Posted on Leave a comment

On moving away from Unity and our new In-House Engine

Most of you are aware and up-to-date with the Unity situation but I’ll quickly sum it up.

Unity announced a new pricing structure and fee for games built with Unity. This is a perfectly fine and normal thing for them to do. However there’s a catch.

The new AGREEMENT IS APPLIED RETROACTIVELY. Aka the new terms of service are applied to games that were already launched built with older versions of unity (under an older agreement). This means Space Mercs is affected. And all my other Unity games are, as well affected. And the games I designed and released for my clients.

And this is a thing I cannot stand for. Pricing change and new fees? Sure that’s perfectly fine. In a normal world you could not agree to that and you can stay on your version of Unity and never update. Or drop it and that’s that, but your previous games aren’t affected. But not in this case.

So Bearded Giant Games as a studio is completely putting a stop to our use of Unity. People have been warning me for years about using proprietary software. For the past 10 years (or so) I’ve been making games and investing into Unity-dependent technologies. Tens of thousands of dollars down the drain.

We’re not going to move over to Unreal. And if we’re going to take the time to learn another engine or set of tools we might as well go back to our roots and make our own tools and engines again. It did wonders for us back then and I cannot imagine in what position we would be on if we didn’t move to Unity. Just imagine if we spent the same amount of money on our own tooling. That we would have owned.

So yeah that’s the whole Unity update. I don’t care if they drop the changes and go back to how things were. Trust was completely and utterly broken and I will not make the same mistake twice. So we’re rolling our tech again. This means we also cancelled all other projects we had in production using Unity. It’s a huge loss of time and money but thankfully client work has kept us afloat all this time and I can afford to front this loss right now.

So let’s talk about our plans.

Bearded Giant Games Is Beginning Work On The Spire Engine

My most successful indie projects have always been Roguelikes and small cRPG’s. I wrote many of them over the years and they are my bread and butter. With Unity in my hands I started dreaming bigger than a studio my size should have. Bigger and more fancier RPG’s and games.

And my release rate has tanked. Sure, for my clients, I’ve designed over 100 games since 2019. But my last big release has been Space Mercs. I’ve had other releases over the years for platforms like the Commodore 64 and 68K Macintoshes (Macs from the late 80’s).

Well I’m going back to my roots and I’m excited to start designing a new game engine from the ground up. I’m calling it “The Spire Engine” and, as the name implies, I’ll use it for a couple more Ebony Spire games. It’s an engine focused on developing cRPG’s or Dungeon Crawling Roguelikes with support for ASCII, 2D Top-Down and First Person views.

Work has already started on the project and I’m making steady progress. However – I wanted to share my design philosophy behind the engine with the rest of the readers. I’ve been talking about game design on this blog so the audience it’s there.

I’m posting the document here for everyone to see and use. As the engine develops further I’ll be sharing more insight and design articles on it.

If there’s a takeaway from the whole Unity Debacle it’s this one: Do not gamble your company’s future on a proprietary piece of tech! I’m fortunate enough that ditching Unity won’t bankrupt me. But others aren’t so lucky.

If you’re interested in designing your own Game Engine then go for it! The entire internet has told people to not do it and instead use Unity. Well, this is where it got us. So the entire internet be damned. Roll your own stuff, there’s a ton of things to be learned from it.

And you get to own your tools and your own investment in this tools.

That’s it for now.

Agh yes I’m not sure how long I’ll still be on twitter using @Zapakitul. There’s a huge chance most of the game devs will jump platform is Musk does what Unity just did. So catch me on Mastodon and/or BlueSky.