We’ve been working up quite a storm! As promised earlier this year, Clouds are beginning to roll in for developers over multiple releases and into the next year as part of a multi-phase series of features to enable more Dynamic Skies.
The initial release has a very simple, minimalist API that we’re calling Phase 1a. Don’t let that rain on your parade, we have lots planned for Clouds and Dynamic Skies! Here’s a look at what’s in store:
Phase 1a has Clouds integrate with the Sky object, and optionally act in composition with the Atmosphere object.
Phase 1b is in progress now and aims to gather performance stats, bugs reports, and feature requests from developers, iterating based on that feedback.
Phase 1c will offer an alternative for completely physically based Clouds and Atmosphere without a need for the Sky object’s skybox cubemap textures, aiming towards better ultimate realism. Current Sky controls will remain for various skybox use cases.
In all stages of Phase 1, wind has a suitable fixed default motion and a preset animated cloud motion is released for this early ‘open beta’ phase.
Phases 2 and 3 will extend features to allow flying through and above clouds, with further lighting improvements and controls for cloud types and shapes.
With that mini-roadmap out of the way, let’s take a look at what’s included in Phase 1a, which will launch next week as a beta feature!
The Clouds object appears in Studio under the Workspace service. The Clouds object contains a collection of clouds across the sky. Initially, only one Clouds object is rendered to cover the whole sky.
Here are the properties of the Clouds object:
Cover [0-1] is the fraction of cloud cover over the space occupied by clouds. This is a scaled version of the meteorological cloud cover measurement using oktas, ranging from 0 to 1 instead of 0 to 8.
Density [0-1] is the intensity of the particles making up each cloud. This mainly affects the transparency of the clouds’ medium. Lower values give light appearance and high values bring darker, more stormy appearance.
The volume of Clouds extends to the horizon and includes a visual curvature to extend down to the horizon. This is a default behavior in Phase 1a. Later on, further controls will be developed and released.
We’re excited to get this feature out just as forecasted! We would appreciate your feedback in this thread (whether it’s thunderous applause or cirrus criticism).