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We’re excited to release version 6.1 of the SDK. This version brings some notable changes that we’ve been working on for a long time.

Unlike previous releases, you won’t need to change any of your old code in order to migrate your scene to this version. If your scene is compatible with version 6.0 Beta, it should work well with 6.1. Otherwise, follow the migration guide to update your scene to 6.0.

Say hello to a more powerful engine

The biggest (and probably the first) thing you will notice is that the rendering of your scene looks different when running a preview. There are shadows! If you place a tree, it casts a shadow on the ground, wow! Also, everything should be running far smoother than what you might be used to!

Since we’ve always encouraged a low poly aesthetic, our models need a little more something to keep them interesting, and shadows can go a long way toward making a low-poly landscape feel a lot more vivid and immersive.

Harnessing Unity to build a better Decentraland

This brand new look is possible thanks to the Unity engine. We’ve replaced Babylon with Unity, giving you access to a very tightly optimized battle-tested engine, that’s been tweaked for years to handle hard-core and demanding games.

This level of optimization is essential when navigating Decentraland, as players are surrounded by numerous independent scenes, each demanding their own slice of the player’s processing power.

It’s important to remember that using Unity’s engine doesn’t mean that we’re switching to the Unity editor, or that the steps for building a Decentraland scene have changed!

This new engine interprets the same SDK code that we’ve been using. The code for all scenes that were compatible with 6.0-beta should keep working with the new engine.

Sadly, games that were developed in the Unity editor aren’t instantly playable in Decentraland, because the code used by those games is very different from our SDK.

Wait less and explore more

Our optimizations don’t stop here, though. We’re always hard at work tweaking how scenes are loaded and updated to make them more and more performant. We have identified a long list of things that we can improve, and we’ll roll these improvements out over time, but for now, you can look forward to faster load times.

Tip: The new engine runs a lot better than the old one in Google Chrome, but it’s in Firefox where it truly shines. This is because our implementation of the engine uses webassembly. This is a feature that Firefox has been using for a long time, whilst Chrome has only recently added support for it.

Migrating all of the code in Decentraland’s engine from Babylon to Unity, keeping feature parity along the way, took a massive effort from our developers, and it’s kept them busy for the past several months. We think it paid off. We’re now able to launch f more features far faster, taking advantage of Unity’s heavily optimized engine. Stay tuned for more new features. We’re excited to roll out lots of small treats and big surprises in the coming weeks!

Jump!

Jumping has been a long-requested feature in Decentraland. Well, it’s time to get your hops on.

Press the spacebar key and have fun jumping around your scenes! This seemingly small change always makes things a lot more fun!

This also means that you can now create platformer games for Decentraland! Platformers are a great genre that we hope to see a lot more of in Decentraland.

It’s also just fun to do!

After testing both engines extensively, I’ve personally found that when I go back to trying things on the Babylon engine I feel terribly limited by the inability to jump. Even though I have no real need to, it’s satisfying to jump up every now and then, just because.

Custom UIs

A lot of games and other experiences rely on UIs to display information on players’ screens.

Think of your score, health, and any items you might be holding, or even a countdown timer counting. Depending on what kind of experience you’re building, all of these things may be valuable (even invaluable) to display on-screen while the player jumps around your scene, so we wanted to give you full control over what your players see when their playing on your scenes.

UIs also offer a way for players to interact with your scene. UIs can feature clickable buttons, sliders, and even text input boxes. Your scene could open a pop-up menu to ask the player what team to join, to simulate a conversation with an NPC in the style of old-school graphical adventures, or to present the player with a form for signing up for a contest.

The Decentraland client will have its own UI that will be common across all scenes. It will include a chat, a map, an inventory, and other standard information and controls you’d expect to see in any MMO. Custom UIs will appear when a player walks into the parcels of a scene, and they’ll disappear when the player steps out, as the neighbouring scenes they are stepping into might have their own UI.

To learn more about how to build a UI for your scene, check out our full documentation here!

Happy building!

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