As a result, they got rather popular. And also got a lot of people into mapping
who otherwise wouldn’t have. I lowered the barrier of entry for mapping! The result was
that a hoarde of new mappers proudly posted their first level over on Facepunch’s forums
and my name quickly became associated with said rubbishy first maps.
I was the Unity of the mapping scene. Of course, the people on those forums saw it as a simple
case that I was bad and was encouraging bad maps. My shortcuts taught bad habits and my
simpler tutorials were lowering map standards across the board, which made them BAD for
the mapping community. Plain and simple. Perhaps unsurprisingly, being the maker of
those tutorials, I saw it slightly differently. I accept that I was responsible for many bad
first maps, but argued that it was an unavoidable price to pay to get more people to mapping.
Many of these people would never have made a map otherwise. And no doubt there were plenty
of people who got into it from my tutorials who eventually became good at mapping.
And I say eventually, because you don’t get good at something just from watching a
tutorial, no matter how good that tutorial is! You get good through PRACTICE and EXPERIENCE.
A tutorial is there to get you up to a stage where you’re able to dabble and to be able
to make the important choices yourself. Likewise, you can’t just download Unity, a few examples
and custom props and expect for it to be a good game. Something that asset flips have
shown us time and time again. Blaming Unity is downright dismissive and
disrespectful of what a success the program has been. Sure, it’s an easy scapegoat when
something bad is made. It may be a recurring name that’s featured in so many bad games
but I see it as a symptom of Unity’s success as a game maker, rather than a gauge of its
quality as one. Hell, I don’t even blame the people making the games until they behave
immaturely to criticism. I see the problem being that bad titles get more publicity than
they have any right to in the form of being accepted onto platforms such as Steam- an
issue that Jim Sterling has raised awareness to for years before strangely pulling a u-turn
in his latest video and pointing the finger at least partially at Unity for allowing such
a game to be made in the first place. I don’t think the question is whether Unity
is a good game maker. I don’t even think it’s whether they should be involved in
the games made using it. The real question I think is whether lowering the barrier as
low as Unity has done is worth the price. Because doing so WILL result in a LOT more
bad games and only a FEW more good ones. At least in the short-term.
Of course I think it’s worth it, as it’s not just easier but also faster to make things
with an easy game maker. I personally use Fusion myself and time and time again I’m
told to move to a ‘better’ game maker. These people who tell me to say it with good
intentions but I know they’re basing Fusion’s limitations on the games they’ve seen made
on it, rather than how good the program itself is. Having used it myself, I know the program’s
limitations are well beyond what I, as a lone game developer, will ever reach. And as a
lone game developer I’ll be able to achieve more with Fusion than I ever will with a more
complex game maker because it IS faster to make things in Fusion.
Put simply: the likes of Fusion and Unity are easier and faster to develop with, but
have a lower ceiling than perhaps the likes of Unreal or Cryengine. But be realistic and
ask what you’ll reach first. Because I bet it’s your own ability and patience that
holds you back long before the limitations of the program you use.
Confident people intimidate me. When people confidently tell me that I should be using
another game-maker, I assume they’ve properly factored in what I’m making, that they know
about Fusion and its limitations, and also know that something else would be better for
me to use. The truth is that these people probably don’t know what they’re talking
about. They see the world in simple black and white, with coding in C++ being the solution
to everything because big games are never limited by it. They probably also assume that
Unity’s to blame for every bug in every game made using it, even if they’ve never
touched the program themselves. They know so little that there’s very little they
know they don’t know. You may think it’s hypocritical for me to
talk about it since I also have limited experience with Unity, but hear me out. Poor quality
games have tell-tale signs to them. Unity has slippery movement and dodgy animations.
Although I don’t make games in Unity, I do make them with Fusion, which also has slippery
movement and dodgy animations… IF you use the built-in tools. Truth is, I still use
these built-in features when I start on a project because they’re GOOD ENOUGH for
the concept stage. Later on, when the game gets better, I then replace them with my own
designs that don’t have the same limitations. It’s just that this takes time and effort.
I’m pretty sure that the same applies to Unity. Clearly, people who make rubbish games
with Unity don’t bother doing this and just stick to the premade movement, which gamers
then think is Unity’s fault rather than the developers themselves!
So any way, like I said, I think that lowering the barrier of entry is worth it. There’s
just got to be a way of filtering the good from the bad games that are developed using
Unity. And this is where I disagree with Jimmy’s Unlikely Recommendation. He suggests that
Steam and Unity work together in some vague way, but doesn’t propose how exactly such
a collaboration would solve the issue. Here’s what I propose. By all means, Unity
should remove the compulsory screen in their free version to distance themselves from low
effort games. But I think more importantly, they should actively nurture and encourage
the better titles that are made on the platform, working with the developers and ensuring that
such games show the engine in the best possible light and to actually be the ones advertising
the games made. Similar to how Nvidia’s shows games that use their Gameworks tech.
Or perhaps Unity could create montages from promising Unity games similar to what Unreal
and Cryengine already do. Or perhaps they should take it upon themselves to make their
own game using their engine to show the world what it’s capable of. Unplayable tech demos
simply don’t cut it anymore! That ensures that the good titles have the
best chance they have of getting out there. As for the bad titles… well, they’re going
to be made. They’re an inevitable side-effect from Unity’s low barrier of entry and don’t
see it as their job to ensure these titles never see the light of day.
And I don’t see a problem with bad games. I’ve made many bad games, and had a lot
of fun making them and sharing them with friends and family! Why should all games using Unity
have to be made with the intention of being sold on Steam?
The problem only arises when the developer thinks their bad, unpolished or unfinished
game is worthy of a place on Steam. And doubly so when Steam allows them to do so! And judging
from Jim’s earlier videos I’m amazed he doesn’t see this as being solely Steam’s
fault. I don’t see Unity being any more accountable for the bad games made using it
as Tescos are for whatever food is made using the kitchenware that they sell.
Sure, if good chefs use their stuff them by all means, promote them. But don’t waste
your time trying to stop the bad ones. So yeah, Unity may be responsible for a lot
of bad games, but it also brought us Cities: Skylines. Source may be old and dated and
sorely requiring a SECOND edition for a particular THIRD game, but it still enabled the excellent
Titanfall 2. And Fusion may be but a humble 2D game maker, but has still brought about
Destruction Darius 2, the greatest game of all time.
But that’s my honest, humble, and most excellent opinion. Thank you to Mr Sterling for originally
raising this issue, I hope you find somebody who has a lot of spandex.
Until next time… thank God for me.