Way back in 2018 Unity announced the official deprecation of the UNET networking solution, which consisted of the low level (LLAPI) and high level (HLAPI) networking solutions. The reasons for the deprecation were:
Through our connected games initiatives, we’re revamping how we can make networked games easier, more performant, and multiplayer-ready by default. To make these important changes, we need to start anew. That means existing multiplayer features will be gradually deprecated, with more performant, scalable, and secure technologies taking their place. But don’t worry – games with impacted features will have plenty of time to react.
At this point in time the future was clearly DOTS (Data Oriented Technology Stack) which included a new solution called Unity NetCode. In the end the migration to DOTS hasn’t gone as smoothly as expected and recently Unity have started back-filling support for GameObject based development. One recent example was the acquisition, then subsequent free release of the Bolt visual scripting solution. Today Unity have made a similar move, by adopting the open source MLAPI networking project as the new official Unity networking solution. Details from the Unity blog:
One of Unity’s top priorities for 2021 is to expand the Unity ecosystem with a first-party multiplayer networking solution for GameObjects that is easy to set up and extend, scales to meet the needs of high-performance titles, and is seamlessly integrated into the Unity ecosystem.
The existing UNet HLAPI architecture is not well suited for the in-depth evolution that is required to support games at scale. Rest assured, we don’t want to reinvent the wheel. The ecosystem currently offers multiple strong solutions, and the best path toward providing you with the scalable framework we envision is to build on the amazing work that already exists in the community.
We considered various open source software (OSS) alternatives and found a framework that fit our needs. We’re thrilled to share that the OSS multiplayer networking framework MLAPI is joining the Unity family, along with its creator, Albin Corén.
As of today, we’re already working on integrating and evolving MLAPI into what will become Unity’s first-party GameObjects netcode solution. We plan to continue the development fully open source. Developing in the open and welcoming community contributions. If you are interested, you can join us on the GitHub MLAPI repo.
You can learn more about MLAPI and the ongoing saga of networking on Unity in the video below.