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Substance materials: native support deprecated in Unity 2017.3

Discussion in 'General' started by Lex4art, Nov 29, 2017.

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  1. Lex4art

    By:Lex4artNov 29, 2017
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    https://forum.unity.com/threads/sub...port-for-substance-designer-materials.506684/ - using them will be possible via free Substance plug-in (from their site in "Downloads" section) but with limitations it seems: no free materials from Substance Share and no your own materials; this plug-in allows only those materials from huge Substance Source library.

    But you can always bake all existing substances to common textures via free Substance Player and use them with Standard Unity shader as all other textures...

    Be prepared! )

    Upd: maybe it's not so scary after all, old *.sbar files may continue working, just with requirement of that Substance plug-in to be installed first... will see.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2017
  2. Adam

    By:AdamNov 29, 2017
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    Yeah, we're seeing this as well - there's both good and bad news here.

    Good news: we'll integrate the plugin, and hopefully there's no feature loss at all. It also means that we'll be using the latest Substance renderers; which means GPU generation and 4/8K textures (yay!)

    Bad news: Something might break
     
  3. Trilo

    By:TriloDec 3, 2017
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    I think you're confusing the plugins and falling for fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Allegorithmic makes a couple free existing plugins for Unity. The first is the Live Link (Mac/Win), which allows for easy round-tripping between Unity & Substance. The other is the recently released Substance Source plugin (Win only), which allows for a seamless way for Substance subscribers to grab additional materials for a project from Substance Source. As such, it can't be used to grab substances from other sites such as Substance Share, Gametextures.com, or anywhere else.

    The end of "native" substance support is ending with 2017.3. I'm using quotes there because it was never actually native to begin with. A bundle of code was written by Allegorithmic and provided to Unity, and then they would plug it into Unity. Historically, Unity did it badly, and they were incredibly slow to incorporate changes and updates from Allegorithmic. Case in point is support for Substance Designer 6+ materials - Allegorithmic delivered that code to Unity back in April, and Unity didn't add it until mid-way through the 2017.2 cycle. It finally saw release several months later, and inexplicably still doesn't allow for 4K/8K substances.

    Beginning with the 2018 cycle, Allegorithmic will take control of their own destiny on substances in Unity. That means that if they drop a new version of Substance Designer or somehow enhance what can be done within the confines of an .sbsar file, they can release an update on the same day for Unity support (like they are able to do with Unreal Engine). I've been talking with Allegorithmic about this for months, and as far as I'm aware they have no plans for the yet-to-be-released plugin to somehow only allow Substances that are downloaded from Substance Source.

    While I don't use Unreal Engine, I know others that do and have not heard that the substance plugin for Unreal somehow restricts substance support to .sbsar's downloaded from Source, or in any way requires a current/active license to Substance.

    As I see it, the upside is better support (including potentially 4K/8K) and faster fixes when something breaks (they don't have to wait for Unity to fold it into a future update of the editor), the downside is that we'll have another asset/plugin to download and keep up with. Small price to pay, if you ask me.
     
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  4. Adam

    By:AdamDec 4, 2017
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    The plugin stuff is potentially a little scary - right now, Unity has very well integrated support internally (excluding various issues with it being out of date) - moving to a plugin does risk the workflow we enjoy today breaking - Unity does not expose much in the way of APIs for creating and managing custom file formats right now. I am hoping as this plugin is released, Unity have added that necessary custom file format support (feature list for 2018.1 isn't published yet). I am not sure how Allegorithmic is getting around that yet - but I am sure they are working with Unity on this transition.

    The big thing I'm worried about is that we lose a lot of the perks of being able to "just use them" like a normal texture and Unity takes care of the procedural generation in the back end. Substances are one of the coolest things Unity supports, so I want to make sure their support is first class (which hopefully the plugin does bring). That's the thing I'd watch out for - and hopefully it will just be a case of 'grab the plugin and go.'
     
  5. Adam

    By:AdamDec 4, 2017
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    Actually... duh. I realised. Unity added CustomTexture support in 2017.1; Allegorithmic is probably hacking something up using that.
     
  6. Trilo

    By:TriloDec 5, 2017
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    with a high percentage of games relying pretty heavily on the substance ecosystem, Unity has a pretty vested interest in making sure the handoff goes smoothly. They also have not been rushing things (Allegorithmic has been talking about this since the soring). This move is largely is intended to help make substances work as well and have support that’s as good as developers have things with Unreal engine (where Allegorithmic has been doing things via plugin for a while).

    It’s worth pointing out that as things have been, substances,have not worked right in SineSpace. I’ve got a number of materials that came directly from Allegorithmic’s site that are not Substwnce Designer 6+ and work fine in The Unity editor, but if used in a region cause the client to crash on region load. I first reported that problem at the beginning of the year and have been experiencing it sporadically on other regions since (as recently as last week), I’ve never heard anything back beyond being told it will be investigated.
     
  7. Adam

    By:AdamDec 5, 2017
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    Yeah, I suspect if they're both talking about taking this slowly and have spent the year on the transition, then it'll be done well.

    My only concern is it requires features that Unity haven't exposed to the public to do this properly. Given it's going through the asset store - it's got to have those. So fingers cross the support is a bit more robust.

    Re: substance errors - a lot of that is bubbling up from Unity itself (we don't do anything special, except if using the 'Do Not Load' trick), which makes it somewhat hard to investigate. We've reported them onwards, but I think we're just expected to update to fix it.