Unity Technologies has announced the release of Unity 2.0, a new version of the Mac-native game and 3D simulation engine. It's available for download for free as a 30-day trial; licenses start at $199. Upgrades from 1.x cost $99.

Unity is used to create 3D games that run on Mac OS X and Windows, and can also work on the Web or even as Dashboard widgets in Tiger. The software features a shader graphics engine, support for physics model using Ageia's PhysX engine, audio and video, scripting and more.

Unity 2.0 is a major upgrade to the engine with more than 50 new features. Enhancements include an optimized terrain engine to help developers created detailed 3D environments, real-time dynamic shadows with support for pointlights, directional lights and spotlights, video playback, easier skinning of custom user interfaces for games, web player streaming and compression, and more.

Benefits for Mac developers who are also deploying to Windows include support of DirectX native libraries on Windows -- standalone games and Unity Web Player-based games can take advantage of DirectX 9.0.

Developers work in networked environments can collaborate more easily using Unity Asset Server, a version control system that tracks game assets and scripts, can import settings and other metadata, and more -- it's based on PostgreSQL.

An optimized Networking Layer now lets developers create networked multiplayer games based on User Datagram Protocol (UDP), providing Network Address Translation (NAT) punchthrough, and adding two methods of network communication (State Synchronization and Remote Procedure Calls). There's a lot more too -- visit the What's New page on Unity's Web site for more details. Some features are restricted to the Unity Pro package.

System requirements call for Mac OS X v10.3.9 or later, Radeon or GeForce graphics card with 32MB RAM. Unity is a Universal binary. Software developed using Unity runs on G3/500MHz or faster Macs and Mac OS X v10.2 or later.