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Unity public preview for Xbox One arrives, gorgeous ID@Xbox games on the way

Popular game engine Unity is one of the greatest boons the videogame industry has ever sent. By creating a game in Unity, developers can easily port it to a variety of platforms. Just look at how much the Windows Phone gaming scene has improved since Unity titles started showing up in March of last year.

Unity also has strong Xbox One support. First announced back in November, all members of Microsoft's ID@Xbox program receive a free limited Unity Pro license with Xbox One deployment add-on. It's not unlike today's separate announcement that ID@Xbox users will get free GameMaker: Studio support. The GameMaker offer hasn't started just yet, but the public preview of Unity for Xbox One officially kicked off this week. That's cool and all, but the games are the really exciting part. Read on to find out about some of the most promising Unity games coming to Xbox One.

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime from Asteroid Base

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime

Xbox One development made easy

Some core Xbox One development features are included directly inside of Unity. But a great many of the Xbox One-specific functions that developers will need are distributed within an independent package of plugins (the Xbox One deployment add-on).

One of the challenges of Xbox One development is the console's high number of asynchronous APIs. Unity's native plugins make the integration of Microsoft APIs with Unity as much more painless process. Constructs like the EventQueue assist with calling into Unity systems from asynchronous callbacks.

For the folks at home, Wikipedia) defines a callback as "a piece of executable code that is passed as an argument to other code, which is expected to call back (execute) the argument at some convenient time." A callback that occurs at a later time instead of immediately is asynchronous. There you go, you're ready to head out and get your computer science degree!

The current version of Unity for Xbox One is based on Unity 4.3. The Unity company does not plan to update the Xbox One release to Unity 4.5 (which debuted in May). Instead, Xbox One support will skip to Unity 5.0 at the appropriate time. Unity plans to continue supporting Unity 4.3 (including XDK upgrades) into 2015. Developers who start working with 4.3 won't be left in the dust.

Upcoming ID@Xbox titles made with Unity

Cuphead from Studio MDHR

One of the games everybody frothed over at E3, Cuphead is strikingly beautiful. The hand-drawn art style emulates that of 1930s cartoons, with large-eyed and expressive characters. Cuphead will be a one- or two-player action platformer – always a fun genre. The cupheaded protagonists must battle huge and interesting monsters by jumping, dodging, and firing blasts from their fingers. We'll have to wait until 2015 to play Cuphead, but it looks to be more than worth the wait.

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime from Asteroid Base

The Unity title I'm most looking forward to as a game is Lovers. One or two local players will man a spherical pink spaceship as it flies through procedurally generated star systems. The randomized gameplay means you'll have a different experience every time you play, not unlike popular space sim FTL. If you're not playing in co-op, an AI space dog will take over as your partner. Lovers looks very cute and very different.

Ori and the Blind Forest from Moon Studios

Another E3 highlight, Ori and the Blind Forest also looks rather stunning. Players take on the role of a forest spirit who must discover his purpose within a heavily atmospheric world. Ori and the Blind Forest is a 2D Metroidvania-style game, much like the phenomenal Guacamelee. If Moon Studios can get anywhere near that level of quality (and the inspiration they claim from Zelda: a Link to the Past and Super Metroid certainly can't hurt), then we could be looking at a new genre classic. Ori will launch later this fall.

Roundabout from No Goblin

And now for something completely different! Roundabout has been making the rounds at shows like PAX, where its humorous premise impressed critics and players alike. In this game, you play as a constantly rotating limousine. The goal is to navigate through levels without crashing into too many obstacles while delivering passengers to their destinations. Watch the trailer and you'll see the game's undeniably offbeat potential.

ID@Xbox

Windows Phone Central has previewed and reviewed a number of ID@Xbox games already, including Worms Battlegrounds, Guacamelee, Another World, and more. Check out our ID@Xbox playlist on YouTube for genuine gameplay footage from each game.

Developers who are interested in joining the ID@Xbox program should visit www.xbox.com/id (opens in new tab) to sign up. Be warned that according to some reports, non-established developers face a lengthy wait to gain acceptance to the program. We're very interested in how ID@Xbox works… Stay tuned for future investigative coverage.

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

29 Comments
  • What's the deal with the penis flower?
  • Every time someone points out beautiful flowers all I can think of is that we are admiring a plant's genitals.
  • /r/flowerporn
  • I'm sorry if I'm missing something here, but what's with the stream of posts about Xbox one?
  • Coz keynote is going live.
  • We're covering the Gamescom Xbox keynote, which just wrapped up.
  • Is this windows phone central?? Today has all boring news on xbox and just xbox!!!!
  • If you're not interested in Xbox console stories, don't click on them. Thanks for your input.
  • Mr. Bawajose, today was Microsoft's keynote address at Gamescom, the largest gaming event of the year. Thus, there are a ton of new Xbox-related announcements, none of which are boring. Your post, on the other hand, eh, kind of boring. Anyway, yes, Paul--glad to see another person is anticipating Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime as much as me. The game looks amazing. Can't wait for it. Also excited Ori and the Blind Forest, Fru, Below, Inside, and Aztez.
  • Right on! Those should all be fine games. Love ID@Xbox so far.
  • Interesting!!! and thanks for sharing the info. May be mobile nations can have another website xboxcentral dedicated to you guys
  • http://www.wpcentral.com/commenting-guidelines See: "Who Cares"
  • When is mod supporting coming to xb1?
  • Anytime I see an app built on the Unity engine, I always expect it to be really good.
  • Love working in Unity. Love the portability, as well. 
  • Unity is garbage
  • Ha! Good one.
  • It seems to have worked quite well for Press Play's Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, which look and played beautifully on Xbox One.
  • Microsoft always forgets WP, their supposed mobile platform when it comes to Xbox events, no wonder the platform is just limping along. So much for One Microsoft, bunch of gits.
  • Agreed. I'm horribly disappointed with their stance on gaming/xbox on windows phone. I keep holding out hope they will revamp Xbox Live on windows phone and allow controller support (otg cable/Bluetooth).
  • The problem is that for Xbox live services you still need to go through ID and the best bet to do that is to publish on iOS, Android, etc-anywhere except wp- so you can show some user awareness.
    Meanwhile they removed anonymous userid API (WP7) so you have to use third party services like facebook/twitter/google for user login. A big step backward for game dev on WP.
  • For those who don't realize how this is relavent to Windows Phone, Unity allows developers (me) to build an app that can be easily ported to IOS, Android, Chrome, XBOX, Windows Desktop and Windows Phone... and more.  Building in Unity and seeing a game on the XBOx or Windows platform means easy porting to Windows Phone. The expansiveness of Unity allows even non-game efforts (me).  
  • Nicely said!
  • I have to say I'm really impressed, these are some really nice games!
  • Developers reading this: make great games for Xbox One and I'll buy them!
  • I want to play Cuphead now.
  • I'm impressed with some of the Indi work.
  • Aww, I watched the Ori video and got a tear in my eye when his buddy wouldn't wake up...
  • That Roundabout game and trailer video are about the weirdest things ever.  Amusing, but weird.