Unity Asset Store Finds: Vegetation Studio

Diary of an Indie Game Developer: Chapter 40

In its current incarnation (version 2018.2), Unity’s terrain system is less than ideal. Its biggest problem, in my opinion, is performance. If your terrain is large, and you have lots of trees, grass, etc., it’s slooooooooooooooooow.

That’s not to say that you can’t make amazing things with Unity’s terrain system. Just take a look at Unity’s Book of The Dead demo:

According to the Unity blog, they used the existing terrain system on that demo:

When the trailer was released, we saw comments that there’s no way we use the legacy terrain system. But that’s exactly what we use

Nevertheless, Unity seems well aware that their terrain system needs an upgrade, and apparently, that upgrade is coming in the next Unity release (version 2018.3). There’s a lot of new tech coming in the upgrade, but I’m most excited about the performance improvements:

On the performance side, we added a GPU-instanced render path for terrain. In most cases, instancing yields a dramatic reduction in the number of draw calls issued. Many of our tests saw more than a 50% reduction in CPU costs (though, of course, actual numbers will depend on your platform and use case).

That should really help with the performance of the terrain mesh itself, but as far as I can tell, that doesn’t address the performance problems resulting from lots of vegetation. That’s where this week’s Asset Store find comes in: Vegetation Studio:

Vegetation Studio uses GPU instancing for vegetation, and the results are simply amazing. I’ve been testing Vegetation Studio a lot this week, and the performance I’ve seen with it has blown me away. Keep in mind that my target platform is high-end mobile, so getting performant terrain is inherently difficult.

Bottom line: If you’re working with terrain in Unity, you should really consider using Vegetation Studio. As the developer Lennart Johansen says:

With Vegetation Studio you can use denser vegetation on much larger terrains than before. Visible range, not terrain size, will limit your performance.

Two very solid thumbs up!

Now that the holidays are upon us in full force, my schedule is becoming very hectic. For the next few weeks, posting regularly will be pretty tough, so I’ve decided to take a little break from the blog. I promise to get back to my weekly posting schedule shortly after New Years. Until then, I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

See you soon…