Unity 3.5 game engine update touts improved visuals

Unity Technologies released version 3.5 of its Unity game development platform, promising new features and improvements highlighted by the inclusion of the Shuriken particle system, which offers artists and programmers complete control over particle-based visual effects. According to Unity, the curve and gradient-based Shuriken modular editor boasts hierarchies and sequencing capabilities allowing for many particle systems to remain synchronized.        

Unity 3.5 also features AI improvements delivering more accurate pathfinding along complex pathways and natural movement through crowds, enabling developers to bake navigation data in the editor and allowing Unity simulation to take over at runtime. In addition, a multi-threaded renderer brings support for linear space lighting and HDR rendering, while new light probes enable baked lighting on characters and other dynamic objects.

From a performance perspective, Unity 3.5 touts a completely rewritten integration of the Umbra occlusion culling system that combines with new built-in level-of-detail support to boost large-scale games. Developers can also expect a new GPU profiler, a fully pluggable Social API, low-level audio buffer access for music games, and directional lightmaps. The update is free for all developers using Unity 3.0 or higher; download it here.

Unity supports development optimized for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android as well as the web, PCs, Mac, Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The Unity community now encompasses 800,000 registered developers worldwide.

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