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Unity 3D: An alternative to Flash for highly interactive content?

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010 at 4:05 pm   - Posted by Pravin Kulange

Unity 3d Tool Alternative To Flash RIA Interactive Content

Most of us are closely following the standoff between Apple and Adobe over Flash. It is now clear that Flash won’t be available on Apple devices anytime soon. Folks like me hoping to use Flash as a cross-platform tool for different mobile devices and web browsers have to look for alternatives. There are clear signs that mobile industry is going to be a fragmented one. So, writing code for each individual platform is not really optimal. What we need to achieve very quickly are the following:

  • Cut down development costs of highly interactive iPhone content and apps
  • Publish for multiple platforms (mobile, web, desktop) with minimal or no additional efforts
  • Provide immersive experience with rich interface and high interactivity

Although Unity is known as a game development tool, it can provide a good alternative to satisfy the above needs. A close look at Unity’s features reveals that Unity can go beyond games. It offers excellent features for 2D and 3D graphics, audio, video, animation, networking and deployment. It has an embedded game engine, a fully integrated IDE and uses JavaScript and C# as programming languages. It supports importing assets from all popular graphics tools. In short, everything a highly interactive application or content will need, and that a developer looks for, is available.

Unity also doesn’t seem to be harmed by the Apple OS 4.0 license change (clause 3.3.1) that closed the doors on Flash. Unity’s CEO David Helgason anticipates no problems so far. Even if it impacts, the fact that Unity compiles into an XCode project may help them realign quickly. Same may not be true with Flash, as the reasons there go beyond just technology (remember, Flash bypasses the native platform unlike Unity).

Unity has a proven track record on iPhone and iPod Touch (it now also supports iPad). It supports Mac, PC, Wii, XBox 360 and all popular browsers (check out this sample). The upcoming version, Unity 3, will also add support for Android and PlayStation 3. Looking at the growth of Unity both in terms of the number of registered users (130k+ so far) and the addition of platforms supported, Unity surely seems promising for the development of highly interactive content to face the proliferation of devices out there. It will be very interesting to see how well it works out in the interest of developers and end users!

3 Responses to “Unity 3D: An alternative to Flash for highly interactive content?”

  1. Ryan says:

    I’m not sure it offers excellent support for 2d. You have to either use a third party sprite manager, or use 3d models and fix x and y axis rotation. Neither are very attractive solutions.

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