Switch to Unity in the middle of the game development process
Passing an important title from one game engine to another in the middle of the development process requires strategic planning, complex migration processes and a lot of training time. Luckily, Ludia chose Unity. With millions of pre-registered players waiting for the launch of Ludia / Universal Games and Digital Platforms, Unity entered the scene with its business support, on-site experts and a wide variety of training options. Ludia, a study of 350 highly experienced people, famous for successful titles such as Jurassic World: the game , Battlestar Galactica , What’s Your Story? and Dragons: Rise of BerkNot only did it meet the release date, but it also managed to improve the workflow and reduce costs.
For many reasons, large game studios create and maintain different titles in different game engines. Ludia is no exception. When they started developing Jurassic World Alive , they had an older C ++ engine and were creating a second game engine with better features.
However, according to Jimmy Beaubien, manager of the Ludia programming studio, “they realized that the engine was not really ready yet, and the deadline for running it was quite long, so we decided to consider different third-party solutions.” .
At that point they had been developing Jurassic World Alive for six months . After reviewing several commercial software options, they chose Unity for a small pilot project. Everything went so well that they decided to stop working on their own engine and migrate Jurassic World Alive to Unity.
The move to Unity proved to be a fundamental change for Ludia, because the internal engine was a development environment focused on the programmer, while, according to Beaubien: “Unity is not like that, but it is focused on the content and everyone can contribute to the We found this interesting, because we integrate a lot of content with tools like 3ds Max. ”
Catherine Barbeau, principal programmer of Jurassic World Alive , agrees: “With Unity, our artists have more autonomy and depend less on programmers. In the previous engine, we needed programmers to take care of much of the visual integration, and now artists can do more things on their own. Without naming any of the main functions, I would say we have hit the spot. ”
In addition, he jokingly adds: “I have noticed that our programmers are no longer asked to move elements two pixels to the left or do other minor things like that.” Beyond the joke, he loves that his artists now experiment more and can propose things like new shaders.
Although he won’t stop asking a programmer to check the shaders to check their performance before including them in the game, “Unity tools encourage creativity and relieve pressure on our developers, since they don’t need to create everything from scratch “.
Given the tight delivery date and the number of developers working on the game, it was seriously thought of migrating to a new platform. Luckily, Maggy Larouche, senior producer at Jurassic World Alive , had seen Unity staff in action at the company where he worked before, and knew how responsible and helpful they were.
“When Ludia decided to go to Unity, one of my first recommendations was to request Unity business support for more assistance. Also, since it was the first time they helped us (and due to the size of the project), they assigned engineers on site to they will work closely with our people and answer their questions in real time. Unity proved to have great flexibility and foresight by offering us the service of these engineers, who provided us with help that proved to be fundamental when we started. ”
Beaubien adds: “Having a Unity engineer to talk to our engineers was the best strategy because they were driven in the same language. It’s much better than talking to support people from a distance, because in this case they may not know well. which is the real problem. By having someone on site, we can open our code, detect things and make more detailed reviews. This made a difference and was the reason we maintained business support after the end of the first year. ”
Since 95% of Jurassic World Alive developers had no Unity experience before migration, it was essential to train them. According to Larouche, they started with what they called “a few days of freedom”: “To begin, we left the developers alone in front of Unity with access to all their training videos, so they could inquire into whatever they wanted.”
Then they continued with three days of classroom training for programmers and designers, and two days for artists, on which Larouche says: “They were very useful for locating people at a certain level, and then we spent other days for them to experiment and investigate plus”.
After the initial training, they began making the transition to Unity. During the first three months they received more personalized courses, which included a lot of training in UI because they needed to create their own editors and windows.
After having trained the team well at Unity, Ludia adjusted her constant training strategies to her needs and invested in Unity Learning Credits, which gave them more options in terms of training types, formats and programming. “In particular, we are interested in receiving advanced classes on topics that can be difficult to learn on your own,” says Beaubien. “At this point, we want people to know more complex characteristics and issues.”
Beaubien sends surveys to its developers to see what their interests are and make sure they match current projects and challenges, and then Unity-specific workshops are formed. “At this time, I have noticed a lot of interest in programming with shaders and graphics, for example. This is because it is something that we do not use enough in Unity, and, in this way, we could better exploit these resources. That way we would achieve the optimization, a fundamental part of mobile device development. ”
Another area they are exploring is Unity certifications. “We have a couple of people certified as Unity developers, and we want to go further, so that everyone has the opportunity to learn and develop. Our goal is to have more Unity specialists who can face other types of challenges during the development of new features or other games, “says Larouche.
That will also help them attract more talents with Unity knowledge, and they began to include Unity experience as a fundamental qualification or desired knowledge when publishing job offers.