Hi guys! So, here I am, as promised, with my first feedback on the new Unity lighting system (in preview). I guess you remember that, despite all Unity talks, I refrained myself from writing about this subject because, until now, Unity Technologies has been able to disappoint us every single time. So, what changed? Actually... nothing... it's a disappointment yet again.
The new system looks good in Unity videos, as usual, but once you actually have to deal with it in a real scene in your game... here comes the disillusion: It's awfully slow, it slows down everything, it generates odd errors because it seems conflicting with itself, and, worst thing ever, if the scene has a complex lighting structure it shows black areas at run time!
So... here I am, one more time asking myself why on earth Unity Technologies is investing money and people in services that I can't care less to use, while making a mess of such a fundamental part of a game engine: lighting!
Over the last few years Unity has failed to advance on this, replacing the lighting engine every now and then, never nailing it and never investing in it for real, clearly not being able to cope with the other engines that, like UE4, have no issues and implemented cutting edge tech like Vulkan the second the SDK became available.
Epic got UE4 lighting right almost immediately, and now it's exceptionally good looking and performing greatly on mobile as well, not to count the fact that they had distributed light maps computing since the beginning... but they don't waste resources in odd services, they keep on working on their core business, and it shows!
Cry Engine doesn't even have a baked light map system, it's been real time lighting since day one of the experimental version, and rest assured that it wasn't easy to achieve, but look at it: stunning and damn fast! Naturally Crytech stays focused on the core business, so results are evident.
Unity... well... not stunning, quite buggy, not fast, and it keeps changing the underlying engine every few versions... time for Mr. Riccitiello to drive resources back to the core engine instead of keeping up by acquiring assets on the marketplace! Is Unity still good? Well, for small outsourcing jobs is still the only solution that sells easily because its workflow is definitely the best, but for in-house 3D projects that are supposed to look great for real and can take some more time to go live, Unity is no longer the right tool, at least not in its current situation.