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.

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.

Game School

I’ve always found it easier to work in groups. Being able to talk to someone about a project and, in return, feel better for helping others.

So the pitch is; meet once a week, maybe an evening or maybe a lunchtime and write game stuff. Yes, I’ll be leaning on others. But hopefully I’ll help others too.

Ethical concerns in video games

Leigh Alexander has compiled a list of ethical concerns in video games.

I’ve spoken about some of them previously; the arms manufacturer agenda, the proliferation of war.

The article is little more than a list but it’s to prove a point. The things that are not ethical concerns are the trumped up worries and accusations of the worst part of the industry.

New Project: Zephyroth

Just back from UNITE’14, I wanted to do a project that would resonate with me as well as link into the experiences of my past. I wasn’t always a techno-geek; I used to be a biologist, I used to be a writer and I also used to design roleplaying games. I also built a substantial amount of knowledge of the Kabbala (from a lay, heathen point of view).

So, I’m working on this:

Take one part Super Mario Galaxy and one part Monument Valley. Sprinkle with a little Tron and a little Journey and wrap it up in a Kabbalistic journey from the Physical Realm to Godhood.

And yes, I know this explains nothing but I’ll update as I make stuff.


I’ve started building something in Unity that I’ve been wanting to work on for a while. I’m a novice at this stuff but it’s somewhat invigorating. I did have a lot of difficulties as 3D interfaces don’t come naturally to me but this will hopefully improve with practice.

Removing the shader from the plane has made it so much easier to place cubes. Before that I was almost blinded with my own lighting. That’s why the floor is magenta.

Yes, life would be so much easier if I had a bunch of cash and any talent but we have to work with what we have got.

Computer Games Better Than Medication in Treating Elderly Depression

From Livescience:

In a study of 11 older patients, researchers found playing certain computer games was just as effective at reducing symptoms of depression as the “gold standard” antidepressant drug escitalopram. Moreover, those patients playing the computer games achieved results in just four weeks, compared to the 12 weeks it often takes with escitalopram (also known by its brand name, Lexapro).

These results may not be conclusive due to the small numbers of patients surveyed but consider the cost/benefit and wouldn’t it make sense to at least try some of this?

The game itself doesn’t need to be complex but what could be developed to assist in health promotion is extraordinary. I have been asked repeatedly by government interventionists in the last week about games studios who are interested in tackling problems like dementia. It seems there is a market need so why not supply it?