One of the big new additions to Unity Technology’s 5.4 roll out is the OpenVR support for the HTC Vive, the Oculus Rift, Gear VR and the PlayStatoin VR platform. It’s one of many new upgrades that appears in Unity 5.4, which is currently available to download right now.
Over on the official Unity 3D website they have a lengthy blog post detailing all of the new features and updates available in the latest version of the development toolset. There’s a lot to cover but I’ll stick to the important stuff.
The OpenVR setup has been refined and optimized in Unity 5.4 with reduced redundancies in duplicate functionality, so there’s better performance on the software side when it comes to rendering passes. This is also imperative for maintaining and sustaining playable frame-rates. For those developing VR titles and apps, you know how important it is to make sure that users aren’t suffering from frame-stutter or dropped frames in a VR app, otherwise you’ll end up making a bunch of people sick… sort of like what happened with Capcom and the Resident Evil 7 VR demo.
They offer some tutorials on how to get started with integrating VR support into your project over on the Unity website.
Additionally, they have plans on natively integrating Google DayDream into an upcoming build of the Unity 3D game engine, so keep your eyes peeled for that.
Some of the other updates includes shorter build times for WebGL, as well as the ability to make use of a cloud build setup right from the editor.
Another fairly important part of the 5.4 update is improved multithreaded rendering. I still can’t believe we have such piss-poor multithreaded support in this day and age, well over a decade removed from having multiple cores in our computers and consoles. Nevertheless, they’ve optimized it so that graphics command lists can be spread across multiple CPU cores instead of dealing with the bottlenecks associated with cramming them through just one or two cores.
And speaking of optimizations for multithreaded functions… multiple identical geometries that share the same material can now be rendered with fewer draw calls from the GPU. So now when you have large buildings crumbling and lots of debris flying, you can utilize Unity 5.4’s GPU instancing across home consoles and PC making use of Direct X 11 and 12 Shader Model 4.0 and higher functionality.
The Unreal Engine already has optimization for features like the GPU instancing, as well as integrated support for Nvidia’s physics systems if you have a GTX brand card, it makes creating dynamic scenarios with crumbling rocks, lots of debris or many moving parts sharing identical material a lot easier to render to the screen without dampening the performance. It’s nice to see the Unity playing catch up here, and this should help a lot with games that have very complex scenarios that may utilize a lot of the same materials and meshes within a single instance.
There’s also better particle lighting and motion vector illustrations that have been implemented into Unity 5.4 that you can check out and see demonstrated in brief clips over on the official Unity website. You can download the latest version right now and start getting work on your next masterpiece.