News Article

Nintendo Considering 3DS Build of Unity Engine

Posted by Tim Latshaw

Always room for more tools in the developers' shed

Nintendo's partnership with Unity Technologies has served well in attracting indie developers by making it easier to bring their games to a Wii U-specific build of the popular engine. The fact that Wii U development kits come with a free Unity license is certainly an encouraging gesture as well.

So with success shown with Unity on the Wii U, the natural question is whether a version will also be coming to the 3DS. While the 3DS eShop can certainly be considered healthy, Unity could still provide a more convenient option for many extra developers to bring their games to the system.

Siliconera caught up with Damon Baker, Senior Manager of Marketing at Nintendo of America's Licensing Department, during GDC to pose this very question. According to him, a 3DS Unity build has been a topic of discussion and something that is definitely being investigated, but resources have been going to optimizing Unity on Wii U first:

Our priority was to get the Wii U build up and done and ready. Because we need a test environment for it, it’s taken a while for Unity to get finalized on Wii U, so that we can actually test against it. So that has been made available now and that is why we’ve got all of these [game] candidates waiting in the wings that are just going through the submission process at this point. Now, we can move on to other platforms and see how we can make those compatible, either with Unity or with additional middleware providers as well.

Although there are no official details yet on how Nintendo plans to approach the 3DS with middleware, the benefits of accommodating more developers does not appear lost on Baker:

So, 3DS is definitely an exciting platform for us, because we’ve got a huge install base, and we want to take advantage of that. We’ve got a lot of developers that want to take advantage of it. So, we’re working towards that as well. But nothing to announce at this time.

How do you feel about the current states of the Wii U and 3DS when it comes to courting developers? Feel free to sound off in the comments.


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User Comments (31)



Undead_terror said:

My last game review I did just so happened to be made from a Unity engine, it was a bad game but if people put more effort into their games it wouldn't be bad!
For anyone wanting to know about the game I reviewed it was called "Slender man blocks for android.



Bulbousaur said:

Anything which gives access to more people developing on Nintendo platforms can never be a bad thing.



HylianJowi said:

I'm glad to see Nintendo taking these steps. Certainly looking forward to where these developments lead--quite literally--on the game front.



Mask0Gears said:

Nice. I've seen good and bad stuff made with Unity, but it is, like most things, only a tool.



unrandomsam said:

@Mask0Gears There is also 3 tiers of it. The first is like Gamemaker and cheap. The second is $1500 and the third is full access and doesn't have a price. (Out of all of the games I have played there are a few that are ok and that is it.) Even Gamemaker has a few I think are great.



Kaze_Memaryu said:

I can only hope for it. Since getting into the game development is easier with these kinds of tools, creative minds who lack programming knowledge can still start their projects, at least.

@Maskeraid We already have a SnK game, though that one's japan-only so far.



BakaKnight said:

Since I'm messing around with Unity Free this news sound so so interesting OwO
Too bad I'm years of experience away from even dare to think to get one of those development kits and a pro license >O>;

Anyway it's always a good news when more and more people can make games for Nintendo's consoles, let's just hope that it will mostly bring interesting stuffs and not shovelwares.



GustavoMaciel said:

I don't remember enjoying a single game that used Unity engine. But then again, they were all made for smartphones and were free-to-play crap.



supermario182 said:

yes some bad games come out made with unity3d, just like with any other engine or programming language. a bad craftsman blames his tools though.

there are lots of high quality games that come out, and you may not even realize they were made with unity3d because only the free version forces you to display their logo.



Barbiegurl777 said:

MyBaby-Online used Unity on the computer in order to play the game online worked pretty nicely.

Happy Gaming! (^_^)



Yorumi said:

@Kaze_Memaryu Generally speaking if you don't have programing knowledge, or havn't hired someone who does, you won't make anything worth playing in unity. The built in scripts mostly only handle the most basic of things. Without getting too technical unity is basically the rendering engine and a compiler that handles how to place scripts on objects and such. To make a game you'd still mostly need to build the rest of the game engine.



Satlmd said:

Whoa! I can't believe this! I actually emailed Nintendo suggesting this a few months ago. That's pretty awesome.



SCAR said:

I was surprised they hadn't, but their explanation makes some sense of why it hasn't happened.



Kaze_Memaryu said:

@Yorumi I know, but Unity is still better than starting from scratch and makes it easier to learn. Of course big projects (as in, retail-worthy big) shouldn't rely on it, and that's not what Unity exists for, anyway. But it's a developer engine, which means you're also not alone with problems, since the community around it is great.
The big downside is that Unity is an engine largely based around JavaScript and C++, and game development on consoles usually happens with Assembly (a comparably difficult language), so learning Unity doesn't get you too far into professional development unless you already use Assembly with Unity.



MamaLuigi said:

I'm all for them using Unity to support smaller-scale indie developers over giant corporations who only want to stuff their proverbial pockets with more cash over mediocre games. 3DS would be a great addition to Nintendo's Unity strategy.



unrandomsam said:

@Yorumi Nobody makes anything worth playing in Unity anyway. (Even RPG Maker or Gamemaker has at least one or two games worth playing). Dunno about Deus Ex : The Fall but that is not a reasonable comparison.



Gioku said:

Nice, nice. Unity's pretty slick! I'd actually have a chance at making 3DS games if Unity supported it!



MAN1AC said:

This is kind of a big deal and pretty unexpected. I prefer playing indie games on handhelds so I'm all for it



Windy said:

Do it! so we can get Knights of Pen and Paper on 3ds. That would be awesome



Yorumi said:

@Kaze_Memaryu actually unity uses javascript and c# for it's scripting language. It's not truly those languages, as in it's not a pure c# compiler, but the syntax is the same.

Also no one is writing full games in assembly. They may write individual short functions in assembly but even then the performance boost over an inline function would be minimal, and only realized an extremely skilled programmer. Assembly expands nearly 10 to 1 over high level languages, is an incomprehensible nightmare to maintain, and is the reason we invented compilers. C++ is one of the fastest executing languages out there, it shows a significant performance boost over .net c# and java(note java and javascript are two different things). Of course any interpreted language doesn't even have a chance against c# or java let alone c++.

The highest level game engines are written in c++ because it doesn't have any of the safety features or garbage collection of other languages. This makes it nearly worthless in the hands of an unskilled programmer, but an extremely powerful tool in the hands of people who know what they're doing.

Unity as an engine is quite powerful actually, and some AAA studios are even using it. It performs only slightly below UE3.



Kaze_Memaryu said:

@Yorumi I never worked much with C# (also confused it with C++), so I didn't even know about the performance differences. Always learning new things!



aaronsullivan said:

Just to add to what you've said:
Unity itself is written in C++. So the performance critical graphics rendering and other internal engine stuff doesn't suffer from garbage collection.
The scripting that the developer does is in C# (or their particular flavor of Javascript). Either way, as you say, it's compiled not interpreted, but if a developer isn't careful with, for instance, when they instantiate things, it can cause performance issues.

The thing about Unity is that it is very approachable and there is a free version that is very capable so people will make some weak stuff and release it. Which is actually a great way to start, but also means the Unity name is prominently displayed on some junky stuff.

All that said, it would be nothing but great for Nintendo to support Unity on 3DS.

As someone else posted, just look at the showcase:



Yorumi said:

@aaronsullivan yeah it's absolutely a great thing to have unity on the system. Proper developers can make some good use of the engine when they know what they're doing. Not to mention building an actual rendering engine is really expensive.

Anyway just reinforcing what others have said, unity is a tool, what is created with the tool is up to the creator.



Usagi-san said:

What engine is currently available for people looking at making games for nintendo 3ds?



Yorumi said:

@Usagi-san I don't know for sure but my guess is they just offer a compiler and it's up to developers to make the engine.



mikeCroswell said:

I bought a 3DS (with Zelda!) for the purpose of developing with Unity. I have not had a chance to even open it and will probably sell it if Unity is not put on it. I am not in a hurry and simply wish that if (and when) they do it, that it is stable and efficient and supports the AR aspects. This would be challenging for both Unity and Nintendo, but should be do-able. Great news that they are planning on it!!!!

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