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This release features a brand-new Editor interface, new Input System, faster in-Editor iteration time and lots of other improvements. The High Definition Render Pipeline and many 2D packages are now verified for 2019.3. 

Regardless if you work in games, entertainment, automotive, architecture, or any other industry, the Unity 2019.3 TECH stream release has something for you. Read this post for the highlights and then visit the 2019.3 webpage for details on each feature area. The website collects the related technical talks from Unite Copenhagen, the latest tutorials, documentation on how to get started, and much more.

If you are in pre-production or simply want to get your hands on all the latest features now, you can begin downloading the full release from our update page. For those of you who have projects in production or want to update live projects, we highly recommend waiting for the 2019.4 Long-Term Support (LTS) release. Unity 2019.4 LTS will ship this spring. 

It will have the same feature set as Unity 2019.3. The difference is that while the TECH stream offers you the latest features and improvements, in the LTS releases we focus entirely on stability and quality. We only add fixes that address crashes, regressions, and issues that affect the wider community. That means Integrated Success Services customer issues, console SDK/XDK issues, or any major changes that would prevent many of you from shipping your game. The LTS release is supported for two years, with biweekly updates providing further fixes, and is intended for projects beyond pre-production.

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Check out some of the Unity 2019.3 highlights in this video. 

Tools for artists and designers

You can now create holes, caves or trenches with ease in Unity 2019.3 thanks to the newest terrain updates.

Preview your animation rigging and keyframing in Timeline for faster iteration and to take advantage of Timeline tools. 

With Presets, you can customize the default state of just about anything in Unity – components, import settings, even custom assets – without coding. Presets can benefit development teams of all sizes, from streamlining repetitive tasks or validating design decisions, to enforcing standards and project templating. 

Unity now supports third-party renderer materials, enabling you to import specific materials like Autodesk Arnold Standard Surface shaders and display their properties correctly.

With Scene Picking you can now lock certain parts of your Scene so you can focus on what you actually want to update and not worry about making unintended changes. 

Unity 2019.3 also features several new additions to DOTS-powered artist tooling that make it easier for artists and designers to collaborate on DOTS-based projects and to take advantage of improved iteration speed and on-device performance.

The evolution of 2D tools

The new suite of 2D tools makes high-end 2D creation more accessible by bringing new and improved workflows to all creators, from individual artists to large teams. The following packages are verified to work with Unity 2019.3:

  • The 2D PSD Importer allows you to import layered Photoshop images directly into Unity, conserving the layer information and Sprites, which is particularly useful if you plan to use the 2D Animation package.
  • 2D Animation provides all the tooling (Sprite rigging, tessellation, bone creation, etc.) you need to create skeletal animations right in the Sprite Editor.
  • Unity now also includes two powerful tools for 2D worldbuilding: 2D Tilemap Editor makes it easy to create square, hexagonal, and isometric tilemaps, and 2D Sprite Shape allows you to create organic spline-based 2D terrains and objects.
  • The 2D Pixel Perfect feature ensures that your pixel art remains crisp and stable in motion at different resolutions, and Cinemachine now includes a Pixel Perfect Virtual Camera extension to improve compatibility with 2D Pixel Perfect.

We continue improving our 2D tools, and so this release also contains a preview of new 2D features: 

  • The new 2D Lights and 2D Shadows are included in the Universal Render Pipeline as part of the 2D Renderer. 
  • Secondary Textures allow you to add Normal Maps and Mask Maps to Sprites in the Sprite Editor to make these GameObjects react more realistically to 2D Lights conditions. 
  • With 2D Animation’s Sprite Swap, you can quickly change a character’s appearance while keeping the same rigging and animation.

Lost Crypt, a new sample project that showcases this 2D evolution, is available to download.

Tools for programmers

This release features a number of serialization improvements. The new SerializeReference attribute provides an alternative to ScriptableObjects for expressing relations between objects (e.g., graphs) and polymorphic containers (e.g., List<IFoo>). That means you can have regular C# objects referencing each other, which simplifies your code. And the transition to our new optimized UnityYAML library speeds up text serialization, including loading and saving Scenes.

We added Configurable Enter Play Mode as an Experimental feature. By disabling domain and/or Scene reloading from the Enter Play Mode process (when there are no code changes) you will speed up iteration times significantly.

We also upgraded the PhysX library from v3.4 to v4.1, which includes a new API and faster MeshCollider instantiation time, as well as a number of improvements for cloth.

Profiling improvements include configurable frame count, allowing you to inspect performance data through a larger window of frames. Deep Profile now lets you instrument C# code in all Players, and the managed allocation, call stack support allows you to identify when a C# function is triggering the Garbage Collector in all Players.

This release also introduces a number of efficiency improvements to the DOTS game code that allow you to achieve more with fewer lines of code. (See also the Data-Oriented Technology Stack (DOTS) section below.)

In other news for programmers interested in DOTS, Havok Physics for Unity is now available via the Unity Package Manager, with subscription plans for Unity Pro users now available in the Unity Asset Store. This integration is written using the same C# DOTS framework as Unity Physics, and includes the features, performance, stability, and functionality of the closed-source, proprietary Havok Physics engine, written in native C++ for developers who have more complex physics needs.

Graphics

The High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP) is now a verified package for 2019.3 and recommended for delivering performant, high-fidelity graphics and photorealism on high-end hardware. HDRP assets scale in quality, taking advantage of the available hardware resources. Unity 2019.3 updates to HDRP include Custom Render Pass and Custom Post processing and Physically Based Sky. Also HDRP now works for VR

HDRP now also includes real-time ray tracing features as a preview feature. Ray tracing takes into account the objects in your Scene and simulates true light, shadows, and reflections, which in the offline world would require long render times and/or big budgets. 

The Universal Render Pipeline, formerly known as the Lightweight Render Pipeline, lets you reach the widest number of Unity-supported platforms with best-in-class visual quality and performance. It comprises a full suite of artist tools for content creation, so regardless if you’re building a 2D, 3D, VR or AR project, you only need to develop once to deploy everywhere. The Universal Render Pipeline now comes with a completely revamped, integrated Post-Processing Stack for greater performance. And you can update your projects from Unity’s Built-in Render Pipeline to benefit from better performance and scaling.

The Visual Effect Graph package is verified for Unity 2019.3 and integrated with Shader Graph, which allows you to easily create high-fidelity visual effects. We also added motion vector and Particle Strips to the Visual Effect Graph, providing you with even more control of your particle effects.

In Shader Graph you can now add Shader Keywords to create static branches in your graph, which can be used for building your own Shader LOD system. We’ve also added support for vertex skinning for DOTS Animation, and sticky notes to improve your workflow, which let you leave comments and explanations for anyone working on the project.

This release also includes multiple lighting updates. For example, you can now merge Light Probes in additively loaded Scenes, making it easier to handle lighting for large Scenes that are broken up into smaller chunks. We’ve also added many performance improvements and updates to the Progressive Lightmapper.

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“The Heretic” - full cinematic now available

The Heretic is a short film by Unity’s award-winning Demo team, now available on YouTube in its entirety. The first part of the project was revealed at GDC 2019 and we shared a preview of the second part at Unite Copenhagen 2019.

The Heretic project runs on Unity 2019.3, using a broad range of out-of-the-box graphics features, including every possible aspect of HDRP and the Visual Effect Graph. Watch the whole film to see an entirely VFX-based character that we introduce at the end of the short.

Editor and Team workflows

We’ve revamped the Editor UI with new icons, a new font, visual feedback, and much more to improve usability, legibility, and performance, and to support high-DPI display resolutions.

With the new Quick Search feature, you can easily find anything in the Editor, including assets, game objects, settings, and even menu items. 

UIElements includes several new features that add useful functionality to the USS stylesheet. The new UI Builder is a visual authoring environment that lets users access the underlying framework of UIElements.

We’ve improved the Package Manager, including giving you the option to install packages from a Git repository via a URL. Additionally, you can now manage your Asset Store collection directly through the Package Manager.

The new Unity Accelerator provides a local network proxy and cache service that speeds up iteration times for Collaborate source code download and Asset pipeline importing.

The new Addressable Asset System (i.e., Addressables) gives you and your team an efficient way to manage complex live content by loading assets by an address that can be called from anywhere. 

We’ve also updated the AssetDatabase Pipeline to Version 2, which provides asset dependency tracking and many other improvements that together lay the foundation for a more reliable, performant and scalable pipeline. It also greatly improves platform switching and swapping between previously imported versions of assets.

Platforms

The Input System is the new standard to integrate device controls in your projects. The new workflow is designed around Input Actions, an interface that lets you separate controls binding from the code logic. The new system is consistent across platforms, extensible and customizable, and is available in Preview.

The Incremental Garbage Collector is now production-ready (no longer experimental). This feature can significantly reduce the problem of Garbage Collector interruptions by distributing the workload over multiple frames. It supports all target platforms except WebGL.

Unity’s platform-abstraction layer, Baselib, unifies base functionality for the most common platform-dependent operations. In this release, Baselib updates improve the stability and performance of parallel data structures and synchronization primitives.

Are you interested in publishing your game on Stadia? We now offer support for everything that approved developers need to create and ship their first game on Google's new cloud gaming platform. Interested developers should start the process with an application for resources on Google's Stadia developer website.

AR and VR

AR Foundation, the framework that enables you to build your application once and deploy it across ARKit- and ARCore-enabled devices, now extends to Magic Leap and HoloLens devices. 

The XR Interaction Toolkit enables you to add interactivity to your AR and VR experiences, across our supported platforms, without having to code the interactions from scratch. It provides a set of monobehaviours/scripts that implement common object and UI interaction scenarios for both AR and VR devices.

Ensure your AR and VR experiences reach the widest possible audience with our modularized XR plugin architecture workflow. 

To achieve highly realistic graphics and lighting effects that let you push the boundaries of high-fidelity VR, check out HDRP for VR

Mobile

The Device Simulator (Preview) allows you to simulate how your content will look, as well as preview the behaviors and some physical characteristics, on a broad range of devices. 

With Unity as a Library, you can now insert features powered by Unity directly into your native mobile applications. These features include, but aren’t limited to, 3D or 2D real-time rendering functions for augmented reality, 2D mini-games or 3D models.

On-demand rendering lets you control the rendering loop independently from the rest of our subsystems. This means you have more control to lower power consumption and prevent thermal CPU throttling.

Finally, we have moved the System requirements for Unity 2019.3 to the Unity Manual (they were formerly here). We have also added the details for using the Unity Editor and Player on all supported platforms so you can clearly see what’s required and supported. Note that the minimum OS-supported versions are now 4.4 (API 19) for Android and 10 for iOS, and that OpenGL ES is deprecated on iOS. 

Data-Oriented Technology Stack (DOTS)

At Unite Copenhagen 2019 we revealed the DOTS Sample project. It showcases how all the DOTS-powered components, including Physics, Animation, NetCode, and Conversion Workflow, work in Unity 2019.3. While we designed it to be an internal test project, feel free to download it and experiment with it. It’s available on GitHub and includes all source code and assets. Here are some of the DOTS features available in this release:

  • DOTS game code updates, which let you achieve more with less boilerplate code.
  • The first iteration of our upcoming new Animation system for DOTS. It offers all the core animation functionality such as animation blending, runtime IK, root motion, layers, and masking.
  • The FPS NetCode used in the DOTS Sample is built on top of DOTS and makes it easy to create a networked game with similar architecture. It provides client-side prediction, authoritative server, and interpolation.
  • Unity Physics leverages the Burst Compiler and the C# Job System and provides functionality such as collision detection and raycasts used for shooting-game mechanics in the project.
  • The Conversion Workflow enables you to convert your GameObjects to entities with one click to harness the power of DOTS while using the workflows you already know. 
  • With Unity Live Link, you can make changes in the Editor and push them in real-time to your target device, giving you instant feedback on how changes look, feel, and perform on the actual device. 

Bug fixes, improvements, and API updates

As with all releases, 2019.3 also includes a large number of minor improvements and bug fixes. Find the full list in the 2019.3 release notes. You can also use the Issue Tracker to find specific information on individual bugs.

2019.3 beta sweepstakes winners

We are happy to announce the four lucky winners of our Unity 2019.3 beta sweepstakes! To celebrate the release of real-time ray tracing in Preview, NVIDIA supplied us with four brand-new NVIDIA GeForce RTX™ 2080 GPUs, which beta participants were eligible to win by helping identify bugs during the 2019.3 beta cycle. Congratulations to Antonios, Dwayne, Kevin, and Tom! 

Make sure to look out for our upcoming 2020.1 beta sweepstakes and stay updated with beta news by signing up for our newsletter. You can provide feedback on the new features and updates in our forums as well.

Are you curious about what’s going to be in Unity 2020.1? You can get access to the alpha version now or wait for the beta. If you’re interested in knowing more about our Preview packages, check out the overview here.

What’s coming up in 2020?

We are excited to announce our release plans for this year. With more and more features distributed as packages and continuously updated, we’re reducing the number of TECH stream releases from three to two per year. The 2019 Long-Term Support (LTS) release will be available in spring 2020. 

Also, remember that since we support each LTS for two years, Unity 2017 LTS will reach the end of its life in March 2020. 

The 2020.1 TECH stream release is scheduled for spring 2020 and the 2020.2 release is scheduled for fall 2020. The cadence for updates with bug fixes and regressions remains unchanged.

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January 28, 2020 in Technology | 13 min. read
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