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Unity 5.5 is ready for you

November 29, 2016 in Technology | 11 min. read

Every release is a big moment, and we’ve spent months on this one polishing these new features to help you deliver great games and experiences. But we couldn’t have done it without all the users who provided valuable feedback during the beta. Thank you, your participation is essential!

Before we jump into the details, here are a few key areas of focus for this Unity 5.5 release:

New platforms, new opportunities

First, we keep on extending opportunities for creators to reach new users and new markets. In Unity 5.5, support for Microsoft Holographic (HoloLens) is no longer in preview mode, and that means you can now jump into exploring the future of augmented and mixed reality. We have also improved our In-App-Purchase feature with a codeless experience to take advantage of storefronts and added CloudMoolah.

Better tools for artists

We’re also working to make artists feel even more at home in Unity adding better artist tools. In Unity 5.5, we brought major improvements to our Particle System and Line Renderer components. Our Animation Window has workflow improvements and massively improved performance for faster, more reliable iteration. Then there’s the new Splash screen tool, which lets you introduce your brand at the start of your game with just a few clicks. We’re also introducing an experimental tool called Look Dev to ease the process of ensuring parity in materials throughout physically-based projects.  Looking to the future, we're excited to introduce Unity Collaborate to everyone (Open Beta!), a simple way for entire teams to save and sync their Unity projects.

Performance improvement

Finally a lot of the new features aim to improve performance, so you can deliver the best experience to your users on all platforms. For example, we’ve added GPU instancing for Android and iOS, a new CPU Usage Profiler timeline view, and we’ve updated our physics engine to PhysX 3.3.3.

Time to dive into the details of what’s new in Unity 5.5, enjoy!

Microsoft Holographic (HoloLens) ready in 5.5

Support for Microsoft Holographic is now shipping with Unity 5.5. We also improved the workflow by bringing Holographic Emulation right into the Unity Editor. Developers creating applications for HoloLens will be able to prototype, debug, and iterate on design directly from the Unity Editor without needing to build and deploy to an actual HoloLens device. See the details in the Holographic documentation.

Codeless IAP and extended platform support

We know that managing In-App Purchase (IAP) across stores and platforms can be painful!
That’s why we're on a mission to make sure you can focus on making great games, without missing out on monetization opportunities.

The new Codeless IAP feature makes it easy to port in-app purchases to multiple stores and automate the transaction flows in real time. In addition to Apple App store, Google Play, Amazon, Samsung, Windows Store and Tizen Store, Unity IAP is extending support to the CloudMoolah and Xiaomi (Coming soon) helping you to monetize in Asia.

Improved Particle System

The particle system has received a number of new updates in Unity 5.5.

A new Lights Module allows you to attach real-time lights to a percentage of your particles, and lights to inherit properties from the particles they are attached to. Now it’s simple to make your particle effects cast light onto their surrounding environment:

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Here are some of the cool new effects you'll get in the Lights module:

The new Noise Module enables you to apply turbulence to particle movement, with quality settings that allow you to choose between cheap and efficient noise or smooth high quality noise:

In this following example using the Noise Module, we added turbulence to particle movement creating erratic, jerky movement, or smooth, flowing movement:

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Another example is how to easily add ribbonized trails to a particle system with the new Trails Module taking full advantage of the improved line/trail rendering capabilities:

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The Trails Module features a range of useful settings to achieve various effects:

We have also made the Color Gradient system more flexible, allowing you greater control over your particle colors. Use it to select an explicit list of colors, each with their own weighting:


It’s now possible to send custom data into your particle shaders, such as their size, rotation and velocity. You can also send tangents to your shaders, allowing for normal mapping.

If you need more control and customization options, all properties in the main particle settings have now been exposed to script. And if you write your own shaders, we’ve added support for sending custom data to particle system vertex shaders.

Finally, we’ve also lifted the restrictions on how many Sub-Emitters you can add to your effects. It’s now possible to create as many Sub-Emitters as you need, and they can also inherit properties from their parent particles, such as color, size, rotation and velocity.

We can’t wait to see the amazing visual effects you create with these updated tools!

Faster iteration in the Animation Window

Our Animation Window has workflow improvements and massively improved performance for faster, more reliable iteration.

First, we added a new box tool in the Animation Window. This allows far simpler moving, scaling, and even ripple editing (“r” hotkey) of keyframes in both Dopesheet and Curves.

We also added the Clamped-Auto tangent mode in the curve editor in an effort to replace the current Auto tangent mode, which has a tendency to create curve overshoots when keyframes are near one another.  When you set keyframes to Clamped-Auto tangent mode, the tangents gradually become flat if a keyframe goes out of bounds.

In parallel, we’ve carried out a host of performance improvements under the hood, which speed up rendering in the Animation Window. See this demo video for more details.

Better Line Renderer Component

Unity 5.5 offers a major improvement to how Unity renders lines and trails: The LineRenderer, which renders a line between a specified set of points, and the TrailRenderer, which renders a trail behind a moving object, have both been upgraded to use an improved line drawing algorithm. Check out the difference in rendering from Unity 5.4:

55vs54lines copy

New Splash Screen Tools

The new splash screen tools make it easy to  add l your company, publisher and game logos as a splash screen (which appears when your project is launched). There’s a broad range of easy-to-configure options: Sequencing of logos, Made With Unity co-branding, background imagery, animation, and more.

Look Dev for asset visualization & validation (Experimental)

Look Dev is an HDR (high dynamic range) image-based lighting tool that allows you to check and compare assets through a viewer to ensure they are correctly authored for various lighting conditions.

Look Dev is designed especially for texture artists, modelling artists, lighting artists, art directors, outsourcing managers, and anybody else involved in the visual art style of a project who needs to perform asset visualization and validation.

Built-in to Unity, Look Dev eases the process of ensuring parity in materials throughout physically-based projects.


Look Dev is an experimental feature in Unity, see the docs for details.

To get you started with various lighting samples, we’ve created a pack of 7 LatLong 8192×4096 HDR images shot in different locations around the world. Check them out on the asset store.

Visual Studio Code & Unity

We’ve added support for Visual Studio Code on macOS and Windows. Once it’s selected as your external script editor, Unity will open your scripts directly in Visual Studio Code. And debugging is also possible via the VS Code Unity debugger extension.

Unity Collaborate beta available for all in Unity 5.5

All Unity 5.5 users are invited to join the open beta for Collaborate, a simple way for teams to save, share, and sync their Unity projects. It’s easy to use so the entire team can contribute regardless of location or role.


Join the Beta and be sure to leave us plenty of feedback on the forum!

Looking for others to collaborate with?  Remember that Unity Connect can help!  Find talent and experience to help you achieve your vision.  Get started by making a profile now.

Of course, there’s more features and improvements..

As usual, the list of features and improvements is pretty long.   But before you jump to the Release notes, here are just a few more highlights:

  • The CPU Usage Profiler got a new high detail timeline view as well as a native memory allocation profiling view.
  • The Mono C# compiler has been upgraded to Mono 4.4, and now provides better performance and many bug fixes. Note that it is an upgrade of the C# compiler, not the full Mono runtime, but we feel that it represents an important step on the journey towards modernizing and improving Unity’s .NET experience.
  • WebGL 2.0 is now enabled by default in new projects, enabling improved rendering and visual quality in browsers that support the standard, on par with OpenGL ES 3.0. Although browser support is still experimental, we expect browser vendors to start supporting the upgraded standard in stable releases soon.
  • Linear Color Space rendering is now available on iOS and tvOS devices supporting Metal graphics API and Android devices with OpenGL ES 3.0 support.
  • GPU Instancing is now available for Android (with OpenGL ES 3.0 or newer) and iOS (with Metal).
  • Low-level graphics improvements: Depth buffer precision on modern graphics APIs has been greatly improved, particularly for large open game worlds. Native code plugins can access underlying graphics API Mesh and ComputeBuffer data. Graphics.DrawMeshInstanced has been added for manual rendering of instanced objects. CubemapArray support has been implemented and we increased the number of shader keywords to 256 (up from 128).
  • Unity’s Texture importer has been improved, with additional options to decouple texture format from compression, texture shape from texture type, and much more. For HDR textures, Unity now supports the FP16 format and BC6H compression.
  • Our physics engine has been updated from PhysX 3.3.1 to PhysX 3.3.3, and we added more performance metrics to the Physics profiler. The physics update brings more accuracy to all the physics queries. For example, this made it possible to resolve multiple cases where a raycast failed to detect (or, mistakenly detected) a hit against certain types of possibly scaled Colliders. On top of that, we added a flag that lets you specify explicitly whether a physics query should detect back-faced triangles or not.
  • The new PCM (persistent contact manifold) collision detection mode has been made default. Being compared to the older one that was based on the separating axis theorem (SAT), it tends to produce accurate contacts consistently over frames. What’s more, it doesn’t require all the contacts to be re-calculated every frame. As a result, the contacts buffers contain only actual contacts and use less CPU time to compute the contact feedbacks and depenetration forces.
  • New 2D Physics improvements have been added, including additional collision detection options, a new CapsuleCollider2D, and new properties for the Rigidbody2D physics component.
  • New selection highlighting in scene view: it now shows a selection outline instead of a wireframe. You can choose the color of the outline in the preferences of Unity, and it can be turned on/off in the Gizmos window.
  • November 29, 2016 in Technology | 11 min. read