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Why do unity games have the unity look?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Sounds-Wonderful, Dec 12, 2013.

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  1. Sounds-Wonderful

    Sounds-Wonderful

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    I can immediately say, which platform was used for a game, even which rendering engine, without having seen the logo or entry dialogue.

    Typical of OpenGL is amnesia. This is what to me all OpenGL games look like. Unity games show simple forms and rarely any realism. Seems to have it's cause in lighting and low polygon count.

    What is your take on this?
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2013
  2. Meltdown

    Meltdown

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    You're generalising, probably from looking at WIP or Collab threads where many posts are just some simple Unity terrain slapped together for the 'next big RPG, FPS or MMO'.

    There are tons of games out there you would have no clue they were done in Unity. I've been using Unity for over 4 years now and am still happily surprised when I find out a certain title was done in Unity.
     
  3. SteveJ

    SteveJ

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    Unless the Unity GUI is used, there's NOTHING that identifies a game as having been made with Unity. There's certainly no such thing as the "Unity Look".
     
  4. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    I wouldn't necessarily agree with that. I've often looked at screenies or videos of projects and asked "Did you make that in Unity?" and the answer is yes. Same deal with Unreal/UDK.

    I think that more than anything it comes down to lighting models and/or base shaders. It's a lot of work to change those things out, so it doesn't always happen, and it's rare in indie or low budget titles.

    As for the OP, though, the idea that Unity games and OpenGL games each have their own distinctive look shoots the premise in the foot. Unity games commonly are OpenGL games, so the idea that there's a Unity look and an OpenGL look and that they're different shows that it's not the engine, renderer or API that gives the look - it's what the developer does with them.
     
  5. Yoska

    Yoska

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    Yeah, it's often pretty easy to identity an Unity game. It's a sort of flat, bland look. Build-in shaders sounds like a reasonable explanation.
     
  6. lazygunn

    lazygunn

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    This again. It's down to the art, not the engine. The comment about OpenGL is absurd
     
  7. squared55

    squared55

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    I say we make reflective shaders the default. They make everything look 1000x better.
     
  8. TylerPerry

    TylerPerry

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    The default Unity shaders give it away for me most of the time.
     
  9. Sir-Tiddlesworth

    Sir-Tiddlesworth

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    Agreed. I am making an OpenGL engine, and it looks nowhere near as nice as Amnesia... Yet :)
     
  10. GoCatGoGamesLLC

    GoCatGoGamesLLC

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    Everyone using the same set of free terrain textures, character environmental models, and shaders?
     
  11. drewradley

    drewradley

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    I see a lot of assets I own in games when browsing Steam. Realms of Arcana springs to mind. I own the same orcs they used. I even see a lot of the animations I got from Mixamo in games.
     
  12. GoCatGoGamesLLC

    GoCatGoGamesLLC

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    I am not saying it is a bad thing. But, if everyone is using Grass(Hill) with 15 x 15 tiling on their terrain, things start looking oddly similar.

    My game is using Mixamo animation. I am using lots of body masking to combine animations, but, for my money, they have top quality stuff even right out of the box.

    I know nothing of orcs.
     
  13. LaneFox

    LaneFox

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    Just like UDK stuff has glossy reflections and shine to everything on the entire game seemingly out of the box, wider than usual FOV and some trademark effects, Unity has the opposite out of the box and its just as identifiable.
     
  14. gryff

    gryff

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    Funny, there is a game - a WIP - demoed on these forums by primus88 which reminded me of Amnesia in terms of its look and feel, although obviously not the game mechanics. (The scenes he shows also reminds me vaguely of The Seventh Guest.)

    Blinding Dark - Tactical FPS Horror Game

    Really like the the environment primus88 has generated.

    cheers, gryff :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2013
  15. SteveJ

    SteveJ

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    I totally disagree about the look of "default shaders" and stuff like that. Are we talking about diffuse shaders? i.e. PLAIN diffuse shading somehow equals Unity?

    You might get lucky guessing more often than not that a game is made with Unity, but I think that's only because of the ever-growing number of developers using Unity.
     
  16. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    No.

    How about the "lighting models" part of the suggestion, for starters? Sure, take lighting out of the equation and plenty of stuff looks indistinguishable because it is indeed probably equivalent at a mathematical level. But take the lighting model into account and there's a lot of subtlety that comes into play.

    And there's the post effects shaders to consider, as well.

    Pointing at the standard diffuse and saying "of course it looks the same" is a bit dismissive, I think.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2013
  17. lazygunn

    lazygunn

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    Basically this

    I cannot comprehend how the default shaders give unity away with any kind of competent application, it makes no sense, and time and time again it seems simply that unity's the most accessible way to quickly make a shoddy game and it gets blamed for that particular kind of talentless developer
     
  18. SteveJ

    SteveJ

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    I don't know. I definitely look at a lot of games (especially indie games) and WONDER if they were done in Unity, but I don't know that I see any particular signs that they were.

    Mind you, I'm not THAT technical on shaders and lighting, so maybe I just don't have an eye for these things that other people are seeing.

    I will say this though, I think it still boils down to this "Unity Look" often being used as an excuse for poor work on a developer's behalf. It reminds me of these threads asking about when "Unity will be capable of Unreal graphics", because as soon as that happens I'll be able to make my smash hit game... i.e. the "it's the tool's fault that my game looks crappy" mentality.
     
  19. Noisecrime

    Noisecrime

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    I don't think anyone is saying that diffuse shaders equate to Unity, but that as many games tend to use the default shaders as shipped by Unity, then they are going to end up with the same basic looks because there is quite a limited selection and none have been keeping up to date with advance in graphics in the last 3-5 years. I mean its odd that in the Unity manual is code for an example rim lighting surface shader, yet no rim lighting shader in the editor.

    This also doesn't address the issue that you only have two lighting models (lambert and BlinnPhong) implemented in the shaders and of course everyone ends up with the same shadow mapping technique. Then there are simple things like a scenes ambient value. I wonder how many people bother tweaking that?

    Now once you start moving away from the Unity default shaders, by appending or replacing them with newer varieties then things start to look different and less like Unity. Indeed one of Unities greatest strengths is that you can do this quite easily, either yourself or by purchasing them. Not only can you get shaders that use newer graphic techniques, but you can also change the lighting equations, which can make dramatic changes to the appearance of Unity projects.

    At this point it starts to get harder to determine what engine a game was built with, but not impossible. I'm not sure what the other tell-tale signs are, some of it may be at a unconscious level and not even directly related to the visuals but other systems, but yeah I still think its possible to see a game sometimes and think it was made in Unity. I guess the most recent example would have been Cricket Ashes 2013, which I had a feeling was made with Unity before discovering that it was.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2013
  20. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    You do seem to have jumped into this very much on the defensive side of the fence. I don't think anyone was bagging Unity, the question was just why some aspects of its general look and feel are consistent across games known to use it. It's a fair enough question, and one that is asked of plenty of high end engines as well (I remember many discussions a few years back about the look of characters in UE3 games, same thing).

    noisecrime gave some pretty specific details on the matter, as well.

    In any case, you are correct that if someone has a crappy looking game and cites using Unity as the reason then they're just pulling excuses out of their bums and it's actually a lack of skill, experience, knowledge, or invested time.
     
  21. ChaosWWW

    ChaosWWW

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    Games have the "unity look" because people are bad artists that don't change things past the defaults.
     
  22. R_C

    R_C

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    I can easily differentiate an Unity game from an Unreal game. Both are beautiful and completely different, no matter how you tweak it.
     
  23. Deleted User

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    Edited because I need to learn to read the whole sentence:

    IMO It's a massive collection of small touches which add up to a massive graphical edge and how the respective designers implementation of such technology is achieved, even Unity Pro and a slew of post processing effects and deferred rendering path looks completely different to Unity free, UDK and CryEngine. By default all post processing is switched on in CryEngine and lighting systems are done in real time, bar small amounts of tweaking in area's what you see in CryEngine's sandbox editor is what your going to get as opposed to Unity where by default where you implement it all from scratch and for the most part it's tweakable. You can't change the shaders in CryEngine SDK, you either like it or move on to another engine.

    All engine's have a look to them, It doesn't mean Unity can't look good though.

    If we are talking graphical eye candy, I think leaving Unity free out the equation is a good idea. At the moment I'm experimenting with GI, types of RLR and irradiance volume to give Unity more of a CryEngine look, I like the look of CryEngine but dislike the workflow.. All that being said it'll never look like CryEngine for many factors including the engine itself and secondly how I implement technology. In essence, Unity will always look different and I do get what people mean by the Unity look, but with enough time and dedication Unity can look nothing like Unity (If you get my drift)..
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 13, 2013
  24. DaveyD

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    I came here just to post it, was thinking exactly the same instants before you posted it.

    Unity is a very useful TOOL, how to use it and the final results depends completely of US, the developers. But I think that it's most about importance people give to that, thinking it's always good enough "because it's 3D and it's awesome", I don't know if this is a true thought but I see that some of them just think that creating shovelware and putting it on AppStore or Google Play can make them rich in a day so they don't put effort on a good Graphical apart, not that it's not good enough, many of them doesn't even put ANY effort so you have that "Unity look" (using the Default "everything") and it's totally the opposite of what they think because a "shiny game" sells most even if it's a generic FPS or racing game.
     
  25. MD_Reptile

    MD_Reptile

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    I think of it like this: hey guys, this screwdriver I have, I keep stripping the screws in this place differently than I would have stripped them with another screwdriver...

    it is the handyman with the inability to work with screws that is easy to identify. not what kind of screwdriver was used. well, unless that screwdriver really was junk haha...

    I have sworn a few games must be unity games and been wrong before, so I can't say the unity engine produces any exact look, even with variations of the default shaders it starts looking unique pretty quickly. then again I'm no graphics expert by a long shot.
     
  26. Sounds-Wonderful

    Sounds-Wonderful

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    Wrong. If it was true, my 3D HMD wouldn't work.
     
  27. Sounds-Wonderful

    Sounds-Wonderful

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    Where do I get free shaders that make the difference?
     
  28. Deleted User

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    I'd probably do some research before making statement's, there's a scripting guide for manipulating GL:

    http://docs.unity3d.com/Documentation/ScriptReference/GL.html

    If you want to force Unity to use GL - you need to add -force opengl..
     
  29. Sounds-Wonderful

    Sounds-Wonderful

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  30. Deleted User

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    How exactly does it?
     
  31. Sir-Tiddlesworth

    Sir-Tiddlesworth

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    @ Sounds Wonderful

    angrypenguin and ShadowK are correct.
    If a Unity game is running on Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, or BlackBerry, it is using OpenGL.
     
  32. BTStone

    BTStone

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    I'd say this applies only to 3D games. There are also a lot 2D games made with Unity and speaking for myself, I can't tell if they are made with Unity, GameMaker, Cocos2d or whatnot.
     
  33. Acumen

    Acumen

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    Personally I have encountered quite the opposite lately...
    Reading more and more often "Can't believe this is done in Unity....wouldn't have guessed.."
    Which is great, since it kinda shows how the user base has grown and learned on how to get the best out of it, sounds wonderful to me, even though I have nothing to do with the engine creation :)
     
  34. Sounds-Wonderful

    Sounds-Wonderful

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    Sir.Tiddlesworth, you, angrypenguin and ShadowK are incorrect. If a Unity game is running on PC and allows DirectX-Dll-Injection, it is using DirectX.
     
  35. BTStone

    BTStone

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    I second that.
    I think you can't know if a game is made with Unity or not, but one can always guess. Most of the time one can tell by the default elements like terrain, trees, grass or shaders, but when I some games in the WIP or the Showcase or even some Assets like Shader or Models I think: "Woah, if this would be in a game, I could never tell this was made in Unity, UE or a selfmade engine"
    I think that's great and only a proof that it always comes up to the skills of the Graphicsprogrammer (Shader), the Artists and the Modeller. The engine is only the tool.
     
  36. Deleted User

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    No were not mate, you need to learn how to switch it on.. But yes DX is on by default (In windows), I'm not sure why this is an issue exactly?
     
  37. Arbelzapf

    Arbelzapf

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    The keyword is "commonly". In the unique case of a Windows target, it's probably, not neccessarily using DX. In all other cases, it's using OpenGL.


    Is it really neccessary to start an argument over this?
     
  38. skoandi

    skoandi

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    $vRBVdkk.jpg
    Guess what game engine this game is using? ;)
     
  39. Tanel

    Tanel

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    I thought The Stanley Parable was made in Unity, it kinda has that 'look'. Turns out it's Source Engine.
     
  40. BTStone

    BTStone

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    Let's change the topic-title and make it a game: "Guess the engine!"

    My money is on Ogre3D
     
  41. DallonF

    DallonF

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    That or Irrlicht.
     
  42. DRProductions

    DRProductions

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    Did you know Kerbal Space Program was made in unity at first glance? I didn't. Check out this game http://survivetheforest.com/ I had NO idea it was made in unity.
     
  43. janpec

    janpec

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    Well doesnt mean they have bad artists but yes i agree its simply becouse defaults are left unchanged thats why you can pretty much tell for most games with what engies are made, especially those with indie licenses like Cry, UDK or Unity.
     
  44. Aieth

    Aieth

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    The primary reasons most Unity games look like Unity games are
    1. Generic art styles (if you are not an experienced artist, which most indies are not, it shows)
    2. Use of default shaders (a lambertian diffuse with a blinn phong specular is such a simple model that its easy to recognise it, even unconsciously if you dont know graphics)
    3. Post effects. Either most use the default ones if you have pro or dont use them at all.

    These simple 3 points add up and makes everything look... generic. A great art style with talented artists or new graphical tech is required to set your game apart lookswise. Not that you have to set yourself apart graphically, but if you want to thats what you need.
     
  45. KheltonHeadley

    KheltonHeadley

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    Actually yeah, grass and stuff looks default. I play it nearly 3 times a week.

    Also, look at Oliver and Spike. Looks amazing, can't even tell it's a Unity game. It's just a mater of putting time into it.
     
  46. Velo222

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    This is what frustrates me right now though - and it's ever increasing frustration as I get closer to completing my game, and my focus shifts more to graphics and eye-candy. Everyone says it's due to Unity's bland and basic default shaders, lighting, and post-processing effects. But I have never seen anyone mention exactly what about those three things makes game objects look as good as they do in UDK or Cryengine's SDK.

    I'm talking specifics. Sure you can say it's a lack of post-processing effects in Unity. But what post-processing effects specifically? Does anyone really know what UDK does specifically to make it's models look great? What lighting? Is it simply a lack of global illumination, or perhaps volumetric lighting, maybe linear lighting?

    What addons/packages/roll-your-own solutions would one need to get the UDK out-of-the-box effect? Can anyone give a laundry list of things UDK is using out-of-the-box.

    A list like:

    1. Global illumination
    2. Bloom effects
    3. HDR
    4. "Insert technical name here" diffuse shader
    5. Volumetric Light Scattering
    6. Smooth PCF Filtering
    7. Color Grading


    Does anyone really know? I always see generalizations, but someone throw us some real specifics on getting our games to look like UDK's :) lol Unfortunately, I am using Unity free and don't have access to HDR and other Pro features. But even with Unity Pro, how do you make your Unity game look like standard UDK?

    Using Unity free only, I've been playing around a lot with buying different shaders, of course using normals and specular maps, and playing around with Unity free's lighting options -- and I gotta say, it doesn't look "crisp" or yummy at all. Even with messing with shaders, UDK's graphics look like a nice juicy steak, and Unity's look like green beans with some mac-n-cheese -- if you catch my drift.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2013
  47. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    Not wrong. I said "commonly", and it's platform dependent.
     
  48. BrainMelter

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    Fastest / Fast / Simple / Good / Beautiful / Fantastic

    Unity!
     
  49. Chariots

    Chariots

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    "UDK look" is generally caused by the easy to use material editor. Most people take the path of least resistance, that usually means;

    Phong shading (the default)
    Strong normals
    Detail normal maps (that usually come with UDK itself)
    Splat map detail inside a diffuse channel
    Bad specular, maybe even using the red channel of the diffuse texture
    Extreme fresnel effect with a bad specular texture
    Fog, height fog and fog sheets, while these are available in any game, overuse of it multiplies "the UDK look"
    Overblown bumpoffset
    The default Post Processing chain has some desaturation, bloom and light shafts in it, no one really turns those off.

    Another factor, is that Epic encourages people to use extremely modular assets. They really push that aspect in everything. However, the engine isn't really designed to work with that, there is no batching, at all. So some games end up overusing the same assets, without having any performance benefit, because every mesh you place takes another draw call. It does save some memory, but no one other than last gen console developers cares about that.

    There are also rarer stuff, the way they do splat map transitioning in a material, most people don't modify that. Lightmass has the potential to turn a scene flat unless you know exactly what you are doing, overuse of postprocessing volumes with quick transition times and so on.

    Now, every engine has some of these stuff, but when you start to rack of more than several of them, you start to get the look.

    I haven't used Source Engine that much, but it has a certain look as well. If I remember correctly, lighting is (or was) more dependent on vertex count than other engines, this leads to a reliance on BSP geometries. Most games tries to break that up with carefully placed meshes around the corners. Valve games generally don't have strong normals, and have excellent speculars. They tend to offload the detail to the diffuse, and put high quality wear and tear on every texture. Their glossy shaders haven't changed much since HL2, you can recognize it in most Source games.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2013
  50. KheltonHeadley

    KheltonHeadley

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    It's funny, KSP uses these same settings. >.<
     
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