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Unity 2018 detailed in GDC keynote

Machine learning, new scriptable rendering pipelines and more VR support among the highlights

Unity kicked off its activity for the week with its annual keynote updating developers on the improvements coming to its engine.

At GDC 2018 in San Francisco, the engine provider offered the first details for Unity 2018.1, the next version of its tech. This will be released in April, with the beta program open now.

Quarterly point updates are planned until the autumn, when Unity 2018.3 goes live. It follows the new strategy the firm adopted last year, when it dropped its previous version numbering scheme for an annual system, starting with Unity 2017. As improvements become more incremental, the firm has stopped signifying major step changes (e.g. Unity 4 to 5) and focused on these quarterly updates.

The first new feature of 2018.1 to be shown off was the Scriptable Render Pipeline, designed to make it easier for developers to create high-end graphics. It comes in two flavours: the High-Definition Rendering Pipeline for console and PC projects, and the Lightweight Rendering Pipeline, which is optimised for mobile and various 'reality' devices (virtual, augmented, mixed and so on).

The new graphics capabilities were previously shown off with a short tech demo, the Book of the Dead, which you can watch below:

For new developers, Templates have been introduced as a sample projects that will allow them to explore how a scene was constructed and learn the role different Unity features play in this.

The engine provider also detailed some of the machine learning tools that will be available, with the latest version of its ML-Agents features - first introduced back in September. For example, the new Imitation Learning tech means games can learn from real player habits and adjust based on their behaviour.

We have already reported that Unity 2018 will support Magic Leap, but the firm also announced compatibility for other virtual reality platforms, including Oculus Go and Daydream Standalone, as well as the new Google Play Instant platform.

Finally, Unity announced its collaboration with a major Hollywood firm for the Universal GameDev Challenge, but you can read all about that in our interview here.

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