Ahead of the official announcement today at GDC, I had the chance to sit down with Sylvio Drouin, EVP of Unity Labs, to learn more about the group. Sylvio is no stranger to Unity. He has been a consulting for the company since they had just four employees.
In December of 2015, when John Riccitiello was hired as Unity’s new CEO, he and Sylvio formed the Labs group to create space to think further down the road with a focus on VR, AR, AI, and other acronyms. Their VR/AR work has a heavy emphasis on advanced graphics rendering and authoring. The authoring piece is particularly interesting as Unity works to actualize its ethos of democratizing game development in the new medium.
VR Scene Editor
We got our first look at Unity Labs at the Vision Summit earlier this year when principal designer Timoni West introduced their native creation tool for the first time. Today, Timoni was back in the Rift on-stage to demonstrate new updates to the VR scene editor.
In the short term, the team will continue to improve the scene editor. By the end of the year, we should see the editor released publicly. The final product still needs a name, but it is supposed include everything you’ve seen in West’s demos along with a timeline sequencer allowing developers and designers to drag and drop tracks, animations, scripts and other elements with the ease of an application like iMovie.
In the long term, they’re working on a blank slate consumer authoring project where people with no coding ability will be able build complex VR experiences through an intuitive interface. In 5-10 years, their hope is that that a person will be able to develop a game with the complexity of Destiny by accessing a highly intelligent Unity asset store. The phrase they use is intent-based modeling and design. Sylvio’s metaphor for it is a wheel that knows its car, that knows its road, that knows its world.
We’re excited to see where Unity Labs goes from here. For those interested in getting their hands dirty in VR creation, we’ll keep you posted on their continued progress over the coming months.