Why is Subnautica using Unity, and not the Spark Engine?

HughHugh CameramanSan Francisco, CA Join Date: 2010-04-18 Member: 71444Super Administrators, Forum Admins, Forum Moderators, NS2 Developer, NS2 Playtester, Reinforced - Silver, Reinforced - Onos, WC 2013 - Shadow, Subnautica Developer, Pistachionauts Posts: 1,763 admin
Hi guys!

One of the most common questions I have seen about Subnautica over the last few days is:

"Why is Subnautica using Unity, and not the Spark Engine?"

Unity and Spark are game 'engines.' An engine is a collection of functions, such as a 3D rendering system, physics, sound, networking, an interface for gameplay logic, production tools and other bits and pieces. Engines provide different capabilities, use varying amounts of proprietary functionality (For example, many different engines use FMOD for sound and PhysX for physics), and are good at different things.

Spark was designed to be good at making a game like Natural Selection 2. It has characteristics that make it perfect for the requirements of that game. It was created (and continues to be worked on) by Max, working closely with Dushan, Steve (Steve now works on SN), and Brian.

Subnautica is a very different game to Natural Selection 2. It will place different demands on the engine that runs it. The team that is working on it will need to change, craft, cut and cajole whatever engine is used into a form that is most appropriate for Subnautica. The team working on Subnautica does not include anyone from Unknown Worlds that is currently working on Spark.

You can find out about who is working on Subnautica right here in this blog post. Because that team does not include the people working on Spark, it's not appropriate for Subnautica to use Spark. By using Unity for Subnautica, Spark can continue to develop in certain directions, while Subnautica develops in others. To use Spark for Subnautica would be to try and square peg a round hole.

Spark is being actively worked on every day. It is central to Unknown Worlds' future plans. It sometimes gets a bad rap because of misunderstandings about how it works, and it does not get the same amount of attention as Natural Selection 2. But along with NS2, it is one of UWE's two greatest creations and we are immensely proud of it. The capabilities it provides will be greatly valuable to UWE in the long term. Most importantly, it will allow us to deliver you great gaming experiences!

We won't have anything more to say about Spark for a long time, but I hope this post will serve as a useful answer as to why it is not being used for SN.

- Hugh
The fastest way to contact me is via @hugh_jeremy on Twitter! Add me on Steam: Strayan. I do not check forum PMs.
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Comments

  • VetinariVetinari Join Date: 2013-07-23 Member: 186325Members, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Silver Posts: 3,441 Advanced user
    Hugh wrote: »
    Spark was designed to be good at making a game like Natural Selection 2. It has characteristics that make it perfect for the requirements of that game.

    Haha, very funny sir :D


    (No, I'm not making fun of you and I'm not talking about performance. But did you every try to create a map with spark? ;) )
    formerly known as F0rdPrefect

    I am good Onos
    KamamurameatmachineangelousAurOn2
  • Ghosthree3Ghosthree3 Join Date: 2010-02-13 Member: 70557Members, Reinforced - Supporter Posts: 3,432 Advanced user
    Not really that shocking, right tool for the right job. As much as it's a laugh to know you're not using Spark when you put so much effort into it. You really, CAN'T use spark, it's just not the right engine for Subnautica. Would be pretty pissed off if you tried to.
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  • [AwE]Sentinel[AwE]Sentinel Join Date: 2012-06-05 Member: 152949Members Posts: 681 Fully active user
    I thought it is Unity because the SN-team wants to work with Unity and not with Spark...
    "Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win" - 孫子 "When you think you win, tighten the strap of your helmet"

    ns2_yakushima, ns2_honorguard
  • Ghosthree3Ghosthree3 Join Date: 2010-02-13 Member: 70557Members, Reinforced - Supporter Posts: 3,432 Advanced user
    No I'm pretty sure Cory said it was because rendering a huge world in the Spark engine would be stupid inefficient. Also there's a lot of unneeded features Spark has that SN doesn't need.
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  • Squeal_Like_A_PigSqueal_Like_A_Pig Janitor Join Date: 2002-01-25 Member: 66Members, Super Administrators, NS1 Playtester, NS2 Developer, Reinforced - Supporter, WC 2013 - Silver, Subnautica Developer Posts: 2,816 admin
    Ghosthree3 wrote: »
    No I'm pretty sure Cory said it was because rendering a huge world in the Spark engine would be stupid inefficient. Also there's a lot of unneeded features Spark has that SN doesn't need.
    I never said anything close to that, so not sure where you get that.

    But, since you bring it up, it is true that currently the Spark engine is designed around indoor environments, and does not have a terrain creation and editing feature. However that is really not a large factor in the reasons why we went with Unity for SN, as Max and those guys are more then capable of adding in those features to Spark if needed.
  • Ghosthree3Ghosthree3 Join Date: 2010-02-13 Member: 70557Members, Reinforced - Supporter Posts: 3,432 Advanced user
    Ah ok, my memory is failing me then. Maybe someone else said something along those lines, hell they may not have even been working for UWE.

    While we're discussing it, what are the main advantages to using the Spark engine for games apart from dynamic lighting (and whatever effect dynamic infestation is)?
    76561197996992409.png
  • SjNSjN Join Date: 2003-01-07 Member: 11983Members, Reinforced - Supporter Posts: 839
    But, since you bring it up, it is true that currently the Spark engine is designed around indoor environments, and does not have a terrain creation and editing feature. However that is really not a large factor in the reasons why we went with Unity for SN, as Max and those guys are more then capable of adding in those features to Spark if needed.

    Then what is the actual reason why Spark engine wasn't used?

    Love and play!
  • SteveRockSteveRock Join Date: 2012-10-01 Member: 161215Members, NS2 Developer, Subnautica Developer Posts: 486 Advanced user
    There's no real, definitive reason, honestly. It probably would've worked out either way. Unity is really great for prototyping, so Charlie and I started prototyping with it, and we really liked it so we stuck with it. It's just one of those gut-feeling things.
  • SteveRockSteveRock Join Date: 2012-10-01 Member: 161215Members, NS2 Developer, Subnautica Developer Posts: 486 Advanced user
    edited December 2013
    If we were doing something a bit more crazy, using our own engine may have been a safer bet cuz we can control absolutely everything. But with SN, aside from the open-world stuff, is not too crazy for a Unity game.
  • It's Super Effective!It's Super Effective! Join Date: 2012-08-28 Member: 156625Members, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Shadow Posts: 518 Fully active user
    I've recently been playing this funky web-game called Attack on Titan Tribute Game, which is based off the Anime by the same name. Which I think is developed by 1 dude :o

    http://fenglee.com/game/aog/

    Which also uses the Unity Engine, I assume this is the vary same one?

    *gasp* could it mean that SN could have the potential be a web game :3?
    Cheers,
    It's Super Effective! | @ISEGaming | Twitch.tv/ISEGaming | Google+ | Steam | Super Effective Gamers Public Steam Group

    - NS2 NA Playtester
    - Creator of: NS2 Tactical Operations, Intel Update and In-Game Tutorials.
    IntrepidH
  • TwigTwig Australia Join Date: 2013-11-09 Member: 189225Members, Reinforced - Supporter, Reinforced - Silver, Reinforced - Gold, Reinforced - Diamond, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Gold, WC 2013 - Shadow Posts: 115 Fully active user
    *gasp* could it mean that SN could have the potential be a web game :3?

    Sorry to say this, I hope they do not make it a web game

    Nazo
  • SteveRockSteveRock Join Date: 2012-10-01 Member: 161215Members, NS2 Developer, Subnautica Developer Posts: 486 Advanced user
    I've recently been playing this funky web-game called Attack on Titan Tribute Game, which is based off the Anime by the same name. Which I think is developed by 1 dude :o

    http://fenglee.com/game/aog/

    Which also uses the Unity Engine, I assume this is the vary same one?

    *gasp* could it mean that SN could have the potential be a web game :3?

    Yep, same Unity. I doubt we'll do a web release though - too many textures :)

    And...wtf is up with that game man.
    TwigAurOn2
  • It's Super Effective!It's Super Effective! Join Date: 2012-08-28 Member: 156625Members, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Shadow Posts: 518 Fully active user
    Dude, it's pretty awesome, multi-player works too. :)

    Just started watching that anime I mentioned, it's really weird, but neat.

    The story is: there are huge human-like giants attacking a city. It's up the to the players, tiny characters to use these dual grapple hook-shot utility belts to fling themselves into melee range, and hit the giant's weakspot onthe back of the neck, it's pretty hard, but pretty fun if you work together to distract and gang up and familiarize yourself with the mechanics.

    Here's a vid of the guys from NODE playing it

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DV2OAgm-IOw

    Anyways, I'll leave it at that, don't want to talk about this game too much on the SN forums :p
    Cheers,
    It's Super Effective! | @ISEGaming | Twitch.tv/ISEGaming | Google+ | Steam | Super Effective Gamers Public Steam Group

    - NS2 NA Playtester
    - Creator of: NS2 Tactical Operations, Intel Update and In-Game Tutorials.
  • ReekeReeke Join Date: 2003-11-28 Member: 23688Members Posts: 773 Fully active user
    It's not that uncommon for a company to use different engines. Where I work Unity gets used for one kind of project, while a different engine is used for another line of products which have different needs.
  • Maxx11_v2.0Maxx11_v2.0 Join Date: 2012-11-18 Member: 172221Members Posts: 274
    Id have been very surprised if they went with Spark for this sort of project. Unity was probably a good choice, though how it works out remains to be seen. Good luck, have fun guys!
    Ghosthree3
  • It's Super Effective!It's Super Effective! Join Date: 2012-08-28 Member: 156625Members, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Shadow Posts: 518 Fully active user
    Does anyone know of any notable games that use Unity Engine? I'd like to get an idea of the power this engine has.
    Cheers,
    It's Super Effective! | @ISEGaming | Twitch.tv/ISEGaming | Google+ | Steam | Super Effective Gamers Public Steam Group

    - NS2 NA Playtester
    - Creator of: NS2 Tactical Operations, Intel Update and In-Game Tutorials.
  • lwflwf Join Date: 2006-11-03 Member: 58311Members, Constellation Posts: 486 Fully active user
    Does anyone know of any notable games that use Unity Engine? I'd like to get an idea of the power this engine has.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Unity_engine_games
  • NazoNazo Such Is Life in The Zone Join Date: 2010-12-16 Member: 75720Members, Reinforced - Silver, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Gold Posts: 293 Fully active user
    Does anyone know of any notable games that use Unity Engine? I'd like to get an idea of the power this engine has.

    StarForge is on Unity, if that dosent tell you how powerful it can be I dont know what will
  • DarakianDarakian Join Date: 2004-09-03 Member: 31233Members Posts: 45 Fully active user
    edited December 2013
    A second game to support NS2 development? I'll bite :P
    I'd love to see a second game on the spark engine at some point too.
    A.K.A. Yogurt
  • SebSeb Melbourne, AU Join Date: 2013-04-01 Member: 184576Members, Forum Moderators, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Squad Five Silver, WC 2013 - Silver, Retired Community Developer Posts: 513 mod
    Does anyone know of any notable games that use Unity Engine? I'd like to get an idea of the power this engine has.

    Rust is on Unity

  • TwigTwig Australia Join Date: 2013-11-09 Member: 189225Members, Reinforced - Supporter, Reinforced - Silver, Reinforced - Gold, Reinforced - Diamond, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Gold, WC 2013 - Shadow Posts: 115 Fully active user
    Does anyone know of any notable games that use Unity Engine? I'd like to get an idea of the power this engine has.

    Rust is on Unity


    Rust is terrible, I don't want it to be compared with SN.
  • StardogStardog Join Date: 2004-10-25 Member: 32448Members Posts: 303 Advanced user
    edited December 2013
    Does anyone know of any notable games that use Unity Engine? I'd like to get an idea of the power this engine has.
    Almost every decent quality 3D mobile game uses it.

    Here are some non-game examples of visuals:

    Image-based lighting webplayer demo
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7vQezk0ito
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9hE3_tNH8I
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbiT9Qm5Vp0
  • NarfwakNarfwak Join Date: 2002-11-02 Member: 5258Members, Super Administrators, Forum Admins, NS1 Playtester, Playtest Lead, Forum Moderators, Constellation, NS2 Playtester, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Supporter, Reinforced - Silver, Reinforced - Gold, Reinforced - Diamond, Reinforced - Shadow, Subnautica PT Lead, NS2 Community Developer Posts: 3,787 admin
    Ghosthree3 wrote: »
    While we're discussing it, what are the main advantages to using the Spark engine for games apart from dynamic lighting (and whatever effect dynamic infestation is)?
    Spark is extremely good at rendering scenes with very high polygon counts. Turn on wireframe and r_stats some time in a built up hive area and note just how many vertices and polygons are being rendered at any given time. It's pretty insane.

    I'm pretty sure Kerbal Space Program uses Unity, but I'll need to double check that.
    UWE Playtest Lead
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  • VetinariVetinari Join Date: 2013-07-23 Member: 186325Members, Squad Five Blue, Reinforced - Shadow, WC 2013 - Silver Posts: 3,441 Advanced user
    @Narfwak it does.
    formerly known as F0rdPrefect

    I am good Onos
  • cooliticcoolitic Right behind you Join Date: 2013-04-02 Member: 184609Members Posts: 1,684 Advanced user
    So now that you have explained why unity vs spark, what about why unity vs other engines?

    I personally would think that CryEngine (if you dont mind patents, copyright, etc.) would be a great engine to give "immersion" and eye-candy.
    When life gives you lemons, throw it back and demand chocolate.


  • NordicNordic Long term camping in Kodiak Join Date: 2012-05-13 Member: 151995Members, NS2 Playtester, NS2 Map Tester, Reinforced - Supporter, Reinforced - Silver, Reinforced - Shadow Posts: 4,658 Advanced user
    coolitic wrote: »
    So now that you have explained why unity vs spark, what about why unity vs other engines?

    I personally would think that CryEngine (if you dont mind patents, copyright, etc.) would be a great engine to give "immersion" and eye-candy.
    Unity is real cheap and multiplatform. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

    From my perspective UWE has been trying to both with what little resources they have given to the game. They don't have an AAA budget, let alone an indie game budget. They have the budget of a game that has been out 6 years. I want to say, don't half ass two things, whole ass one thing. I just don't think they have the resources to do it. Unlike many of the people on the forums, I guess I am just happy they are at least trying even though I may not like what they end up doing.
    AurOn2
  • SteveRockSteveRock Join Date: 2012-10-01 Member: 161215Members, NS2 Developer, Subnautica Developer Posts: 486 Advanced user
    james888 wrote: »
    coolitic wrote: »
    So now that you have explained why unity vs spark, what about why unity vs other engines?

    I personally would think that CryEngine (if you dont mind patents, copyright, etc.) would be a great engine to give "immersion" and eye-candy.
    Unity is real cheap and multiplatform. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

    Both true. I would also argue that Unity is superior for prototyping and rapid iteration (ie. making a fun game), but that's only hearsay as I've never used cry engine or udk.
  • willow512willow512 Netherlands Join Date: 2013-12-17 Member: 190203Members Posts: 31 Fully active user
    I worked with both UDK and Unity, briefly, I can hardly call myself an expert. But the idea I got is that UDK makes great looking shooters. If you want something else then unity is often easier to work with. The UDK scripting is just impossible to get into without someone to show you the ropes.

    Unity is cheap but their licensing is really nasty. Want to upgrade to a new major version? Be prepared to buy all new licenses. Imho that's microsoft in the 90's it's not befitting a modern company.
  • Dictator93Dictator93 Join Date: 2008-12-21 Member: 65833Members, Reinforced - Shadow Posts: 657 Fully active user
    coolitic wrote: »
    So now that you have explained why unity vs spark, what about why unity vs other engines?

    I personally would think that CryEngine (if you dont mind patents, copyright, etc.) would be a great engine to give "immersion" and eye-candy.
    GOtta agree with this.

    But Unity seems to be built for rather rapid prototyping and easy programming, whilst looking not tooooo horrible.
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