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Now Available: The Spaceship Demo Project using VFX Graph and High-Definition Render Pipeline

, August 19, 2019

Last year, at Unite LA, we released a video showcasing the brand-new Visual Effect Graph in action through a First-Person Game walkthrough, using Unity 2018.3. This demo was rendered using the High-Definition Render Pipeline and showcases High-Definition assets, lighting, and effects.

This year, Visual Effect Graph will come out of preview with Unity 2019.3. In order to explore how this project was made, we upgraded the effects to take full advantage of the latest features and released and documented the Spaceship demo project. You can already download, open and learn from it, starting today, using Unity 2019.2.

Watch the video of the Spaceship demo.

Triple-A Game VFX, made with love (and Unity)

 All effects from the Spaceship Demo are made using Visual Effect Graph, from simple environmental VFX to more complex Augmented Reality and Holographic UI, HUD, to a gorgeous Reactor Core effect. Here are some eye-candy screenshots of the environments and effects you will encounter in the demo.

Authored for production

The spaceship demo features many effects during its walkthrough. All these effects have been authored and optimized in-game production conditions with performance in mind, targeting 33.3 ms (30 fps) on Playstation 4 (base) at 1080p. All the effects are taking advantage of the many optimization settings we implemented in Visual Effect Graph and High Definition Render Pipeline.

Half-Resolution Translucent Rendering renders selected transparent particles at a lower resolution, increasing rendering performance by 4 (at the expense of little blurriness in some rare cases). We used it mostly for big, lit particles that are present in the foreground as their texel/pixel ratio is rather low, the loss in resolution is not noticeable at all.

Octagon Particles is an optimization of quad particles and enable the corners of the particles to be cropped.  where the pixels are often found transparent (invisible cost). Particle corners are often transparent, but the overlapping of these transparent areas result in unnecessary calculations. Cropping out these sections can optimize the scene up to 25% in situations where there is lots of overdraw. There is also the benefit of reducing the resolution of the translucent sections when they can’t be cropped away.

Simplified Lighting model: Simple Lit for HD Render Pipeline enables disabling properties of the BRDF – Diffuse Lighting, Specular Lighting, Shadow and Cookie Reception, and Ambient Lighting. By selecting only the features you want to see, you can decrease the lighting computation cost to close to none. For instance, particles can be lit using only Light Probes by selecting a Simple Lit Translucent Model, then disabling everything except ambient lighting. This optimization was chosen for many environment effects that did not require a lot of high-frequency lighting.

Downloading the Project

In order to access this project, you will first need the brand-new Unity 2019.2 Editor. You can easily install it in the Unity Hub App by clicking the Installs Tab, clicking the Add button, then selecting Unity 2019.2.0f1 (or newer versions).

Then, you will need to go to the Spaceship Demo page on Github to get the project files. Once on this page, you can clone the project by clicking the “Clone or Download” button, then clicking “Open in Desktop” if you have the Github Desktop app installed. Or, you can use the address above to clone it in another git client.

Alternate Method (without Git):

If you do not wish to use git to download the project, you can go to the Releases page and select any release to download the zip file from the release’s title “(Download Project File here).”

Do not download the other SourceCode zip or tar.gz files. The project uses git LFS and these archives will not include binary data. If you download a project from this page, please make sure that you have an updated editor.

Once downloaded, you need to unzip the project files into the folder of your choice. Then, you are good to go!

Downloading a Windows Standalone Playable Build

We also built playable binaries for the demo if you want to run it on your PC. You can download it using this link. For updated binaries, you can also go to the Releases Page of the Github Project in order to find newer, standalone builds.

The demo should run around 30fps at 1080p on a mid-range gaming-grade PC with the following specifications:

  • Processor: Intel i5 8400 / AMD Ryzen 5 2600
  • Graphics Card: Nvidia GTX1050 / AMD RX 560
  • 8GB RAM

Opening the Project, and Discover

Using Unity Hub, you can add the project in the projects Tab using the Add button and navigate to the root of the project folder. If the Unity version is not selected, you can select it using the drop-down menu. Then you will be able to load the project by clicking the project name.

Loading the project takes between 10 to 20 minutes depending on your computer’s capabilities. Once it’s done, you should end up with the editor open and displaying a Discover Spaceship Demo window.

Discover Window

The Discover window is made to guide you through the project and help you find the key elements that compose the walkthrough of this 5-minute long sequence. It focuses mainly on visual effects and scripted sequences.

Note: You can close the window at any time and reopen it using the Help/Discover Spaceship Demo menu.

When the project opens, the window prompts you to open either the Spaceship Demo Level or the Main Menu Scene. By clicking the corresponding Open Buttons, the editor will automatically load the Scenes in the editor. Then, the discover window will go into Discovery Mode, displaying the many points of interest that you can find in this level.

You can select items in the list located on the left of the window.  All of them will move the Scene View to the relevant point of view and will display useful information on the right side in order to select Game Objects and open Assets. Using this window, you will be able to find out which game objects do what, preview timelines, and open the visual effect graphs that compose every sequence.

There is still more to come!

Visual Effect Graph will come out of preview in 2019.3 and the Spaceship demo project will be updated after the final release to run with Unity 2019.3. Stay tuned for more project updates this fall by starring or watching the repository on GitHub.

In the meantime, feel free to join us on the forums and give us feedback about your experience with the Spaceship demo!

Join us at Unite Copenhagen to learn more about VFX Graph

The next place you can meet us is at Unite Copenhagen, which takes place September 23 -26.  It’s a one-of-a-kind opportunity for you to engage with thousands of talented creators and top developers from around the world!

Learn, network, participate

  • Get ahead with the latest Unity features, tips tricks, and cool reveals in dozens of tech sessions, pop-up talks, and the keynote.
  • Meet industry leaders and make new friends at fun networking events and “Unite at Night” gatherings. 
  • Uplevel your Unity skills and make career-advancing connections in workshops, Q&A sessions, and community events.

Learn more about Unite Copenhagen on our website and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest news.

23 replies on “Now Available: The Spaceship Demo Project using VFX Graph and High-Definition Render Pipeline”

It took me awhile to check this out. But holy crap this is an amazing learning resource. The walk-through window is especially useful!


I’ve launched the editor exactly as suggested in the description, but I have this error running all the time and I can’t see anything but vfx cubes:

aaand there is no sound.

I tried launching the level both from the “Discover” window and from loading the “Main menu” scene and playing it to choose “Start”

As shown in your screenshots, all textures seem to have reverted to null’s. I noticed it once when the git LFS files were not pulled correctly, and It could match the fact that you don’t have textures or sound. Did you clone the project or downloaded the zip file we provided?

No, these are just flipbook’ed sprites using simplified lighting and rendered as half resolution.

Unfortunately anything based on SRP, ECS/DOTS, and new networking or new physics will have a high likliness to be abandoned until all the APIs are stable. Which unfortunately seems to be a very long way off.

Hopefully all these demos will get updated to function with the final APIs, otherwise they quite literally are pointless.

Are you seriously suggesting that this DEMO running at 30 FPS on GTX1050 is not enough? Come on guys…
This is absolutely brutal!


When are we going to get proper documentation for the SRP? How about even just documented API changes between 2018 and 2019? HDRP and LWRP are great and all, but if SRP is the system going forth, it’s pretty important that we know how to use it.

I must admit I am quite sad to see this is only at 30fps with such hardware. Thats really not optimised enough for a sample, surely you can get some more out of it?

Just made a run on my XPS15 with a 1050ti maxQ (which is roughly a desktop 1050), and it actually runs between 33 and 50 fps, averaged at 43, nothing to be ashamed of IMO

Great project, I found the “gameplay ingredients” package really interesting.
It’s what I’ve been looking for Unity to do for a while (a basic framework for most of the common actions used in game development), instead of “starter projects” that are left depending on what Unity is caring about that month.
Even though 2017 to 2018 has been a bumpy road, it seems that the future is promising.
Keep the good work.

sorry unity but this is so boring and synthetic experiment for me.
doom (2016) run 140fps~ on my pc at chaos scene.

Actually after playing with this extensively, I think its good performance for such high quality graphics. I think on a 1050 to get such decent visuals at solid 30 is really good.

In a normal game users would dumb down various settings to get it to 60 on their hardware.

I imagine on something like a 1060 or even 1070 60fps is achieveable.

After all a 1050 is a trash tier card XD

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