Weekly Update: September 15, 2023

On Tuesday I got an email from Unity announcing license changes and that they were instituting a fee per game install after some threshold starting in about two months. This created a sh*tstorm in the game dev sphere, to put it mildly.

Unity (the company) is spending more than it makes, by around $200 million per quarter. So it is totally reasonable for them to try to increase revenue. While their customers were never going to be happy about a price hike, this decision was so badly conceived and communicated, that it raises some real concerns about the future of the engine.

Starcom: Nexus and Starcom: Unknown Space were and are made with Unity. It’s a great engine and I owe a lot of how much I was able to accomplish as a solo dev to it. And it’s unlikely that the new pricing regime, as currently defined, will impact me significantly.

But it does impact some developers in a way they couldn’t reasonably have anticipated, possibly jeopardizing projects started years ago. Overall the strategy seems to be one of increasing revenue in the short term, but at the expense of driving developers away in the long term. There’s also now the concern that if this price change fails to produce the results they want, they may suddenly introduce more surprise new price changes. Game development is a risky enough business that it makes sense to not take on avoidable risk.

At this point in the development cycle, it’s too late to switch engines for Starcom: Unknown Space. And again, the changes would not affect Starcom significantly (assuming they don’t alter the deal any further). But it’s disheartening to see the company make decisions that will certainly drive away many talented creators in a way that was completely avoidable.

Okay, enough about that for now. I also made considerable progress on Icarus (next opt-in). I’m about to start a playthrough to see if any of the changes broke anything critical (particularly in the late game).

Done this week:

  • Changed shield module to 4 hexes, made slightly more expensive, powerful and symmetric.
  • Some new techs
  • New anomalies
  • New discoveries
  • Changes to late game stories
  • Experimental “support crew” system, similar to the regular crew of Starcom: Nexus, speed up repairs but can be critically injured
  • Model work
  • Fixed deleting saves didn’t delete FoE
  • Began testing the current build

Until next week,