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.
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 Not archived, not put in read only mode with a warning about information being out of date..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.
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.
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.