Alright, there has been quite a bit of chat about Substance lately, what is it exactly ? What can I do with it ? What is its purpose in Unity ?...
I'll try to give you a precise overview of what you should expect and how and when you should use it in your projects.
What is it ?
> Substance is primarily here to help you build lighter scenes (think mobile and web publishing) and produce faster .
> A Substance is a set of textures linked to a Substance material, those textures are different from your traditional texture:
* They are parametric, which means you can change dramatically the look of the textures by tweaking included parameters.
* They are lightweight assets, typically a few KB per Substance.
* They are resolution independent, you can use Substances at any resolution from 32 to 2048.
* They can be dynamic, you can animate the parameters in real time by script in your scene.
* They can include an input, transforming the Substance into a Smart Filter, allowing you to boost existing bitmaps while still keeping the file size low (see the part on the B2M filter below)
When should I use it ?
> If you want to publish a web based project with high quality content but don't want the customer/player to wait ages for the player to load.
> If you want to create quickly a lot of assets with infinite variations, like an open world game.
> If you don't have the time or skills to create your textures yourself.
> If you want to dynamically change the way your objects look when the player, a npc, time itself or anything else interacts with it, like in the Airstream Demo that will be made available when Substance is released for Unity.
How do I use it ?
* You can use freely all the Substances that are provided for free on the Unity Asset Store.
* You can buy premade Substances on the Unity Asset Store (for now only available on Turbosquid and the Allegorithmic Webstore)
* You can buy smart filters to “boost” your existing bitmaps and reduce material size.
* You can create your own Substances with Substance Designer.
That last point is the key, really.
I see Substance Designer like a big sandbox where you can create almost anything in terms of texture and effect and I hope the Unity community will use its full potential and impress us with new textures, filters and tools very soon.
Speaking of which, we just released our first “Smart Filter”. I guess most of you have already heard of or used Crazybump before, well the Bitmap2Material filter does pretty much the same job, except...
It has more control over the results, more features, like the ability to automatically make your texture seamless, or create randomized variations of your texture, and you can do all this inside of Unity, no need for another software anymore, just a few drag and drop in the editor and you're done !
And last but not least, only your base texture is stored when you cook your project, the other channels are generated at run time, which means even more player size saving
You can find a trial version on Turbosquid and very soon on the Unity Asset Store !
My point is, this B2M filter was created in 2 weeks using Designer, no code or scripting involved, only a few nodes in a graph... so when I'm browsing through these forums, I'm pretty sure you guys can come up with even more powerful and original filters and I just can't wait to see that happen
I guess all this may sound like an ad, well, in a way it is. But I meant this post to enlighten people on what you can achieve with Substances and avoid typical misunderstandings about new technologies..
Please use this thread if you have questions, feedback or ideas about Substance. I'll check in daily and try to answer all your questions.
Tech.Artist - Community Manager