Two weeks ago we announced our Unity Summer of Code program through which we offer indie & student developers the chance to get paid for doing something cool in Unity. Now we have reviewed all of the almost hundred proposals and selected the four of them that we found best matched the program!
Ben Throop is working on Detonator — a Parametric Explosion System
Great explosions can make a game. Bad explosions can ruin a game. As important as they are, they are difficult to do well because they are composed of art and complex behavior that’s not easily consolidated into a single object. Explosions also have a high degree of randomness, yet within a domain that is not easily described and is often violated.
That said, Unity developers of all types could make great use of a system that allows for efficient creation and iteration of explosion effects.
For artists, the system will provide a means to harness and iterate on complex behavior that is normally hidden behind coding barriers. Artists can think in terms of “size” and “intensity” of the explosion as a whole, while also drilling down to tweak details. Detonator is more than just a collection of particle emitters.
For programmers, creating an explosion with great visual quality will no longer hinge on finding pre-existing particle libraries or an artist friend. Detonator will provide solid results from the start. It will also allow easier binding of game logic to explosion parameters by providing meta-parameters that combine several emitters, models, lights, into a single “Intensity” or “Duration” value.
Sándor Moldán is working on an Erosion Tool for Realistic Terrain Generation
The aim of this project is to provide Unity artists and level designers with a set of intuitive and simple-to-use tools which they can use to create realistic terrain directly within the Unity Editor by adding the effects of natural erosion to terrain objects.
These tools will include a set of ‘wizard’ style filters which will perform erosion on the entire terrain object and a set of brushes which allow the user to erode a smaller section of the terrain with a greater degree of control. Both the erosion filters and brushes will include a selection of different erosion types which can be applied to the terrain object, including thermal, hydraulic, tidal, glacial and wind erosion.
In creating these tools, particular attention will be given to the kind of landforms that create good gameplay and how natural erosion can help to achieve this. For example, a heavily hydraulically eroded terrain will have large areas of flat land, broken up by steep impassable areas, which is vastly more playable and interesting from a level design perspective than a continuous jagged terrain.
An additional tool will be included with the project which will allow users to texture a terrain object by automatically generating splatmaps based on the height and slope of the terrain.
Matthew Miner is working on a Cutscene Editor
Creating cutscenes in Unity, while not necessarily difficult for the seasoned developer, can be a challenge for those more familiar with traditional filmmaking tools and techniques. As game projects grow larger, it’s likely that trained filmmakers — cinematographers, editors, etc. — will assist with the creation of these cutscenes. Currently there’s no simple system for working with elements like multiple shots and transitions; that is, there’s no easy way to “cut together” a scene.
The solution is a Cutscene Editor, a tool for Unity with the ability to “capture” an animated scene from multiple viewpoints and edit it together. These individual clips are placed in a timeline similar to those seen in non-linear editors like iMovie and Final Cut. Clips can be rearranged, trimmed, split, slowed down, sped up, and given special effect filters like sepia tone. Transitions like crossfades can be added between clips as well as title cards and subtitles. Dialogue and sound effects can be added on their own section of the timeline. Ideally a developer can create a cutscene without writing any code.
Michał Mandrysz is working on a Tool for Transferring VRay Scenes into Unity
It’s amazingly simple to make a scene in Unity. Just drag and drop whatever you want to the scene, drag materials and textures to it and your scene is done. That’s a pretty neat workflow, but you hit some problems if you want your Unity authored scene to be lightmapped.
This project will integrate Unity even more tightly with 3ds Max software, and whatever of its renderers you want to use (like VRay). It should give designers the power to create photo-realistic Mirrors-Edge like scenes with less effort, while being able to author scenes in Unity instead of in 3ds Max.
(Proposals above have been trimmed and in some cases slightly rephrased.)
We are all excited to follow the development of these projects over the next six weeks. Good luck guys!