An introduction to the basics of Antares Universe
This post was written by Andrey Paramonox of NeoPax, developer of the Antares Universe (VIZIO) visual environment, available on the Asset Store.
Exploring the Interface
Once you’ve downloaded and installed Antares Universe, you’ll notice that a new section called “Antares” has been added to the default menu panel. There are a couple of different options. Let’s have a closer look at each. First, let’s have a look at the Create, Open and Add menu items. We’ll skip Wizards for now.
Create.This will instantiate a GameObject with a new empty Visual Node automatically attached to it.
Open/Add.If the object that is currently selected in Scene View contains a Visual Node, this node will be opened in the Universe Editor. Otherwise, you’ll be given a number of other choices…
Add.Adds a new node the the selected object. Create New.Works the same as Create (above). Open Last.Opens the node of a previously opened project.
Creating Your First Node
Before we get started laying out Logic Blocks in Antares Universe, let’s first touch on creating nodes. It couldn’t be simpler.
- Add a cube to an empty scene.
- Select it in the hierarchy pane.
- Open the Antares/Universe menu and choose Open/Add> Add
- Save your scene.
Now, let’s close the Antares Universe window and see how quickly we will be able to open the existing Node or delete it from the object. First, you’ll note that the Universe icon now appears beside the object with our Node in the hierarchy pane. Simply click the icon and the Universe Editor will open. You now should see the CustomEditor Node in the object’s Inspector.
Antares Universe provides visual programming based on Logic Blocks. Logic Blocks execute chains of micro commands allowing the user to build the necessary logic for the application. All blocks have four parts in common:
Input variables feed data into the Block. In order to send an output value of one Block into another Block you just need to click and drag the output variable of the first Block and feed it to the input variable of the second Block. Variable values are accessible through the Blocks Inspector and can also be opened in the Work Field of the Node. If you choose a variable by clicking RMB, the variable inspector window will open. The variable inspector provides a quick access to lists of Blocks that implement getting/receiving variable properties and also to Blocks that process the given variable type.
As you have probably guessed, OUT Variables, or output variables, provide access to values that are returned by the Block after it finished to execute.
IN Triggers are an incoming signal which simply launches the execution of the Block when activated. This provides a simple and intuitive means of starting each Block’s logic. These are called by OUT Triggers, below.
OUT Triggers of Blocks are activated when the Block has finished its execution. Sometimes this can be Triggers called TRUE or FALSE – which are activated depending on the execution result of the Block. They also can have other names that tell the user about the execution result of the Blocks and give the ability to execute the corresponding chain of Logic Blocks.
Additionally, you can add Custom Triggers if a Block includes a “+” button. Custom triggers are useful when you want to continue to execute code by several sequential logic chains. If the Block has Custom Triggers, then all of them will fire in a sequential order from the first Trigger to the last one (from top to bottom).
Logic Blocks Inspector
The Blocks Inspector is located in the lower part of the Work Area of the Antares Universe Editor. It can be dragged to the comfortable height or detached into a separate window. The Inspector is divided into four parts :
-displays values of input variables
-displays values of output variables
-lists associated Blocks for quick conversion of one block to another
-description or code of executed code method
Groups of Blocks
There’s a list of Block Groups on the right side of Universe Editor:
-Blocks of predefined events in Unity’s core. Read more about the execution order of Activators here.
-additional Blocks for working with Unity Engine Animation object.
-Blocks for working with bool Variables.
-Blocks for working with List objects.
-this group is automatically populated with all created Containers (you can read more about Containers here)
-Blocks that implement going through arrays.
-Blocks that implement an alternative mechanism of LevelofDetail.
— supplementary Blocks that allow placing different markers in the Work Area of Universe Editor. Markers are used for quick navigation in complex Nodes and for ”sticky notes”.
— a group of Blocks that implement various mathematical operations.
-Blocks for sending and receiving Universe Messages and also Unity Engine Messages.
-all Blocks created by the user are automatically placed here (You can find out more about Smart Blocks here.)
-a large group of Blocks for working with strings.
-the biggest group that contains all methods of UnityEngine
-a group of Blocks for working with LocalVariables. LocalVariables exist to output data from the Node into Unity’s Inspector.
-This group contains a great amount of supplementary methods that are missing (or lack usability) in Unity Engine.
-a group of Blocks that copy functionality of blocks in Virtools Engine (3DVIA Virtools).
-a group of Blocks that can be used to compensate for almost any functionality that is not implemented in previous groups (More about Wizardshere).
-a special group of Blocks that make it easier to work with Universe.
If you’d like to search for a given block, type the Block’s name into the search field in the top right corner of Universe. To save time, you can use «quick access window» when you click RMB on the Work Area of Universe Editor and enter a part of the Block’s name into the search field.
Earlier, we created a cube with an empty node on it. Now let’s make the cube rotate when the mouse cursor is over it. Using the tools described above, try re-creating the graph below using Logic Blocks and connections. Press play in Unity and your cube should spin whenever you bring the mouse over it.
This is just a simple example of the intuitive visual Antares Universe workflow. You’ll find great documentation included with the Antares Universe download from the Asset Store, as well as examples from the Antares Universe website. If you would like to learn more or have questions specific to Antares Universe, you’ll find a wide and supportive community on the Antares Universe community forum page.