Tuesday, July 30th, 2019 Posted by Jim Thacker

Unity 2019.2 ships

Originally posted on 10 May 2019. Scroll down for news of the commercial release.

Unity Technologies has released Unity 2019.2 in beta. The second of this year’s cycle of updates to the game engine integrates 3D sculpting tool Polybrush and adds denoising options when baking lightmaps.

The release also introduces experimental support for virtual reality output in the High-Definition Render Pipline; and rolls out a range of new tracking options for augmented reality projects.

Updates to lightmap baking, on both CPU and GPU
Unity 2019.2 brings a number of changes to the process of baking lightmaps.

The new GPU Progressive Lightmapper, introduced in Unity 2018.3, moves closer to feature parity with the CPU Lightmapper, gaining support for multiple importance sampling for environmental lighting.

Unity also now supports lightmap denoising on both CPU and GPU: in the case of the CPU Lightmapper, via Intel’s newly released Open Image Denoise; for the GPU Lightmapper, via Nvidia’s OptiX denoiser.

In addition, probe-lit objects in a scene can now contribute to a global illumination bake as well as lightmapped objects, which Unity describes as “open[ing] up new [light] probe workflows”.

3D sculpting and painting tool Polybrush now integrated natively
Polybrush, ProCore’s 3D sculpting and painting tool, which Unity acquired in 2018 and made available free in the Asset Store, has now been integrated directly into Unity, and is available via the Package Manager.

The latest version, Polybrush 1.0, also includes mesh and prefab scattering modes.

New AR and VR features
AR Foundation, Unity’s add-on package for building multi-platform augmented reality apps, gets a range of new tracking options.

Face tracking detects human faces in incoming footage and can feed both a mesh representation of the face and blendshape information into a facial animation rig to drive an animated avatar.

The system is available for both iOS and Android devices, via Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore SDKs.

2D image tracking detects specific images in the surrounding environment, while 3D object tracking detects surrounding real-world features that match reference 3D models, enabling gameplay to change accordingly.

The former is available for both iOS and Android; the latter for iOS alone.

In addition, the new ARKit environment probe manager automatically generates cubemaps based on specific parts of the surrounding environment, for use in match-lighting 3D objects.

For virtual reality work, the new High-Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP), initially targeted at desktop and console games, now supports VR output.

It’s currently limited to Windows 10 and Direct3D 11 devices, and comes with some key restrictions: among other things, you can’t use multi-pass or deferred rendering.

New 2D lighting options coming in future beta builds
The HDRP’s counterpart for web and mobile titles, the Lightweight Render Pipeline (LWRP), gets some interesting new 2D rigging and lighting features, shown in the video above.

At the time of posting, they aren’t available in the current beta, but are due “soon after this release”.

Other new features in Unity 2019.2 include a new SDK for online user bug reporting, and improvements to mobile performance, including support for OpenGL multithreading on iOS devices.

Updated 30 July 2019: Unity 2019.2 is now shipping.

As well as the features covered above, the HDRP gets a new API for generating AOVs, screen-space ambient occlusion and a new debug view that replaces an object’s materials and lighting with a MatCap.

There are several workflow improvements to Unity’s graph editors: the Visual Effect Graph gets the option to group nodes into reusable sub-graphs, and the Shader Graph now supports custom node colours.

Polybrush’s sister tool, modelling and level design app ProBuilder, which Unity integrated into the engine last year, has been updated to version 4.0.

Other changes relevant to artists include support for Nvidia’s NvCloth solver instead of the now-deprecated APEX Cloth as part of the transition to PhysX 4, the latest version of its real-time physics system.

You can find a complete list of changes via the links below.

Pricing and availability
Unity 2019.2 is available for Windows 7+ and macOS 10.12+.

The software is available on a rental-only basis: free Personal subscriptions have a non-removable splash screen and can be used by anyone with revenue of up to $100,000/year.

Paid Plus and Pro plans cost $35/seat/month and $125/seat/month respectively.

Read a list of new features in Unity 2019.2 on Unity Technologies’ blog