Big news from the world of game development engines. For several years, Unity3D has been the free 3D game development engine of choice for aspiring and indie game designers around the world. While it isn't as powerful as Unreal Engine 3 or CryEngine, it's free and much easier to use. Now, according to an announcement made by Unity yesterday, Unity 3D is about to unleash a huge weapon that neither of those other engines can claim: Flash compatibility.
Never before have Unity developers had an easier way to get their games out to people than making them playable in web browsers with Flash. Exporting from Unity to the .swf format will reportedly happen with the press of a button, requiring no extra work on the part of Unity developers. There is a short list of features in the press release that aren't likely to work in Flash, but almost all of the complex lighting and 3D technology in Unity will translate over to the new platform and run on the Web. While Unity hasn't released Flash support yet, they have released a video of an iOS/Android game called Shadowgun developed in Unity3D and running in Flash. They aren't letting that video out of the box yet, so go here to watch it along with the rest of the official press release.
This is huge news for both Unity and Flash game development. Flash will finally have the tools to execute AAA-quality 3D graphics, while Unity will have a unique (among major 3D engines) way to reach a massive new groups of customers. CryTek may have racked up 300,000 downloads of their new free engine in just the last month. But between its familiarity to indie developers and its newfound ease-of-distribution to indie game fans, Unity may experience a similar spike once this new feature is implemented.
AlmostLogical has posted some helpful tips for Flash developers who'd like to learn Unity, so check it out if you're one of them.