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Unity Guide

Bringing your game to a AAA status through post-processing in Unity

A guide about post-processing effects in Unity to bring your game to a AAA status

Objective: Use post-processing effects in Unity to upgrade the look of a space shooter game in Unity.

In my last post I covered how to start using post-processing in Unity. Now it’s time to make my space shooter game look better using some post-processing effects.

Post-processing effects

Ambient Occlusion

Ambient occlusion provides a way to set realistic shades with the respective lights in a game. This effect is intended to be used in 3D environments, so I won’t use it in my space shooter game. Here are the properties that can be enabled in the component:

Adding the Ambient Occlusion effect to the Post-process Volume component.

If you want to know more about this post-processing effect you can visit the Unity documentation:

Anti-aliasing

Anti-aliasing provides a way to soften the edges of your scene to make them look smoother. There are 3 modes of anti-aliasing in Unity:

  • Fast Approximate Anti-aliasing (FXAA)

It’s commonly used for mobile and console games.

  • Subpixel Morphological Anti-aliasing (SMAA)

It’s commonly used for console games.

  • Temporal Anti-aliasing (TAA)

It’s commonly used for desktop and console games.

I’ll probably use the FXAA as I’ll be launching the game for a mobile platform.

If you want to know more about this post-processing effect you can visit the Unity documentation:

Auto Exposure

Auto exposure provides a way to adjust in different brightness configurations of a game in real-time. It’s similar to the effect that an eye or a digital camera do when the light levels change.

This effect is commonly used in games with light changes while the camera is moving, but in my space shooter game the camera is static (for now) so I won’t use it at the moment.

When modifying the auto exposure properties we can see how it affects the look on the lights.

If you want to know more about this post-processing effect you can visit the Unity documentation:

Bloom

Bloom provides a way to display certain glow in the bright areas of your game. It’s similar to the effect that a digital camera gets when it’s pointing at an overwhelming light.

Bloom can also provide dirtiness feature, which diffract the Bloom effect using textures. An example of dirtiness could be a light being recorded with a digital camera in the rain so that the lens display a water refraction effect.

I’ll probably use the Bloom effect in my space shooter game to make it look brighter using another HDR color with more intensity.

Using the Bloom effect with a different color with more intensity like green makes the game look futuristic.

If you want to know more about this post-processing effect you can visit the Unity documentation:

Chromatic Aberration

Chromatic aberration provides a way to split color in the RGB channels along the limits of the image. It-s similar to the effect that a camera produces when a light refracts and disperses the wavelengths in the lens.

You can also select to use a different texture to define the colors used to split the colors in the limits of the image.

I’ll probably use the chromatic aberration effect in my space shooter game to make the initial or final transition of the player in the space.

The chromatic aberration effect makes my spaceship look faster.

If you want to know more about this post-processing effect you can visit the Unity documentation:

Color Grading

Color grading provides a way to modify the color and luminance of the image in your game. You can use this to modify your game like in Photoshop or any other edition software.

There are 3 modes to use in color grading:

  • Low Definition Range (LDR):

It’s commonly used for lower-end platforms like mobile or console.

  • High Definition Range (HDR):

It’s commonly used for platforms that support HDR rendering.

  • External:

It’s used with custom 3D Look Up Tables (LUTs) from external softwares.

Adding the Color Grading effect.

In this case, I’ll choose to use HDR to make the game look better, but as you can see, this message appears:

So, in order to change my color space to be linear I need to:

  • Open the build settings
  • Open the player settings
  • Select a different color space in other settings

And now I can start modifying the properties of the color grading effect to change the look and feel of my space shooter game:

If you want to know more about this post-processing effect you can visit the Unity documentation:

Depth of Field

Depth of Field provides a way to blur the background of your game while the objects in the foreground stay focused. It’s similar to the focal properties of a camera lens.

As my 2D space shooter game is using sprites, the depth of field effect will apply to all the sprites and it won’t implement the effect as expected. That should be implemented using shaders rather than using this effect, therefore I won’t use it.

The depth of field effect applies to almost all the sprites in my scene (UIs are the exception).

If you want to know more about this post-processing effect you can visit the Unity documentation:

Grain

Grain provides a way to apply film noise into your image. It’s similar to the effect that cameras produce when small particles in the film give the image a an unprocessed look.

As the grain effect makes a game look kinda old with that film noise I decided that I won’t use it for my space shooter game.

If you want to know more about this post-processing effect you can visit the Unity documentation:

Lens Distortion

Lens distortion provides a way to simulate distortion in your game. It’s similar to the effect produced by the shape of a camera lens.

I could use this effect to make my spaceship get inside or outside the scene, like a lightspeed jump or similar.

If you want to know more about this post-processing effect you can visit the Unity documentation:

Motion Blur

Motion blur provides a way to blur your game according to the direction of the camera in real-time. It’s similar to the blur effect that a camera creates when it moves faster than another object recorded or vice versa.

As my space shooter game uses a static camera I decided to don’t use this effect.

If you want to know more about this post-processing effect you can visit the Unity documentation:

Screen Space Reflections

Screen space reflections provide a way to create realistic reflections similar to wet floor surfaces or puddles.

As it’s intended to be used in 3D games with wet floor surfaces or puddles, I won’t use it in my space shooter game.

If you want to know more about this post-processing effect you can visit the Unity documentation:

Vignette

Vignette provides a way to darken the edges of your game. It’s similar to the effect that a camera lens produces when it uses stacked filters. It’s effective to center the attention of the game.

A good example of using this effect is when a player enters a cave or a closed space that doesn’t provides too much light in a game. I probably won’t use this effect in my space shooter game unless I need to bring attention to the player at the center of the image.

If you want to know more about this post-processing effect you can visit the Unity documentation:

New look

I could use some of the effects from above to bring my game from this:

To this:

And that’s it, you can use some post-processing effects to bring your game into the next level in Unity! :D. I’ll see you in the next post, where I’ll be showing how to start using sounds in Unity.

If you want to know more about me, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or visit my website :D

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Fernando Alcantara Santana

Fernando Alcantara Santana

A passionate computer technology engineer and Unity developer that is always looking to grow in every aspect of life :).

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