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    Substance answers !

    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.





    Jeremie
    Tech.Artist - Community Manager
    Allegorithmic
    Last edited by Jerc; 07-20-2011 at 05:45 AM.


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    How much will the Substance Designer cost for us Unity users?


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    Quote Originally Posted by M_Stolley View Post
    How much will the Substance Designer cost for us Unity users?
    Even if they do a discount, I don't see it being much less than it's current $990 for a standard license.
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    I can assure you there will be significant discounts for Unity users

    We are still working out all the details with Unity and I'll give you the exact pricing as sson as I can.


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    @Jerc u been attending the Unity Technologies school of hyperbole marketing?

    I came to this thread VERY curious as to what "substance" you're talking about. Maybe I live in a vacuum, but I had no idea "substance" was the name of a product created by a "substance designer" until half way down your post.

    Well, not entirely true, I got so exasperated by the hyperbole in your first "answer" that I wondered down the thread and came across Frank's comment about Substance Designer being $990. That's when I got curious enough to at least get past your initial "answer".

    btw your self referential comment about there being a lot of chat about it lately... maybe in your world... but I missed the memo/s completely. Comments like that are off putting. A little smug and unnecessary.

    For the first two paragraphs I had no idea what you were on about. And no idea you were attached to Allegorithmic until I read your signature right at the end of my perusal's... it's at that point I clicked... "oh, this must be the product of this company..."

    Substance is a very odd name. From what I gather there's 3 components.

    Substance Designer: The king pin, makes Substance Materials.
    Substance Materials: The Knight, creates Substance Textures.
    Substance Textures: The pawns that go out and do the work.

    Since you refer to the last two as both being "Substance" it's incredibly confusing to read.

    I'd suggest this: sMaterials and sTextures or some other more descriptive and accurate way of referring to them that doesn't leave a man scratching at what's left of the substances on his head.

    What is it ?

    > Substance is primarily here to help you build lighter scenes (think mobile and web publishing) and produce faster .
    This first "answer" looks like a Unity Technologies marketing spiel. It's not an answer to "What is it?" it's an abstract concept of what it DOES. But it get's contradicted by your very next "answer"...

    > A Substance is a set of textures linked to a Substance material, those textures are different from your traditional texture:
    I'm not an English major, so I can't tell you what it is about the phrasing that grates me in technical terms... but it seems your first "answer" is talking about a solo product (perhaps Substance Designer) whilst your second answer is talking about multiples of something that are a child of a something that comes in multiples but is also Substance. Which seems odd to me, like Substance means three different things in two different states, in the way you use it.

    The rest of your post continues to make me scratch my head.

    Clearly Substance, whatever it is, is best described visually. Alongside some performance numbers and size numbers.

    And the Price! Since ....

    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.
    Selling Substance Designer seems to be the main purpose of the thread.

    Here's a suggestion. On how to sell to a community with something like this... assuming this is possible...

    Create a web interface to your software. Allow anyone to use Substance Designer for free to create sTextures and sMaterials for their games.
    Call it:
    Substance Designer Online
    how do you benefit?
    Users of Substance Designer Online download and pay for their sTextures and sMaterials via Asset Store once they've tweaked them to the desired state. At 3 different pricing points.

    1. Unique Use: Only they can use it. Once they've bought the sTexture/sMaterials it's deleted from Asset Store, it was only visible to them, they had a 48 exclusive to buy it from the Asset Store, before it slides down to option 2. below. It's at a high price.
    2. Limited Use: Can only be sold 20 times, to non competing users of Unity, as decided by the designer. Lower Price
    3. Unlimited Use: Everyone can download the sTextures and sMaterials for free, forever. User that designed it gets it free.

    Everyone wins. On multiple fronts.

    What do you think?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerc View Post
    > Substance is primarily here to help you build lighter scenes (think mobile and web publishing) and produce faster .
    The Substance engine is not supported on mobiles so it won't help make anything lighter there. Substances can still be baked for mobiles though so the workflow advantages still apply but not the savings in file size or the dynamic parameter changes at runtime.

    Rune
    Rune Skovbo Johansen - Creative Programmer at Unity Technologies
    unity3d.com | runevision.com | my blog


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    Quote Originally Posted by runevision View Post
    The Substance engine is not supported on mobiles so it won't help make anything lighter there. Substances can still be baked for mobiles though so the workflow advantages still apply but not the savings in file size or the dynamic parameter changes at runtime.

    Rune
    wow. so a * is required. Now I know why this is in the Gossip section.


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    If you're looking for a good overview of the technology, the devblogs and interviews from the game RoboBlitz are a good source. All their textures were procedural resulting in an incredibly small distribution size. Only 50m iirc.
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    Quote Originally Posted by runevision View Post
    The Substance engine is not supported on mobiles so it won't help make anything lighter there. Substances can still be baked for mobiles though so the workflow advantages still apply but not the savings in file size or the dynamic parameter changes at runtime.

    Rune
    Any chance its going to be supported by the end of this year or mid next year when apple completely phases out pre OES2 hw support for approval?
    Or does the engine update RTs instead of "bake at loadup"?


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    @dissidently

    I'm no marketing guy, I'm an artist working at Allegorithmic and trying to clear things up while of course praising the software since I love what I do, I think we are doing it right and I truly think other would benefit from using it.

    Substance is a new feature coming in 3.4 and I saw a few threads on these forums where people were wondering how exactly it would be integrated and what was the reason behind Unity integrating it. My post was just meant to give answers to these people.and I didn't mean to be exhaustive.

    When I talk about Substance, I'm talking about the technology as a whole, and Substances are the actual materials created using that technology. I understand it may not be very clear to someone who's never heard of it, hope this cleared things up

    About your suggestion on the pricing model, We are actually currently looking at ways to port some sort of web version of our tools, but for now we are just following the common trail with standalone tools.


    Now about the mobile support, we are actively working on an Android and iOs versions, those are shaping up nicely and as soon as its ready, it will be available for Unity, just not in 3.4 yet


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    Thank you, Jerc, for coming on the forums to share with us this information. Don't mind the trolls, many of us know what your product is and were interested in hearing about how it will be implemented within Unity 3.4
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    One major problem I see.

    For materials to correctly rasterize at runtime, or do their fancy features, you're gonna need to include them in full. Since according to a UT post further up, this part of the features doesn't apply to mobiles, and desktops don't really need that much saved space, it leaves webplayers. We all know those are the absolute easiest to get hold of and to pull apart. So that would mean any expensive materials you bought for your game, will be free for certain types to simple take like they would a regular texture. Only unlike a regular texture, a material can do far more, so is quite a big loss for expensive or custom materials you'll lose if you use them.

    Same applies to standalones of course too, but to a lesser extend cause they'd generally not be as easy to get to as a webplayer on someones website free for all to use, or as a demo that many use webplayers for.

    So will there be anything done in 3.4 to possibly address this problem?
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    @Jerc

    The information you gave above is very helpful and helped clear up a few things for me. Thank you.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Oz View Post
    One major problem I see.
    For materials to correctly rasterize at runtime, or do their fancy features, you're gonna need to include them in full. Since according to a UT post further up, this part of the features doesn't apply to mobiles, and desktops don't really need that much saved space, it leaves webplayers.
    I totally disagree.

    We're for the most part not making box games here, rather downloadable content. Saying that the technology isn't worth it for standalone builds is silly. It's the difference between say a 400m or a 30m download on the Mac app store or steam.
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    As much as I understand, the software just filters the base diffuse to generate spec, normal and other maps?
    Who generates their normals and spec from diffuse however? To have anything near acceptable quality, they need to be baked from highres geo or at least manipulated by hand, otherwise you just end up with a bumpy,shiny mess.
    Might be ok for grass or metals, but not actual props, I think.


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    Quote Originally Posted by multivac View Post
    As much as I understand, the software just filters the base diffuse to generate spec, normal and other maps?
    Who generates their normals and spec from diffuse however? To have anything near acceptable quality, they need to be baked from highres geo or at least manipulated by hand, otherwise you just end up with a bumpy,shiny mess.
    Might be ok for grass or metals, but not actual props, I think.
    That's just one filter, it does a whole lot more than that and regardless of my own views toward things like this and Genetica, it can do some useful things, hence my concern that some materials will be highly sought after, and the fact they'll be so easy to pull out of other people's stuff, you get the lot, not just the end result (unless that's all they use and not the material itself).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quietus View Post
    I totally disagree.

    We're for the most part not making box games here, rather downloadable content. Saying that the technology isn't worth it for standalone builds is silly. It's the difference between say a 400m or a 30m download on the Mac app store or steam.
    Way to focus on the unimportant part and ignore the problem at hand, you pay $50 for a super useful material. Little Joe easily rips it from your webdemo for free, in its complete and usable entirety. It's more than just a single simple texture, it could be capable of all kinds of effects and features, across all manner of textures and situations, and you basically just bought it for him and his friends.
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    and?

    lets assume unity encrypted it. Great will take a week then a cracker has brute forced cracked the AES256 or whatever key used for decryption, creates a 1 click too -> back to start


    Protection exists only through law, any other measure is just there to motivate crackers to break it if its usefull software or data, its not there to protect it in the end.

    Also you expect the client stuff to be protected better than unity itself as it seams.


    But now back on topic: Really looking forward to it, be it just for the "relaxing fun of toying with parameters to see the outcome"


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    That particular substance generates them from the diffuse. The software itself is a really powerful procedural texture system that you can do all kinds of stuff with. If you've never worked with procedural texture systems like Substance Designer, Genetica, or MaPZone then try downloading MaPZone (it's free at http://www.mapzoneeditor.com/) and give it a try.

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