Update (May 20, 2021):
Back in December, we announced the plan to update several of the existing Terrain and Part materials! Today, we’re even more excited to share the Studio Preview Build of these new materials!
This Studio Preview Build is intended to give you a preview of what the new materials will look like in your games, locally. This way you can provide us critical feedback to make them better for you, and also have time to plan how you’ll use the updated materials in your games and experiences.
A quick recap on this project, the goals were to:
- Strive for a high level of realism, using real world examples to drive our direction.
- Unify the appearance of similar parts and terrain materials, making them more compatible.
- Author for the most common uses for each material to maximize usefulness and uniqueness of each material.
- Improve the responsiveness of color shifting terrain and parts, giving you greater range of possibilities.
Studio Preview Build
This build will allow you to see the new materials locally within any place file you open in Studio. We wanted to approach testing this way so that we could quickly make improvements from community feedback…which means please share your notes, bugs and other observations here!
Your response to this material update is important to make sure we’re supporting your vision. We will follow this topic to drive some of our updates prior to full release.
Note: The build has been updated to v1.4 as of May 20th
A few things to note:
Some materials have changed substantially to make them more realistic, so you may need to make color adjustments or in some cases change the material to something more appropriate for your places.
These materials, built to leverage PBR, are very reactive to the lighting in your places. That means global lighting, atmosphere, and skyboxes can have a big impact on how these look. We would encourage you to play with those settings too to get you place looking they way you want with the materials.
We would recommend setting your EnvironmentDiffuseScale and EnvironmentSpecularScale to 1. We also recommend setting Ambient and OutdoorAmbient to 0,0,0 and tuning your skybox (skyboxes with a darker lower hemisphere typically lead to more natural results).
Other than this, we’d love to see what your places look like when you use these updated materials in your local versions of your place file!
What We’d Like Feedback On
There are a few specific things we’d like your input around, as it will influence how we release this feature
- We are currently going to automatically upgrade all experiences to these new materials. If you open a place you made 3 years ago, your materials will automatically upgrade with no way to revert to the current ones. Is this acceptable, or would you prefer that new experiences get the new materials and existing ones have to be explicitly upgraded?
- On lower-end devices, Surface Appearance objects scale to a color. You can simulate this by choosing File > Studio Settings > Rendering > Quality Level > Level 01. Is this acceptable?
- Looking at the materials for uses other than their specific type (using wood grain for another purpose) do you feel the new materials give you more or less options for using them in your games?
- Do the new materials better blend with other models and assets in your game?
- Are there any visual bugs introduced by these new materials? If so, please provide images and comparisons.
- Do these materials increase or decrease the immersion you seek in your game?
Why a special build?
We decided this was the quickest way to allow our devs to preview the new materials and provide us early feedback on them. It would also allow us to react quickly to feedback and release updated preview builds.
Can I publish a game with these new materials?
No, this preview build is strictly to allow you to view your materials locally and see how they may impact your game, as well as give you a change to plan changes to adapt to them.
If I update my place with these new materials and then open in the main build, what happens?
You will see the current production materials (older materials) and any changes to colors you’ve set and published.
Can I view this on devices in the player?
We are working on a plan for expanding this release to a more formal beta so you can view them in player, on multiple devices!
New Materials Overview
Each material has been reimagined from the ground up to look closer to its real-world counterpart. We also wanted to make the different materials more distinct, so users have plenty of options for their terrain and parts.
Material Overhaul Details
First, let’s talk about terrain! Terrain materials were very important to us because of how much they can root a game world when done properly. These updates will also go a long way to allow you the opportunity to more fully realize some biomes.
Second, let’s go over Parts (terrain can’t get all the love). Part materials are central to many games, whether or not they’re using the terrain, making a realistic game or a cartoony one. We wanted to update the part materials to both allow them to blend better with their terrain counterparts, and also give you broader visual range in the current built-in materials.
…Speaking of built-in materials, we also wanted to expand the current part materials to include ones that were previously exclusive to terrain. Now you can have snowballs, lava columns, and asphalt roads!
One small bit of house-cleaning we’re doing is renaming several of the existing materials. This way, the existing and new materials will have clearer relationships and a clearer connection to the real-world materials they’re based off of.
Changing this won’t affect the enums called for the particular materials. It simply changes the naming/representation in the material list.
For more on this, give our original announcement a read!
Now, we want to hear from you!
Our continued mission to power imagination is driven by what you need. So please share screenshots and feedback, both good and bad, of your work with the new materials!
Update Notes (March 1, 2021):
- Some New Part Materials have full color baked into them. We are currently removing some of this to give your more range while still allowing for color matching between terrain and parts
- Marble and Rock have tiling issues in the most recent build that we are addressing with the next update.