Animation Status Update (Q4 2022)

Hello everyone,

No news is good news?
Things have been a bit quiet I know, but that is not a reflection of our progress. In fact, the team is very much heads down and making steady headway on a number of fronts. Now, we used to refer to the new system simply as DOTS animation, but it will be so much more than that, especially as we know how important it is that it works with GameObjects and monobehavior. This does mean some extra development, and naturally poses some challenges, but it will also mean that the new system will be able to reach a much wider audience out of the gate. There will be big benefits to coding or using the new system in a familiar fashion, while knowing any specific limitations or extra performance requirements, can likely be addressed with ECS.

Stable Entities 1.0
I mentioned before that the new animation system is being built using Entities. If you have not seen it already, check out this forum post which goes into great detail on this and other related subjects.
It is still experimental, which has meant the animation team has been helping put it through its paces. However, as Entities is the backbone upon which we are developing, we must wait until a stable Entities 1.0 is out and production ready.

Unite 2022
With COVID limiting so many events, it was wonderful to finally get back to a sense of normality last month. Thanks to everyone who participated, and to everyone I managed to interact with - it was a pleasure to get to know you!
At Unite, I heard feedback from many of you on two important subjects.

  1. Stop shipping half-finished or competing features, especially if there is already something existing.
  2. As best as Unity can, tell everyone when something is realistically going to be ready (or not) so projects can be planned accordingly.

So when is the new animation system coming?
At least another year.
Sorry I know it is not what you wanted to hear, but given what I have just mentioned, it is the best we can estimate and give you at this time.

Now onto something we have shipped…

Navigation in 2022.2
I thought it might be of interest to some of you to mention AI navigation. The new navigation package is out for 2022.2. You can read more about it here .

Thanks for all the feedback (in all forms) including via the roadmap page - it is much appreciated.

Chinny
Senior Product Manager - Characters and Animation

Links and stuff
Roadmap page 3D characters and animation roadmap | Unity
ECS ECS for Unity
Experimental Entities 1.0 Experimental Entities 1.0 is available - Unity Engine - Unity Discussions
AI Navigation There's a new Navigation package in town! - Unity Engine - Unity Discussions
Unite Unite 2024: Conference for Game Devs & Creators | Unity

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Amazing information. I really enjoyed reading this thread and discussion

Man, can you talk with the other departments in your mess of a company and decide on the state of entities? You say it’s supported for production here (and heavily imply that it’s ready and out): https://blog.unity.com/technology/2022-2-tech-stream-available

Elsewhere you call it a pre-release (but supported for production) which is a confusing mess on its own: https://forum.unity.com/threads/dots-development-status-and-next-milestones-november-2022.1366989

And in this thread you call it experimental.

It can’t be both experimental and supported for production. The thread you linked is old and outdated btw.

Make up your minds.

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As far as I can tell, there’s been no public preview of what you’re making, and no information other than “it’ll do all the things”.

I’ll reiterate what I’ve said before - the animation stuff Unity has made behind closed doors with no public interaction has all had huge problems. Being heads down and making steady headway is really bad if you’re making Animator 2.0.

Are there any plans to tell us anything, so we can tell you if there’s spots where you’re making mistakes? Or are you just going to boldly march of blindly off a cliff?

Is it even worth it, then?

My understanding was that Playables is a pretty thin layer over some pretty jobified code already. Are you actually giving us more value spending at least one year on making idk what, rather than making Playables play a little bit better with DOTS and calling it a day?

Then you could spend much more of your effort on the quality of life improvements for GameObject animation that will benefit other people than like the 12 or so that are using DOTS.

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Hi AcidArrow, that’s a fair point and good call out. Usually packages in a Tech Stream are not production ready so we have used terms like Pre-Release and Experimental to reinforce that there are likely still issues. The latest ECS in the 2022.2 Tech Stream is far further ahead than normal given its incubation time, so I slipped back to using an these old terms as we are building an experimental animation system on top of ECS 1.0 - apologies for the confusion.

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Hi Baste,
Thanks for the comments, others might be thinking the same thing.

We are not doing this in a vacuum - feedback is crucial to our development decisions. We had a number of customers giving feedback on the various DOTS animation packages (last public one being 0.9.0-preview.6) and a bit like Playables it did not always work well with other built-in systems, which was a major sticking point for the customers we worked with. As I mentioned here , we have got a lot of feedback that there needs to be a bridge to GameObjects and monobehavior so teams can work where they have invested and are most comfortable, yet still leverage the huge benefits of ECS at the same time if desired.

However it is not ready for public preview yet, but we will absolutely be looking to incorporate feedback once it is. I don’t think anyone has said “it will do all the things”, but it will address the architectural limitations of Mecanim and be an extensible foundation for many years to come. Simply patching some areas is not sustainable.

It has been a big investment for us, and we are really looking forward to all your feedback once we do get it out there. Unfortunately the reality is that the timing is still a little way away.

Chinny

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Hello @UnityChinny

I actually like Mecanim, I like the layer-system and blend-system.
Overall I focus a lot on workflows and getting things done + for the stuff I do, I never had a performance-bottleneck regarding the Animator.
Saying that, there is something missing in Mecanims default system which is triggering events!
So I know there is the possibility to trigger events using the animationclip itself, but this scales very bad since you can't just swap animations like that without having to configure all events one more time.

I don't know if this has been mentioned before, but my suggestion solving this issue would be to add the animationclips events-functionality to the animation you configure in the AnimatorController as well as to the transitions connecting those.
I think having such a functionality out-of-the-box could improve peoples workflows a lot :).

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I also think that no news is a good news

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animation will come with dots in 2022.3 LTS and u said there is a year to release new animation, so what is animation solution for 2022.3 ?

only mecanim until first versions of DOTS anim will out in 2024

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I think after stable Entities 1.0 release, official should try the best to release a public super alpha experimental package even it’s not completely working and feature rich like only can support dots and not game object. At least release super alpha experimental package for people try out first. I afraid if waiting 1 more year and official release something that is not unity user really wanted then official just waste 1 more year of time.

Do u mean this new animation will support both dots and game object and it will have some kind of unified tooling to support both dots workflow and game object workflow?

Thanks for the feedback.
Yes the plan is to allow anyone to continue using game objects, and it will use DOTS/ECS under-the-hood wherever possible

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Whoops, I missed your post, sorry about that.
Thanks for the breakdown, it is a appreciated.

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I see but how about dots user? I guess it will convert the whole thing to full dots for dots user?

DOTS/ECS users will be good to go, no conversion necessary.

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What new animation in the next version will look like?

I hope it be animation with graph node system

There are significant performance issues with Mecanim and Playables, particularly in cases such as professional use and VR.
We want a very fast animation system at a low level.
If additional development is planned to make it more “user-friendly”, please focus on releasing it as soon as possible and prioritize optimization.
Without a basic animation system, DOTS cannot be considered a complete system.

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Btw I guess official currently already have solid dots animation package compatible with entities 1.0? Just currently it’s still very barebone like public 0.9.0-preview.6 and missing a lot of graphical tooling and game object compatibility. If yes then I think it’s ok to schedule a new public release first after stable entities 1.0 is released this year for feedback or for early adopter to use it in production if it’s enough for certain projects. I really would like to see a new public release at this year that I believe it’s already over 2 years dun have any public release after 0.9.0-preview.6. The main reason why I keep stressing this is because there’s always have something must-have but official will miss out. To minimize this issue as much as possible, I believe continuously release new version to for early adopter to give feedback is the solution to battle test this new animation system as much as possible

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Hello @UnityChinny ,
While the new animation system need another year (and I can wait).

Is it possible to update package like Playable Graph Visualizer for the sake of current built-in animation system? Using Playable AP to write our own animation system is a solid option and working nicely(Even I can write tools like this in a few weekends) but does require significient effort to figure it out by our own.

And it's a shame that this package is one of the half-finish package on official github repo.

I believe a better documentation and update package like playable graph visualizer can help developer built their own animation tool in Unity more easily.

Hello, you can try this: UnityPlayableGraphMonitorTool

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