Unite Berlin 2018 Keynote: Unity partners with Google, launches Ml-Agents ToolKit 0.4, Project MARS and more

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Unite Berlin 2018, the Unity annual developer conference, kicked off on June 19’ 2018. This three-day extravaganza will take you through a thrilling ride filled with new announcements, sessions, and workshops from the amazing creators of Unity. It’s a place to develop, network, and participate with artists, developers, filmmakers, researchers, storytellers and other creators.

Day 1 was inaugurated with the promising Keynote, presented by John Riccitiello, CEO of Unity Technologies. It featured previews of upcoming unity technology, most prominently Unity’s alliance with Google Cloud to help developers build connected games. Let’s take a look at what was showcased.

Connected Games with Unity and Google Cloud

Unity and Google Cloud have collaborated for helping developers create real-time multiplayer games. They are building a suite of managed services and tools to help developers, test, and run connected experiences while offloading the hard work of quickly scaling game servers to Google Cloud. Games can be easily scaled to meet the needs of the players. Game developers can harness the massive power of Google cloud without having to be a cloud expert. Here’s what Google Cloud with Unity has in store:

  • Game-Server Hosting: Streamlined resources to develop and scale hosted multiplayer games.
  • Sample FPS: A production-quality sample project of a real-time multiplayer game.
  • New ECS Networking Layer: Fast, flexible networking code that delivers performant multiplayer by default.

Unity ML-Agents Toolkit v0.4

A new version of Unity ML-Agents Toolkit was also announced at Unite Berlin. The v0.4 toolkit hosts multiple updates as requested by the Unity community.

Game developers now have the option to train environments directly from the Unity editor, rather than as built executables. Developers can simply launch the learn.py script, and then press the “play” button from within the editor to perform training.

They have also launched a set of two new challenging environments, Walker and Pyramids. Walker is physics-based humanoid ragdoll and Pyramids is a complex sparse-reward environment.

There are also algorithmic improvements in reinforcement learning. Agents are now trained to learn to solve tasks that were previously learned with great difficulty.

Unity is also partnering with Udacity to launch Deep Reinforcement Learning Nanodegree to help students and professionals gain a deeper understanding of reinforcement learning.

Augmented Reality with Project MARS

Unity has also announced their Project MARS, a Mixed and Augmented Reality studio, that will be provided as a Unity extension. This studio will require almost little-to-no custom coding and will allow game developers to build AR and MR applications that intelligently interact with any real-world environment, with little-to-no custom coding.

Unite Berlin – AR Keynote Reel

MARS will include abstract layers for object recognition, location, and map data. It will have sample templates with simulated rooms, for testing against different environments, inside the editor.  AR-specific gizmos will be provided to easily define spatial conditions like plane size, elevation, and proximity without requiring code or precise measurements. It will also have elements such as face masks, to avatars, to entire rooms of digital art.

Project MARS will be coming to Unity as an experimental package later this year.

Unity has also unveiled a Facial AR Remote Component. Powered by Augmented Reality, this component can perform and capture animated characters, allowing filmmakers and CGI developers to shoot CG content with body movement, just like you would with live action.

Kinematica – Machine Learning powered Animation system

Unity also showcased their AI research by announcing Kinematica, an all-new ML-powered animation system. Kinematica overpowers traditional animation systems which generally require animators to explicitly define transitions. Kinematica does not have any superimposed structure, like graphs or blend trees. It generates smooth transitions and movements by applying machine learning to any data source. Game developers and animators no longer need to manually map out animation graphs.

Unite Berlin 2018 – Kinematica Demo

Kinematica decides in real time how to combine data clips from a single library into a sequence that matches the controller input, the environment content, and the gameplay requests.

As with Project MARS, Kinematica will also be available later this year as an experimental package.

New Prefab workflows

The entire Prefab systems have been revamped with multiple improvements. This improved Prefab workflow is now available as a preview build. New additions include Prefab Mode, prefab variance, and nested prefabs.

  • Prefab Mode allows faster, efficient, and safer editing of Prefabs in an isolated mode, without adding them to the actual scene.
  • Developers can now edit the model prefabs, and the changes are propagated to all prefab variants.
  • With Nested prefabs, teams can work on different parts of the prefab and then come together for the final asset.

Predictive Personalized Placements

Personalized placements bring the best of both worlds for players and the commercial business. With this new feature, game developers can create tailor-made game experiences for each player. This feature runs on an engine which is powered by predictive analytics. This prediction engine determines what to show to each player based on what will drive the highest engagement and lifetime value. This includes ad, an IAP promotion, a notification of a new feature, or a cross-promotion. And the algorithm will only get better with time.

These were only a select few of the announcements presented in Unity Berlin Keynote. You can watch the full video on YouTube. Details on other sessions, seminars, and activities are available on the Unite website.

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