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Unity 2022.1 Tech Stream is now available

May 10, 2022 in Engine & platform | 16 min. read
Unity 2022.1 Tech Stream header
Unity 2022.1 Tech Stream header

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Join us as we take our first step toward the next Unity LTS release by exploring the latest features in our new Tech Stream release cycle.

Today, I’m happy to share that the new 2022.1 Tech Stream is available for download from our releases page. Tech Stream releases give you an opportunity to go hands-on with early features, provide feedback, and engage in dialog on how we build tools that work harder for you. Tech Streams are released twice a year and ensure that when the LTS releases in 2023 that you’re already familiar and ready to incorporate all of the functionality into your new project. 

This first major release of our new lifecycle was informed by your feedback and suggestions on where to invest Unity’s engineering resources. Your 7,600 notes to the roadmap, over 5,000 forum threads with direct product feedback and insights, and hundreds of individual conversations with us have resulted in more than 280 feature improvements, including over 70 new features. All shaped by you. 

In this post, we’re sharing just a few of the most impactful highlights that cover key focus areas, including unified UI, artist usability, iteration speed, and platform enhancements. You can always get more detail in the official release notes.

Extensible Editor

Your team’s needs are unique, and we want to give you an extensible Editor that can flex to your workflows, so everyone can work faster together.

UI Toolkit is a unified solution for both authoring runtime UI and extending the Editor with custom tools. In 2022.1, we’ve added even more features for tool developers looking to customize the Editor for their teams with UI widgets and custom shapes. We’ve also added the TreeView with multi-column support, new vector drawing APIs to customize the UI element appearance, and we’re progressively making Property Drawers and Property Attributes available, starting with the most commonly used. Connect with us in the forums and let us know how we can help make UI Toolkit even better for you.  

We’ve heard you tell us how important Splines are in our forums, and it’s one of the most requested features on our public roadmap. 

“I have been researching spline tools… but I don't know if any of them will provide exactly the functionality that I need and it would become quite costly to buy a bunch just to experiment. So a good built-in spline tool is incredibly important to my project.”

In this release, a new Spline authoring framework is available as a package. It’s designed to create and manipulate Splines in-engine, above all by letting programmers extend functionality with tools and custom components such as instantiating geometry and moving along a Spline. It can also work alongside the new Edit modes, and edit Spline points and tangents using the standard editing tools and shortcuts. Keep letting us know what you think in our forums, and see what’s next on the roadmap.

We’ve also improved the procedural creation of materials. For creators using code to generate materials, we extended the Material API to all material properties, now supporting keyword states, HDRP’s diffusion profiles and IES lights, enhancing procedural material usage in-Editor or at runtime.

Finally, we’ve added a new API for Unity File System, enabling you to create tools for Asset Bundle visualization and analysis that help your team optimize performance. 

Enhanced productivity

Rapid iteration is a key element of any creative work – it’s what makes game development so much fun. We’re optimizing the core of the Unity Editor so that you can iterate quickly through the entire lifetime of your productions, from importing assets, through working in the Editor, to building and deploying a playable game. 

At the same time, we’ve heard through our graphics forum that technical artists are looking for additional Editor tools and APIs to help them bring their vision to life more quickly. So, based on the feedback, we’ve added new options that will help any creative team get more done in less time.

As the HDRP and URP renderers mature, we’ve heard that you’re looking for even more ways to achieve your visual fidelity goals at a faster pace.

Material Balls with the new Unity logo

One of the most highly requested feature cards from our Rendering & Visual Effects public roadmap was Material Variants. We’ve heard that you often reuse base materials numerous times across different projects, scenes, or locations in an environment, which can lead to authoring issues when materials are changed out of the context of their implicit hierarchy.

“This is a critical feature for any bigger project if we want to control all shader/material for the game. Been waiting for years for this.”

Material Variants offer an integrated and powerful workflow to reduce iteration and authoring mistakes when reusing materials in teams where artists manage large amounts of assets. Now available in both HDRP and URP, Material Variants allow you to create material hierarchies, where children can share common properties with the parent material, and override only the properties that differ. Changes to common and non-overridden properties in the template material will automatically be reflected in the variant material, saving you time and making material changes that much easier. 

You’ve shared that finding the right items in your project can be time-consuming, particularly as you scale. That’s why we’ve introduced visual search queries to help you find what you’re looking for faster. Additionally, you can also build more complex queries and leverage the Editor object picker for more precise selections for object fields.

Search options in Unity

For 2D creators, there are plenty of productivity improvements. In this release, we’ve focused on speed-improving enhancements to foundations, import, animation, and physics. 

For starters, the Sprite Atlas v2 is now the default for all new projects bringing support for Accelerator and for folders as packable objects, a productivity boost that is much-loved by 2D creators. Working with Photoshop for 2D is enhanced by support for importing files with the PSD extension. Alongside this, we’ve added layer management in the 2D PSD Importer to give you more control over which layers get imported. The Sprite Swap feature now has streamlined keyframing and previews, making sprite swapping for 2D animation more intuitive.

Layer management in PSD importer in 22.1

To help with 2D physics, we’re introducing Delaunay tessellation. Often, polygons can be too thin or small and are filtered out by the physics engine. Delaunay tessellation not only stops producing polygons that are too thin or small but also produces fewer polygons to cover the same area. Check out some of the samples and our roadmap to learn more.

We’re also continuing to improve the Package Manager to help you get working on your project faster. In this release, you’ll find the ability to select multiple packages at once so you can manage them in bulk, along with the option to control the location of Package Manager caches.

To further boost productivity in another part of your workflow, the IL2CPP scripting backend will now always generate fully shared versions of all generic methods. This allows programmers' use of generic-type combinations that are not present at compile time to avoid a whole class of difficult-to-detect errors that can occur only at runtime.

There are so many quality-of-life improvements to the Editor that we can’t list them all here, but a few highlights include:

  • Faster to get in and out of Play mode, import textures and small files (by up to 60%), and create builds
  • Better UI on undo and redo operations
  • Cancel button for the project open progress window
  • Shortcut manager improvements

Detailed performance insights

We know that profiling your games and projects to get insights about their performance is critical to your success. So, in 2022, we’ve continued to enhance our profiling tools and analytics to give you comprehensive information that you can act on. 

In this release, we’re delivering the Frame Timing Manager for capturing and accessing GPU and CPU frame timing data and timestamps at a granular level. The Frame Timing Manager is available in-Editor and lets you target and adjust performance bottlenecks in your project, regardless of platform, with more information than ever before about how individual frames are performing. Together, these features let you build tools to profile and report on your projects on any platform. Connect with the performance team or get even more detail on the forums.

A screenshot from a Development Build FPS game

When building up or modifying a scene or if you’re improving or optimizing content, it’s important to understand how the frame budget is spent. We added a Frame Stats Profiler to the Rendering Debugger, available both in-Editor (Play mode only) or in a built Player, for all Scriptable Render Pipelines. This tool isn’t just intended for developers; it’s for anyone who wants to identify whether a scene is CPU- or GPU-bound and get a breakdown of the frames’ timings.

Platform optimizations

Finally, let’s talk about the breadth of platforms that you deploy to each and every day. It’s one of the primary reasons many of you choose to develop in Unity, and it’s why we continue to optimize platform support for new features and the latest APIs to power your creativity. 

For those looking to push Android performance even further on Samsung devices, you can now take advantage of Adaptive Performance 4.0. With that, you get four more scalers that cover physics, decals, custom, and layer culling – many of which include samples. One major benefit is the support for visual scripting that further simplifies scripting with Adaptive Performance. 

An overview of Unity's Visual Scripting System
Units accessible with Adaptive Performance 4.0 in Unity’s Visual Scripting system

For Android games targeting devices with Arm chipsets, we’ve heard that you want to optimize even more. With Unity 2022.1, you can access low-level performance data with the System Metrics Mali package, exposing metrics that provide insight into what impact your changes produce on the hardware level. Install the Read GPU Metric sample that ships with this package to see how GPU metrics can be accessed at runtime. On the iOS platform, we’ve enabled the latest incremental build pipeline, which ensures that you only rebuild the parts of the application where there have been changes since the previous build.

Continued improvement of the console development experience includes enhanced overall stability, as well as added support for the incremental build pipeline for Xbox.

Want more information on Tech Stream?

Check out the release notes and Unity Manual for details about what’s new. You can download Unity 2022.1 from the Unity Hub. If you’re curious about what’s coming or want to share your feature ideas with us, visit the Unity Platform Roadmap page.

Each Tech Stream release is supported with weekly updates until the next one, but there is no guaranteed long-term support for new features. We recommend using the more stable, better-supported Unity LTS release for projects in production. Remember to always back up your work before upgrading it to a new Unity version. See the Upgrade Guide for advice on bringing your project to Unity 2022.1.    

Unity Platform Release Timeline
Unity 2022.1 Tech Stream will be supported with weekly updates until Unity 2022.2 is released later this year.

Help us make a Unity that works for you!

We’ve just begun the Unity 2022 journey, but we’re excited to continue collaborating to help our Editor and tools make you as productive as possible. Your feedback is essential, so download the new release, use the new features, and tell us what we’re getting right and where we should go next. 

You can share any general feedback about the new release in the announcement forum post, while specific insights about key features are always welcome in dedicated forum groups for different areas, such as render pipelines, UI Toolkit, or Frame Timing Manager – you can find the full list of these groups here

This release is just the first stage in our 2022 development cycle. Building on these great improvements, we’ll also deliver on several other key areas, including improved rendering pipelines, artist usability, and netcode. Check out our roadmap overview from GDC for more details. Thank you for partnering with us, and we can’t wait to see what you create.

May 10, 2022 in Engine & platform | 16 min. read

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