The road to 2021: The Performance Optimization team

We recently shared our roadmap plans for 2021. Now we invite you inside Unity to meet some of the teams working towards these goals. In this second post of our new series, we meet the Performance Optimization team.

Our Unity 2021 roadmap explains our priorities for next year. We’re committed to updating production-ready features and delivering key new features based on what you have told us you’re missing from Unity. But we’re equally determined to improve workflows and your overall quality of life when working in the Editor.

This post is the second of a series that aims to give you a glimpse behind the scenes. You’ll meet some of the teams working on those initiatives, get to know what drives them, and see the progress they’re making. In this blog post, we’re meeting with team lead Lyndon Homewood and senior software engineer Richard Kettlewell from the performance optimization team to learn more about their focus and plans for next year.

Understanding performance: More than speed

Performance is not just the speed of executing at runtime. High performance translates into loading speeds, power consumption on the device, and iteration times for you as a creator working in the editor. Bad performance can take a user out of an immersive experience when slow frames cause visual stuttering or excessive CPU activity drains the battery on your mobile device. As a Unity creator, performance impacts what you can build by setting technical limits on your creative ambitions. It affects how smooth the workflow is in the Editor and your ability to be in flow and be as productive as possible.

About two years ago, Unity formed a dedicated optimization team to focus on performance as a feature in its own right. I got the chance to meet with Lyndon, who leads the growing Performance Optimization team, to learn more about their work.

Internal champions of performance

The team’s mission is simple: to improve the performance of the Unity Editor workflows for creators and optimize the engine systems across the wide range of Unity platforms. This is consistent with our 2021 product commitment to provide you with the most efficient workflows and ensure the features you rely on throughout your production are as performant as possible. 

“Performance is an important recurring issue for our users,” explains Lyndon. “It’s tied to the experience of developing Unity day in and day out. We believe it should be treated as a feature in its own right.” It’s this idea that ultimately led to the formation of a dedicated optimization team.

As the internal champions of performance, the team collaborates across R&D. They increase awareness and knowledge of profiling and optimizing, and share their best practice across Unity. They work closely with the profiling team, whose tools are essential to meeting their goals. Another key partner is the Quality of Life taskforce, introduced in the first post of this series. The Quality of Life team works on improving workflows for the creators, which naturally includes performance considerations. 

Most of the team members are senior engineers who have several years of experience in game systems or game engine development, as does Lyndon, who has been with Unity for three years now. He also comes with ten years of experience with in-house tech.

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