Asset Store In-Depth: #5
Published: Jun 21, 2012
Friendly greetings from the Unity Asset Store
Check out our summer Hot Deals—popular assets on sale until July 23. Plus: get started with Antares Universe, spotlights on a selection of great assets and read an interview with Steve Finney of Arteria 3D
Summer Hot Deals
Take a look at our latest selection of 15 newly discounted assets! Until July 23, prices are slashed by 50% or more on some of our top-selling packages, including Playmaker, UniStorm, Alien Plants and Hard Surface Shaders Pro! You’ll find the complete Allegorithmic Substance Database at the mind-blowing low price of just $950 (normally $3990). There’s the great road-creation and parametric modeling tool EasyRoads3D Pro for only $45. You’ll also find great deals on Super Splines Pro, the awesome Any Game Prototype Animation Pack from Mixamo, Audiomicro’s Guns, Explosions, Impacts sound effects, MonoSQLite, SimplePath and a lot more!
by Bruno Rime
Hard Surface Shaders Pro is a professional surface shader package featuring real-time screen-space reflections and refractions. Use this awesome asset to add a glassy level of realism to your models. Your creations will shine! Features include fresnel and metallic reflections property, non additive reflection algorithm, chromatic aberration, draw order priority, cut out variations, and multiple shadows in forward lighting.
If you've ever wanted to create 2D animations in a game without using 3rd party modeling tools, then Smooth Moves is the answer for you! Quickly set up your atlases and animations in minutes and instantly see your creations working in Unity instantly. Smooth Moves is intuitive, yet powerful enough to realize complex animations. You can also play traditional sprite animations within a skeletal skinned mesh for even more flexibility! Check out the great video tutorials at echo17.com today!
By Mixamo Vendors
The cool cats at Mixamo have extended their well-known, innovative 3D character animation service by offering a wide range of high-quality, fully rigged character models on the Asset Store, all of which work perfectly with the great animations from the Mixamo Animation Store! Listed under the brand Mixamo Vendors, this growing collection of characters is sure to have something to give your 3D game extra personality. Their collection contains some brilliant base characters to build off as well as plenty of other casual, business and more adventure styled characters. Stay tuned as Mixamo will be adding new characters each month.
By Andrey Paramonox of NeoPax
Antares Universe, from NeoPax, is one of the most popular node-based logic editors on the Asset Store. Easy-to-use, yet incredibly powerful, Antares Universe appeals to both beginners and advanced users. If you’re familiar with logic editing in VirTools(R) you will feel especially at ease with Antares Universe. To get you going, we’d like to introduce you to the basic concepts of this powerful tool. We have both a free and paid version of Antares Universe. Both are quite powerful, with only a few features excluded from the free version, namely the fluid surfaces and mesh morphing systems. If you haven’t already got Antares Universe, grab a copy from the Asset Store. Either version will work fine with this tutorial.
Steve Finney of Arteria3D shares his secrets!
Arteria3D, aka Steve Finney, is an Asset Store success story with several top-selling high-quality 3D models. His catalog includes environments and characters, as well as original soundtracks. Steve was kind enough to sit down and talk with us about his experience and philosophy as a 3D artist, game musician and brilliant Asset Store publisher. Have a look, and when you’re done, check out some of Arteria3D’s creations!
Tell us about you, your creative passions and history.
Originally, I came from a background in professional music - having been a musician in the UK Dance scene - genres such as House, Trance and Drum & Bass. In 2005-6 when internet speeds increased dramatically (in the UK), the niche market of releasing vinyl for djs diminished almost overnight, with most of the labels and distributors ceasing to exist, thus as a working musician within this field, it was important for me to look at some other source of income.
Just prior to this period, I picked up a 3D game engine in a local computer store and started to tinker about. As a kid (41 now), my teenage years were devoted to my Amstrad CPC and Spectrum, and learning how to make 2D art. I was very inspired by Laser Basic (some people will remember this!) released by Ocean Software. This allowed me to create sprite art and put it into simple game logic... I loved it! I was inspired by games such as Knight Lore. This rekindled my love of 2D games from back when I was younger, and set me on a mission!
I started with a product called DeleD, learning how to model in 3D, fusing my passion of medieval surroundings, and attempting to create them in 3D. I'm lucky living in the UK, as all around me are historical buildings, ruins etc.
I also enjoy Sci Fi, and the first pack I set out to create was a basic Sci Fi abandoned ship pack, with a simple interior. I also created a handful of music packs. I decided to release my work to the public by way of the first website I created. In 2006 I started Arteria3D. I've always been known as Arteria, but back then, I used the more generic Arteria-gaming name for the store.
The emphasis was the release of music packs at first. I worked on Medieval, Sci Fi, and Action themes to provide various musical elements and tracks that people could use to enhance their game world. Adding sonic ear candy is important in games! Around the same time, I also released my Sci Fi 3D pack. I’ll never forget my first sale, it was such an incredible feeling - knowing that people started to value what I created!
One of the most interesting aspects of my work is the creative process. I don't come from a traditional arts background - with pencil and paper I can shape something decent based on real-life buildings etc, but by no way can I draw and create concept art - something I think that sets me apart from most 3D artists. However, shaping objects in 3D, and painting characters in real time is something different from drawing on paper.
Tell us about your products, their inspiration, why you decided to make them.
Product wise, due to my passion for historical buildings, Arteria3D over the years has been a haven for anything medieval, but gradually I've moved into other areas such as modern day with my shanty and urban sets. Sci Fi is something I definitely want to explore further.
The workflow of my medieval projects is always based in the real world too - I have visited many historical sites over the past few years in the UK and have taken thousands of pictures. I then base my work on these buildings, either creating ruined scenes, or taking them back to how they looked in their specific era - I’m a photorealistic modeller too, so I use a Canon SLR to take photographs of stone walls, fences, half timbre etc, that I then use with some modification and apply to my buildings.
What do you like about Unity?
I should be a salesman for Unity! Ha! Unity, without a doubt, cemented my ideas into reality. Just over 3.5 years ago when I started using Unity, in my opinion there was no engine out there, that had the toolsets to make 3D scenes intuitively with a high artistic flare - I found that I didn't have to understand how to set materials up to a high degree, apply settings etc - it just worked so much more easily for the artist. Like anything there is always the advanced side you can get into, but for the element of adding meshes to the scene, on a terrain, painting landscape features, then applying a directional sunlight - no other engine came close! It was with Unity that I made my first downloadable level - The Medieval Worldbuilder Pack. I got so involved in that project, adding so much fine detail, I felt sometimes I lived in this virtual world whilst I was creating it! To this day I still use Unity for my environment scenes, to lay out, and promote my packs - and I always mention Unity to my customers!
How did you hear about the Asset Store?
As I was a regular forum viewer at Unity3d.com, I heard about the Asset Store through the forums.
What role does the Asset Store play in your life as a middleware developer and game designer?
I've recently started adding quite a few packs to the store, and I think it’s really a one stop shop for people designing games and applications. From what I see on the store now, anything you could think of to add to your game can be purchased there!
Do you have any advice for developers who might use your tools?
I think the most important thing is the mind's eye - looking at buildings, character costumes etc, and seeing what holds them together - examining the detail - thus forming this object in the mind, and then relaying it visually on the computer screen.
Another thing which is interesting is my use of tools. Most people assume artists always use Max, Maya etc - I don't! I’ve used a 3D program called Hexagon 2 ever since my early modelling days. Personally I wouldn't use anything else for modelling, as its toolset is really intuitive to use. I do however use Softimage for the animation stage, but also use a very inexpensive app called Fragmotion for lots of animation timeline duties.
My workflow is primarily this: I create the 3D object in Hexagon then unwrap the model in Unwrap3D (a very inexpensive UV program). If it is a character, I will then put this into 3D Coat (a 3D realtime paint program), bake in ambient occlusion, then paint a combination of real photograph textures and hand-drawn elements over the model.
Advice wise, I’d like to say, never be put off. Don't frown on your artistic abilities. I had very little skill in the 3D area seven years ago. I remember once my eldest daughter asked if would I be making 3D characters or learn how to create them. I just smiled, and replied, “I could never make them!!” Now, seven years later I have over 30 characters on the website! Always keep an open mind, and if you're willing to put in the time and effort, your art ideas can be realised.
What can Unity developers look towards in the future from your company?
Recently I started to develop the BASE CHARACTER PROJECTS - This provides a customisable base character for specific game styles. Already having released the Medieval Male, Sci Fi Male and Modern Day Male. Shortly these will be expanded with female releases of these packs, plus other packs in this style such as Zombie, and Steampunk. Also more Sci Fi based products will be released in the way of a base ship pack with a connectable customizable interior - also a new Medieval City pack which is going to be very special!
What is your vision for the future of creativity in game development?
Such a hard question to answer! The future is wide open, with technology advancing so fast. Creatively even at this point we have so many tools available to use - we can even do cheap low cost motion capture ourselves now! As technological advances become more widely available, with quality increasing, anything is possible.
An Introduction to the basics of Antares Universe
By Andrey Paramonox of NeoPax
Exploring the Interface
Once you’ve downloaded and installed Antares Universe, you’ll notice that a new section called “Antares” has been added to the default menu panel. There are a couple of different options. Let’s have a closer look at each. First, let’s have a look at the Create, Open and Add menu items. We’ll skip Wizards for now.
Create.This will instantiate a GameObject with a new empty Visual Node automatically attached to it.
Open/Add.If the object that is currently selected in Scene View contains a Visual Node, this node will be opened in the Universe Editor. Otherwise, you’ll be given a number of other choices...
Add.Adds a new node the the selected object. Create New.Works the same as Create (above). Open Last.Opens the node of a previously opened project.
Creating Your First Node
Before we get started laying out Logic Blocks in Antares Universe, let’s first touch on creating nodes. It couldn’t be simpler.
- Add a cube to an empty scene.
- Select it in the hierarchy pane.
- Open the Antares/Universe menu and choose Open/Add> Add
- Save your scene.
Now, let’s close the Antares Universe window and see how quickly we will be able to open the existing Node or delete it from the object. First, you’ll note that the Universe icon now appears beside the object with our Node in the hierarchy pane. Simply click the icon and the Universe Editor will open. You now should see the CustomEditor Node in the object’s Inspector.
Antares Universe provides visual programming based on Logic Blocks. Logic Blocks execute chains of micro commands allowing the user to build the necessary logic for the application. All blocks have four parts in common:
Input variables feed data into the Block. In order to send an output value of one Block into another Block you just need to click and drag the output variable of the first Block and feed it to the input variable of the second Block. Variable values are accessible through the Blocks Inspector and can also be opened in the Work Field of the Node. If you choose a variable by clicking RMB, the variable inspector window will open. The variable inspector provides a quick access to lists of Blocks that implement getting/receiving variable properties and also to Blocks that process the given variable type.
As you have probably guessed, OUT Variables, or output variables, provide access to values that are returned by the Block after it finished to execute.
IN Triggers are an incoming signal which simply launches the execution of the Block when activated. This provides a simple and intuitive means of starting each Block’s logic. These are called by OUT Triggers, below.
OUT Triggers of Blocks are activated when the Block has finished its execution. Sometimes this can be Triggers called TRUE or FALSE – which are activated depending on the execution result of the Block. They also can have other names that tell the user about the execution result of the Blocks and give the ability to execute the corresponding chain of Logic Blocks.
Additionally, you can add Custom Triggers if a Block includes a “+” button. Custom triggers are useful when you want to continue to execute code by several sequential logic chains. If the Block has Custom Triggers, then all of them will fire in a sequential order from the first Trigger to the last one (from top to bottom).
Logic Blocks Inspector
The Blocks Inspector is located in the lower part of the Work Area of the Antares Universe Editor. It can be dragged to the comfortable height or detached into a separate window. The Inspector is divided into four parts :
ParametersIN-displays values of input variables
ParametersOUT-displays values of output variables
ConvertTo-lists associated Blocks for quick conversion of one block to another
Description-description or code of executed code method
Groups of Blocks
There’s a list of Block Groups on the right side of Universe Editor:
Activators-Blocks of predefined events in Unity’s core. Read more about the execution order of Activators here.
Animation-additional Blocks for working with Unity Engine Animation object.
Boolean-Blocks for working with bool Variables.
Collection-Blocks for working with List
Containers-this group is automatically populated with all created Containers (you can read more about Containers here)
FSM-Blocks for working with FiniteStateMachine. All Activators can also be found here, but they activate only if the attached FSMstate is active.
Iterators-Blocks that implement going through arrays.
LOD-Blocks that implement an alternative mechanism of LevelofDetail.
Markers- supplementary Blocks that allow placing different markers in the Work Area of Universe Editor. Markers are used for quick navigation in complex Nodes and for ”sticky notes”.
Math- a group of Blocks that implement various mathematical operations.
Messaging-Blocks for sending and receiving Universe Messages and also Unity Engine Messages.
SmartBlocks-all Blocks created by the user are automatically placed here (You can find out more about Smart Blocks here.)
String-a large group of Blocks for working with strings.
UnityEngine-the biggest group that contains all methods of UnityEngine
Variables-a group of Blocks for working with LocalVariables. LocalVariables exist to output data from the Node into Unity’s Inspector.
VIZIO-This group contains a great amount of supplementary methods that are missing (or lack usability) in Unity Engine.
VT-a group of Blocks that copy functionality of blocks in Virtools Engine (3DVIA Virtools).
Wizards-a group of Blocks that can be used to compensate for almost any functionality that is not implemented in previous groups (More about Wizards here).
Workflow-a special group of Blocks that make it easier to work with Universe.
If you’d like to search for a given block, type the Block’s name into the search field in the top right corner of Universe. To save time, you can use «quick access window» when you click RMB on the Work Area of Universe Editor and enter a part of the Block’s name into the search field.
Earlier, we created a cube with an empty node on it. Now let’s make the cube rotate when the mouse cursor is over it. Using the tools described above, try re-creating the graph below using Logic Blocks and connections. Press play in Unity and your cube should spin whenever you bring the mouse over it.
This is just a simple example of the intuitive visual Antares Universe workflow. You’ll find great documentation included with the Antares Universe download from the Asset Store, as well as examples from the Antares Universe website. If you would like to learn more or have questions specific to Antares Universe, you’ll find a wide and supportive community on the Antares Universe community forum page.