Will Unity 4 have new Terrain Features?!

Discussion in 'Unity Gossip' started by brilliantgames, Jun 18, 2012.

  1. brilliantgames

    brilliantgames

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    Since everyone is too busy complaining on the main thread, I decided to post my own. I've been trying to figure out if Unity 4 will have new Terrain editing features. Does anyone have any information on this?!
  2. Chaoss

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    I'd also like to know this, I use the terrain feature a lot and would love native support for both streaming/tiling to enable us to create vast worlds without plugins and support for mega-textures for terrains
  3. brilliantgames

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    As well it would be really sweet if we could finally use infinite normal maps.
  4. Thomas Pasieka

    Thomas Pasieka

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    I think if you look at the current front page the new features are singled out. I don't see "Terrain" mentioned or highlighted in the announcement so one can assume that there is nothing new in that sector.
  5. brilliantgames

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    Darn thats too bad. Hope thats changed.
  6. TehWut

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    I think someone was just trying to start some sort of rumor :p or maybe just misspoke. Would be nice to see it in the 4.x though, I think it's about time. Spending time on the new GUI / Animation system is also just as important, and considering the amount of 3rd party solutions, I think many users will last 'till then.
  7. brilliantgames

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    Even just infinite normal maps would make me happy. This is my only wish for the terrain editor! :)
  8. janpec

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    There is no need for super awesome landscape creation or painting like UE3 has or any complex tools, all we need is proper support of normal (detai) maps, and one main diffuse terrain map where you can blend splat maps on top of. With that and use of World Machine + Mudbox or Zbrush one can do amazing terrains.
  9. antenna tree

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    What does "infinite normal maps" mean? ;-)
  10. alonzo

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    maybe infinite Voxel terrain?
  11. steego

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    Well you can have that already, sort of.
  12. Jessy

    Jessy

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    4D normal maps whose alpha channels represent the time span for the new GUI to be done.
  13. TehWut

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    gah, trying to find "oh snap" gif
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2012
  14. Joe Robins

    Joe Robins

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    We have been in "R&D mode" quite a bit with terrains, as you can see from this Ninjacamp project http://unity3d.com/ninjacamp/projects/10060 So some improvements on terrain are certainly something that we could end up looking at sometime in the 4.x release cycle. As to if we will have something in the 4.0 launch, I'd stick to the list of features we announced for now
  15. brilliantgames

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    What I meant about infinite normal maps, is being able to have more than 4 normal maps per terrain. All the normal map scripts that exist never seem to go over 4. Unless I've missed something. (excuse my lack of knowledge in how the terrain editor works)
  16. Chaoss

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    I believe we should be able to have normal and parralax mapped terrain, The current terrain system does seem fine, but it's missing some basic things that are present in other engines (tiling, stitching, shaders etc)
  17. brilliantgames

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    Yes, besides that, I love everything else about the terrain editor. Just seems silly that it wasnt done in the first place, I wonder why. Every other modern engine seems to have normal maps on terrain.
  18. botumys

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    I'm using a lot the terrain tool in unity but after testing tools like the terrain sculpting and painting in hero engine for example, it's
    a pain to go back in unity after that.
  19. Tekniko

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    Hero Engine has the best terrain editor I have ever used. Too bad it costs money now :(
  20. janpec

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    This should be question for milion dollars. I can completly understand that there are difficult features that take a lot of time to implement , but seriously normal mapped terrain has been done with indie developers on their custom engines within few days, i dont understand why is it so complicated for UT to set it up.
  21. Ricks

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    I don't understand it either. The terrain looks and is 10 years old...
  22. Farfarer

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    I don't really get people's issues with the terrain system. Why not just model it? It's not like there's any real difference between doing that and having a terrain in place except you get far greater control over it when you model it (and freedom to do what you like to your textures and UVs).
  23. Neptune_Imaging

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    ^ this. And not only this but I could sculpt it in Zbrush and detail the S*** out of it... also for trees, i could just hand place them
  24. Ricks

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    You could argue the same with the new mecanim system. Why not model and animate it yourself? Why not use mixamo?... Sorry dude, but normal/parallax mapped terrain is long overdue.
  25. TehWut

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    The difference is, you can actually do what you want either way.
  26. janpec

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    Becouse A: if you unwrap mesh you will need at least 4k texture to get some decent splat maps. If you use only main color map for its texture well, then better not get close to terrain or it will look little undetailed. Then how to properly use splat maps on custom mesh? Actually even at 4k resolution splat maps are way too low quallity. Better make that 8k per normal terrain, which not that Unity doesnt support, its already way too high number to put on GPU just for terrain. If you make terrains smaller and load 4 terrains at once when player has them in view perspective thats well not really performance friendly.
    Then problem B: Nothing that is by default working on Unity terrain system will work with it. This includes trees, rocks, and dozens of other object which are rendered cheaper with terrain system.
    Problem C: You need custom "terrain" shader to support more than 1 detail and normal map + diffuse map, which is quite some work i guess.
  27. brilliantgames

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    Agreed. :)
  28. Farfarer

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    A: Just use tiling textures like the terrain system already does and blend them with splat maps. Infact, with a custom modeled terrain, you could do a lot more cool stuff. I don't see why you need 4k or 8k textures... you don't use them on Unity terrains, do you? Why would you need them here?

    B: You can write that stuff yourself without too much effort. That'd be the hardest part of the whole thing.

    C: Writing the shaders isn't hard at all. It's the same as any other shader. And you get proper normals and tangents if you use a mesh, rather than hacking it in. It's no different than writing any other custom shader.

    I guess I've just never seen the terrain system as anything other than "need a quick floor *throw terrain in* right, that'll do as a placeholder".


    marctro: I already did. I wrote a full state machine with animation blending for my last project in Unity... the real benefit of the new animation system is the retargeting of animations.
  29. Florian Schmoldt

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    I guess thats it. I agree that having a custom mesh makes sense on smaller scales but one of the main reasons for the use of the terrain system is the (Problem D) possible size and its scaleability in terms of perfomance.
    For example dynamic tesselation based on detail and distance. Nobody cares if its a more or less flat surface but it gets tricky if you need "next gen" detail/poly density in the foreground but huge reachable hills in the background.

    Its an overall great system but having no normal maps is so 80ties
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2012
  30. SevenBits

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    +1
  31. Filto

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    Because terrain creation is an extremely iterative process. Jumping back and forth to your modelling app to accomodate for asset placement, light adjustment etc isn't realistic if want to create anything proper. There is a reason why terrain system exists. It is a whole other deal than asset creation.
  32. Filto

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    Here is why I think there is no new terrain tool (and i might be totally off) Unity doesn't seem to create much tools themselves anymore but rather integrating 3rd party tools into Unity like beast, umbra, substance, shuriken and now mecanim (was that the name) They might not have found a good 3rd party terrain tool out there yet to integrate and they themselves are busy with so much other technical aspects of the engine that they simple haven't got the time or resources to develop a terrain tool from scratch. Might be why the GUI is lagging behind aswell. A shader editor was desperatly needed for a long time but then Strumpy came along and solved the problem, yay! Playmaker! a thousand thumbs up. So you guys who believe that a terrain tool isn't such a biggie to create, get cracking, put it on asset store and make yourself a good pile of money.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2012
  33. imaginaryhuman

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    I'm not sure where you're coming from, Unity has added a lot of custom new features.
  34. Filto

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    As I said I might be wrong and it is not a critique against Unity. Assets store by the way was the most brilliant move ever from Unity. but anyway back on track. I'm talking tools not features. What new tools are there? A tool i consider something you create content with. Like a terrain tool, particle tool, lightmapping tool, shadercreation tool, vertexpainting tool, mapping tool etc just to clarify. A tool has buttons, sliders etc in short.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2012
  35. MarigoldFleur

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    Like what? Because in the Unity 4 Features thread there's been a breakdown of how almost every new feature added was added halfway to the point where many of them are almost completely useless.
  36. UnLogick

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    As I've stated numerous times its possible to do 8 without resorting to trickery. You have the complex shader for the first pass, and then you need to hack the shader for the additional passes to do something similar. Unfortunately the Terrain engine considers everything after first pass as additional passes so you can't really hack it beyond 8. (You're using global shader variables to store everything thats not the diffuse texture.)

    Due to performance reasons this isn't the best way to progress as it will cost an additional render pass. It would probably be faster to split the splat control texture into 8 or more values rather than the current 4. For most projects having 8 bits alpha blend for each surface is totally overkill anyways. I've been considering making a script like that, so that it could encode/decode a terrain and swap the shader. So you would have the ease of editing when you wanted that and then you "baked" into a single pass optimization. However time(tm) has prevented me from implementing this script + shader.

    Do note that it will play tricks with your blending and your lighting. But I eventually got it running on my project. The hard part is really deciding what kind of shader you want on which layers. Normals are great for up close, but at a distance scaling a texture on top of itself provides much better results.
  37. janpec

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    If i remeber correctly Farfarer has already released triplanar texturing for terrains which is great, but sadly i dont think that there is any hope for proper normal mapping solution. Asset store has been existing for quite some time and there hasnt been any solution except hacked shader posted, and besides that probably source code is required to create proper terrain shader (as i was told). Really sad becouse there really isnt much needed for amazing terrains, but it seems like that it has to be done by UT.
  38. Florian Schmoldt

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    I was watching 12years of 3dsMax until the point where it became a weird collection of 3rd party plugi..."tools" that doesn't work together very well. Those tools should have been tested, fixed and integrated.
    I know there are a lot of scripts out there that forces normals or more complex shaders to the terrain but in most cases, that one feature brakes another. I wish UT would at least pick one of those solutions and bend unity in a way to make it stable and useable.
  39. lmbarns

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    Anyone ever compared performance between a Unity terrain and a comparable mesh? You can generate a mesh from the same heightmap you use in Unity to make a terrain. Texturing seems the be the harder part.

    For phone I can make probably 100+ times as large of a scene with meshes than the largest sized terrain that would run because it draws the entire terrain if any of it's in view, where meshes outside the view and distance are culled easily.

    I guess LOD with PRO would fix this, but for the rest of people, why wouldn't it be the same performance gain on a PC or something with more power than my android, on a more powerful platform which can handle huge Unity terrains, why wouldn't it still allow 100x bigger with meshes?

    I made a bunch of low-poly "tileable" meshes and place them together in whatever orientation I want, with hills, valleys, mountains, etc. and combinechildren for nearby copies. My problem is texturing them, I can only add a solid texture to them, I need to find a way(cheap software) to brush textures on the model like the Unity editor.
  40. jc_lvngstn

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    That and trees, and billboards, grass, etc.
    But from what others have said, supposedly that is a snap. The thought of putting my current project on hold for 6 months or so to create a my own terrain engine in Unity, from scratch, just makes me a little ill.
  41. brilliantgames

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    Agreed. So yes, normal maps are possible. But why should we have to be hackers to make it happen? Every other large engine seems to have amazing terrain. I think it would look embarrassing on Unity to have all these DX11 features an advanced animation, only to have these cartoon looking terrains.
  42. brilliantgames

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    And yes, it is very possible to make good looking terrains in other modeling programs and engines and import them. But what about tessellation? What about LOD tree sprites? Rocks? Grass? If you are making an open world game you absolutely need these things for your game to appear massive and complex. And the terrain engine has all these. All I ask for is normal map built in! :D
  43. Chaoss

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    They haven't announced all the features yet, this is (as stated in the main announcement) the first of many. I'd wait until we get to beta test 4.0 before we nit pick features
  44. MarigoldFleur

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    The problem is that there's a precedent for features being implemented halfway and we have confirmation for things like the super advanced animation system not supporting facial animation in 4.0 or the input manager not getting its much needed overhaul in 4.0 either.
  45. Filto

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    Sure but this is a general impression I've got from earlier releases aswell. I'd be surprised if any major new tools presents in 4.0. The animation tool is the big thing.
  46. Dreamora

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    which advanced dx11 features?
    Tessellation as far as I understood will be a feature you can use but nothing for which Unity 4.0 will offer you support out of the box
  47. angel_m

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    Totally agreed
  48. brilliantgames

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    Lol, are you developing Unity 4? These are the early announcements. I'm sure they will take advantage of more than just tessellation. Even if so, tessellation and rendering are enough for me. :)
  49. Aras

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    I am developing Unity 4. Current status is, there's no checkbox that says "DX11 cool stuff yeah!" that would enable everything you could ever imagine, including highly tessellated, horizon-based ambient occluded, massively parallel unicorns.

    Current status of DX11 support in 4.0 is that it enables you to do that unicorn, but you have to know how. You have to know how to write compute shaders, know what's an unordered access view is, and can tell the difference between your hull shaders from your domain shaders.

    Whether the actual, out-of-the-box DX11 unicorn will be in final 4.0 release, or some release after that, still remains to be seen.
  50. brilliantgames

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    Exactly my thoughts. People seem to be over-speculating a bit early. Would you be able to give any input as to the future of the terrain editor?