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Unity 2022.2 Tech Stream is now available

December 8, 2022 in Technology | 18 min. read
Unity 2022.2 Tech Stream  is now available | Hero image
Unity 2022.2 Tech Stream  is now available | Hero image

I’m delighted to share that the 2022.2 Tech Stream, our final release of the year, is available for download.

Tech Stream releases allow you to go hands-on with early access to the latest features. It’s also an opportunity to share your feedback on how we can build even better tools to power your creativity.

Most recently at Unite, we gathered with our community of game developers to share some of these updates on topics like DOTS, rendering, multiplayer development, and XR, and we celebrated Made with Unity games like V Rising, Pentiment, Breachers, and many more. The dialogue online from over 9,000 Discord messages and countless in-person conversations was invaluable to shaping the future of Unity.

Coupled with the 1,470 new forum threads where we discussed product feedback with you since the 2022.1 Tech Stream arrived and the 3,080 new notes on the Unity Platform roadmap, this feedback helped us get to today’s release. We couldn’t have done it without you and are excited to get that work in your hands. To learn more about how your feedback drives product development, check out this blog post.

Together with the first Tech Stream, today’s 2022.2 completes this year’s cycle. Join us and explore what’s in store ahead of the LTS release in 2023. For even more on where Unity is heading, I encourage you to read our Games Focus blog series.

In this post, I’ll be sharing a few highlights from this release, but you can always get more details in the official release notes.

Build more ambitious games

A frequent request we receive is to give you the ability to create more engaging gaming experiences, deeply immersive worlds, and to do so with more objects and characters than ever before.

Unity 2022.2 includes ECS for Unity (Entity Component System), a data-oriented framework that empowers you to build more ambitious games with an unprecedented level of control and determinism. ECS and a data-oriented approach to development put complex gameplay mechanics and rich, dynamic environments at your fingertips. Starting with Unity 2022.2, ECS for Unity is fully supported for production, so you can get even more out of ECS through support channels and success plans.

ECS for Unity includes the Entities package, along with ECS-compatible packages for Netcode, Graphics, and Physics. If you’re already familiar with Unity’s GameObject architecture and scripting standards, ECS for Unity is fully compatible with GameObjects, so you’ll find a familiar authoring experience and streamlined workflows. This gives you the capability to leverage your existing skill set and leverage ECS only where it will best benefit your game experience.

We’re already seeing some great games running on ECS for Unity, such as Stunlock Studios’s V Rising. Because they turned to ECS, they were able to vastly increase the number of in-game interactable assets to more than 160,000 across a 5km2 map, with more than 350,000 server-side entities powering the experience.

Selling over 1 million copies in their first week, Stunlock Studios successfully leveraged ECS for Unity to build their hit title, V Rising.
Selling over 1 million copies in their first week, Stunlock Studios successfully leveraged ECS for Unity to build their hit title, V Rising.

If you’re looking for help, want to provide feedback, discuss best practices, or show off your projects, you can join a thriving community on our forums and Discord. Our teams regularly engage in these channels and keep a close eye on your feedback. Join us on December 8, 2022 for our Dev Blitz Day dedicated to DOTS, when we’ll be spending an entire day trying to answer all your ECS questions.

Multiplayer for all

The last 18 months have seen an explosion of multiplayer experiences being built with Unity, and we hear that many of you want to add multiplayer access to your games but aren’t sure where to start.

Alongside Unity 2022.2, we’re highlighting Netcode for GameObjects, a package that simplifies the implementation of multiplayer capability to your project in a number of scenarios such as couch cooperative play. The package works with familiar GameObject-based programming techniques, and it abstracts away low-level functionality so you can write less code while creating the multiplayer experience you envision.

Ship of Fools by Fika Productions is built with Netcode for GameObjects.
Ship of Fools by Fika Productions is built with Netcode for GameObjects.

For more demanding, large-scale games, you can harness the power of ECS with Netcode for Entities. Netcode for Entities can enable you to increase your game world size, player counts, and complex network interactions without the performance sacrifices developers have traditionally had to deal with.

We also recently announced the launch of self-serve capabilities in our Multiplayer Solutions suite within Unity Gaming Services (UGS), which helps you to operate your multiplayer games with hosting, communications, and more. Learn more about the latest developments for this tech in this Games Focus blog, or take a deeper look at the UGS Multiplayer suite in this UGS video, produced in collaboration with Tarodev.

Scalable graphics

Multiplatform scalability and high-fidelity graphics continue to be our focus for rendering. In our Games Focus blog “Rendering that scales with your needs,” we covered our dedication to delivering features that allow you to scale with confidence while tapping into an even broader range of tools that provides the best possible visual quality and performance.

We continue to bring the Universal Render Pipeline (URP) closer to feature parity with Built-in Render Pipeline through more streamlined and scalable workflows. We worked on key tools such as Forward+, which provides functional parity with Forward path in Built-in Render Pipeline, eliminating the light limit count so you can scale with quality across platforms.

Incorporate and scale a larger number of lights in your scene with Forward+

Another key feature is Decal Layers, which allow you to filter and configure how different objects are affected by Decal Projectors in a scene. Decals are useful for adding extra texture details to a scene, especially to break the repetitiveness of materials and their detail patterns.

Decal Layers allow you to decouple meshes from specific Decal Projectors in your scene.
Decal Layers allow you to decouple meshes from specific Decal Projectors in your scene.

Other special URP enhancements include LOD crossfade for smoother transitions and Built-in Converter improvements that provide you with tools to upgrade your existing projects from the Built-in Render Pipeline to URP. You can also personalize your rendering experience with Shader Graph Full Screen Master Node and Custom Post Processing across both renderers.

Seamlessly blend between weather states and see real-time reactions across clouds, water, and lighting
Seamlessly blend between weather states and see real-time reactions across clouds, water, and lighting

Diving into High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP), we’ve made enhancements that help you create even more beautiful physically based environments and detailed characters. You can scale high-fidelity environments with the new HDRP Water System to render oceans, rivers, and underwater effects, and use Volumetric Material to create procedural local fog using Shader Graph. Create even more realistic skies with improved Cloud Layers dynamic lighting, and you can even blend between different Volumetric Cloud conditions.

You can also take your cinematic renders further to render realistic characters with Eye Cinematic with Caustics and PCSS shadows. HDRP Path Tracing Denoising provides you the choice between NVIDIA Optix™ AI accelerated denoiser and Intel® Open Image.

Watch our latest Unite 2022 session on Lighting Environments in Unity to discover some key tips to get you started with our latest HDRP environment tools.

Enhanced productivity

Creative endeavors are never linear, and we understand that rapid iteration is part of the journey. This release includes new authoring features and workflow improvements to help speed up your productivity.

For example, the Prefab system sees a number of upgrades, including the ability to quickly replace a Prefab Asset for a Prefab instance in a scene or nested inside other Prefabs. Read our latest blog on this topic for more information.

Replacing a Prefab Asset for a Prefab instance in a scene
Replacing a Prefab Asset for a Prefab instance in a scene

For faster environments, the Paint Detail brush in the Terrain Tools package now allows you to simultaneously scatter multiple types of details with per-detail-type density settings available. Additionally, detail density and a few other Terrain settings are now overridable in the Quality settings to help you achieve platform performance targets.

Simultaneously scattering multiple types of details with the Paint Detail brush in Terrain Tools
Simultaneously scattering multiple types of details with the Paint Detail brush in Terrain Tools

You can also use improved tooling and API features for Splines to help draw paths in your environments with greater precision. This means you can build out rivers, roads, camera tracks, and other path-related features and tools more efficiently. Thank you to all who engaged with us in the worldbuilding forums in the last couple months to help us finalize this delivery. For more on the API features, check out the documentation.

Finally, the AI Navigation package is now available for you to quickly add intelligence to 3D characters and move in game worlds without needing to code rules manually. It also ships with samples to help you get started. See the forum for more details, and check out what’s next on the roadmap.

Extensible Editor

In 2022.2, UI Toolkit is reaching parity with IMGUI for customizing the Editor and is the recommended solution for Editor tools. This means better separation of concerns, more flexible layouts, and advanced stylings. With updates like default inspectors generated with UI Toolkit, ported common built-in Property Drawers, TreeView controls with multicolumn support, and a new vector-drawing API, this release not only helps us reach parity with IMGUI but also supports runtime use cases as well.

Using UI Toolkit for building custom Editor tools and extensions
Using UI Toolkit for building custom Editor tools and extensions

If you want to learn more about the current state of runtime, we recently released a new project demonstrating a full-feature interface with UI Toolkit based on your feedback for more samples. Check that out here.

To help you get started, watch the recent Unite session illustrating a step-by-step example of how to build custom tools with UI Toolkit. Plus, visit the recently released Editor Design system for guidance on how to build intuitive experiences.

Platform integration and optimization

CPU performance test results for heavy draw call submission, DX11 vs DX12
CPU performance test results for heavy draw call submission, DX11 vs DX12

After extensive work, testing, and listening to a lot of community feedback, DirectX 12 is out of an experimental state with the release of 2022.2. Depending on the project, you can now expect performance on par or greater than DX11, especially in draw call-heavy scenes.

This is a result of significant investment into performance and stability, making DX12 the recommended graphics API for Windows and Xbox development. Additionally, DX12 lays the foundation for more advanced graphics features, such as real-time ray tracing, which is now available for Xbox game development. We couldn’t be more excited and thankful to you all for helping us get DX12 across the finish line and look forward to the great games you’ll be creating.

Independent artist Sakura Rabbit used both ray tracing and DX12 to create these rich, real-time scenes.

We continue to hear that you not only want us to support new platforms, but also where we can simplify and improve development when targeting devices. If you haven’t already, check out the Games Focus blog “Reach more players over multiple platforms and form factors,” where we dive into both what is here now and what will be available in the near future.

Simplify XR creation

Vinci Games’s Blacktop Hoops (available on SteamVR and Quest AppLab) used Unity XRI as the base for their input controls.
Vinci Games’s Blacktop Hoops (available on SteamVR and Quest AppLab) used Unity XRI as the base for their input controls.

We’re making cross-device XR creation simpler with Unity XR Interaction toolkit (XRI). XRI provides a framework for common interactions that work across various controllers, such as grab, hover, select, visual feedback to indicate possible interactions on objects, and more. XRI is now in version 2.2, which adds multi-grab support, new locomotion methods, and a collection of ready-to-go Prefabs in our Starter Assets sample package.

We recently invited the creators of Blacktop Hoops, a VR basketball game, to talk about how they used XRI as the base for their input controls during the Unite 2022 Keynote. Check out the XR segment for more information.

We’ve also updated AR Foundation to version 5.0. This update brings two key features to reduce development time. The first is simulation, allowing you to test your AR app in the Editor using Play mode, an update that addresses a common AR developer frustration in the past. We’ve also added the AR Debug Menu as a new Prefab that you can use to view available configurations on your device and visualize AR subsystem data such as planes and point cloud positions.

Finally, we’re continuing to add key platform support to the Editor with Meta Quest Pro, PlayStation®VR2 and Magic Leap 2.

Want more information on Tech Stream?

To read more about the 2022.2 Tech Stream, check out the release notes for a comprehensive list of features and the Unity Manual for documentation. As you dive in, keep in mind that while each Tech Stream release is supported with weekly updates until the next one, there is no guarantee for long-term support for new features and remember to always back up your work prior to upgrading to a new version. The upgrade guide can also assist with this. For projects in production, we recommend using Unity Long Term Release for stability and support.

Let’s keep the conversation going!

Each Tech Stream is an opportunity to not only get early access to new features, but also to shape the development of future tech through your feedback. We want to hear how we can best serve you and your projects. Let us know how we’re doing on the forums, or share feedback directly with our product team through the Unity Platform Roadmap. You can also follow us on Twitter and catch our latest Unity Twitch Roundtable, covering 2022.2, on demand.

This release completes our 2022 development cycle. We have ambitious goals for next year, which you can read about in our Games Focus series or watch in the recent Unite Roadmap session. Thank you for all your support, and we look forward to partnering with you every step of the way.

December 8, 2022 in Technology | 18 min. read
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