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29. May 2018


If you are a pixel artist, one of the most challenging tasks you have to deal with is handling multiple resolutions and aspect ratios that your game might run at.  Thankfully if you are using the newest (Unity 2018.2b3 or later) version of Unity there is now a new component that makes this job borderline trivial.

Announced in the following tweet:

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You can download the component and a couple sample scenes here on Github, and you can read more about it here.

The 2D Pixel Perfect package contains the Pixel Perfect Camera component which ensures your pixel art remains crisp and clear at different resolutions, and stable in motion.


It is a single component that makes all the calculations needed to scale the viewport with resolution changes, removing the hassle from the user. The user can adjust the definition of the pixel art rendered within the camera viewport through the component settings, as well preview any changes immediately in Game view by using the Run in Edit Mode feature.

Using the camera is simple, once the package is installed, it’s simply added to a camera and configure:

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Your game should now scale gracefully across resolutions and aspect ratios.  To see the Pixel Perfect Camera in action be sure to watch this video, also embedded below.

GameDev News, Art, Programming

7. May 2018


Hot on the heels of the Unity 2018.1 release, the next beta Unity 2018.2 has just been made available.  There are several new features in this release, a lot building on the new functionality in 2018.1 that is still in preview mode, and one new feature that is absolutely game changing for me.

High DPI Monitor Support

If you are an owner of a 4K monitor, you can now enjoy High-DPI scaling support on both Linux and Windows in the Unity Editor.


Finally!  No more blurry fonts on High DPI monitors.  Better late than never I suppose.  Other features of this release include:

  • Texture Mipmap Streaming
  • Package Manager Update
  • Particle System Improvements
  • Camera Physical Properties
  • Animation Jobs C# API
  • Vulkan support in the Editor on Windows and Linux


There are a boatload of other fixes and improvements in this release, be sure to check the release notes for more details.  Click here to download Unity 2018.2 beta.  Of course the standard caveats apply, this is a work in progress build, so expect some bugs and do not use in production.  That said, as a High DPI monitor user, I’m tempted to ignore my own warning in this case!  You can also read more about this release on the Unity blog here.


The following video shows the new improved High DPI functionality in Unity 2018.2 in action:

GameDev News

3. May 2018


Unity 2018.1 was just released and one of the major new features is Shader Graph, a new visual programming language for creating shaders.  In this article we are going to look at how to enable and use Shader Graph.  There is also a video of this tutorial available here or embedded below.


First off, to get started using Shader Graph, be sure to be using Unity 2018.1 or later. 

Next, start Unity and create a new project.  I used the following settings:

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Shader Graph is fully compatible with the new light weight render pipeline.  For the record, Shader Graph does NOT work with the current HD pipeline, this feature is under development. There is no need to add any new packages… yet.  Once ready, click Create Project.  Once your project is loaded, go ahead and create a new scene.

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We need some kind of object to apply our shader to, simply right click the newly created scene in the Hierarchy view, select Create->Sphere.

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Now we need to enable Shader Graph functionality in Unity.  Click Window, then select Package Manager.

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In the resulting window, select All, then Shadergraph, then Install.  This will take a few seconds.

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Now that Shadergraph is enabled, let’s create one.  In the Project panel, I created a new folder called Shaders.  Right click the newly created folder and select Create->Shader->PBR Graph.

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I called mine MyShader, name yours whatever you want.  Except Dilbert; that’s a stupid name for a shader!

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One more small bit of setup before we start creating shaders!  We need to create a material that we will attach our shader to and ultimately apply to our sphere mesh.  Right click the Materials folder and select Create->Material.

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I called mine MyMaterial, again, name yours whatever you want… even Dilbert.  Make sure your shader is selected and showing in Inspector, then simply drag and drop your newly created shader on it.

ApplyingShader


Finally drag your material to the Sphere you created earlier.  Phew… ok, time to create our shader.  Simply double click the shader and the Shader Graph editor will be create.  A new project should look something like this:

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You can zoom the design surface in and out using the mouse wheel, hold down the middle mouse button to pan the surface around.


The PBR Master can be thought of as the ultimate output of the shader.  You have a choice between Metallic and Specular by dropping down the workflow tab.  The blackboard is the section to the top left and can be used to configure parameters as we will see in a moment.  The bottom right region is a preview of the shader, this window can be resized.


Create a shader is now a matter of creating a network of nodes and connecting them together.  Let’s show a simple example of connecting a texture map to the Albedo channel.  Right click an empty point on the canvas, select Create Node->Input->Texture 2D Asset.

CreatingATextureNode


Now click on the red circle to the right of out and drag to an empty portion on the canvas.  Select Input->Sample Texture 2D, then connect the RGBA out pin to the Albedo in pin on the PBR node, like so:

ConnectingTheTexture


At this point, we have the equivalent of a diffuse texture defined in our shader, now head back to the Texture 2D Asset, click the little circle to the right of the texture field and select a texture to apply.  Pick a compatible texture from your project. 

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You shader preview should now show the updated texture:

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Now what if you wanted the texture to be defined as a parameter in the editor instead?  This is where the Blackboard comes in.  In the Blackboard, click the + icon to the right side, then select Texture.

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Name it however you want, I called it SourceTexture in my case.  Also optionally provide a default texture value using the example same process we just did above.

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Now let’s replace our hard coded texture with a parameter instead.  You can remove a node by left clicking it and hitting the delete key.

ConfigureAProperty


Now this parameter can be defined in the editor.  Select the Sphere we created then applied our material too in the Hierarchy view.  In the Inspector under the Material, you will now see a new parameter matching the name you just provided:

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You can also easily see the source code generated by a shader by right clicking the output node and selecting Copy Shader.

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The HLSL code of the shader will have just been copied to your clipboard.


So, that’s the basics of using Shader Graph.  Now it’s mostly a matter of creating the appropriate input nodes, modifying them and connecting them to the appropriate in pins on the PBR Master output node.  Getting into the details of how this works is beyond the scope of this tutorials, shader programming is a VAST subject and could fill many books.  I’m not going to just leave you hanging though…  now that you know how to enable and use the tools to create Shader Graphs it would be an ideal time to get your hands on some samples and dig deeper.  Thankfully Unity have provided exactly that, available for download here on Github.


The Video

Art, Design

2. May 2018


Unity just released version 2018.1 and it’s probably the most significant release in a very long time.  The biggest features of this release include:

  • new C# programable graphics pipelines
    • high definition pipeline implementationimage
    • lightweight render pipeline implementation
    • three new project templates using the above new pipelines
  • new visual shader creation kit, Shader Graph
  • ECS, entity component system (preview)
  • Job system for parallel tasks (preview)
  • LLVM backend high performance “Burst” compiler (preview)


In addition to these core new features there are a number of other new features in this release such as:

  • Post processing stack out of beta
  • Dynamic resolution support on PS4
  • GPU instancing supporting Global Illumination(GI)
  • Improved Physics2D performance
  • 2D SpriteShape in preview form
  • 2D bone based animation system (preview)
  • Particle system improvements
  • Animation improvements
  • Probuilder Tools fully integrated at packages
  • Package Manager improvements
  • Cinemachine/Timeline improvements
  • Resonance Audio support


For more details of this release be sure to check the full Unity blog post for details or watched the video below.

GameDev News

30. April 2018


ShaderForge, on of the more popular extensions on the Unity Asset store, was just released completely free and open source today by it’s developer.  The developer made the following tweet this morning:

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The source code and associated assets are now available on Github under the liberal MIT open source license.  The developer opted to make it free and open source because they no longer intend to continue development and Unity 2018 has currently broken ShaderForge due to it’s new shader model. 

ShaderForge is a visual graph based shader authoring tool that makes creating shaders a great deal easier.  Similar functionality to this is now be including in Unity 2018 and earlier, so this release is really only relevant to people using Unity 2017 or earlier, or people that are interesting in diving in to the source code.

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