Ultima creator Richard Garriott believes Unity is the best engine choice for developers who plan to “compete on content” rather than graphical “bells and whistles”.
In an evangelical interview on GamesIndustry, Garriott said that even a few years ago he would have said Unreal Engine or id Tech 5 was the best engine in terms of render pipeline for staying on the “leading edge” of games.
“But the [Unity] stuff they’re showing today, running on an iPad, there’s nothing deficient about that – at all,” he said.
“It used to be that people would probably choose one of those other engines if their number one goal was rendering. Even before today, if your number one choice was data entry, art flow, asset access, community support, Unity was already the number one by far. I think now you can make the case that there’s no longer a consequential difference even on render pipeline.”
Garriott admitted that there are a few genres which Unity isn’t best-suited for – but not many.
“Unity has it pretty well covered. If you’re making a first-person shooter, there’s reason to consider whether you want to adopt someone else’s render pipeline,” he said.
“Your gameplay is so simple that you need to compete on the bells and the whistles. But if you’re doing anything deeper, it’s more reasonable to just compete on content.”
For shooters and the like, which compete not on content but on how well they can master a render pipeline, develoeprs will need to “make big investments” in more expensive engines than Unity, “at a time when it’s hard to justify big investments”.
“My first game, I wrote in seven weeks of after-school time in high-school, so therefore my costs were close to zero. I earned $150,000 in sales, and it’s been downhill ever since,” he added.
“The total money has been bigger, but the return on investment has gotten smaller and smaller, and that’s been true of the whole games industry: more expensive, more risky, smaller margins. You just look at that and you go, ‘that’s not sustainable.’ At any level. It’s not sustainable personally, because it’s too much work for the emotional reward. It’s not sustainable economically, as even a good investment.”
Garriott seemed to be suggesting that Unity represents a chance to return to low-cost, high-quality, innovative investment.
“Unity has fundamentally changed that paradigm. The risk and the time and the cost have been going up and up and up, and with Unity that has been reset dramatically.”
Garriott is currently working on Shroud of the Avatar, a Kickstarter-funded spiritual successor to Ultima – a kind of shared-worlds RPG.