How quickly things change. Ten years ago the average indie video game was built on Adobe’s Flash and featured crude (though often charming) animation and mechanics. Ten years ago, we were still playing Snood. Now independent developers are funding beautiful projects like Dreamfall Chapters and Wasteland 2, 3D games with graphics that put hits from 2008 to shame, and they’re all built on tight budgets thanks to some incredibly versatile technology. Unity Technologies’ game engine and tools are instrumental in that process, and those indie games are just two examples from many birthed in the past few years that use the Unity Engine. As its star rises, though, Unity Technologies is losing one of its key creators. Co-founder Nicholas Francis is leaving Unity to, appropriately enough, make his own games.
“As great as it has been building Unity, I have come to feel that actually using it is what really scratches my itch,” explains Francis in a post at Unity’s official blog, “On days where I can just get into the zone and fidget around in some shaders, gamecode, a custom editor tool or whatnot, I feel really fulfilled. And at the end of the day, that’s what it boils down to.
“So I will be leaving Unity in order to join your ranks and dedicate myself to creating games. This has not been an easy choice—in fact, it has been one of the hardest ones in my life. I am infinitely proud of everything I’ve been part of building, proud of the team, and proud of having a tiny part of me in all your games. So proud that I can’t wait to experience Unity from the other side of the fence.”
With one of the chief architects behind Unity leaving to pursue his own goals, it will be interesting to see how the engine continues to grow as a creative tool. It already has great momentum in terms of business. In the past twelve months alone, Unity has forged partnerships to help expand the platform beyond mobile devices and PCs. Unity CEO David Helgason announced in September that Unity had partnered with Nintendo to help encourage indie developers to support the Nintendo Wii U. Considering the Wii U’s current sales, Nintendo needs Unity far more than Unity needs Nintendo. Iconic game designers like Peter Molyneux are also adopting the engine with greater frequency.