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GDC 2014: Unity 5 Introduces 64-Bit Engine Support; Lighting And Audio Updates

Yesterday at GDC 2014, the folks behind the Unity engine had a rather exciting announcement to make - at least from a development perspective. Ladies and gentlemen, Unity 5 has arrived. This new engine introduces some huge changes to the engine's lighting and audio tools, in addition to implementing 64-bit support. Sounds pretty good so far, right?

Unity 5 will feature real-time global illumination, available on mobile, desktop, and console straight out of the box. Along with this, the engine features enhanced reflection probes and physically based shading. On the audio side of things, developers will have access to realtime mixing and mastering, allowing for significantly more in-depth audio design. Lastly, the development engine itself has received something of an overhaul; it's more intuitive,  The development engine itself has received something of an overhaul, as well; creation with the Unity system looks to be far more intuitive than it was in previous versions.

"Every time we ship a new version of Unity, we're looking to empower developers with technology that's more powerful and easier to apply than ever before," wrote David Helgason, CEO of Unity Technologies, in a press release. "With the huge additions of physically-based shading, lighting workflows, a new platform, and a new built-in method for user acquisition, we're improving Unity dramatically from both a creative and business perspective." 

In addition to all the changes detailed above (and a host of other new features you'll be able to look through if you watch the trailer), Unity has partnered with Mozilla to bring their game engine to WebGL, meaning Unity games are now able to run inside Firefox without requiring any additional plugins. Coupled with the ability to publish directly to the web, this could represent a huge step forward for in-browser gaming.

Unity 5 is currently available for preorder. Users who buy now will get access to Unity 4's current build, along with all planned updates for the new development engine. For more information, you can visit the Unity website. 

Now, I'm aware that many of you aren't developers, so you may be wondering exactly how all of this applies to you. That's simple, really. As more developers start using Unity 5, your games are going to look, sound, and play better. 

Later in the week, I'll be covering some of the most exciting, innovative, and fascinating announcements from GDC 2014. For now, I'll catch you fine folks later. Until then, check out more about the Game Developer's Conference here, if you'd like. 

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Nicholas Greene
Nick's Games Haven
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