Unity 5 versus Unreal Engine 4


  • Unity 5: free for up to $100,000 revenue / year, no royalties. Deploys to Mac, Windows, Linux, IOS, Android, Blackberry, Tizen, PS3, PS4, PSVITA, XBOX 360, XBOX One, Web Player, WebGL, GearVR, Oculus Rift, Samsung Smart TV, Windows Phone 8 and Wii U.
  • Unreal Engine 4: free, 5% royalties after $12,000/year. Deploys to Windows, XBOX One, OpenGL (for Linux, Mac, PS4, IOS, Android Ouya) and WebGL.

There’s some talk about whether UE4 or Unity5 provides the same visuals but frankly that’s the remit of the teams who can produce AAA (Triple A; link) quality assets. If you can afford them, then you’ve got a decision to make.

Jeff LaMarche on the MartianCraft blog describes how his team have switched their primary game engine from Unity to Unreal. But it’s his project, his team; I do think it’s worth remembering that you can change. I’ve been working with the game dev and animation team in the Image Centre in South West College because they’re able to work with both toolsets. I recommend if you have a novel gaming or “interactive experience” project, get in touch with them.

Dissecting a Translink Policy

I had a thought this morning.

Translink, the local bus and rail service, provides transport tickets for a price. If you travel after 0930 in the morning, tickets are reduced in price. This is to entice you to travel later.

This is exactly the wrong thing to do.

It’s designed to alleviate crowding on busy commuter vehicles during rush hours. It doesn’t really work because people travel when they need to.

We need to encourage more people to travel on a bus or train before 0930 thereby alleviating traffic pressure while not impacting productivity. My solution would be to make all bus and train fares free before 9 o’clock. If that doesn’t encourage more people to leave the car at home, nothing will.

(Either way, price escalation can be a breach of EU consumer legislation).

Should we treat Religion with humility?

(This was a response to Denis on FaceBook attributing the need to have some respect for religion because science cannot know everything. I think it would be a grave mistake to assume religion knows anything that science has yet to find an answer for.)

Religion used to be the explanation for everything but as our science has developed, religion has retreated into the recesses where science has no business and little interest.

• The universe: Genesis or Big Bang?
• Person having fits: possession by devils or epilepsy
• Sickness: the presence of sin or germ theory

Piece by piece religion is unravelling and even the devout pick and choose what they want to follow based in their own prejudices.

Galileo had his conflict because he was one of the first to pick at the threads and he did so under possibility of death because religion has always responded with violence to those who would question its ultimate authority.

Religions like Christianity know their cards are marked in developed societies which is why they spend so much effort recruiting and indoctrinating in developing countries – where the people have not experienced the enlightenment, where they still suspect devils and call the lightning by a name. For the same reason religion insists on having access to our children – to chide them into their twisted belief systems.

Religion has murdered it’s way to dominance and you suggest we should treat it with humility? I do not think so.

Unity 3D the clear industry favourite.

The recent growth of Unity 3D in industry locally despite the push in further education for the Unreal Engine (at odds with industry demand) was why we worked with South West College to deliver more training for converting some programmers to Unity Devs. And, of course, to aid collaboration and component re-use for game jams!

Digital Circle spends a lot of time looking at industry trends. We focus on the good of the industry which has a different perspective to support agencies like Invest NI (which has a focus on jobs created) and Northern Ireland Screen (which has a focus on headline-grabbing movie projects).

We couldn’t have delivered some of our interventions without the help of the Arts Council ‘Creative Industries Innovation Fund’ (supported by DCAL) and the Honeycomb Creative Works programme (supported by the SEUPB). The bad news is that both of these programmes will not be active in the coming future.

It is just nice, every now and then, to know that we did the right thing, for the right reasons, with the right outcomes.

If you want to get stuck into Unity, there are heaps of tutorials on their web site and if you’re a small business, you could do well getting support from the InnovateUS programme to get Unity mentoring from South West College. There are also heaps of video training resources in YouTube.

Games are bigger than Hollywood, Apps are bigger than Hollywood. And yet…

Horace Dediu puts together the numbers:

Apple paid $10 billion to developers in calendar 2014

Put another way, in 2014 iOS app developers earned more than Hollywood did from box office in the US.

The curious thing is that even though the medium of apps is swamping other forms of entertainment in all measurable ways, comprehension of the phenomenon is lagging.

It’s again one of the times when I hate being right. I made an impassioned plea to government agencies, visited universities and colleges and even spoke to politicians back when the App Store was still on the horizon and I said “This app thing is going to be massive”. With the App Economy worth 627,000 jobs worldwide, Northern Ireland should have a fair share there and we just dropped the ball. Some people saw the Apple logo and decided not to get involved and some, well, some just stood in the way. They couldn’t see the future or, as in one case, they had a major personal investment in a competing mobile software distribution platform (that ultimately went nowhere).

And remember this is just the Apple side. It doesn’t include ad-based revenue, it doesn’t include Android and Windows phone. It doesn’t include Mac apps and it doesn’t include apps sold outside of the Apple ecosystem.

Back in the early noughties, I attended a meeting where a consultant told Northern Ireland not to even look at the games market. It was too late they said. So we didn’t invest, we gave the responsibility for games development to agencies who didn’t understand, appreciate or even like games. And I don’t expect them to like them; I expect them to follow the best opportunities.

I cannot even begin to count the opportunity cost here; the friction of just being resistant to new ideas and new technology but we pay for it again and again in being conservative in our collective outlook, in mistrusting the novel.


I coulda had class.
I coulda been a contender.
I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it.
It was you.