We are overjoyed to announce that Version 3 of our Alloy Physical Shader Framework is now released! If you’d like to review the features overview, it can be found here (the previous Alloy blog post also has a few illustrated highlights). And if you’d like to join the discussion, or ask any questions about the new system, come by our Unity Forum Thread.
We Have Rebuilt It, We Had The Technology (and time)
It’s rare that one gets the opportunity with a system to start from scratch. Luckily the changes between Unity 4 and 5 were such that it made the most sense to begin Alloy 3’s development with a full rewrite, and reconsideration of structure and workflow.
Our goal with Alloy 3 has been to provide the maximum power and flexibility with the minimum of fuss. The Unity 5 standard shader was most certainly a step in the right direction in terms of conditionally enabling features only when they’re needed. We decided early on to try to extend this concept as far as possible, by providing a clean and well organized custom shader inspector that allows you to easily add and subtract whole groups of properties which constitute a feature (such as masked animated emission, or parallax occlusion mapping) with an economy of clicks. A separate shader was created only when the required feature-set varied so heavily from the core that it couldn’t be modularized as an add-on. What this means is that most shaders in the set have somewhere between 5 and 20 thousand possible variations, but this massive permutation space never becomes onerous to manage as a user.
Where we did choose to break functionality out into its own dedicated shader, we have endeavored to ensure that the given shader covers a clear use-case that can’t be approximated by existing combinations. Our ‘specialist’ set has greatly expanded, from various multi-material blend shaders geared towards environment art, to a full character suite containing skin, hair and eyes, to vfx options for material transformation and complex particle effects.
I should mention at this point, that we are far from finished with Alloy, and have plans both for further expansions and companion products in the form of content and new systems. Granted, we might need to take a month-long nap first… Nah, who am I kidding. We’re all workaholics here at Team-Alloy *dies*.
As GDC 2015 is now upon us, we’ll be posting to this blog each day of the conference, covering incredible projects being shown at GDC using Alloy, Allegorithmic Substance Pipelines, shots and links to demos, and some exciting announcements!
If you’re at GDC right now, and would like an in-person demo, or to just chat about PBR in Unity, shoot me a tweet at @AntonHand !
Lastly, I’d like to publicly thank all the incredible folks who’ve been a part of Alloy 3’s development over the past six months! The product as it stands now wouldn’t have been possible without your passion, sage advice, patience, and generosity. What Alloy has become is as much a statement of the vibrancy of the community of Unity practitioners. I see nothing but bright and shiny things to come. So without further ado:
Our Deepest Thanks To:
And the incredibly supportive team at the Unity Asset Store
And the wizards at Unity Technologies
And the rest of the (likely quite tired) folks at Camouflaj
And the furious frenchmen at Allegorithmic
And all of the independent artists who’ve welcomed Alloy and us into their practice.
And lastly, the whole RUST family, for supporting us through this adventure.