post

Substance Alchemist Enters Open Beta

Today at GDC 2019, Allegorthmic, recently acquired by Adobe, announced the open beta of Substance Alchemist to existing Substance customers.  Alchemist is a tool for authoring and managing materials and is part of the Substance subscription.

Details from the press release:

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – March 19, 2019 – Today at Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2019, the Substance team announces the start of the Project Substance Alchemist open beta. Effective immediately, all current Substance subscribers have exclusive and unrestricted access to the latest Substance material tool, uniting the Substance ecosystem like never before. Artists now have a SubstanceAlchemistplayground for creating and augmenting entire libraries of materials with ease.

Project Substance Alchemist advances the art of making and managing 3D materials through instinctive simplicity. Creators can rely on a powerful, streamlined workflow and an intuitive user interface. It’s simple, fast and it uses some of the most advanced technology around. By hiding its complexity through easy-to-use tools like parametric sliders and filters, Project Substance Alchemist brings efficiency to artists and designers, without giving up any of the power that helps them thrive.

Starting today, artists are able to leverage the power of a tool that can quickly be adapted to meet their needs. Users can access materials in several ways, including downloading materials directly from Substance Source, find materials offered up by the Substance community or even upload real-world photographs. From there, they can quickly elaborate their own libraries of materials. For instance, a cobblestoned street can be honed to an artist’s exact specifications within Project Substance Alchemist, whether they desire a brand-new look with polished surfaces, or a broken down feel with moss and damaged tiles.

Project Substance Alchemist puts powerful tools into the hands of artists who work with scans, with quick and reliable tiling, as well as an AI-powered delighter. Trained with thousands of images, the delighter can instantly balance the shadows and light tied to photos and scans, so that lighting remains even and consistent. Designers who need to iterate rapidly on a material can also enjoy a vast array of variations with the instant creation of material collections based on a single image or a moodboard. Project Substance Alchemist can analyze the artist’s material and automatically generate suggestions on colors and textures, ensuring compatibility and additional creation options.

Although it is designed as a standalone tool, Project Substance Alchemist is deeply tied to the existing Substance ecosystem. Artists can search through their Substance Source downloads, import materials and filters made in Substance Designer or swap creations through the Substance Share artist exchange. Imported materials can then be added to the artist’s personal library for later use, or applied to an asset in Substance Painter. Thanks to the standardization of the Substance format, materials created in Substance Alchemist can be exported and used in every major 3D tool, including Unreal Engine, Unity, 3ds Max, Maya and many others.

Based on years of industry-leading research, and built with the help and feedback of the Substance community, Project Substance Alchemist will continue to develop in order to adapt to the evolving needs of artists and designers. The open beta is available now. For a video walkthrough, click here.

Pricing/Availability

Project Substance Alchemist is available at no cost to current Substance subscribers. Subscriptions come in Indie or Pro plans, priced at $19.90/month and $99.90/month respectively. Enterprise and education pricing is available upon request. Students and teachers can request a license at no cost.

In addition to the release of Alchemist, Allegorithmic also did a blog post on the status of their acquisition by Adobe and the effects it will have on future licensing terms.  The key details are as follows:

Since the acquisition, we’ve heard lots of questions from our community about licensing and pricing. Our goal with licensing and pricing has always been to be fair to everyone and we’re continuing that philosophy. We’re planning to introduce new offerings late this year, but until then, our licensing and pricing structure will not change.

These future offerings will be primarily subscription-based, but we will continue to offer indie perpetual licenses. We believe that when the content and services offered in a subscription package evolve and improve at a steady pace, the subscription model is the best way for us to innovate fast, continuously improve your tools, and bring you more value.

I know perpetual licensing is important, especially in the indie space, so this should be taken as good news.  That said, it’s Adobe calling the shots now so who knows what will ultimately happen.

GameDev News


post

Unreal And Unity Announce Stadia Support

Following on the heels of Google GDC reveal of the Stadia platform, both Unreal and Unity Technologies have announced their support for Stadia game development.  Stadia is a new server side platform for hosting and streaming games to any Chrome supported device.  Below are details from both game engine manufacturer. StaidaLogo

First the Unreal Engine announcement from their blog:

“We’ve been building our support for Stadia to ensure that developers using Unreal Engine can hit the ground running and be successful on the platform,” said Arciel Rekman, Senior Platform Engineer at Epic Games. “Today we’re releasing a fully-featured integration with Stadia to help developers bring their games to an even broader spectrum of players.”

Designed with cross-platform support in mind, Unreal Engine leverages Stadia features through familiar interfaces, resulting in an easy setup, with visual quality and workflows that are consistent across all target devices.

Thanks to Unreal Engine’s cross-platform capabilities, developers can iterate on their game code locally on their Windows PC for Stadia, a Linux and Vulkan-based platform, before deploying to the cloud.

While Unity announced the following:

One of our core missions is democratizing game development. That means enabling developers to build for the platforms of their choice with accessible tools and workflows that make the process of creating easier.

Though we still have technical and engineering work ahead to ensure Unity developers have a smooth experience building for Stadia, here’s what our community needs to know.

What can I expect in building Unity games for Stadia?

Developers familiar with Unity today can expect recognizable tools and a very similar development process when building for Stadia.

What unique Stadia or Google features will be supported by Unity?

We expect to support all native features unique to Stadia that are required to publish your game and make use of platform capabilities. Stay tuned for more details on feature support later this year.

With either platform, before you can start developing for Stadia you need to be a registered Stadia developer, you can apply here.   You need to have a Employer Tax ID if American, and an email with a custom domain address (ie, not Hotmail or Gmail).  Once registered with Stadia, you can then confirm your credentials with Unreal here, while Unity developers have no additional steps to perform.  The Unity Stadia SDK is expected to ship toward the end of 2019.

GameDev News


post

Google At GDC–STADIA Announced

Today at their GDC 2019 keynote, Google announced Stadia, their upcoming “gaming platform”, a server based streaming game service that runs on any Chrome enabled device.  Powered by custom GPUs designed by AMD using Vulkan on the Linux OS and spread across the same networking powering the Google search engine, Stadia promises to bring 4K at 60FPS gaming to the masses, with future support for 8K and 120FPS promised.

Being entirely server side, Stadia offers a number of innovative features.  Combined with their newly announced Stadia Controller, you can play games across any Chrome device and seamlessly transition your game between devices.  Since all the work, client and server are done on Google’s servers, they claim this will make cheating virtually impossible, while being able to scale existing game play up to thousands of users over night.  It also offered unique features like Streaming multiple sessions to the same endpoint, enabling flawless couch co-op, or the ability to use multiple server side GPUs for a single game instance enabling advanced special effects.

Stadia is built on top of familiar developer tools:

Create icon

Unreal Engine

Epic Games’ official support for Stadia means you’ll have access to the latest technology and features of the world’s most powerful creation engine.

Create icon

Unity

Unity is the world’s most widely used real-time 3D development platform, enabling developers to create rich, interactive experiences.

Create icon

Custom tools

A suite of debugging and tuning tools help you get the most out of our platform, from fine-tuning streaming performance to diagnosing GPU crashes

Industry tools

Current dev tools include Havok®, RenderDoc, Visual Studio, LLVM, AMD RadeonTM2 GPU Profiler, IncrediBuild, UmbraTM 3, FaceFX and Intelligent Music Systems, plus we’re constantly expanding to deliver a familiar development experience

For developers interested in getting started with Stadia, you can sign up at Stadia.dev.  For gamers interested in learning more visit Stadia.com for more details.  If you missed the GDC keynote, you can watch our condensed developer focused version in the video below.  We have done a similar treatment for the Unity keynote as well, available here.

GameDev News


post

GAEA from QuadSpinner

GAEA (not to be confused with GAIA for Unity), is a newly released terrain generation tool from QuadSpinner.  They describe GAEA as:

Gaea takes terrain design toe-to-toe with the rest of the CG landscape. Designed with artists and their vision in mind, Gaea brings together advanced toolsets in an easy-to-use package where you can get Hollywood quality results in minutes.

Using either a simple stack of nodes, or a more complex graph of nodes, you can easily compose primitive landscapes, apply millions of years of erosion and other modifiers, mix and match nodes to your hearts content, until you get the perfect terrain for your game.  The ultimate output from GAEA are height maps that can be used in almost any modern 3D game engine.  GAEA is available at a number of different price points, including a completely free but still usable for commercial projects tier.

image

GAEA is available for download on Windows PCs here.  For more details of GAEA, a getting started tutorial or just to see GAIA in action, watch the video below.

Design GameDev News


post

Unity Security Vulnerability Found and Patched

Unity just made the following tweet:

image

Essentially a vulnerability was detected in ALL versions of Unity for ALL versions of the Windows operating system, that enable a hacker to remotely run code by exploiting a security flaw in the Unity editor.  It DOES NOT affect games created with Unity and Mac and Linux users are unaffected.  Applying the patch may result in rebuilding asset bundles when you first open your project after the patch is applied.

The patch was released for all major versions after Unity 5.6, as well as a mitigation tool for people running versions of Unity before Unity 5.6.  Here are the download links for the patches and tools:

You can learn more details about the vulnerability and the corresponding patches/mitigation tool here.   If you are a Unity developer, I highly recommend you apply the patch immediately, especially as details of the exploit become more publically known.

GameDev News


post

Vectary 3.0 Released

Vectary is an online 3D application we covered late last year.  Since that video, Vectary 3.0 has been released with several UI changes, new features and massive changes to their subscription model.  The primary new features of Vectary 3.0 include:

  • An Updated and streamlined user interface
  • New getting started tutorial
  • New deformers (Symmetry, Bend, Array, Boolean, Twist, Stretch, Spherify)
  • New parametric primitive generation.
  • Dark mode option

You can read more about the new features in the Vectary blog.  Perhaps the biggest change to Vectary is the new subscriptions, which are both more limited in the free form and vastly cheaper for the Premium plan.  Details of the new subscription tiers:

image

GameDev News


post

HoloLens 2, Azure Kinect and UE4 Support Announced

Today at MWC 19 in Barcelona, Microsoft announced the second release of their HoloLens augment reality headset.  Costing an eye watering $3,500 or $150/month, the HoloLens is not a mass market or consumer device.  The HoloLens 2 includes improved sensors, a better display, improved ergonomics and more.  The Microsoft blog describes the 3 pillars of HoloLens 2 development:

Immersion is greatly enhanced by advancements across the board, including in the visual display system, making holograms even more vibrant and realistic. We have more than doubled the field of view in HoloLens 2, while maintaining the industry-leading holographic density of 47 pixels per degree of sight. HoloLens 2 contains a new displaySide view of sleek black HoloLens 2 system that enables us to achieve these significant advances in performance at low power. We have also completely refreshed the way you interact with holograms in HoloLens 2. Taking advantage of our new time-of-flight depth sensor, combined with built-in AI and semantic understanding, HoloLens 2 enables direct manipulation of holograms with the same instinctual interactions you’d use with physical objects in the real world. In addition to the improvements in the display engine and direct manipulation of holograms, HoloLens 2 contains eye-tracking sensors that make interacting with holograms even more natural. You can log in with Windows Hello enterprise-grade authentication through iris recognition, making it easy for multiple people to quickly and securely share the device.

Comfort is enhanced by a more balanced center of gravity, the use of light carbon-fiber material and a new mechanism for donning the device without readjusting. We’ve improved the thermal management with new vapor chamber technology and accounted for the wide physiological variability in the size and shape of human heads by designing HoloLens 2 to comfortably adjust and fit almost anyone. The new dial-in fit system makes it comfortable to wear for hours on end, and you can keep your glasses on because HoloLens 2 adapts to you by sliding right over them. When it’s time to step out of mixed reality, flip the visor up and switch tasks in seconds. Together, these enhancements have more than tripled the measured comfort and ergonomics of the device.

Time-to-value is accelerated by Microsoft mixed reality applications like Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, Dynamics 365 Layout and the new Dynamics 365 Guides applications. In addition to the in-box value, our ecosystem of mixed reality partners provides a broad range of offerings built on HoloLens that deliver value across a range of industries and use cases. This partner ecosystem is being supplemented by a new wave of mixed reality entrepreneurs who are realizing the potential of devices like HoloLens 2 and the Azure services that give them the spatial, speech and vision intelligence needed for mixed reality, plus battle-tested cloud services for storage, security and application insights.

Building on the unique capabilities of the original HoloLens, HoloLens 2 is the ultimate intelligent edge device. And when coupled with existing and new Azure services, HoloLens 2 becomes even more capable, right out of the box.

HoloLens 2 will be available this year at a price of $3,500. Bundles including Dynamics 365 Remote Assist start at $125/month. HoloLens 2 will be initially available in the United States, Japan, China, Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Australia and New Zealand. Customers can preorder HoloLens 2 starting today at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/hololens/buy.

In addition to the HoloLens 2, Microsoft also announced the release of Azure Kinect, an updated and more powerful version of the Kinect motion sensor previously bundled with the XBox 360/One. 

The Azure Kinect DK is a developer kit that combines our industry-leading AI sensors in a single device. At its core is the time-of-flight depth sensor we developed for Front and side view of compact silver Azure Kinect DK deviceHoloLens 2, high-def RGB camera and a 7-microphone circular array that will enable development of advanced computer vision and speech solutions with Azure. It enables solutions that don’t just sense but understand the world — people, places, things around it. A good example of such a solution in the healthcare space is Ocuvera, which is using this technology to prevent patients from falling in hospitals. Every year in the U.S. alone, over 1 million hospital patients fall each year, and 11,000 of those falls are fatal. With Azure Kinect, the environmental precursors to a fall can be determined and a nurse notified to get to patients before they fall. Initially available in the U.S. and China, the Azure Kinect DK is available for preorder today at $399. Visit Azure.com/Kinect for more info.

Epic Games were also on-hand to announce Unreal Engine support for the HoloLens 2:

Epic Games today announced that support for Microsoft HoloLens 2 will be coming to Unreal Engine 4 starting in May 2019. The announcement was made during an onstage presentation by Epic Games Founder and CEO Tim Sweeney during the Microsoft keynote at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
This development has been highly anticipated by augmented reality (AR) communities across entertainment, visualization, manufacturing, design, and education. In a future release, Unreal Engine will fully support HoloLens 2 with streaming and native platform integration. Unreal Engine support for HoloLens 1 currently enables streaming to the device.


GameDev News


post

Free Ray Tracing Gems Book

Finishing in hard cover form just in time for GTC 2019, NVidia and APress have team up to author Ray Tracing Gems, a book on real-time raytraced graphics development in the popular “Gems” format.  Even better, they are making digital chapters available as they are developed, free to those with a NVidia developer account (which is also free).  The chapters are distributed under the Creative Commons 4.0 International License and are available for download here.  Unfortunately Part 5 is currently missing and parts 6 and 7 are slated to be published later this week.

Here is the current table of contents from the RealTimeRendering homepage:

  • PART 1: RAY TRACING BASICS, editor: Chris Wyman
    • 1. Ray Tracing Terminology, by Eric Haines and Peter Shirley
    • 2. What is a Ray? by Peter Shirley, Ingo Wald, Tomas Akenine-Möller, and Eric Haines
    • 3. Introduction to DirectX Raytracing, by Chris Wyman and Adam Marrs
    • 4. A Planetarium Dome Master Camera, by John E. Stone
    • 5. Computing Minima and Maxima of Subarrays, by Ingo Wald
  • PART 2: INTERSECTIONS AND EFFICIENCY, editor: Ingo Wald
    • 6. A Fast and Robust Method for Avoiding Self-Intersection, by Carsten Wächter and Nikolaus Binder
    • 7. Precision Improvements for Ray/Sphere Intersection, by Eric Haines, Johannes Günther, and Tomas Akenine-Möller
    • 8. Cool Patches: A Geometric Approach to Ray/Bilinear Patch Intersections, by Alexander Reshetov
    • 9. Multi-Hit Ray Tracing in DXR, by Christiaan Gribble
    • 10. A Simple Load-Balancing Scheme with High Scaling Efficiency, by Dietger van Antwerpen, Daniel Seibert, and Alexander Keller
  • PART 3: REFLECTIONS, REFRACTIONS, AND SHADOWS, editor: Peter Shirley
    • 11. Automatic Handling of Materials in Nested Volumes, by Carsten Wächter and Matthias Raab
    • 12. A Microfacet-Based Shadowing Function to Solve the Bump Terminator Problem, by Alejandro Conty Estevez, Pascal Lecocq, and Clifford Stein
    • 13. Ray Traced Shadows: Maintaining Real-Time Frame Rates, by Jakub Boksansky, Michael Wimmer, and Jiri Bittner
    • 14. Ray-Guided Volumetric Water Caustics in Single Scattering Media with DXR, by Holger Gruen
  • PART 4: SAMPLING, editor: Alexander Keller
    • 15. On the Importance of Sampling, by Matt Pharr
    • 16. Sample Transformations Zoo, by Peter Shirley, Samuli Laine, David Hart, Matt Pharr, Petrik Clarberg, Eric Haines, Matthias Raab, and David Cline
    • 17. Ignoring the Inconvenient When Tracing Rays, by Matt Pharr
    • 18. Importance Sampling of Many Lights on the GPU, by Pierre Moreau and Petrik Clarberg
  • PART 5: DENOISING AND FILTERING, editor: Jacob Munkberg
    • 19. Cinematic Rendering in UE4 with Real-Time Ray Tracing and Denoising, by Edward Liu, Ignacio Llamas, Juan Cañada, and Patrick Kelly
    • 20. Texture Level of Detail Strategies for Real-Time Ray Tracing, by Tomas Akenine-Möller, Jim Nilsson, Magnus Andersson, Colin Barré-Brisebois, Robert Toth, and Tero Karras
    • 21. Simple Environment Map Filtering Using Ray Cones and Ray Differentials, by Tomas Akenine-Möller and Jim Nilsson
    • 22. Improving Temporal Antialiasing with Adaptive Ray Tracing, by Adam Marrs, Josef Spjut, Holger Gruen, Rahul Sathe, and Morgan McGuire
  • PART 6: HYBRID APPROACHES AND SYSTEMS, editor: Morgan McGuire
    • 23. Interactive Light Map and Irradiance Volume Preview in Frostbite, by Diede Apers, Petter Edblom, Charles de Rousiers, and Sébastien Hillaire
    • 24. Real-Time Global Illumination with Photon Mapping, by Niklas Smal and Maksim Aizenshtein
    • 25. Hybrid Rendering for Real-Time Ray Tracing, by Colin Barré-Brisebois, Henrik Halén, Graham Wihlidal, Andrew Lauritzen, Jasper Bekkers, Tomasz Stachowiak, and Johan Andersson
    • 26. Deferred Hybrid Path Tracing, by Thomas Schander, Clemens Musterle, and Stephan Bergmann
    • 27. Interactive Ray Tracing Techniques for High-Fidelity Scientific Visualization, by John E. Stone
  • PART 7: GLOBAL ILLUMINATION, editor: Matt Pharr
    • 28. Ray Tracing Inhomogeneous Volumes, by Matthias Raab
    • 29. Efficient Particle Volume Splatting in a Ray Tracer, by Aaron Knoll, R. Keith Morley, Ingo Wald, Nick Leaf, and Peter Messmer
    • 30. Caustics Using Screen Space Photon Mapping, by Hyuk Kim
    • 31. Variance Reduction via Footprint Estimation in the Presence of Path Reuse, by Johannes Jendersie
    • 32. Accurate Real-Time Specular Reflections with Radiance Caching, by Antti Hirvonen, Atte Seppälä, Maksim Aizenshtein, and Niklas Smal
  • Once compiled the electronic version of the book will remain freely downloadable, although in what formats has yet to be determined.

    GameDev News


    post

    Humble Fantasy GameDev Bundle

    A new game development related Humble Bundle, the Humble Fantasy GameDev Bundle has just gone live.  This bundle consists of thousands of art assets mostly with a fantasy RPG theme.  As always with Humble Bundles, a portion of your proceeds go to the creator, a portion go to the Humble team, a portion goes to charity and a portion can go to support this channel.

    Humble Bundles are always split into pricing tiers, although in this case the content is heavily loaded toward the top price tier of $20 USD.  If you buy the top tier, you get all of the assets below it.  The Fantasy GameDev bundle consists of:

    1$ Tier

    • Potion Icons
    • Game Chest
    • SpellBook Page 01
    • Wooden UI
    • Fantasy Badges
    • RPG Weapons Icons

    17.31$ Tier

    • TCG Card Design
    • Armor Icon Pack
    • Sci-Fi Skill Icon Pack
    • Engineering Craft Icons
    • Loot Icons
    • Fishing Icons
    • Flat Skills Icons
    • Survival Armor Icons
    • Resources Flat Icons
    • Mobs Avatar Icons
    • Character Avatar Icons
    • Magic Badges

    20$ Tier

    • Fantasy Icon Megapack
    • SpellBook Megapack
    • TCG Cards Pack
    • Action RPG Loot
    • Action RPG Armor
    • Fantasy Animate Avatars
    • RPG Class Badges
    • Western Icons
    • GUI Megapack
    • Monster Avatar Icons
    • Fantasy Characters
    • Fairytale Icons Megapack

    The bundle is available here while you can see the contents of the Bundle in the video below.  Unfortunately the license is not clearly stated, however the Humble team made the following tweet:

    image

    GameDev News


    post

    The Future Of The Godot Game Engine

    With the recent release of Godot 3.1 beta, it’s a good time to look at the future.  That is exactly what Juan Linietsky, lead developer on the Godot engine has done.  On Twitter he laid out his current roadmap for development priorities in Godot 4.0/4.1.

    In a pair of tweets, he first discussed general Godot improvements, mostly around the renderer:

    Godot

    Then in a second tweet, he discussed Physics improvements:

    Physics

    Keep in mind, although Juan is the lead and perhaps most important developer on the Godot team, he is by no means the only one.  This means even though you don’t see a feature on the two above lists doesn’t mean it wont happen, as there is a vibrant community of developers adding new features to Godot.

    GameDev News