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Nature Renderer: Better terrain detail rendering ✅ PBR ✅ Custom Shaders ✅ Shadows ✅ Wind ✅ SRP

Discussion in 'Assets and Asset Store' started by Visual-Design-Cafe, Oct 3, 2019.

  1. unity_dev3194

    unity_dev3194

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2017
    Posts:
    79
    Has anyone been able to get in touch with the developer? I've submitted two support tickets directly through the website, but have yet to receive a response to either of them. It's been almost two months.
     
    valentin56610 likes this.
  2. Bwacky

    Bwacky

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    Nov 2, 2016
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    204
    Tbh as much as I enjoy NR, I think you can consider it software in maintenance mode. It works, but don't expect any new features or support - at least I don't anymore.
    • 2022 was pretty much just a compatibility update fixing a handful of bugs with an upgrade price from the looks of it compared to 2021 (which IMO should have been fixed in 2021 like FSR artifacts, FSR is not a 2022 exclusive feature).
    • The lack of answers here on forums was explained as being busy replying to support emails, but I hear from friends and strangers alike that their support emails haven't been answered in months.
    • If you take a look at the asset store publisher page, it's basically re-releasing the same asset with a new year number at this point - the art packages are the same as they always were, but they get an updated "nature shaders essentials package" shipped with it from what I can tell, which works in 2022 just the same as in 2021 (TVE which is the direct competitor the NS has been around since like 2019 and hasn't had an upgrade price since release, no yearly versioning releases and has full compatibility going up to the current Unity alpha releases - think of that what you will).
    I see nobody here saying this, but I think most of us have assumed this is the case as of now going forward.
    It went downhill on updates and maintenance since NR has become a "verified unity solution" and I don't think we'll get any new features.
    LOD Crossfade was promised back when 2021 came out, I asked multiple times about it for 2022 and was told it's probably coming. Then 2022 was released with no new features. After I asked about it for this year as a patch, I was told procedural placement rules are now being worked on and cross-fade is on hold going forward.
    Other instancing solutions like JBooth's upcoming instancer already has LOD Crossfade & dynamic occlusion culling (it's not even published yet), and GPUI already had both available ages ago. Of course, neither has the comfort of just adding a component to your terrain and calling it a day, which is the main reason most people here use NR vs other solutions.

    Then there's the whole going subscription model thing, which got backtracked to the yearly license, just to get completely removed from their official website. You can't sub anymore at all. Starting to doubt the "26,000 developers" number on their website as well at this point. The 18 or so reviews across the board on the asset store make it feel like the number is simply inflated beyond belief.

    Not buying any VDC assets going forward if the patch notes are something like "Large internal compatibility fixes for Unity 202x.x.x." which are essentially some bug fixes that 2021 owners should have gotten and a removed warning message from the terrain component that only served to annoy me while the instancing features worked perfectly fine - said warning message being coded into the DLL so that you can't even remove it yourself from the component.

    Regret buying the 2022.3 cycle assets just out of loyalty after all these years, to be honest.
    Not to mention yet again burned by an asset shipping with DLLs and no source code to fix issues and maintain compatibility with future unity versions on our own.

    Edit: to clarify, this is just how I feel about the above. The dev might come back here and say I'm talking rubbish, but since there's no email support nor clarification here on the forums - and the last activity was when NR 2022 came out it feels like it was just a random activity spike from the devs to get our hopes up and boost sales.
    Of course, I wish it wasn't.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2024
  3. unity_dev3194

    unity_dev3194

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    This is very disappointing to hear. I appreciate you taking the time to respond to me in such detail. I wasn't expecting new features, I just wanted support for existing features that aren't working as expected. The instancing solution from Jason Booth sounds really interesting, where can I learn more about it? He's an impressive developer and I use several of his tools.
     
    valentin56610 likes this.
  4. Bwacky

    Bwacky

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    Nov 2, 2016
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    On his Discord only for now and only available to a small group of people to find bugs. I think you can ask him to join the testing for a specific RP, just request access. If you're verified as a user there, it'll be a lot easier to get in I imagine.

    I still have hope NR22 will get the proper love, updates, and fixes it deserves, but I keep my expectations very low for now. VDC has been a very good dev over the years and helped out a few times with some fixes, even went as far to send me a fix via forum DMs for the shadow flickering/disappearing bug 2021 had. It was never fixed for 2021 in any patch, but it's fine in 2022. Shame that never got back-ported.
     
    unity_dev3194 likes this.
  5. Hurbivore

    Hurbivore

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    Nov 25, 2016
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    Just to clarify
    I thought TVE was to be used in conjunction with NR? You would create the tree or grass assets in TVE and then use NR to render it?
     
  6. DrMeatball

    DrMeatball

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2021
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    If Nature Renderer is dead are there any alternatives?
     
    valentin56610 likes this.
  7. Bwacky

    Bwacky

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    Nov 2, 2016
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    It's not confirmed dead, works perfectly fine for 2022.3 with the feature it provides (ignoring some bugs that sometimes require an editor restart), and is still perfectly usable.
    Till the developer comes actively back I wouldn't expect any new features though. They pop in very rarely and it seems they don't reply to emails at all, so I assume we'll just get maintenance updates every time an LTS comes out to just keep using it. If it works for you great, just stick with it. I'm still using it since it's simply the most stable renderer out there for now, even if it lacks fancy features.

    NR = Rendering
    TVE = Shading
    I was talking about NS there (Nature Shaders), which is a TVE alternative.
    A basic version of NS is shipped with NR and to work in newer URP/HDRP versions it gets an update every major release so far since 2020. All the demo assets from NR are using NS.


    There **are** a few alternatives coming most likely this year but they're mostly still in development and I'm not able to share more info for now, since the devs might not be happy about rumors floating around.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2024
  8. Hurbivore

    Hurbivore

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    Nov 25, 2016
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    Ah okay had me worried there as I recently bought NR as well. Thanks for clarifying.
     
  9. valentin56610

    valentin56610

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2019
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    No answer to my emails either, I tried opening a github bug report, no answers there as well

    There is quite a significant bug with NR 2022, any time I try to edit the details layer of my terrain, the entire terrain's vegetation flicker for a frame or two

    This is just not OK, I have terrain edition/vegetation edition at runtime, and every single time a bomb explodes the entire vegetation flickers

    3 months without a fix or an answer, I'm leaving this a 1 star review and will not recommend it to anybody
     
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  10. muzboz

    muzboz

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    Aug 8, 2012
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    110
    Hi! @Visual-Design-Cafe

    I was considering buying Nature Renderer, and just had a few questions first...

    I've got a project where I procedurally generate the islands in my game using C# code and the Built In render pipeline, and Unity's default Terrain, Detail and Tree systems.

    I create the Detail Prototypes in code, and "scatter " them around the terrain based on altitude, slope, etc.

    Q: If I switched to Nature Renderer, would I need to change a lot of my procedural generation code, or does Nature Renderer work off the same set of Detail Prototypes (Detail Billboards and Detail Meshes) as the default Unity terrain system?

    I'd love to get the benefits of faster / better looking rendering, but I'm wondering how big of a change it is.


    Oh, and also, since 2021.2, I've had trouble using Unity's default Detail system in a runtime build (the detail objects don't show up in a build, although they work in the editor). I've reported this bug to Unity, and they've acknowledged it, and hopefully fixing it for future versions.

    Q: Is this also a problem with Nature Renderer, or perhaps using your shaders and systems fixes this problem? (If you're not sure about this, that's OK. But if you've come across this situation, I'd be keen to hear about that, too).


    Thanks! All the best.

    - Murray
     
  11. mcbauer

    mcbauer

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2015
    Posts:
    524
    I'm having a weird issue with Nature renderer.

    Unity 2023.3.20, BIRP

    When I deploy to android, the grass render in reverse order of the expected LOD.

    What I mean is, as my character runs around, whatever is close is hidden, and what is far renders. So it makes it look like the grass is being disintegrated as the character runs around.

    And no trees render at all.

    Again, this is only on an android build, editor everything is as it should be.
     
  12. KingLlama

    KingLlama

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2015
    Posts:
    199
    I have nature renderer 2021 and i'm not seeing in the nature renderer profiler. I also am not seeing in the scene the occlusion for the camera when I've applied everything from the documentation. what would be the best course of action? Remove and re-add the asset?
     
  13. ZhavShaw

    ZhavShaw

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    Aug 12, 2013
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    Still a valid question.. just in case.
     
  14. mroshaw

    mroshaw

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    Oct 11, 2020
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    I have been asking myself the same question recently. I've been waiting for Occlusion Culling and LOD Cross-Fade in NR for years, but it would appear enhancements are no longer forthcoming. The lack of any sort of engagement in the support forums, even for bug reports, is also really worrying. I don't usually comment on competitor products on these forums, but I also feel potential buyers should be aware of alternatives and be able to make an informed purchase, so I thought I'd post a reply.

    I realised I had bought GPU Instancer a while back, and it seems to do the job nicely. It supports Hi-Z Occlusion Culling, and LOD Cross-Fade, and it seems to perform comparatively render-wise. Its workflow is less intuitive than NR, especially if you're applying trees and details procedurally such as with Microverse - you have to manually refresh the terrain prototypes each time via the GPUI managers. The only "major" difference I can find between GPUI, NR and others is the level of fine-tuning possible with things like culling and shadow distances. For example, GPUI provides shadow distance config only on trees. Shadows are either on or off for details. It does offer LOD-level shadow toggling on trees too and has a built-in billboard system and supports mesh game object instancing.

    The other option is Foliage Renderer by Jason Booth. He seems to consistently produce very high-quality assets, with exceptional support, so I'd be going for that if I haven't already splashed out on GPUI and NR. As far as I understand it, having not used it, it supports very granular shadow configuration (shadow distance per detail and tree prefab), and has Occlusion Culling and LOD Cross-Fade functionality. It doesn't yet support non-terrain (e.g. mesh) instance rendering, but that's coming.

    There is also an asset called "Flora" that I've not looked into much, and a free asset called "GPU procedural vegetation instance" on the store that looks quite interesting.
     
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  15. Bwacky

    Bwacky

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    Nov 2, 2016
    Posts:
    204
    Before someone gets other tools like Flora, the free instancers, and other popular alternatives that get released on Patreon (if you know, you know), first check the update frequency on all of them on the asset store and releases frequency, check the discords for issues, the time it takes devs to reply, engagement and activity.
    I went through it all, and I wish I didn't have to.

    I started with NR back when it came out on day 1 in 2018 if I'm not mistaken - it was still free at the time and I reported bugs to Max who was developing it regularly at the time that kept getting fixed almost day after day right after reporting. I work with indie devs and help with project setup, choice of shaders, rendering, integrations across frameworks, graphics, and basic optimization, so working with tools like NR is my daily bread and butter. I've migrated a few of my clients away from NR already since nowadays, everyone wants crossfade and good performance in open-world scenarios - it is what it is.

    Being aware of the risk of sounding like a moron or shill to some of you, I'll say the following. You can curse me out later if you feel I lied, but this is speaking from pure experience and my goal is to save everyone's time and cash here.
    80$ for an indirect instancer might be just an evening dinner's worth to some people, but if you earn 300$ a month in a low-income country, every damn cent counts, so this is for you.

    I swapped completely to Foliage Renderer after giving every single alternative on the asset store a try now across all projects that I work on/for, and it's by far the most feature-complete and pleasurable tool for rendering to work with. There are still bugs, but you tend to get a reply a minute after mentioning them and the dev tends to get to fixing them within an hour.

    Pros?
    - Active developer and community on the Discord server.
    - It's dumbed down enough so that everyone can get it working fast while being more easily extensible out of the box with neat settings than NR ever was.
    - Setup in literally 1 click if you don't want to modify **anything** for all your terrains.
    - Ships with pretty neat shaders and more coming soon, with tons of misc features I'm not even using like matching the mesh to terrain that will surely come in handy for someone.
    - No code hidden behind a DLL because the author doesn't assume you're a 5-year-old and you can do what you want with it if need be.
    - Github access if you despise the package manager!!!
    - Instead of wasting time on setting per-terrain settings, you get 1 global manager that works flawlessly and congregates all your prototypes in 1 place with per-object overrides if you want some assets to render differently.
    - LOD Group supports up to 4 LODs.
    - It has LOD CROSSFADE which I asked about being added to NR back in 2019 and got told "soon" (we still don't have it of course).
    - TVE support with LOD Crossfade out of the box.
    - Instead of forcing you to use nature shaders through the auto-patcher it simply patches your existing shaders if you don't want to use something else that you have no control over (again, big WIN).
    - Include node for shader graph so you can hook your shaders up manually, because why not?
    - It soon gets mesh rendering support like GPUI has it but it will also work way better from my experience with it so far in preview.
    - Sets up for multi-terrain FLAWLESSLY without any manual work like adding components manually to terrains (fully automatic setup in 1 click via game object menu > add renderer).
    - Microverse support.
    - It has Hi-Z Culling which only GPUI has on the asset store (and unlike in GPUI it works - apart from HDRP for now which will get support sooner or later either way).

    Cons?
    - Still early days since it came out recently, so there are occasionally bugs here or there that are related to the fast pace of updates and fixes IMO. Not even sure if you can consider regular updates a downside at this point.



    I know I sound like a shill right now, but I wasted TONS of money on a TON of assets to replace rendering since Nature Renderer went essentially dead, and if it helps anyone or saves someone even a few $ I'll be happy. I wasted too much time and I don't want anyone else to waste more of their precious time either. Life is too short to waste it on dead software.

    Thanks for the hard work you put into it everyone at VDC, if you still read this. It helped a lot over the years, and it's a shame it's not going to get the maintenance it deserves.
    I assume it simply wasn't worthwhile to keep up financially and I'm not surprised since the asset store life is hard, but it is what it is.

    It's been a blast Nature Renderer, and thank you for the last few years, but this is farewell from me for now.
    Maybe someday in the future, we'll meet again, hopefully.
     
    ZhavShaw likes this.
  16. ZhavShaw

    ZhavShaw

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    Aug 12, 2013
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    Flora seems pretty interesting, so I'm checking it out, thanks!

    I'd really love to hear more about these hidden Patreon tools haha. Does Foliage Renderer support spawning on meshes?
     
  17. Bwacky

    Bwacky

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2016
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    204
    Not yet, a mesh spawning module is coming soon. But that's more of a question for the dev, I feel like hijacking this NR thread any more than I already did would be unfair. Jump on their Discord - dev will be happy to answer all your questions for sure, he's a great guy.
     
    ZhavShaw likes this.