Streaming City-Scale Environments: Unity and Geopipe Part II

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The real world is an increasingly important component of games, from small indie projects to huge AAA productions, of simulations for training humans and machines alike, and of visualizations and VR experiences. As we discussed in our last blog post, putting the real world into a game or simulation today is expensive, time-consuming, and for many projects, prohibitive. It can take teams of environment artists years to design and refine a large world modeled from the real world, then fill it with enough detail to truly immerse a user in the environment - but what if putting reality in a game was even simpler than downloading an asset and dropping it into your favorite (or your own) game engine?

The advent of powerful, democratized game engines has opened up game development to teams of any size and have greatly shortened development timelines for larger teams. Similarly, Geopipe empowers any team to rapidly and cost-effectively set their game or simulation in a huge, complete environment – and for those who need it, an environment faithfully reproducing the real world.

Geopipe's virtual copy of New York City

New York City loaded in Unity with the Geopipe Unity SDK, looking north from near Geopipe's office towards Midtown.

Building Blocks in Tech Development: Unity and Geopipe

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Those who dabble even casually in game environments are familiar with Unity Technologies, a highly successful software development company that has garnered worldwide acclaim. They are best known for Unity, a game engine that makes it easy to build video games and apps by providing common components and infrastructure to developers of all skill levels. While initially created to develop their own games, the focus of the company shifted to producing the tools needed for game development. Unity provides independent developers with the resources to create their own games. The accessibility of the tool across multiple platforms is unrivaled, and its popularity exploded as demand grew for mobile gaming.

Game development process without a game engine like Unity

The game development process without a game engine like Unity is slow, expensive, redundant and impossible for all but the biggest studios.

Building Worlds Upon Worlds: Reality in Games

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Putting the real world in video games makes them more immersive, more engaging, and more fun - but reproducing reality in games is a huge technical and creative challenge. We explore some of the milestone games set in real cities, and look towards the future.

A portion of New York City's financial district from Geopipe

Geopipe automatically builds immersive game worlds using AI and machine learning.

Here, a view out of a window in New York City's Financial District.

The World in Your Game in 5 Minutes: Geopipe SDK Tutorial

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Whether you're a huge team working on a AAA video game or an indie studio with limited resources, you need an environment for your game, VR experience, training simulation, or application. Unfortunately, it's slow and expensive to create these environments today, especially if you're trying to reproduce the real world. If you use existing mapping solutions, you're either stuck with only the details annotated by humans in OpenStreetMap, or worse, photogrammetric meshes that show how the world looks but don't give you real trees, transparent windows, or interactive models. Geopipe uses AI to understand every detail of what's in the world at scale, then turns that rich information into detailed, interactive worlds.

The "Geopipe for Games" Unity SDK makes it easy to put the real world (or simply large, detailed environments) into your game, application, or experience instantly. The SDK hooks into your Unity projects and streams city models directly from Geopipe's servers, so that you don't have to manually download models from us. With a license, you can publish a game with the SDK, allowing your users to arbitrarily explore, walk, fly, or drive through a city of any size. If you prefer, you can also embed a portion of our world directly into the game, so that an internet connection isn't required.