So this was an “eventful” week in the game dev community. Unity, one of the most well know, and used game engines out there, after years of doing mostly good for the community, pulled a reverse card and broke years of trust the community had on them. Unity announced that they are retroactively charging (for example $0.2) for each game install, after developers hit a certain yearly revenue threshold, which sounds insane.

Also they are removing the Plus subscription, which honestly this one I was kind of expecting for a while now. Which means a lot of people would have to jump to the nearly $2k yearly subscriptions. This on it’s own, while a big jump, at least is more understandable, building tech is expensive. The pay-per-install is crazy though.

On top of all, the thing that breaks trust the most, is the retroactive thing, games already released on older versions will be affected. The Terms of Service for those older versions, which developers agreed on installing X version, are no longer valid, they changed them, which means it’s no longer safe to trust the rules, Unity can just flip them. What’s for tomorrow?

Proprietary tech

This is, and always be one of the downsides of depending on other people technology, if the whole company depends on it, and there’s no easy replacement, a drastic change can hurt the whole business bad. This is not to say that we must avoid it 100% of the time, but it clearly shows that if a company amasses too much power, murphy’s law!

I usually like to discuss this subject, even before this whole thing, not because I think everyone should do custom engines (even if fun) but because we shouldn’t trick ourselves in believing “my choice of engine is forever!”, it won’t be, unless it’s our own tech that we spend tons of time supporting/improving it, everything else eventually mutates too much, fades or gets killed. So we should always try to at the very least, be mentally prepared.

A very large amount of developers probably entered gamedev through Unity, it was mostly the goto suggestion everyone gave, and never tried anything else (and why would they, if it worked right?), but after years of learning that tool, it might be frustrating to change, but trust me, you got this. It will be hard, but if you ever change again it will be easier.

What I’m up to

Personally I’ve been using Unity for the ~5 years maybe, mostly for contract work and porting stuff. But recently, and after years of shipping stuff on custom framework I decided to work on my current game prototype in Unity, it made sense, my day work is 80% on that tech, built in Editor, multi-platform, so I would also be learning more and prototyping in Unity is generally quite fun. But these changes now mean I’ll be changing for something else, not because these rules will affect me, I don’t see ever reaching the $200k yearly, but because I don’t know what they’ll do next. I’d rather risk elsewhere.

What next?

For the past couple days I’ve trying to decide on exactly where, but haven’t made my mind yet. But I have decided that I’ll at least try to wrap up the prototype phase in Unity, makes sense, game is still a bit barebones (why I’m not talking about it yet) but there’s a lot done, so I’d rather pass the whole “toy prototyping messy code” in Unity, and when it feels time to move to production port the whole thing elsewhere and in the process hopefully have a cleaner code base.

Custom or another engine I’m unsure, but atm I’m leaning more towards custom, but that would mean I’d probably either reshape my entire custom engine, or do from scratch, reason being, it’s 100% object oriented, and while working with Unity I discovered there’s tons of advantages to the Entity Component System, so I want that on my framework. Might be more initial setup, but after shipping a couple games on tons of platforms in OOP, I discovered that some of the issues would have been easier to solve with ECS, not all but several.

Overall I’m excited about the possibility of working on my own tech, because well, it’s fun. As for my next game, progress has been slow, because I’m still taking the approach of contract work, and working on it on my spare time until it feels like a viable project and deciding full or part-time.

After working on Quest of Dungeons for many years (which I’m grateful) I did several prototypes that were, to be honest, not good games, and I will never ship something that at the very least I don’t find fun, so yeah sorry it’s been a while. The hope is that if I find it fun, more people will, so until that time, work moves on, maybe I’ll have more news about something sooner than later.