Unity 3D World Making Tools

Unity 3D World Making Tools


So, let’s say in the future I want to make a great terrain in Unity, and I don’t remember what tools I loved to use previously? Well, here’s the blog post for it!

I wanted to share a list, kind of a reminder for me too, of the assets I need/like to use in a Unity3D project that has a 3D landscape in it, based on a Unity terrain.

Of course, some things I say about these assets may be a mistake, because I’m used to doing things like not seeing something obvious that was right in front of my nose. But I think what I say here is accurate. At least in this parallel universe.

First consideration(s)

Dreams of Ylina Garden

Dreams of Ylina Garden

I want to use a standard unity terrain, with the textures and grass on it. Maybe just before publishing, I’d convert the terrain into a mesh for performance purposes, but in the meantime, I want to be able, more or less, to delete all plugins and still have my terrain with the correct textures, trees, grass, even if it looks less great, and I wanted to make all work with my current terrain, because I had made the island of Ylina before getting almost all of these plugins. All this means I’ll exclude tools like Megasplat, which seem to be awesome, but which requires another workflow (I admit I didn’t check further about it).

So, what?

Well, here is the list of things that, to me, improve the landscape: there are many tools you can use instead of these, but so far I like these.

  • Enviro: the great, and still updated, tool to add several things: Day/Night cycle, volumetric fog, rain, snow, clouds with shadows… The great feature on top of that, to me, is that it integrates well with other assets, like CTS, or the Uber Shader, meaning that when it rains, with just a little given script added on the terrain, CTS understands that the ground must be wet. Same for snow.
  • CTS: great shader, the earlier versions seemed to have performance issues according to what I’ve read, but now performances are better. It definitely improves the terrain look. To me, one great feature for this (among the well-known features) is the detail map. It adds irregularities on the terrain. Of course, the single pass for 16 textures, the texture blend, etc. are awesome too, and tessallation. The only thing missing yet, to me (Adam, CTS developer from Procedural Worlds, along with Bart from NatureManufacture (maker of R.A.M. and Mountain Trees below) say somewhere in the forum it is coming) is mesh blending, like, making a rock partly covered with grass texture and therefore blending with the terrain. It is a feature you can find in Microsplat, which is another terrain shader, but to get all the features I wanted with microsplat instead of CTS, it would have been more expensive since I got CTS on sales, and it requires some tuning especially for details and these irregularities I mentioned, whereas in CTS it’s nearly right out of the box.
  • Uber Shader: a great shader improving the standard Unity shader. Basically bought it to allow roofs to be wet or snowy when it rains or snows, and see its performance. There are other features, like transluscency, 2 layer vertex blending, …
  • ATG (Advanced Terrain Grass): To render the grass: I honestly don’t know if I should have taken Advanced Foliage Shader instead. According to the description, ATG was what fitted for what I needed. The wind effect on grass is a lot better than the default Unity grass reaction to wind, and the performances are also better to draw grass. There are a bit of tuning to do to make it work efficiently, but it’s worth it. I have also considered Vegetation Studio, for spawning grass, maybe next time.
  • R.A.M. (River Auto Material): Didn’t use it yet, but according to what it looks like, the waterfalls and rivers are like, one of the greatest on the asset store.
  • Mountain Trees Dynamic Nature: one of the best current trees I’ve seen on the asset store. I’ve also considered SpeedTree packages, especially on sales, but Mountain Trees have made a great impression on me (and it’s not the same price).
  • Rustic Grass: in terms of texture grass, it’s one of the best I’ve seen. There are others great tool (including from the same maker Turboscalpeur), but I’ve taken this one, given the environment on the island of Ylina.
  • Gaia: Also from Adam of Procedural Worlds, this is useful to make a really cool terrain, with relief, and all, spawning also the grass, trees, rocks, even villages. If you have a precise map you want to create it requires a bit more time, but it looks pretty great.
Dreams of Ylina Syr Forest

Dreams of Ylina Syr Forest

Of course, for realism, there are all megascans.se assets, but It’s currently out of my budget, and given the characters and other models in the scene, I’m somehow afraid that a too great level of realism wouldn’t be coherent, except if anything had the same level of coherence, which is not the case unless I can raise a million dollar on indiegogo.

And I have to mention Multistory Dungeons, which, on top of having great models especially for walls, and grounds, and pillars etc., has this amazing quality to have great proportions, in the sense that if you place one wall, and duplicate it and want to put the duplicate right beside the first, you just have to move the duplicate with Ctrl+mouse, which moves the GameObject 1meter by 1meter, and the walls are then well aligned. Same for grounds, etc. Even easier if you use assets like Grids MX. I’ve seen other assets in which, to assemble things, you have to snap the vertex together with v+mouse, and sometimes you don’t even know which vertex are supposed to snap together from one model to the other, and sometimes there are even no vertex to snap, you just have to try to find where the next wall is supposed to be so that there aren’t any holes in your roof or walls. Waste of time. Here, you can design smoothly.

And of course, the great Cinemachine, Timeline (still improved, and you can write your own playable scripts), and the Post-Processing Stack.

And (2) I’m so sad I missed the 70% sale on UModeler, because it seems to be a great tool to model in unity, and modify existing meshes.

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