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The Unity 2018 release cycle will have a heavy focus on graphics! There are a number of features that will be released during 2018 that will drastically enhance Unity’s rendering capabilities. Hopefully you will find a new feature for every type of user, such as the visual tools for artists or more powerful rendering control for low-level engineers. We are very excited to share with you what we are working on, and we can’t wait to see what you’ll make with it!

We will be following up this blog post with more in depth posts about each of the systems we are developing.

Scriptable Render Pipelines

The Scriptable Render Pipeline is a way of configuring and performing rendering in Unity that is controlled from C# script. This is a big shift away from how Unity has traditionally performed rendering, moving control of how a project renders from being hard coded to being completely project driven.

Currently Unity provides a number of rendering configurations (for example: forward rendering and deferred rendering). These pipelines are fixed and provided as is. This has a number of downsides:

  • Inability to fix or workaround rendering issues.
  • The pipelines are large and complex, as they have to handle all use cases.
  • It’s very difficult to add state-of-the-art effects due to legacy and complexity.

To solve these issues we have been developing the SRP API as an experimental feature throughout 2017. Now in 2018.1, the feature is moving into beta. We are confident that not only does this system resolve these problems, but it is also fast, easy to work with, and empowering for rendering programmers.

With SRP we no longer have to provide a monolithic rendering pipeline that is trying to do everything for everyone. The SRP API opens up the Unity rendering interface, allowing for flexibility and control right from C# scripts. Programmers can now write custom renderers tailored specifically to their project.

Imagine designing a custom render pipeline by plugging together modular blocks. Each block is well defined with a single function that is easy to test, improve, and maintain. This is how Scriptable Render Pipelines work. Not only is this easier for developers using Unity, it also allows us to add new blocks to the engine’s toolbox so you the user can quickly have access to new rendering advancements.

In 2018.1 we have included 2 rendering pipelines for users. Not only are these usable right out of the box, they can serve as reference for developers building their own render pipelines.

  • Lightweight Rendering Pipeline — A pipeline designed for mobiles and platforms without compute shader capability.
  • High Definition Rendering Pipeline — A modern high fidelity renderer for developing games for platforms that support Shader Model 5.0 (DX11 and above).

Lightweight Rendering Pipeline

The LT RP is designed to be fast and scale well to lower end hardware. It’s a forward based renderer and scales well from mobile, to VR, to PC.

The Lightweight Pipeline is a Scriptable Render Pipeline available with Unity 2018.1. It performs a single-pass forward rendering with light culling per-object with the advantage that all lights are shaded in a single pass. Compared to the vanilla Unity forward rendering, which performs an additional pass per pixel light, using the LT pipeline will result in less draw calls at the expense of slightly higher shader complexity.

The pipeline supports at most 8 lights per-object and only supports a subset of built-in Unity  rendering features. A feature comparison table of Lightweight Pipeline vs stock Unity pipeline can be found here.

HD Rendering Pipeline

The high definition render pipeline is a Scriptable Render Pipeline available with Unity 2018.1 (Experimental). The HDRP is a modern rendering pipeline designed with PBR, linear lighting, HDR lighting in mind. It’s built with a configurable hybrid Tile/Cluster deferred/Forward lighting architecture.

HDRP adds several features over built-in Unity with improved options for lights, reflection probes, standard materials. It also provides advanced material like Anisotropy, Subsurface scattering, and Clear Coating. Advanced lights, like Area lights, are also supported.

If you are using the 2018.1 beta please come to the forums to discuss the SRP API and the pipelines we have been developing.

Post-processing Stack v2

The Post-processing stack has been improved to feature higher quality effects, automatic volume blending with a powerful override stack and a flexible framework to write and distribute your own custom effects.

It’s compatible with the Lightweight, HD and built-in rendering pipelines.

Unity Shader Graph

Authoring shaders in Unity has traditionally been the realm of people with some programming ability. In 2018 we are changing this!

Shader Graph enables you to build your shaders visually. Instead of hand writing code, you create and connect nodes in a graph network. The graph framework gives instant feedback on the changes, and it’s simple enough that new users can become involved in shader creation.

The Shader Graph system is designed to work with both the LT and HD render pipelines, can be extended to work with any custom render pipeline, and has an open architecture that allows for custom nodes to be written.

Grab the latest beta to check out these features and more. In the coming weeks we’ll be writing about these systems in greater detail so you can make the most out of them.

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  1. It’s nice to see these improvements. The shader graph looks like something pulled right out of the Offset engine. About time! Actually, a lot of this looks like something pulled out of the Offset engine.

  2. Will Unity 2018 have any video/Image exporting tool which can export video Or Image like Ue4 matinee ?

    1. Hey Plepin!
      Have you had a look at the Recorder asset from Unity in the Asset Store? It works from Unity 2017.1 and up and has a load of recording options and features.

  3. Unity should provide all features on asset store to default editor. Like Terrain Tools in Unity are very very low quality, while asset store has plenty of advance tools. Road & River tools should be in Editor. Like CryEngine. Still Unity default water system is just a plane with some ripples we have to buy some good asset for water physics & still far away from realism. Now its time for Next-gen Engines & unity should provide its customers all they need in Editor instead of asset store. I would suggest Unity to contact developer of TerrainComposer 2 for helping unity because Unity terrain tools are 100times poor than TC2. Every time we want to make something advance we have to purchase assets(These should be in editor features)

    1. If we are real developers, we have no trouble building our own water physics system and terrain tools ^^

      1. This is the most stupid comment I have ever seen. What about this Regan: «If you are a real developer, you should be able to develop your own engine».

      2. Well if you’re making your own water physics system or terrain tools chances are they won’t be as good as the ones made professionally — not to mention all the wasted time that could’ve been spent making something actually useful for the game.

  4. Stunning samples. Thanks for sharing such an informative and inspiring article. Awesome blog!

  5. Hopefully Unity will outperform the graphic of Unreal. I hope some tutorials will rise that explain the new features to the users.

  6. OK all sounds cool. Bit letdown as the Otoy lightmapper is kind of not delivering :\

  7. As a beginner game designer, I would love a new Unity Tutorial to test out and see these new features with.

  8. I Was Just After Installing The New 2018 Beta.Nothing New For Me(I’m A Programmer) And Other Programmers.Although The New Graphics Improvement Is A Good Feature.Because Unity Has Been Having A lot Of Criticism On Graphics.But 2018 Is The Rise Of Graphics!

  9. Blended terrain materials didn’t come out with the Adam Demo. Are you going to release them now because I’m feeling pretty ripped off, it was 2 years ago.

  10. Will the existing forward and deffered render paths still be included in addition to the new pipelines in 2018.1?

    1. Yes. ScriptableRenderPipeline is an addition, you can continue to use existing forward & deferred render paths for backwards compatibility without any breakage.

      But of course, new feature development, optimization work etc is happening all in the new render pipelines.

  11. I really like the implementation of voxel based GI in other engines (unreal, cryengine, godot, even armory). Will Unity 2018 support this GI method? At least I hope SRP opens the door to it’s implementation.

  12. Awesome , I enjoyed new demo, please add forest map top to unity 2018 , or at least forest map add to unity store free download , thanks a lot , you are the best

  13. Will Post Processing Stack be pre-built with Unity 2018.1?

    1. 2018 features package manager which will allow all of these addon features to be easily integrated and removed from Unity :)

  14. Regarding the new Shader Graph, will there be a specific blog post about it, its features and how does it compare to already existing solutions like Shader Forge? That insight would be extremely useful for those wondering which option fits their projects best.

    1. Shaderforge does not work with this (although Amplify will). Unity’s shader graph is not backward compatible and is tightly coupled with the chosen SRP Render Pipeline (HD, LW or custom).

  15. I’m checking the Legacy vs Lightweight comparison table and LT is worse than the actual pipeline.
    Are you sure that is the right direction? You’re forcing to use the HD in all PC cases due to the LT imposed limitations.

    1. No, you have full control with SRP. LTRP and HDRP are just built-in configurations and you can customize everything with SRP:

      > The SRP API opens up the Unity rendering interface, allowing for flexibility and control right from C# scripts. Programmers can now write custom renderers tailored specifically to their project.

    2. Reading is hard right?

    3. Obviously didnt read…

  16. This shit looks scary!

  17. Certainly more like it. Good to see Unity focusing on visuals for 2018. So does this sort of visuals work on macOS or just Windows?

    1. I’m talking about the HD rendering pipeline with Metal or are you going to create a Metal subset of the HD pipeline?

  18. Yeah this is more like it.

  19. If I want to run HD rendering pipeline Scene smoothly,have any Recommended equipment ? My old computer is three years old,I am not sure it can run High performance requirements.

  20. Scene smoothly,have any Recommended equipment ? My old computer is three years old,I am not sure it can run High performance requirements.

  21. If I want to run HD rendering pipeline
    Scene smoothly,have any Recommended equipment ? My old computer is three years old,I am not sure it can run High performance requirements.

    1. I believe Unity mentioned more details would be forthcoming around GDC time. But from following github, I don’t believe it’s dramatically different from the performance you will get now with Unity when turning everything on. Just my 2p though!

  22. Can we have a higher precision vertex colors with the new lightweight pipeline?
    The current vertex color format is too low resolution and often introduce banding that isn’t visible in the modeling software.
    I doubt there is any performance gain in keeping the current format.

  23. Wait… Is that a redesigned scuba dude I see there? Are you guys teasing an Angry Bots sequel or HD remake?!

    1. Maybe… :)

  24. How particles fit into new HD pipeline? Will lit particle shaders be provided? What I mean is — are particles going to receive direct lighting from point, spot, directional lights and sample GI/Lightmap data?

    1. they do already, try the new particle standard shader

  25. When will 2018 come out of beta ?

    1. They have been releasing every 4 months a beta stage so likely sometime in April.

  26. is that forest demo included in 2018 ? how does the new features work with consoles ?

    1. It would be great to have forest demo.

  27. Will the new shaders work with terrains?

    1. they already do, try the 2018.1 beta

  28. What level of computer can run HD render pipeline?i7?GTX1050Ti?8G or 16G Memory?

  29. Now that I’ve got two shaders editor from asset store?? :P ASE will still be working right?

    1. ask the guys at Amplify

    2. They just recently wrote about their plans for 2018 and that the unity node system won’t stop them from further improving and developing ASE:

      I think its good that unity has a own node system now. It will lead to more and better improvements of ASE and establishing standards which all shader node systems are going to implement with a few features to be «different» or just better than the unity native one. Looking forward to the development of of both this year.

  30. Great news, seeing You adding new pipeline. I’m looking for the best way to detect how much an object is lit by the light source, hope this will help.

  31. Great work. I use deferred on mobile no problem, and I’m wondering how does the single pass forward compare to traditional multi pass deferred performance wise? I usually don’t have many lights so will it be faster but still give the multi light (at least up to 8) visual fidelity of deferred rendering?