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Better Trails - Unity3D Trail Replacement (Trails, smoke plumes, skid marks, etc!)

Discussion in 'Assets and Asset Store' started by Pigeon Coop, Mar 19, 2014.

  1. Howard-Day

    Howard-Day

    Joined:
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    Posts:
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    Hi, PigeonCoop! I'm loving the V2 upgrades, but I have some (hopefully) simple requests. Could you make the normal bend a multiplier? I think people will get more finetuning out of it if you're able to bend the normals halfway, or 2/3rds... also, if we could *overbend* the normals, that would be awesome too - sometimes that can be handy since we've got alpha edges to the trails and it doesn't show the full range of bend.
    The second thought is randomly offset animated texture support - much like how you can put a tiled, looping animation on a set of particles, and have them randomly choose the starting point of the animation - this would be a huge, awesome gain in our ability to make trails look amazing.
    Love what you're doing, even if you cant do these two!
     
  2. TwiiK

    TwiiK

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2007
    Posts:
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    I'm curious about a behavior I see both with the default trail rendererer and Better Trails which I do not understand. I have a bullet prefab with both components on them at the moment. Both the trails never start from the initial position of the bullet no matter how slow I make the bullet move. Normally my bullets are extremely fast, moving many units/meters per frame. This makes it very visible that the trails don't start from the initial position, but instead start many meters in front of my player.

    The smooth trail component doesn't have this problem, but why? I don't give the projectiles a velocity until 1 frame after they've been initialized. Shouldn't both the trails be able to read the initial position of my bullet and start the trail from there and not from the position my projectile has in frame 2? I understand how the smooth trail component interpolates things moving in an arc like in your examples, but these are bullets moving in a straight line. Even if they moves 1000 units per frame I would expect the trail to start from it's origin. :p

    Let's say my bullet is instantiated at 0,0,0 then in the next frame it's at 5,0,0. At the moment both the trails start from 5,0,0, not from 0,0,0. This leaves a 5 meter empty gap between my gun and the start of the trail. This is very visible with the smoke trail component at least. I want that going all the way to the barrel. Do you know why this is happening? I've even tried keeping the bullet at the initial 0,0,0 position for multiple frames before I give them a velocity, but it makes no difference.

    Edit: And i keep getting this:
    All I've done so far is just add a Smoke Trail component to my existing bullet prefab. I seem to be getting one of these every time I destroy an instance of my bullet prefab.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2015
  3. Pigeon Coop

    Pigeon Coop

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    Hey @TwiiK , I won't be able to look into that error till I get home!

    As for the other problem, from your description I think the reason this happens is because the trail tenderer doesn't plop down a new point until the trail has moved X Units. So even if you wait a number of frames before you move your bullet, nothing happens until your bullet steps forward ((0,0,0) > (0,0,5)) at which point the system detects that it had moved enough to warrant a new trail point and plops down a point at (0,0,5).

    Might be able to fix this simply by plopping the first point wherever the system starts.
     
  4. Pigeon Coop

    Pigeon Coop

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    @Howard Day I've added those suggestions to the trello board! I can't do much more with the normals other than make the bend effect sharrper or flatter. I'll put a slider to control this instead of an on/off toggle. Check out the board here.
     
  5. Howard-Day

    Howard-Day

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    Awesome! Oh, and is there any way to have the trails auto-follow individual particles from a Shiruken particle system? Say if one wanted to make an explosion...say. :D
     
  6. Prodigga

    Prodigga

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    Apr 13, 2011
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    Not built in! You could achieve that effect pretty easily though :) I would imagine that for effects like this everyone's needs would be different, just like how a particle effect pack on the asset store only works for a few style of games! For this reason you will probably have to come up with a nice solution yourself since it'll be specific to your needs! :)

    I am going to include a few 'explosion' examples, and what I plan to do is spawn a few trail renderers with rigidbodies/colliders attached and send them flying away from the explosion. It'll be a blend of trails and particles to achieve a nice effect! Having one particle per trail will probably be over kill. :)
     
  7. Pigeon Coop

    Pigeon Coop

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    Oops what happened there.. Wrong account! Can confirm the handsome fella above is me :D:p
     
  8. TwiiK

    TwiiK

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    Thanks for the reply. I just wanted to write it down before I went to bed last night so someone could look at it while I slept. :p I didn't have to time to actually investigate it a whole lot myself. I will look at it more thoroughly today both regarding the initial trail point and the error I kept getting. If you beat me to it I won't be mad, of course. :D

    My bullets are fairly custom so it may be something I'm doing. But from what you said it seems I can just move the bullets a tiny amount right when I spawn them as a quick fix, but it would of course be nice if there was a checkbox in the inspector or whatever that said "start trail from origin". That is if it's for performance reasons you're not doing that at the moment so it doesn't affect those who don't need it.
     
  9. Pigeon Coop

    Pigeon Coop

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    @TwiiK I was able to reproduce it - it happens when you destroy() a trail between TrailRenderer_Base Update and TrailRenderer_Base LateUpdate.

    Replace your TrailRenderer_Base OnDestroy function with this:

    Code (CSharp):
    1.  
    2.  
    3. protected virtual void OnDestroy()
    4. {
    5.     GlobalTrailRendererCount--;
    6.  
    7.     if(GlobalTrailRendererCount == 0)
    8.     {
    9.         if(_toClean != null && _toClean.Count > 0)
    10.         {
    11.             foreach (Mesh mesh in _toClean)
    12.             {
    13.                 if (Application.isEditor)
    14.                     DestroyImmediate(mesh, true);
    15.                 else
    16.                     Destroy(mesh);
    17.             }
    18.         }
    19.  
    20.         _toClean = null;
    21.         _matToTrailList.Clear();
    22.     }
    23.  
    24.     if (_activeTrail != null)
    25.     {
    26.         if(_matToTrailList.ContainsKey(TrailData.TrailMaterial))
    27.             _matToTrailList[TrailData.TrailMaterial].Remove(_activeTrail);
    28.         _activeTrail.Dispose();
    29.         _activeTrail = null;
    30.     }
    31.  
    32.     if (_fadingTrails != null)
    33.     {
    34.         foreach (PCTrail fadingTrail in _fadingTrails)
    35.         {
    36.             if (fadingTrail != null)
    37.             {
    38.                 if(_matToTrailList.ContainsKey(TrailData.TrailMaterial))
    39.                     _matToTrailList[TrailData.TrailMaterial].Remove(fadingTrail);
    40.                 fadingTrail.Dispose();
    41.             }
    42.         }
    43.  
    44.         _fadingTrails.Clear();
    45.     }
    46. }
    47.  
     
  10. Pigeon Coop

    Pigeon Coop

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    So I am starting to implement some more 'complex' modifiers to bring the feature set of the new Better Trails inline with version 1. First up - smoke trails!

    Take these guys:


    Add this:



    Now dance!:


    @varfare :D
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2015
  11. TwiiK

    TwiiK

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    @Pigeon Coop Thanks, that code fixed the error, but I don't understand what was causing it to happen for me and not for your example scenes. I'm calling Destroy(gameObject, life) in Start() for my projectiles just like you seem to be doing for the tank projectile.

    As for my second problem I just added AddPoint(new SmokeTrailPoint(), _t.position); in Start() and it works just like I expected. :)

    Edit: Christ, you can spend a lot of time tweaking these in Play mode. :p They look absolutely amazing. Note: I've added my Start() hack to all the trails. I just wrapped it in an if with a boolean that can be set through the inspector so it's there if I need it and gone if I don't. I hope you'll add it to the asset in the next update as I don't like having a "hacked" copy locally and I expect this is useful for more people than just myself. I can't imagine a situation where I don't want it as it looks so much better when the trail properly starts from it's origin. The same goes for the OnDestroy() method I had to change I guess. :p

    Edit2: Can we get the ability to toggle shadow rendering on/off like on the normal Unity rendererers including the default trail rendererer? Both for casting and receiving. I wanted to use the standard shader with emission, but I don't want the trail to cast a shadow.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2015
    dreasgrech likes this.
  12. Howard-Day

    Howard-Day

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    We're going to be able to change wind noise scale, right? That's looking awesome!
     
  13. Pigeon Coop

    Pigeon Coop

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    @Howard Day yeah I should have named the noise offset "turbulence" or something since it controls the scale of the noise! On that note, many of the variable names might change before release! And none of the inspectors are final. :) I've actually only done work on the preview GUI - the other inspectors are just default Unity inspectors.

    @TwiiK In V2 I will make it so that the initial point can spawn from the true origin - though I'll probably make this the default behavior.

    As for the shadows, in the new version you'll have access to an actual mesh renderer so you can do anything you like - turning off shadows, disabling probes, setting render order etc..

    Glad to see you are enjoying it :D
     
  14. PatrickKa

    PatrickKa

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    Apr 30, 2014
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    I really like this asset but is it possible to tell it to show a trail from startPos to endPos?
    I don't want to use a individual gameobject that travels the way but I want to show the trail instantly.

    How would that look in code?
     
  15. Pigeon Coop

    Pigeon Coop

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    Hey Patrick, sure, just use the CreateTrail method.

    Code (CSharp):
    1. myTrail.CreateTrail(startPos,endPos,distanceBetweenPoints);
     
  16. PatrickKa

    PatrickKa

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    When I use Trail or SmokeTrail the draw calls are redcuded significantly but my FPS is reduced to heavy CPU load, too.

    What settings can I change to make it leass cpu heavy? I'm using a lot of this stuff and it really sums up.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2015
  17. Pigeon Coop

    Pigeon Coop

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    Hey Patrick! Sorry for the slow reply, didn't see your reply :)

    Generally you want to lower the point count to as low as possible. That is the biggest factor.

    BT2 is at a level where I am willing to invite some testers - if you like, I can send you a beta build? You should see much better performance on BT2 thanks to the multithreading and lack of garbage being generated :)

    If you (and anyone who owns BT) would like to test the beta version, send me an email @ contactpigeoncoop [at] gmail [dot] com. Attach your invoice number and let me know in the email that you are looking to beta test.

    It would be great if you could report any issues/suggestions/etc here to this thread when beta testing :) testing in silence does not help improve BT :D
     
  18. PatrickKa

    PatrickKa

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    Hey,

    I really would like to try out BT2 because I'm in a very early project anyway and I could easly switch it over to another version but I suppose it requires Unity 5?
     
  19. Pigeon Coop

    Pigeon Coop

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    Yep, Unity 5 requirement - any reason you are still using 4, especially or a new project? I can send it to you right away.

    I just finished working on the new 'Add Emitter/Modifier' menu - and it's all starting to come together :D:D

     
  20. PatrickKa

    PatrickKa

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    I'm focusing on mobile games mainly and there had been some performance issues in Unity 5. Furthermore some components in my older projects are not compatible to Unity 5 anymore and it would be a lot of work to make it compatible again. Thats it.
     
  21. Pigeon Coop

    Pigeon Coop

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    Ah - that is fair enough. I'll still be here to patch up things for BT1 if there are any issues but just as a heads up I won't be adding features or other improvements since I'm now focused on BT2. :)
     
  22. hippocoder

    hippocoder

    Digital Ape Moderator

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    Find the adding of emitters a little confusing to read vs alloy / uber shader's simple + add approach, possibly because it takes your focus away from where you were, just putting it out there.

    I understand why you did it - so you can add a little text box explaining what it does, and it's easy enough to understand, just feeding back.
     
  23. Pigeon Coop

    Pigeon Coop

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    Nice feedback. :) I have never used alloy/uber, I will grab a copy of alloy and check it out to see how they've approached it!

    It's still early in development, so I am all down for redesigning this before release. :D thanks for the feedback.
     
  24. Pigeon Coop

    Pigeon Coop

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    I am going to add a '+' button right on the first page of the dialogue, and am going to split the emitter/modifier dialogues up so they are spawned by separate buttons. I'll have a little '?' next to the '+' which will pan the popup right to show more information (like it does currently). Should be less disruptive that way :) Will report back with a gif and we'll see what it looks like.
     
  25. Pigeon Coop

    Pigeon Coop

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    Here's what I've got now - I can't think of a way to avoid having some sort of list of emitters/modifiers - since people can write their own ones, I can't really hardcoded it look a specific way with a certain set of emitters/modifiers. Hmm...

    Anyway, thoughts? Atleast with these '+' buttons you can be in and out of the menu as quickly as possible if you already know what each thing does.

     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2015
    varfare and BTStone like this.
  26. Pigeon Coop

    Pigeon Coop

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    Got the smooth emitter working fine - here is a slowed down gif of something really fast moving - the normal trail emitter produces a jagged trail but the smoothed trail emitter can produce smoother trails at high speeds!



    Also did a bunch of 'under the hood' work. Long story short, instead of 'point modifiers', I now have 'trail modifiers' which take the entire trail and modify it however they want. This way the modifier is free to sample other points on the trail (Necessary for certain effects). Should let me (and you, should you choose to write your own modifiers!) have a little more flexible with the modifiers :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2015
    hippocoder and hopeful like this.
  27. Shoganator

    Shoganator

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2013
    Posts:
    72
    Hi,

    A bit of an impulsive buy for me as I didn't check first, but do you support trails on 2D sprites?

    I bought the asset, and have not been able to get the trails to render over anything using a sorting layer order of 1 or above. I had to add the trail to a child GameObject of my sprite, and set its Z position to a negative value to get it to just display over sprites with order of 0.

    Cheers,
    Sean
     
  28. Pigeon Coop

    Pigeon Coop

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    Jan 17, 2014
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    Hew Sean

    There is no sorting order control in version 1. Send me and email with your invoice number and I'll send you the vets (2.0) which lets you control sorting order. :)
     
  29. Ludomade

    Ludomade

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2014
    Posts:
    11
    Hi, just purchased this asset. I'm getting a null ref when Clearing the system, and some occasional warnings abount CombineMeshes

    Code (CSharp):
    1. jumpTrail.ClearSystem(false);
    Code (CSharp):
    1. NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object
    2. PigeonCoopToolkit.Effects.Trails.TrailRenderer_Base.CheckEmitChange () (at Assets/PigeonCoopToolkit/Effects/Trails/TrailRenderer_Base.cs:414)
    3. PigeonCoopToolkit.Effects.Trails.TrailRenderer_Base.ClearSystem (Boolean emitState) (at Assets/PigeonCoopToolkit/Effects/Trails/TrailRenderer_Base.cs:545)
    Think you need a null check in this method when _emit is false. The error happens at: _activeTrail.IsActiveTrail = false;

    Code (CSharp):
    1. private void CheckEmitChange()
    2.         {
    3.             if (_emit != Emit)
    4.             {
    5.                 _emit = Emit;
    6.                 if (_emit)
    7.                 {
    8.                     _activeTrail = new PCTrail(GetMaxNumberOfPoints());
    9.                     _activeTrail.IsActiveTrail = true;
    10.                  
    11.                     OnStartEmit();
    12.                 }
    13.                 else
    14.                 {
    15.                     OnStopEmit();
    16.                     _activeTrail.IsActiveTrail = false;
    17.                     _fadingTrails.Add(_activeTrail);
    18.                     _activeTrail = null;
    19.                 }
    20.             }
    21.         }
    22.  
    The warning:

    Code (CSharp):
    1. Combine mesh instance 0 is null.
    2. UnityEngine.Mesh:CombineMeshes(CombineInstance[], Boolean, Boolean)
    3. PigeonCoopToolkit.Effects.Trails.TrailRenderer_Base:LateUpdate() (at Assets/PigeonCoopToolkit/Effects/Trails/TrailRenderer_Base.cs:80)
     
  30. Pigeon Coop

    Pigeon Coop

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  31. Ludomade

    Ludomade

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  32. JonDadley

    JonDadley

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    Sep 2, 2013
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    Is there a way to disable shadow casting on a trail? I've got a large smooth trail in my scene that is casting a lot of unwanted shadows and I can't find an option to disable shadow casting.
     
  33. hopeful

    hopeful

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    @Pigeon Coop - It has been pointed out on the Chronos thread that Chronos won't work with Unity's trail renderer. Do you have any idea if it will / can work with Better Trails?

     
    DMeville likes this.
  34. Prodigga

    Prodigga

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    I can include a feature to allow you to provide your own timescale/timedelta on a per-trail basis so you could do these sort of effects. Should be relatively simple.

    @JonDadley

    Not for 1.x (though you could achieve this with a shade that does not cast any shadows), but in 2.x you will have access to the renderer and can specify whether you want shadows to be casted or not!
     
    hopeful likes this.
  35. hopeful

    hopeful

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    Awesome. :)
     
  36. starstriker1

    starstriker1

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    Been playing around with the asset. Was able to quickly get a custom trail class up and running so that I could implement some initial velocity and inherited velocity plus drag, fairly pleased with the results in most cases! It certainly holds up better than than the particle effects I was using for the job before, substantially less overdraw and without the sparse and scattered look from particles trying to cover the entire trail. Transparent draw call time also seem to be inappreciably affected by their addition.

    Performance isn't where I'd like it, though; I'm developing for PC but my target is VR, and the trails are eating up a monstrous 1.5ms per frame right now. Given that VR requires 75Hz and--due to latency reduction measures in the pipeline--that 13.3ms budget is split between the CPU and GPU instead of parallel, 1.5ms is a lot to ask! (for reference, this is with about 20 trail components with a maximum of 40 points each). Hopefully the optimizations you've been writing about in V2 will solve that for me! Garbage collection hasn't been an issue, but threading that will hopefully do wonders.

    I'm also having some issues with visual fidelity up close, particularly with trails moving directly towards or away from the camera where the billboarding becomes very obvious.



    This is obviously not a billboard line's ideal use case and some degree of jittering in my trail generation is badly exacerbating the issue, but unfortunately a perspective like this isn't uncommon in my game and I need to address it. The hard edges cause by the billboard lines zig zagging from that perspective doesn't improve the situation.

    One possibility I'm considering for covering it up is a hybrid approach where at close range a particle system is added to supplement the trail, or even just replacing player owned trails outright with particles. Another, more involved alternative is to rewrite the mesh generation to create a non-billboard cylindrical trail that can be looked at head on without losing volume, though I'm uncertain if that'd actually improve my issue or just generate unwanted hard edges on my trails while slowing everything down. Anybody got any experience solving this particular problem?
     
  37. Pundek

    Pundek

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    May 17, 2013
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    If i wanna change the color of a a SmoothTrail, Should it works?
    Code (CSharp):
    1. PigeonCoopToolkit.Effects.Trails.SmoothTrail.TrailData.SimpleColorOverLifeStart = Color.Red;
    Or should i explore other ways?
     
  38. Instability

    Instability

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    Apr 16, 2012
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    Hi,

    when a Transform with TrailRenderer component makes sharp 90° turns, there is some problem with vertex flipping and the turn looks jagged (see video and image).

    Better Trails promises "no more jagged and ugly trails on fast moving objects". I was wondering how Better Trails would handle this. Would BetterTrails be able to handle sharp 90° turns with some interpolation but at the same time leave the remaining segments perfectly linear? What kind of interpolation are you using?



     
  39. DMeville

    DMeville

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    May 5, 2013
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    Is there any word about the version 2.0 mentioned months ago in this thread? Looks like the asset store is still version 1.5. I sent an email to @Pigeon Coop a week ago but no response, not much activity in this thread either..

    I'd really love to get my hands on these new features!
     
  40. QuinnWinters

    QuinnWinters

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    I'm having a similar issue with changing the colors via script. I've got multiple trails and want to have a script changing the colors of each of them individually. I've tried a lot of different things but nothing seems to work.

    That issue aside this asset is fantastic and I hope to see it developed further.
     
  41. Instability

    Instability

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    Based on the frequency of answers in this thread, some of the reviews of BetterTrails on the Asset store, and my experience with writing the dev an email, this really looks like this asset is not supported any more (I would of course love to be proven otherwise).

    Try the Unity wiki. You will find treasures there like OptimizedTrailRenderer or TimeBasedTrailRenderer. These may well solve whichever problems you have with the Unity TrailRenderer.
     
  42. starstriker1

    starstriker1

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    It'd be quite the shame if that was the case. This is a solid asset, and it'd be a HUGE shame to have those Version 2 features and optimizations never see the light of day.
     
  43. TwiiK

    TwiiK

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    I'm sure it not abandoned. It's just people on here always freak out if an asset creator goes on vacation or anything similar. And maybe, just maybe, supporting the asset isn't his full time job or even something he has time for most of the time?

    I seriously doubt he's put all this effort into version 2.0 without planning to eventually release it. And for this particular asset the asset creator was gone for 1-2 months somewhat recently and people freaked out then as well.

    I guess what I'm saying is just chill. :p Asset support is not a privilege you get when you buy an asset, it's something the asset creators provide you with of their own volition and entirely free of charge.

    It's been little over a month since his last reply. It's really not a long period of time.
     
    overthere likes this.
  44. PictonicStudio

    PictonicStudio

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    Is this thread dead?
     
  45. gshape

    gshape

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    Aug 8, 2012
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    Hi! @Pigeon Coop !

    I have a question about the direction of trail texture. I found that when my character swing the sword in "clockwise" direction, the texture of trail is inverted.

    From the demo of this asset, you can actually try stop the animation and swing it manually to see. Is there any way to make the texture not "inverted"?

    Thanks.

    Anti-Clockwise (Looks good)


    Clockwise (Trail texture is inverted)


    gshape
     
  46. koberko

    koberko

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    Nov 10, 2013
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    18
    Hi.
    I got this excellent asset today and I love it! I needed it to create ship wake/trail for mobile game, and it works perfectly!
    Here is result:
     
  47. JakeTBear

    JakeTBear

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    Feb 15, 2014
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    I was hoping to hear from @Pigeon Coop on the V2! all the great features he was showing were really reeling me into buying the asset, but he seems to have gone MIA (a bit of trend it seems, he might be back eventually as the trend follows), I will now wait for V2 if it ever comes.
     
    Instability and DMeville like this.
  48. MinhDao

    MinhDao

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    Oct 28, 2013
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    155
    New year is coming! Any new on this?:)
     
  49. MS80

    MS80

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2014
    Posts:
    341
    Anyone knows if "Better Trails" work with Unity 5.3.1f1?? Standard trails are broken in Unity 5.3.1 (flickering, not updating, etc.)

    Can you recommend Better Trails at its current state? It seems the developer was last seen on Aug. 27 2015!?
     
  50. hopeful

    hopeful

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2013
    Posts:
    5,357
    He's around. He posted in another thread today. He just hasn't dropped by Better Trails to give us any kind of update or indication of how things are going. I've also sent him one or two PMs, asking him to give an update, but he hasn't responded.

    I suspect he's fully committed to some contract work, as is often the case with asset store devs, and will be back when his schedule clears some.

    I think he should do better public relations, but that's really up to him.
     
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