Bringing AAA quality to Unity

Unity is a great engine with many wonderful features right at your fingertips. But perhaps the best part is that you can enhance it even further with a vast range of awesome plugins!
Today I wanna focus on a couple of plugins that will bring true AAA quality enhancements to Unity. I will only feature plugins that support both, DX and openGL.

So… is it expensive?
It depends.
Most of these plugins are in a higher price range than the average Asset Store add-ons. But considering what they bring to the table and how long it would take to implement these features all by yourself (or pay a team of developers to do it) they are a real bargain.
A lot of these plugins require Unity Pro which costs 1500$, so keep that in mind as well.
Let’s get started.

Amplify Texture
Amplify Texture is a plugin that allows you to use huge (and i mean really huge) textures on your objects.
Instead of being loaded into VRAM all the textures you use in your game will be added to a big virtual texture which is optimized for streaming. The plugin will then only render those parts of the textures that are visible to the camera.
Since Amplify Texture handles the image files you use in your game, you are not restricted to Unity’s 4096×4096 size limit anymore. This way you can achieve a higher detail level on your objects with just one texture instead of using multiple textures and materials – which, on the other hand, will reduce drawcalls as well.
Another great side-effect that comes with the streaming technology is that transitions between texture details are much smoother than with Unity’s mipmaps.

Amplify Texture

Amplify Texture (upcoming version 2) costs 400$ and you can get it from the Amplify website.
There is a trial version without any limitations as well, so go and see for yourself. It’s an awesome technology!

dynamic GI
Realtime global illumination is a AAA feature which is missing in Unity. Thanks to visual effects developer Chris Kahler the days of unnatural-lighted-scenes are over.
dynamic GI is based on the voxel cone tracing technique and looks really promising! The plugin is pretty new so there are a couple of things that need to be optimized, but Chris is working hard on it and adds feature after feature.
The most important thing: an openGL version of the plugin will be available soon! That means it will work on other systems than Windows as well. Supporting multiple platforms is important nowadays … who wants to be Windows-only?

dynamicGI

dynamic GI is available at the Asset Store for 90.25$.
You probably should wait until the promised openGL support is available though.

Amplify Color
Another awesome plugin by Amplify is Amplify Color. It allows you to do color grading in 3rd party applications like Photoshop and apply it to your game as an image effect.
I can’t stress enough how much a good color grading enhances the look of a game so you should definitely give this a try.

amplifycolorAmplify Color costs 50$.
You can download a trial version from the Amplify website or buy it at the Asset Store.

Relief Terrain Pack v3
3 weeks ago we wrote an article on How to create awesome terrains with Unity. Now there is a new version of Tomasz Stobierski’s Relief Terrain Pack out which can be easily added to the workflow.
The plugin includes additional features like dynamic snow and a water system.

RTP3You can get RTP3 for 70$ at the Asset Store!

Amplify Motion
I know… another Amplify plugin. But these guys really have the best plugins for Unity out there. Amplify Motion is a motion blur plugin which is vector based and far superior to Unity’s build-in motion blur image effect.
A good motion blur solution is an important ingredient to a AAA-looking game, and Amplify does it best.

amplifymotionAgain, Amplify offers an unlimited trial version on their website.
You can buy Amplify Motion for 50$ at the Asset Store.

Shader Forge
First off, Shader Forge isn’t out yet. But it’s something you should have a close eye on. Writing shaders in Unity can be a bit of a hassle, but Shader Forge attempts to address this with a visual node based editor.

shaderforgeYou can follow the development of Shader Forge in the Unity forums!

If you know any more AAA-ish plugins for Unity please let us know in the comment section or write us a message on Twitter!

Ronald Soelkner

About Ronald Soelkner

Game designer at BitsAlive Follow us on Twitter: @bitsalive

6 Thoughts on “Bringing AAA quality to Unity

  1. Nice list, and thanks for mentioning my Shader Forge :)
    I’m hoping I can bring AAA quality to Unity as well, especially now that I just implemented physically based lighting in SF, which looks much better than traditional specular models!
    Animated gif:
    http://www.acegikmo.com/shaderforge/images/Misc/Animated/shaderforge_conserving.gif

    • Thanks! Glad you like it!
      I stumbled over your thread on the Unity forums. Shader Forge looks really awesome. This is exactly what’s missing in Unity. Shaders are important and the node based approach is wonderful. Not every artist knows how to program shaders, so this will definitely help them to create better looking games.

      • Hey Ronald,
        This bit of info is exactly what I was looking for…to take it one step further, I’d like to see which AAA packages work well together. Do all of these packages you listed work together? If not, have you discovered workarounds to get the best of all packages? These are the kind of questions I’d like to see more answers to within the forums as well…as it takes an exhausting amount of time to research and attempt ‘piece’ all of the needed packages together with varied results…

        For instance, how will Shader Forge work with Amplify Texture?

        Thanks for the great article!

        • Hi George!

          Glad you like the post!
          Well, most of the mentioned packages work together just fine.
          Amplify Color and Amplify Motion are image effects which you add to your camera where they do their magic.
          They work independently from shaders.

          If you wanna use Shader Forge with Amplify Texture, you have to a bit of extra work (i don’t know if they support it natively now).
          Amplify Texture uses it’s own technology for texture streaming so you need to modify other shaders you wanna use with AT by changing some lines in the code.
          There are is an example in the Amplify documentation.

          Same goes for the Relief Terrain Pack 3. They all use special shaders to do their work and need to be converted.

          Still, you can also mix the shaders packages. You could do your terrain with RTP3 and use the built in Amplify Texture shaders for your props as an example.

          Anyway… a lot of the developers are in contact with each other and try to support each other’s product natively.
          Amplify Texture 2 should be out as developer preview somewhen this month.
          It’s in their interest to be compatible with their products and can profit from each others technology.

          You can always email them or follow them on Twitter!
          ALL of them are really nice guys and have an open ear for customer requirements.
          There is a lot of useful information in the Unity forums as well.

          Please feel free to get in touch with us if you need more info on how we use these products!
          Hope i was able to help!

  2. Great list, there are some jewels out there. Unity must have one of the best asset eco systems around!

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