On March 23rd, we announced Unity Game Simulation at the Google for Games Developer Summit. Unity Game Simulation is a cloud service that enables game studios to complement their pre-launch playtests through the power of simulation. Supported by Google Cloud’s infrastructure, Unity Game Simulation helps you evaluate your game balance at scale. Unity Game Simulation is now available in beta. To get started for free, sign up here.
A highly engaging and captivating game is all about making sure the gameplay is balanced. Every game, whether mobile or PC, hyper-casual or open-world, online or offline, requires thorough balancing. Launching an imbalanced game could negatively impact the player’s perception of the game.
Spreadsheets are one solution that many game designers use to model elements of the game. However, these spreadsheets oversimplify and inaccurately represent real gameplay. Human playtesting is another solution for testing and balancing, especially for highly subjective elements of a game. However, playtesting can quickly become expensive and run into scaling limitations.
At Unity, we envisioned a solution that leverages thousands of gameplay simulations in the cloud to provide more accurate results and to allow playtesters to focus on the subjective aspects of the game.
“Even well-developed games fail when they are not properly balanced. Traditional methods to balance a game rely heavily on human playtesting and countless, manual redeploys. The entire process is costly, slow and inefficient,” said Danny Lange, VP of AI and Machine Learning, Unity Technologies. “A better way to balance your game is with Unity Game Simulation, where you can run thousands of gameplay simulations in the cloud that can provide more accurate results to leave playtesters to focus on subjective criteria like game feel and the fun factor.”
We are excited to announce Unity Game Simulation, a solution that complements playtesting by using the scale of the cloud. Unity Game Simulation allows game developers and designers to test more and iterate often over changes in the game. Simulations happen on actual game code, generating accurate data, not just approximations. And since we are leveraging the power of the cloud, studios can speed up testing, achieve massive scale, and obtain results in a matter of hours or even minutes. All of this is available on-demand at just a fraction of the testing budget.
We provide an easy to install Unity package that includes all the tools necessary to set up your game for Unity Game Simulation. The package allows you to configure parameters, instrument metrics, and upload your build. Instrument what you want to measure in the game with metrics. For example, one metric could be how long it takes a player to play through the game.
Configure parameters in your game that you want to adjust for each simulation. For example, you may want to try various combinations of speed boosts and power-ups.
After instrumenting and configuring, upload your game build directly from the Unity Editor and begin creating simulations in the Unity Game Simulation dashboard.
To help you easily create and manage your simulations, we provide an intuitive dashboard. Here, you can specify the parameter combinations you’d like to simulate in order to achieve your desired metrics. The UI is accessible by any user in your organization.
The data from simulations is available as raw data for individual simulations and as summary statistics for aggregations. All of this is accessible from the dashboard.
Furyion Games, a Toronto game development studio, created Death Carnival, a fast-paced top-down shooter with extreme weapons and online multiplayer mayhem. One of the features of the game is the weapon socket system. Each weapon allows players to select a base weapon, ammo, weapon module, and temporary power-ups. Each of these combinations is made up of many variables that control the playstyle and efficiency of the weapon.
Furyion used Unity Game Simulation to run thousands of simulations, helping them identify the right combinations of base weapon, ammo, weapon module, and power up for their desired survivability and level completion time. This allowed them to ensure the weapons were balanced for maximum enjoyment.
“Unity Game Simulation helped us find the right parameters to create the best experience for our players,” said Herbert Yung, Studio Director at Furyion Games. “By hand, the process would have taken many more human balancing hours and downtime between reconfigurations. Going forward, we’re excited to use Unity Game Simulation to help solve level design problems and find ideal gameplay settings.”
iLLOGIKA, a sixty person Montreal game studio, created Rogue Racers, a racing game in which heroes compete in multiplayer races across the world in gorgeous 3D environments. In Rogue Racers, when a skilled player plays against an unskilled player, the skilled player should finish no more than five seconds ahead of the unskilled player in almost all cases. This concept is called rubberbanding. If the skilled player pulls too far ahead of the unskilled player, then the unskilled player might think the game is too hard. Conversely, if the race is too close, then the unskilled player might think the game is too easy. Finding the right settings to achieve this can be challenging.
To solve this, iLLOGIKA implemented a catch-up mechanism that grants the losing player a speed boost. The boost is determined by three parameters: a speed multiplier, a frequency, and a duration. However, these parameters generate thousands of potential combinations. After running through these combinations through simulations, iLLOGIKA was able to identify the ideal settings for keeping 95% of finishing times close to 5 seconds.
“By leveraging Unity Game Simulation, our team was able to run different combinations of in-game scenarios to find imbalances early in the development process. We believe Unity Game Simulation will play a big part in improving player experience in the future as well as help shorten the time it takes to soft launch a new title successfully,” said Régis Geoffrion, Studio Director at iLLOGIKA.