Back in April we posted about some of the Unity plugins that we are using to create Lacuna Passage. Since then we have started using even more plugins that have further eased our development workflow. Here are some of our favorites.
Terrain Composer - By Nathaniel Doldersum
I wish we had access to this tool from the start. Terrain Composer allows you to do some pretty incredible things to generate and tweak your terrain directly in Unity without the help of external tools. We still utilize a few external tools like World Machine, but Terrain Composer helps in handling some of the more repetitive menial tasks. This is an extremely powerful tool for those who take the time to learn it.
ats Colormap ULTRA Terrain Shader - By forst
We talked about our terrain shader in our previous showcase, but this is much more than just a shader now. The updates made here have drastically improved our terrain creation workflow, especially now that it is fully compatible with Unity 4.X. The new editor interface for setting up your terrain is super intuitive and automates many of the steps that were originally mostly manual. In my honest opinion Unity needs to make these kinds of terrain tools the default. When combined with Terrain Composer you have everything you need to make the most believable worlds possible in Unity.
Highlighting System - By Deep Dream Games
We are using the Highlighting System to help the player identify some objectives and highlight key objects in the environment. The effects are fairly uniform, but you can change colors and overlay/blending methods to suit your needs. There are plenty of provided example scripts to get you started with whatever highlighting functionality you might need.
Mega-Fiers - By Chris West
Mega-Fiers… What can I say about Mega-Fiers that you haven’t heard already (seriously, they do an awesome job marketing and demonstrating this plugin). Well, in case you don’t know, Mega-Fiers is an extremely powerful mesh deformation plugin. If you need a mesh to bend, twist, wave, squish, or anything else, then look no further. I first used Mega-Fiers when working on TIMEframe to create the slow-motion blowing banners in the city. I was able to animate the banners in 3ds Max using physics simulations and export the vertex animation data for use in Unity. The result is a smooth, incredibly detailed cloth-like animation that would not have been possible with the Unity cloth animation tools. We are excited about the possibilities for Mega-Fiers in Lacuna Passage.
NGUI - By Tasharen Entertainment
There is a reason that NGUI has become almost the default for creating user interfaces in Unity. It is undeniably better suited for the task than the built-in Unity GUI tools. We recently began work on converting the datapad GUI over to NGUI and we are very happy with the results. Fewer draw calls, manageable layer depths, texture atlasing, and more. I can’t imagine using anything else. Once you try NGUI you don’t go back.
Shader Forge Alpha - By Acegikmo
In our last plugin showcase we mentioned some great hard surface shaders; however, since that time we have made the plunge into creating shaders of our own. I had used the node-based Strumpy Shader Editor for a few years, but that plugin seems to be defunct now and not supported correctly in Unity 4.X. Luckily Shader Forge appears to have picked up the mantle. They are still in Alpha, but we have been testing the Alpha version to create new shaders for Lacuna Passage and we are blown away with the results. Plugins like Shader Forge go a long way in closing the visual gap between engines like Unreal and Unity. Keep an eye on this one and snatch it up the minute it hits the asset store.