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Unity 2018.3 beta: Get early access now

September 13, 2018 in Technology | 7 min. read
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In July, we launched Unity 2018.2, which improved the performance of both the Lightweight Render Pipeline (LWRP) and the High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP) to help you achieve high-end visual quality. The release also included multiple improvements to the Shader Graph, which now supports both pipelines, as well as several new features for mobile, 2D and scripting.

We now invite you to get early access to all these enhancements as well as brand new features coming in 2018.3 later this year, including Nested Prefabs,  2D isometric Tilemap functionality and others. This post gives you an overview of the key improvements and information about how to get early access.

Nested Prefabs & improved Prefab workflows

The 2018.3 beta gives you early access to features that can improve your Prefab workflows, including Nested Prefabs, Prefab Variants and Prefab Mode.

The new Prefab workflows allow you to split up scenes and Prefabs on a granular level. They give you greater flexibility, increase your productivity and enable you to work confidently without worrying about making time-consuming errors.

The improvements are based on surveys of more than 150 enterprise customers, numerous interviews, several usability tests and two game jams. The long-term goal has been, not only to implement support for nesting, but to rethink the core Prefab workflows, so different team members can simultaneously edit Prefabs confidently and efficiently.

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Greater flexibility

Previously, you were forced to choose between creating large monolithic Prefabs, like buildings, or more granular ones, like pieces of furniture, but you couldn't do both.

Now with support for nested Prefabs, a large building can be made up of many smaller room Prefabs, which in turn can be made up of multiple pieces of furniture Prefabs, and so on.

Productivity booster

This makes it easier for teams of all sizes to:

  • Split up Prefabs into multiple entities for greater efficiency
  • Reuse any content, from small to large
  • Work on different parts of content simultaneously

Prefab Variants

Flexible properties increase efficiency

As a default, a Prefab Variant inherits the objects and properties of the Prefab it is a variant of, but at the same time, you have the possibility both to override those properties and to add additional components and GameObjects. This is similar to the concept of inheritance in object-oriented programming.

For example, if you have a door Prefab, you can create a Variant of it and assign it a different mesh and material to make it look old and broken. Any change made to the base door Prefab will affect the Variant, so, for instance, you can easily tweak the size of the Collider for both doors by changing the base.

Prefab Mode

Avoid time-consuming mistakes

A cornerstone of the new workflows, Prefab Mode enables you to edit Prefabs in isolation. Being able to edit an entire Prefab Asset without having to instantiate it in the scene or edit an existing instance means you can avoid mistakes related to accidentally applying overrides in the scene that shouldn't have been applied. This ability to edit in isolation means that you can make your changes with confidence.

Let us know what you think
Head over to our forum to give feedback and exchange information about the new Prefab workflows.

2D Tilemap isometric functionality

The world-building 2D Tilemap tool now enables you to build isometric tilemaps, which makes it easier to create certain kinds of games and to obscure objects. It makes it easy for you to create games such as 2D tycoons and simulation games. The Tilemap renderer is also capable of doing per-tile sorting and optimized dynamic batched rendering. You can use it to create isometric worlds where tiles can obscure objects, so you can make characters go behind buildings, trees and other objects.

Another great advantage is that you can paint a tile with a vertical offset. This allows you to create tall structures in an isometric world that are capable of obscuring other objects that go behind it. This feature works well with the “Custom Axis Sort” feature.

Art courtesy of Max Heyder Art (Golden Skull) available on the Unity Asset Store

Particle System

It is time to remove the Legacy Particle System.

We are providing an upgrader on our forums, which will convert legacy components (e.g. ParticleEmitter) into new components (e.g. ParticleSystem). This upgrade should be performed in versions Unity 2018.2 and earlier.

Grab the updater here.

Starting with Unity 2018.3, Legacy Particle Components will not work.

Unity 2018.3 comes with a number of other improvements and features for Particle Systems. Most notably, our revamp of the External Forces module is ready. It introduces a new Particle System Force Field Component, which can be used to apply a variety of forces to your particles.

We’ve also added a Ringbuffer mode, which can be used for persistent effects, such as footprints and bullet holes, and there are two new modes in the Texture Sheet Animation module, for animating particle textures at a fixed frames-per-second or based on their speed. There is also a new option in the Shape module that allows you to emit particles sequentially from the vertices of a mesh, which replicates the Systematic option in the Legacy Particle System.

There are a number of other minor improvements coming in 2018.3 too, including a Burst Probability option, per-particle flipping of mesh particles, improved Shape module Gizmos in the Scene View, and the ability to disable the billboard roll, which is particularly useful in VR applications, when the user tilts their head.

Updates to the Navigation System

In our Navigation System, we made sure NavMeshes in prefabs can now be baked in isolation directly from Prefab Mode. Also, we added the `NavMeshQuery.Raycast()` method to be called in jobs for tracing straight paths between two positions on the NavMesh. We are continuously adding improvements and would love your input in our forums.

Other features and updates

Other features and improvements include an upgrade of NVIDIA PhysX from 3.3 to 3.4 . The Roslyn compiler is also supported, which allows you to use the latest C# 7 features. In addition, support for Android App Bundles gives optimized APKs to users based on their device configuration.

How to get early access to the new features

You can get access to everything mentioned above right now simply by downloading our open beta. Not only will you get access to all the new features, you’ll also help us find bugs and release the highest quality software.

If you are not already a beta tester, perhaps you’d like to consider becoming one. You’ll get early access to the latest new features, and you can test if your project is compatible with the new beta. Other benefits:

  • Join the experts to share insights with experienced members of the Unity community.
  • Win cool prizes — beta testers are automatically entered into our sweepstakes.
  • Influence the future of Unity with surveys, feedback and the chance to be invited to roundtables.
  • Be part of an elite group that gets special benefits, such as discounts and invitations to special events.

As a starting point, have a look at this guide to being an effective beta tester to get an overview. If you would like to receive occasional emails with beta news, updates, tips and tricks, please sign up below.

Release notes

As always, refer to the release notes for the full list of new features, improvements, and fixes. You can provide us with feedback for the features on our forums as well.

Sign up for the latest beta news

September 13, 2018 in Technology | 7 min. read
Topics covered