Unity 4.2 arrives, drops beta tag for Windows 8 and Windows Phone support

Unity Technologies have announced on their official blog that version 4.2 of the popular game engine is now available. Three new platforms are officially supported with this version, including Windows Phone 8 and Windows. We've previously looked at the beta program opening up to Microsoft's new platforms, but this marks as a huge step in the right direction for developers to create more advanced content for consumers.

The new version of Unity enables developers who already use the engine and tools on other platforms to migrate across to Windows Phone 8 and Windows with ease. Some titles have already made it to the store (Temple Run being a perfect example along with Drift Mania Championship 2), but what's more is that Microsoft has also nailed a partnership deal with Unity for the Xbox One. We'll eventually see Windows Phone, Windows and Xbox One all supporting the popular game engine.

With Unity 4.2, those who are using the free version can publish to any mobile platform they wish without paying out, while Unity Pro users can take advantage of the Windows Store Pro deployment option, which includes both Windows Phone 8 and Windows Store apps. Speaking of free and pro versions, the company has added numerous Pro-only features to the free version of Unity, including real-time shadows, text-based serialisation of materials and NavMesh baking. 

Here's a quick overview of the new features in 4.2:

  • GPU Skinning (requires Unity Pro)
  • Completely automatic, no custom shaders needed.
  • Works on DirectX 11 (via stream-out), OpenGL ES 3.0 (via transform feedback) and Xbox 360 (via memexport). Other platforms will continue to use CPU skinning.
  • Optimized and updated Image Effects
  • Stencil buffer access (requires Unity Pro). Shaders can define stencil buffer operations, for optimizations or special effects.
  • Static & dynamic batching for shadow casters & shadow collector pass. Note: many shadow casters can be batched even if they use different materials! They will be batched as long as the actual shadow caster shader & material properties affecting them are the same.
  • Shuriken Collision Event Callback Scripting Interface: Efficient callbacks on GameObjects and Particle Systems are issued when Shuriken particle collisions occur. Per particle callback data includes collision positions, incident velocities, surface normals and Collider references. Use this feature to can cause damage to GameObjects and apply forces to rigidbodies.

The editor is also touched on in the blog post, as well as mobile support, audio and other platforms (Linux, Mac , etc). It's a large announcement, particularly for those who will be interested in utilising the free license. We haven't covered everything so be sure to head on over to Unity's blog post to check out everything that's new in 4.2.

Source: Unity; Thanks, Ewert, for the tip!

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.