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An Update on Substance Format Support in Unity

Discussion in 'External Tools' started by ans_unity, Dec 19, 2017.

  1. wesm

    wesm

    Allegorithmic Community Manager

    Joined:
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    Hi Everyone,

    I'm very sorry for my silence on the development. The team has been working diligently and focused on the feature set. I wanted to wait to reply until I had more information. I want to share some answers for questions I've been seeing.

    1. What can asset store creators do if they want to include substance in their content?

    This answer is coming from Unity but I wanted to include it here as well.

    Asset store creators could write and link in the asset description that their product requires the Substance plugin to work (like they do for the required Unity version). This is easy to do and clear for the user.

    We kind of auto-detect the missing plugin by showing this error message: "Built-in support for Substance Designer materials has been removed from Unity. To continue using Substance Designer materials, you will need to install Allegorithmic's external importer from the Asset Store." but we have no way of auto-installing the plugin at the moment.

    The substance plugin will not be available in the package manager, this is our new way to package our "native" code. The Asset Store and Package Manager are two different entities. Because of the possibilities offered by the new Hub (https://blogs.unity3d.com/2018/01/24/streamline-your-workflow-introducing-unity-hub-beta/) it might be possible in the future to create templates that will automatically setup your plugins for a project but this might take a while before being operational.

    2. In regards to Live Link and Source in same package as then engine, will these features be separate DLLs? Will an editor feature like Painter Live Link inflate the build size of projects where SBSAR files are included in the build?

    Yes, they will be separate. Livelink and Source are editor only and will not build out with the game.

    3. How is ProceduralMaterial class going to be handled?

    You will be able to manipulate Substances through Scripts, but the API will change. There is not a ScriptedMaterial type available in Unity, so the Substance will be made available as a ScriptedObject that the developer can execute Script functions on, which will then relay those commands to the Unity Textures (which would be reflected in a regular Unity Material)

    4. Will the official 2018.1 + the new substance plugin pack be able to correctly upgrade a 2017.3 project with all sbsar, their materials (currently saved in the sbsar.meta file) and their applications within a project?

    It’s one of our major feature concerns. We will be investigating this aggressively before release, but the upgrade path may not be as straightforward since we are talking about different “objects” entirely in a technical sense. We may be able to read the .meta files though and interpret what we need.

    5. Will Substance plugin support 4k-8k textures, GPU processing and 16 bit per color channel?

    It’s on our roadmap but not for initial release. Our focus now is building the new plugin to have the same feature set but be more robust and at a high level quality for release.

    6. Will the new Substance plugin be free?

    Yes! The plugin will be free. It will be available on the Unity Asset Store and contain the Engine, LiveLink and Source in the same package.

    7. When will the plugin be available and will there be a beta?

    The new plugin will be available at the launch of Unity 2018.1 on the Unity Asset Store. We have plans to release a beta but we don't have an ETA to share just yet.

    We know this is a lot of change for Substance users. Please rest assured we take all of your concerns very serious. We are working hard to make this change as smooth as possible with the least amount of disruptions in workflow. In the end, we will be releasing a much better Substance product for Unity users with the ability to expand and grow with new features.

    Cheers,
    wes
     
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  2. Lars-Steenhoff

    Lars-Steenhoff

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    Thanks for the detailed update, very much clears up the transition.
    I also know that the decision was on the side of unity.

    Unity decided to strip down the engine and substance materials was one of the things taken out.
    Nothing you can control as a plugin developer.
     
  3. ans_unity

    ans_unity

    Unity Technologies

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    No, as Wes mentioned in his post, the Substance plugin will be available thru the Asset Store like all third party / partner products. The Package Manager is reserved for made by Unity features.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2018
  4. AFrisby

    AFrisby

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    Thanks for this, I have one really big concern still;

    Will projects with Substance Materials in them upgrade smoothly - will the materials be restored correctly?
     
    chelnok likes this.
  5. Carterryan1990

    Carterryan1990

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    Support for Substance assets has been deprecated and in no loguer available: Assets/_FREE/ground1/Ground/wood_planks.sbsar ...... You misspelled "longer" and the sentence barely makes any sense XD LMAO Thats to bad. Just got 2 gb's worth of sbar's but upgraded to 2k18 yesterday. Sigh!! Headaches all around....
     
  6. ans_unity

    ans_unity

    Unity Technologies

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    This is indeed an important question! I will let Wes from Allegorithmic answer but that was the goal of the plugin.
     
  7. wesm

    wesm

    Allegorithmic Community Manager

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    Hi,

    This is a major focus for us and we are investigating this aggressively before release. We can't guarantee there won't be issues as we will be working with different objects, but we want to make sure this works as smoothly as possible.

    Cheers,
    wes
     
  8. jbooth

    jbooth

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    Well, in my case, the substance code still exists for versions of Unity previous to the version in which they started throwing warnings about it. The substance code actually works on 2017.3 too, but if you let Unity throw warnings when your asset is installed, Unity users will complain and give you asset low ratings for it, so it's much better for authors of assets to treat warnings as if they are errors and simply remove substance support earlier than 2018.
     
  9. Lars-Steenhoff

    Lars-Steenhoff

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    sorry to say but i feel this is the death of widespread substance support in assets.
     
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  10. xCyborg

    xCyborg

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    That's good news, provided the plugin comes in a package format or something.
    I'd really hate to clutter the Assets folder.
     
  11. ans_unity

    ans_unity

    Unity Technologies

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    Hi everyone,

    Allegorithmic has just published a free plugin in the Asset Store for Substance Source and the Substance Painter live link. It will only work with Unity 2017.3 at the moment but soon (March) the Substance engine support will be added to this package and make it compatible with 2017.3+.
     
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  12. mephistonight

    mephistonight

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    Personally, I see the Substance separation from the core engine as a good thing. As things currently stand, Allegorithmic have to rely on Unity for updates anytime they want to improve / change anything where Substances are concerned with Unity. Unity and Allegorithmic's priorities are always going to be different at different times in a release cycle and so Unity won't always focus on what Allegorithmic want. This separation I suspect means there will be more updates from Allegorithmic, better Substance integration etc.. If I have to do a bit of work my end to make that happen then so be it. Anyone with a mature project with a lot of Substances in it... just don't upgrade to 2018. I don't see the problem personally.

    If people buying assets from the store can't read an error message that requires a plugin download (which store creators can mention in their package's description on the store) then the user has bigger problems than Substance integration.

    I'm more curious to know whether or not the plugin is going to be ready for the 2018 official release (not the beta)?
     
    chiapet1021 likes this.
  13. Daemonhahn

    Daemonhahn

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    Nothing stopping creators from actually exporting out the finished texture sets, and then writing a custom shader to go along with the asset to house them. Or alternatively just use standard shader.

    Not as nice as sbar, but wont break and no compatability issues. You can make a shader to dock your substances very easily with Amplify shader editor.

    @wesm Will you be making a substance sampling node / support for the 2018.1 shadergraph? Would be very very useful!
     
  14. wesm

    wesm

    Allegorithmic Community Manager

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    Hi,

    Yes, this will be good for us to provide more timely updates. Now that we can release anytime on the asset store, we will be able to sync any new Substance Designer updates with new plugin. We will have the plugin released when Unity 2018.1 officially releases.

    Cheers,
    wes
     
  15. wesm

    wesm

    Allegorithmic Community Manager

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    Hi,
    The substance texture outputs can be used in Shader Graph as they are just regular Texture2D in the new plugin. We do want to fully support shader graph, but we can't commit at this time to having automated workflow for Shader Graph at launch. Currently, you can generate substance texture outputs and use the textures in shader graph to create your own material driven by Substance textures as inputs.

    For this first release, we are focused on delivering the core functionality of the original plugin. Once we have that base, we will then focus on adding new features after release such as GPU engine support. The new plugin will also feature our new CPU engine at launch, which is capable of producing 4K texture output.

    I will share more as soon as I can : )

    Cheers,
    Wes
     

    Attached Files:

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  16. HolyShovel

    HolyShovel

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    I have few questions:
    1. Which platforms now can support realtime substance changes?
    2. Do you plan generate textures directly to Texture2DArrays slices?
    3. Which compressions types will be available for runtime substances?
    4. New API will be expose callbacks for events of textures generations?
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2018
  17. Daemonhahn

    Daemonhahn

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    Sounds great, Im going to be looking into how to write master nodes over the next couple of weeks, and as Substance designer + painter are our go to workflow, will naturally look to create something for it.

    Ill post any progress I make + github repo on here and the substance forums :)
     
    wesm likes this.
  18. Daemonhahn

    Daemonhahn

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    EDIT: also we always bake out textures for our own shaders anyway so that sounds fine, I have never really liked using sbar despite how good they look.
     
  19. wesm

    wesm

    Allegorithmic Community Manager

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    That's awesome! Please let us now how it goes.

    Cheers,
    wes
     
  20. wesm

    wesm

    Allegorithmic Community Manager

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    Hi,

    I spoke with the devs and here are the answers : )

    1. We will support the same platforms as the original substances. We will not have console support at launch.
    2. We don't have this planned for the launch but it will be added later.
    3. For the compression, we are supporting BC/PVR
    4. This is not planned for launch, but we will add this later.

    Cheers,
    wes
     
  21. wesm

    wesm

    Allegorithmic Community Manager

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    Hey Everyone,

    I wanted to drop in and give a quick update. The team is hard at work. We are really excited about the future of Substance in Unity as we are building this new plugin from the ground up to fit our modern Substance integration pipeline.

    Importing substances work the same. Once the plugin is added to your project, you can drag and drop sbsar files to the project or import an sbsar as a new asset. The Substance parameters are no longer tied to a material. We now have a new Substance Graph Object which is separate from the material. This works like all of our other integrations.

    Having the plugin external will allow us to include the Substance GPU engine. We won't have the GPU support at launch, but the good news is that we looking to have the new CPU engine which now supports 4K output.

    Please continue to send us your questions and I'll do my best to get replies back promptly.

    Cheers,
    wes
     
  22. Daemonhahn

    Daemonhahn

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    i most certainly will do and will post here on success/failures :)

    @wesm Some general Allegorithmic community feedback: I really cant recommend breathing more life into the reddit community. Its a bit dead right now but if you actually monitor it youll see a lot of people visit it, its just due to the lack of activity both official and unofficial on there it grows at a slow pace.

    the unity subreddit was in a similar place a couple of years ago and now it is very active and in itself is a great marketing tool for the unity team, as well as a great way to get info fast (the format of reddit is good for consuming content quickly).

    Ive mentioned a few times on the reddit that it could use more official posts, and while it is nice to have the news and blog updates + announcements on there now, it would be great if the team either got some moderators or themselves started to fire up conversations and topics so that the community engages on there more.

    I guarantee more substance users will check the reddit than here, and if you really want a go to portal for info (other than your own website which has matured fantastically), that should be it.

    Even though its dead, I still check it every single day at lunchtime at work, hoping for some cool content to see.

    Even just engaging on there a bit more in terms of commenting on users posts and comments a bit more will have a positive impact on engagement.

    Ultimately i get you guys are super busy and a tiny team, but with the speed you are growing, if you really want to be the de-facto tech for texturing, vitalizing the online communities engagement is a necessary step IMO.

    EDIT: honestly, just posting a pic every couple of days of a nice substance made in house or curated would be enough to start galvinising the community in doing something similar. it only takes a bit of constant sharing to become a widespread habbit ;)

    Also, I know this isnt the place for it but substance still is in dire need of some official stylized texturing tutorials and techniques. Stuff like handpainted styles, mock handpainted, faceted, overwatch style (fake PBR / aproximated PBR), toon shaded etc.
    This actually stopped us subscribing for a few months as it took us a while to actually realise substance could even be used for stylized work. Months on, its still difficult to get a decent workflow together for one let alone all of these styles.
     
    wesm likes this.
  23. wesm

    wesm

    Allegorithmic Community Manager

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    Thanks very much for the feedback! I will post information in the Unity subreddit as well. Also thanks for the suggestion on the stylized art tutorials. I will add this to our list. We are continually seeking to grow Substance Academy and stylized courses would be great.

    Cheers,
    wes
     
    Daemonhahn likes this.
  24. Daemonhahn

    Daemonhahn

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    Thanks for listening!

    Stylized stuff would be amazing, coloring stylized textures and doing more specific stuff like getting good AO out (or even knowing what point to branch out from the node chain your in and do the AO) is a bit of a trial and error approach currently without proper resources.

    From the blog its apparent that substance can be used for making some amazing stylized assets, but so far it seems most authors that manage to crack it keep that precious workflow info to themselves.

    I also feel the whole "stylized" workflow is a great set of tutorials to really show going between designer and painter, as when experimenting with these styles we have found each program to add some amazing functionality that the other couldnt (even if just in terms of being able to directly paint details in painter) and also to show off the send to unity feature of painter plugin.

    Anyway, keep up the amazing work!
     
  25. orb

    orb

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    I've seen some really great Substance Designer tutorials. The greatest ones are from non-Allegorithmic sources, so copy some of what they do, hire the people, clone the people, whatever :)
     
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  26. Daemonhahn

    Daemonhahn

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  27. soleron

    soleron

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    It is difficult for us to put any effort and resources for Substance in Unity since we do not have any access to the plugin. Thinking that after more than 3 months there is nothing of substance (pun intended) to share with us, is rather disappointing and off putting. Sorry to see Allegorithmic not coming open with the availability of this tool for Beta Testing. Feels like Allegorithmic is not taking this seriously enough to have a specific plan about it. Not sure what's the benefit of keeping people in the dark with only a reassurance that the team is... "hard at work". It's March end already.
     
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  28. orb

    orb

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    Yeah, I could use a plugin for the Unity betas now. I’m learning to use Painter now, so it would be nice to be able to use the results directly.
     
  29. wesm

    wesm

    Allegorithmic Community Manager

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    I don't think it will be an issue. Having an external plugin is the same as we do for unreal engine and Substance assets in the unreal marketplace have been doing very well. Things could be different on the Asset Store, but I would think it would be similar.

    Cheers,
    Wes
     
  30. wesm

    wesm

    Allegorithmic Community Manager

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    I completely understand your frustration on this. I greatly apologize for not being more open. I really wanted to have more updates at this time. Unfortunately, we had a few issues we had to work through which delayed information I wanted to share. To be completely transparent, we just haven't had the plugin at a state where we can release in an open beta. We haven't had much time to work on this plugin and have had to build it from scratch with new framework and API. All of this work is just taking a lot of time.

    We are working very hard to get a beta available. I know that sounds like marketing speak. I would think that as well if I was reading this, but please know, we take the Unity support very seriously. We love Unity and we really want to have the plugin available ASAP. I'm a Unity user myself, so I can totally relate to the frustrations.

    I was able to showcase the new plugin during GDC at the Unity headquarters. I will make a new video and post it here so you can see how the plugin works in Unity 2018.1. I wanted to post this video before GDC, but we had some gamma issues that prevented me from sharing an update.

    Again, I greatly apologize for not providing more information.

    Cheers,
    Wes
     
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  31. wesm

    wesm

    Allegorithmic Community Manager

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    For Painter, you can use the live link with the Unity 2018.1 beta. It is working now.

    Cheers,
    Wes
     
    orb likes this.
  32. orb

    orb

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    I couldn't get it working as the web site says, but I'll have a look later and see if I can make painting the garage easier :)

    Is there going to be a beta of the Substance plugin though? I'm guessing from the number of crashes in the latest beta that there's still a while to go before they're releasing 2018.1, but I'm testing it because of the new graphical bits and Substance Designer is probably going to be my main source for PBR materials.
     
  33. wesm

    wesm

    Allegorithmic Community Manager

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    Yes, we are working on the beta builds now. I will post as soon as I hear exactly when we can release it.

    Cheers,
    Wes
     
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  34. Grimreaper358

    Grimreaper358

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    GDC Talk on the plugin is up -
     
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  35. thylaxene

    thylaxene

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    Yep watched that GDC video thinking great can download substances from the source and it will work in 2018.1... nope. So add me to the list of beta users needing access to this. Even a buggy beta like in the video would be better then nothing.

    cheers.
     
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  36. marvalshot

    marvalshot

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    Agree. Was psyched because when I saw this I thought they were going to announce the plugin :( Major disappointment. I'll hold off renewing my Substance subscription until then.
     
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  37. hopeful

    hopeful

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    I'm happy and excited about this new move. I'm aware it's not done yet, but in theory it should be much more stable from version to version than we've ever had.
     
  38. wesm

    wesm

    Allegorithmic Community Manager

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    Hey Guys,

    We are still working on some issues that blocked us from releasing a beta during GDC. Things are progressing. I really wanted to share more info during GDC, but I've been waiting for when we can release an open beta version of the plugin. We are fixing just a few more issues as we want to have a plugin stable and also output maps correctly for the Unity shaders. I know I sound like a broken record as I keep saying we are working on it, but I should be able to share more info soon.

    Hang in there : ) We will get there. I'm very excited about the new plugin. It's taking a long time as we have completely re-engineered the framework, but this will provide us the foundation we need to innovate with the integration in ways we were not able to before.

    Cheers,
    Wes
     
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  39. orb

    orb

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    I'd rather have it tested and working somewhat than not working at all :)

    But if you DO run across a time machine, feel free to post it last week. I'll gladly sacrifice my Borderlands 2 progress for some real work done ;)
     
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  40. wesm

    wesm

    Allegorithmic Community Manager

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    Will do! We will do our best to get something out ASAP.

    Cheers,
    Wes
     
  41. soleron

    soleron

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    The transparency is certainly appreciated, and rest assured I do not think users are angry. Professionals don't get angry. They simply make different choices. And of course, everyone can understand this was not your doing or responsibility. I bet you are having a tough time apologizing and explaining this to so many people. I am merely transferring what probably goes in so many potential and current customers' heads right now. Something that should be crystal clear in the mind of whoever product manager organized/neglected this which suspiciously sounds like more than just bad planning... during GDC and all.

    Watching that video does not make things better for the reasons that a couple of other people mentioned already. They wanted to give it a try and oops! imagine how many people had the same reaction and also thought negatively about both Substance and Unity because of this. They want to work with it and start assigning substances in their project even if it doesn't look the best right away.

    It holds them back forcing them to move forward with standard textures which will cost money and it is unlikely that they would later dump all the textures which they spent money on and worked hard to make them look good in their first demos and pitches, just to apply Substances.

    That would be their first project without Substances. More to come if it continues this way. There are far too many advancements in 2018.1 to ignore them for the sake of Substance.

    And to be honest, "haven't had much time to work on this plugin" kind of gives more evidence that Allegorithmic does not see Unity seriously and not the opposite. Especially after seeing the presentations with Unreal during GDC where Substance was in the heart of. Unless Unity gave you no warning of the plan to drop the integration which would be a different case altogether, there really is no excuse. :(
     
  42. mephistonight

    mephistonight

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    Hi Wes,

    Thanks for all the updates. I'm currently exporting my Painter and Designer files as png's and using them whilst we wait for the plugin. Not a big deal. I much prefer something stable than buggy, especially given Unity 2018 is in such a raw state and not ready for production purposes.

    I don't really get people's anger at this. Unity 2018 isn't even released. If you're using it, particularly the scriptable render pipeline, then you'll know it's no-where near ready... so why having a plugin for something you can't possibly be using in Production is so important, I don't get.

    Anyway, looking forward to using a slick, stable and future proof Substance plugin, when it's ready ;-)

    Please do update this forum when you can though, as many of us will jump on the plugin when it's ready.
     
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  43. orb

    orb

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    I don't think anybody's angry :)

    People want to be prepared. It's great to have users try a thing well before launch to iron out bugs, so that you don't release a thing and have no working 3rd party things for it.
     
  44. wesm

    wesm

    Allegorithmic Community Manager

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    Thanks very much for your feedback. We greatly appreciate your openness and constructive discussion. I would like to assure our Unity users that we don't favor any platforms and we most definitely take Unity seriously. Unity has been and is still a great partner for us at Allegorithmic.

    By stating "haven't had much time to work on this plugin" we were wanting to be as transparent as possible in the development process. Truthfully, we were not given an adequate warning for the integration removal, but we are not using or focusing on that as an excuse to throw Unity under the bus. We agree with Unity on the removal and applaud Unity for the changes they are making to make Unity the best it can be. Unity is making decisions that are best for their engine development. We agree with Unity and we also had to react to this change as well by starting immediately on a new plugin. In the long run, the removal of the native integration will be best for Substance in Unity.

    What we have done with this plugin is completely rebuild it from scratch. There are certain APIs that we have to change since we don't have access to source as we did with the original plugin. This is the area that takes so much time. For this plugin, the development has to be approached as if we are working on a brand new integration. Nothing from the original version can be used and we have been working diligently on this to get it completed. Approaching this as a brand new integration and with a critical release schedule, our team has made progress on the Unity plugin that typically takes double the amount of development time.

    I understand the frustration by users who want to get their hands on the plugin. Please know, I completely understand that and would feel the same. We didn't release an open beta during GDC because we felt it would have just caused more headaches for users rather than giving them constructive time with the plugin. With missing, broken features and a changing UI/workflow, we felt that releasing a beta, just to get it out there for GDC, would have caused an influx of uncertainty on how the new plugin would function. We just need to make sure that we are putting our best foot forward when we do release. We didn't want to release a beta we know to be broken and that is going through rapid changes on daily basis.

    We will not be waiting for the final version of the plugin to release it publicly. We will release as a full open beta with some features missing so that we can get this into users hands as quickly as possible. But for the release version, we need to make sure that Substances are rendering properly, the plugin is stable and that is in a usable state. We are also in contact with Unity to get the support we need as well as time the release of the plugin.

    Cheers,
    Wes
     
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  45. wesm

    wesm

    Allegorithmic Community Manager

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2014
    Posts:
    206
    Hi Everyone,

    I just wanted to update you on the status of the plugin. We have made some significant progress on the plugin stability and rendering of Substances since the GDC presentation I did for Unity. We are getting close to release!

    We will launch along side the official release of Unity 2018.1 as an open beta. We are calling it a beta as some features will be missing at the initial launch. Instead of waiting longer for a 100% feature complete build, we want to get the plugin in your hands ASAP. The plugin at launch will support the following:

    1. Importing Substances and working with Substance parameters.
    2. Support for Standard and Standard (Specular Shaders).
    3. Indirect support for Shader Graph and Unity's HD Render pipeline.
    4. A new scripting API for changing parameters at runtime.
    5. Texture channel packing
    6. Async on load

    At launch, we will not support the following:

    1. Loading behaviors from the original plugin.
    2. Console and mobile support.

    After launch we will be able to provide a roadmap for features we are working as well as provide timely progress updates to the plugin.

    The Substance engine plugin will be available in the Unity Asset store combined with Substance Source and Substance Painter Live Link functionality. https://assetstore.unity.com/packages/tools/utilities/substance-in-unity-110555

    Cheers,
    Wes
     
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  46. JakubSmaga

    JakubSmaga

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2015
    Posts:
    375
    Hey @wesm!

    First of all, thanks for all of the updates on the plugin, great work!

    Second:
    Could you guys add a custom folder location option for downloaded substances via Substance Source window?
    Right now it saves in the Materials folder which I don't use and every time when I download any new substance I need to manually move it to my Textures/Substance folder and then delete the Materials folder.

    Greets,
    Jacob
     
  47. mephistonight

    mephistonight

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2016
    Posts:
    28
    Hi Wes,

    When you say it will support texture packing, does that mean it will support the HD SRP Layered/Lit shader? As in, the plugin will support packing metallic / smooth, AO etc in to the RGBA channels of a single texture? If so, that is fantastic!
     
  48. wesm

    wesm

    Allegorithmic Community Manager

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2014
    Posts:
    206
    Thanks Jacob! I spoke with our dev team and added a ticket in our system to track this feature request. I'm not sure when we will have it updated as the team is fully focused on the engine plugin, but we will be able to add this feature in a future release : )

    Cheers,
    Wes
     
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  49. Rowlan

    Rowlan

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2016
    Posts:
    393
    That would be super awesome. Above someone mentioned why you guys show the UE4 integration and not Unity. I honestly thought I would promote my product as well with UE4 and not Unity given the results. But with the HDRP things might change, but that way is still a long one. Nontheless packing in proper HDRP format would be very helpful :)
     
  50. wesm

    wesm

    Allegorithmic Community Manager

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2014
    Posts:
    206
    Hi,
    For texture packing, I am referring to the functionality we had in the previous integration where you can pack channels into the alpha of the maps. I'm sorry for the confusion on this as I didn't explain it well in my post. We have improved this to be more streamlined by showing only the channels you have in use in the shader. Going forward, we can further improve on this by allowing you to pack multiple channels into a single texture. At launch, it just supports packing to the alpha for compatibility with Unity's standard shaders.


    Cheers,
    Wes
     

    Attached Files:

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