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Mar 26, 2020
Mar 26, 2020

DOTS Sample


The purpose of this project is to test and demonstrate the new packages from the Unity DOTS tech stack in a single place. Currently, the major ones are:

  • Unity Animation
  • Unity Transport and Unity NetCode
  • Unity Physics
  • Entities with conversion workflow and Unity Live Link
  • Hybrid Renderer (HDRP)

Supported platforms, requirements and Unity versions

Currently the project supports these:

Unity: 2019.3.6f1
Platforms: Windows and MacOS

Note This project is using the Burst compiler and for now you need to make sure you have the following prerequisites:

Known issue: Be aware that with the first versions of MacOS 10.15 there is a known crash on certain MacBook Pro's (e.g. the 2015 model). This issue will take down the entire OS so be sure to upgrade to at least 10.15.2 where it was fixed.

Opening the project for the first time

The following steps should bring you to a state where you can run the game in the editor, build standalone players as well as servers and see live link in action.

  • Get the right version of Unity. (see above)

  • Open the project. After import, go to Assets/Scenes/ and open a scene, e.g. Whitebox_Arena_A/Whitebox_Arena_A.unity

  • You can now enter play mode and should be able to play the game.

  • Opening the window "Multiplayer > PlayMode Tools" give you options for what happens when you enter play mode. By default it will say "Client and Server" which means that play mode will host two worlds, a client and a server. We will get back to more of these options, but for now you can try requesting a few "thin clients". If you put a (not too big!) number in the "Num Thin Clients" field before entering play mode, you should get a bunch of 'dumb bots' clients that simply run around in circles and shoot.

  • Known issue: The option "Num Clients" is not working properly at this time.

Making stand alone builds

  • Note There is some automation to help doing these steps on a daily basis (check out A2 > Windows > Launch Window) but it is useful to know what happens under the hood, so this guide shows the manual steps.

  • To make a standalone build, locate Assets/BuildsSettings folder in the Project tab and select Win-Server or OSX-Server depending on your OS. In the Inspector window, change the drop-down button at the top to "Build" and press it to generate a standalone server build. Do the same with Win-Client / OSX-Client.

  • Known Issue: Make sure the scene you have open when you do this have no unsaved modification. If it has, build will fail.

  • Once both have been built, the next steps will spin up a server and launch a client and connect to it. Use Explorer (Win), Finder (OSX) or a command prompt to locate the builds. They are found in a folder called build next to your Assets folder.

  • Launch the server executable. You should see the game console open (toggle it using F1). On the console, type serve whitebox_basic_a. The server will load the level and be ready to accept connections.

  • Launch the client executable. On the console type connect localhost to connect the client to the server.

  • Known Issue: On MacOS there will be HUD and black screen only shown on the client for up to 10 minutes the first time the game is launched. (If you press esc and open the settings menu for the game, switching to Low graphics quality setting might clear this up and save you the wait!)

  • You can connect more clients; and if you want to do some automation, arguments passed to the standalone players with the prefix + will be executed on the console, so for example (on Windows) DotsSample.exe +serve whitebox_arena_a can be used to start a server that is hosting a game on whitebox_arena_a.

Making stand alone builds for use with Live Link

Note The live link feature is still at an early stage. Currently you need to use a special set of build configurations when making standlone builds. The following steps will show you the live link in action.

  • Make builds using the Win-Server-LiveLink resp. Win-Client-LiveLink buildsettings.

  • Open the scene you want to play in the editor, e.g. whitebox_arena_a. Select one of the subscenes, e.g. 020_Environment and click "Edit".

  • Launch the livelink standalone server and type serve whitebox_arena_a. Launch livelink standalone client and connect to server.

  • Move some stuff around in the editor etc.

Known issue Currently, when you open a subscene in the editor while livelink player is attached, all the entities in that scene is 'recreated' so they get a new entity id. This means any references your code might hold to those entities will become invalid. This will be fixed in the future. For now this means, that you cannot successfully open the scene PrefabAssetRegistry in this project while the player is running.

Known issue Sometimes the connection between the live link player and the editor will not succeed. The player will say Initializing live link but not get any further. A workaround, until this is fixed, is to reboot the machine.

A few remarks on multiplayer testing

  • If you want to use the editor as either a client or a server, the Multiplayer > PlayMode Tools window can be used. By default entering play mode will run a client and a server world.

  • As an example, you can launch a standalone server. Then in the editor in the PlayMode tools select Client and type as the server it should connect to. When you enter playmode, the editor will now act as a client and connect to the server.

  • When running as client in the editor, you can access some network stats by opening in a browser the file ModifiedPackages/com.unity.netcode/Runtime/Stats/netdbg.html and connect to the editor/client.

Tips for getting better performance in the editor

When running the project in the editor, there are a few things you can do to improve the performance. The most impactful is to disable editor attaching (the ability to attach a debugger to the editor). You can do that in Editor > Preferences > External Tools. Also, it is worth turning off Leak detection (Jobs > Leak Detection), Burst checks (Jobs > Burst > Safety ) and the jobs debugger (Jobs > Jobs Debugger). If you do not need to look at the game view and the scene view at the same time, it can also help to close the scene view or put it in a tab behind the game view when in play mode.

Be aware that the burst compiler is compiling code in the background so when you enter playmode it can take a while for full performance to be achieved. Turning on Burst timings (Jobs > Burst > Show Timings) will give you a log item for each completed burst code piece. When they stop appearing everything is bursted and performance is as good as it gets. If you prefer, you can also turn on Jobs > Burst > Synchronous Compilation which will wait for all burst compilations to finish before entering play mode.

At present, the project is configured with the define ENABLE_SIMPLE_SYSTEM_DEPENDENCIES that was introduced in entities version 0.3. This provides better performance in the editor since most gamecode is still tied to the main thread. See the changelog of entities 0.3.0 for more information.

Caveats and known issues

This project represents a snapshot of our efforts to bring many of the new technologies together in a single project. It depends on many packages that are still in experimental stage so there will be API changes as well as changes to best practices going forward from here.

In addition, the project history means that parts of the code come from a more 'classic' Unity approach and is in the process of being converted to the new programming style of entities etc.

Here are some specific examples of areas that are known to be far from the target still:

  • Overall performance. There are still many areas that need to be optimized. Expect lots of improvements here.

  • Handling of dynamically spawned assets is rudimentary still. This is why we currently have the temporary solution of keeping the subscene PrefabAssetRegistry in all levels.

  • This sample is not about visual fidelity and the featureset of the hybrid HDRP rendering is still under development.


A third person, multiplayer sample project. Built with Unity and using the new Data Oriented Tech Stack (DOTS).







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