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By Jonathan Sears | Tuesday, June 24, 2014

New Features in Unity 4.5

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Anyone who’s been paying attention to the game development scene can tell you that Unity has evolved very quickly, and has matured into an amazing development environment; and 4.5, the latest release, is no exception. Unity 4.5 focuses a lot on bug fixes (over 450 of them), but there are also some great new features as well. I wanted to take a minute to highlight four of these new features, and talk about how they’ll impact your projects.

OpenGL ES 3.0

For those not familiar with the OpenGL ES, this is the Graphics Library that iOS devices use to render high end graphics. With the advent of the 3.0 standard, Unity is finally able to support the most current graphics technology. This will mean you’ll be able to get even better looking graphics than ever before.

Improved 2D Physics

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The 4.3 release of Unity added one of the most requested features of all time, 2D Game tools. Since Unity was built around a 3D game design workflow, 2D was never really planned for. Once they released the tools, people were overjoyed, but the physics were only slightly changed to compensate for 2D. With 4.5 there are a ton of changes to the main Box2D colliders as well as new functions that will enable better and more natural physics for your game objects.

Drag objects during play

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One of the coolest and most surprising new features is the ability to actually move and reposition objects while your game is playing. Let’s say for example you have a classic 2D platformer. You’ve built out a level, but you want to make sure it’s challenging for your character and player. While you’re playing, you are now able to raise, lower, and reposition objects in the environment until it’s just right. Historically, having to pause the environment, make a change, and then replay was a big time sink for small changes.

Unity Remote is amazing now

Unity Remote, up to now, has allowed you to run your game on an iOS or Android device without needing to perform a full build, but there has always been significant latency. The development team worked hard to improve this and now there’s zero latency. This is a huge improvement, and should make the new Unity Remote, Unity Remote 4, an indispensable tool in the developer’s toolkit.

Training on lynda.com

lynda.com has a wide variety of Unity training available, but if you’re new to Unity I recommend checking out Unity 2D Essential Training. This is a great course that walks you through the Unity environment, and some of the new 2D tools added in version 4.3.

If you’re interested in taking your skills to the next level, I recommend Level Design Basics in Unity. In this course, veteran game design expert Adam Crespi walks you through the process of creating a game level. He explains concepts like creating pinch points to control the flow of the game, and recycling existing objects so you don’t overload your memory budget. Adam even talks about objective and secret reward placements, to help you design the best game possible.

These are just some of the Unity courses available on lynda.com today and there’s always more coming; stay tuned.

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