Unity 2022

You know, I rag on Unity a lot. They’ve made a lot of mistakes. Deprecating features while the replacement isn’t ready. Creating multiple new implementations of features from scratch instead of improving what’s there. Abandoning their own features in favour of acquiring community made versions, and then abandoning them. Splitting the whole render system into two incompatible, contrary versions, deprecating the previous render system. Not implementing multiplayer because there’s no way to monetise it. Splitting the UI system into two/three and trying to use them all at the same time. Hiring popular twitter users as customer advocates who couldn’t find their sofa in their living room.

But you know, it might seem like I do this because I hate Unity and want it to die. It’s really the opposite. I loved my time using Unity and I hated to see it take two steps forward and then three back every time.

And honestly, these mistakes, I’ve probably made the exact same mistakes multiple times. I’ve been putting off posting another Unity blog here for a while. I don’t want to be the constant bitter Unity cunt, scoring easy dunks, but I got some backlog here.

Unity Answers

Recently Unity posted on their forum that they were shutting down Unity Answers and redirecting it to the Unity Forums. They were giving the community two weeks notice that this was going to happen.

Now anyone that has ever used Unity for anything has probably used Unity Answers. Either directly or indirectly. So anyone that has used Unity is acutely aware of its value. You got a question, you type it into google, the answer is probably going to be on Unity Answers. The number one benefit of using Unity is that shared journey of hundreds of thousands of developers has left trails all over the landscape to help you find your way.

So it’s puzzling that the Unity team would suggest that this would be removed. Not archived, not put in read only mode with a warning about information being out of date.. but actually erased. All the links from over the years just redirecting to the Unity Forums.

The Transition Plan

In the announcement they explained their plan.

Answers would go into read only mode on the 13th and go into redirect mode on the 23rd.

They couldn’t commit to any migration. This means that everything was going to go in the bin.

They accepted that the forums didn’t have accepted answer functionality, but offered them up as an alternative. I think forums generally work well for this kind of stuff, if you can avoid the threads getting too long. You need to encourage a question and an answer per thread – rather than “ask dumb questions megathread”.

They encouraged asking questions in the Official Discord. Discord is the fucking devil for this stuff. Instead of organically creating a database of questions and answers that can be searched to avoid repetition, where one question can help thousands of people, lets do it in a chat room full of memes where one question helps one person.

They were going to “make some adjustments” to the forums to help with the transition and “share the plans in the following weeks to open them up to feedback”. It seems like it’d have been a good idea to do all this before shutting it down.

They’re deprecating without a replacement. Again.

Something worth keeping in mind through all of this is that long term the Unity Forums aren’t going to be around. They’re kind of old, they’re kind of unsexy, at some point someone is going to look at them and jump to whatever the next popular thing is.

Decision Making

You know, being the owner of a company I try to think about how decisions get made. You want to give people autonomy but you probably want to sign off on important stuff.

So I look at the Unity Answers thing and I think.. who made that decision, who was consulted, who signed off on it.

This is an important question because throughout that decision none of the people in the room appreciated the value of Unity Answers. Which to me means that no-one in the room knew how people use their product.

So the conclusion I have to draw is that there are people at Unity who have the authority to make these decisions who are oblivious about their product, who uses it, how it’s used. They have never used it.

IPO

The IPO was the worst thing that happened to Unity, the game engine.

Unity’s business isn’t about creating a better experience for game developers. It isn’t about making the engine better, faster, stronger. There’s a lot of talented people at Unity that are doing that – I’m sure that’s still happening. But that’s not their main focus anymore.

Their main focus is about growth. More employees. More subsidiaries. There’s a magic number now, floating about on the stock market, that they need to try to make go up.

It’s pretty common in this situation that you’d IPO and get a new CEO in place, and give them 5 years to raise the stock price. If they get it to a certain value they’d get a 8 figure bonus and resign.

At which point they’d put another CEO in place and give them 5 years to raise the stock price with the same deal. Then again. Over and over.

This is a treadmill of distractions. Clutching at straws. Desperate acquisitions to try to get that number to move. Mass firings when it doesn’t.

This serves stockholders just fine (when it works). It doesn’t serve customers so much.

14 Comments

  1. Ffe says:

    Discord is the new Facebook – just like Facebook groups pushed out classic forums, Discord will replace Q&A platforms and Facebook groups. The circle continues.

  2. Rodrigo says:

    I came to a similar conclusion regarding their decision making process when I read you claim that they were not interested in collaborating with you to improve the engine. I had sort of taken it for granted that a flagship product like Rust would get direct attention from Unity, mostly because of how much they would benefit from understanding Facepunch’s experience by helping you, and it blew my mind a little when you stated they aren’t interested. Almost makes sense given the 0.00043% revenue paid in licenses to Unity you mentioned on twitter, but even then it shows that there’s no-one in the room who thought it was important for the company to learn from Rust.
    I guess their goal is really to help mobile game companies which use Unity ads, and the rest is an afterthought because they can’t figure out how to monetize it. Then there’s things they suspect it can help boost their share price, like their Weta affair, even though I don’t know how they realistically expect to compete against Unreal in that field.
    It’s become apparent that even things like DOTS are really there just so that mobile games use up less battery, so Unity gets to display a couple more ads before the customer’s phone dies.
    At it’s core, Unity is such a great engine that they’ve been able to afford to waste their time and even be counterproductive here and there.
    I hope they revise their monetization strategy so that they can turn from “let’s make the best interactive media ad delivery platform” back to “let’s make a great engine that developers love”

  3. felipeggrod says:

    Same conclusion here. I see this everywhere tbh. Top decision makers in their ivory towers, with no understanding of the people farming their food.

    Honestly, you should convince Valve to buy Unity. Otherwise, it’s just a downhill from here :/

    1. Valve would buy unity and never touch it again. Not sure thats much better.

      1. Anomen says:

        Yeah, while I trust Valve to not do mayor fuck ups or go down the stock holder rabbit hole, I do not trust them to do long term maintenance and development. That’s not how Valve works. They design an amazing new product, they release it, they get bored and all the devs move on to the next shiny project. Valve is like a genious ADHD kid.

  4. Diridibindy says:

    Discord is so abhorrent for that sort of stuff. Not only do they not have any fleshed out Q/A features (no voting, no choosing the answer, no proper categorization and search functionality, etc), but the biggest problem with discord is that it cannot be indexed. How can a person that does not know that a discord exists for the service they are using be expected to randomly find it amidst a sea of different google results. This is unsustainable.

    1. felipeggrod says:

      Agree. Indexation is very important

  5. Alex West says:

    I am in 1000% agreement with every point you make, but feel obligated to point out the slight hypocrisy regarding the Facepunch forum and the wealth of information that used to reside there that went down without archiving, a transition plan, and no prior notice.

  6. Ludera says:

    Agree completely. Excellent post thanks

  7. Bill says:

    Unity actually did replace the forums once already, with newer forum software that mostly ported the old threads over unscathed. It lasted only a few days before they reverted it. I may have been in a small part responsible for that as I think I was the first person to discover that it accepted any valid HTML and CSS styling. Think someone’s post is dumb? You could probably make a post that turns their whole topic solid black.

  8. Kurt M says:

    – Bought Bolt visual scripting in 2020. Dumped Bolt 2. Promised strongly typed events in Bolt 1. Still not in.
    — Made their own data-oriented VS tool. Dumped it due to “clients” wanting something similar to Blueprints.

    – Bought ProBuilder. The asset is still a buggy mess. Sucks compared to UE4/5’s modeling tools.

    – Stopped development on the built-in renderer in favour of URP.
    — They don’t realise that URP can never replace built-in, because built-in was supposed to be the best possible graphics Unity was capable of, but scalable.
    — Still no auto-exposure/temporal AA, and forget volumetric fog.
    — It can’t even do many of the things that the MGS5 (2015) engine does.

    There’s no Tim Sweeney there with any kind of vision and understanding of what artists/programmers need. They’re now just a services company following Disney/Microsoft’s example by buying every large company they can afford.

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