Recently, we have ported EDN over to unity 5 which has allowed us to do some really cool and exciting things with the graphics. Here I will go through and explain the new features recently implemented in EDN.
Real time global illumination
EDN now has real time global illumination powered by enlighten. Global illumination is the process that simulates indirect lighting like light bouncing off a wall or colour bleeding.
For example, if you look at the image above closely you’ll notice that the green color of the wall is being cast onto the sphere on the right side of the image. That effect is referred to as indirect lighting because the green light isn’t being cast directly from a light but rather is the result of a white light being cast in onto the green wall which is then bleeding onto the nearby sphere.
Here is that concept put into practice, this entire scene has only 1 light source which is the sun. The light from the sun comes in through the sky light and bounces around the room, lighting the entire scene. Traditionally you would have to either put lights all over the roof(who leaves their lights on during the day, imagine the electricity bill) or change the ambient light to be really bright. This method of lighting is far more realistic than traditional methods and looks beautiful.
New standard shader
Unity 5 introduces a new type of built-in shader called the Standard Shader. This shader is designed to replace a large number of the old shaders used in previous versions of Unity – most significantly it replaces all the shaders that were used to render “real-world” objects such as stone, wood, glass, plastic, metal, etc.
The Standard Shader also incorporates a much more advanced lighting model called Physically Based Shading.
Physically Based Shading (PBS for short) simulates the interactions between materials and light in a way that mimics reality. PBS has only recently become possible in real-time graphics. It works at its best situations where lighting and materials need to play together intuitively and realistically.
Unity uses PBS to achieve a consistent, plausible look under all lighting conditions. In order to do so it models how light behaves in reality and follows principles of physics.
With the standard shader, all of these different requirements are combined into a single shader which is intended to be used across all material types. The benefit is that the same lighting calculations are used in all areas of our scenes, which gives a realistic, consistent and believable distribution of light and shade across all models which use the shader.
Unity now has a new integrated audio mixer. This allows is to edit sounds much more effectively and create really cool ambiance in any scene. Watch the video below to learn more.
New physics engine
PhysX 3.3 brings massive performance improvements EDN. This will allow us to create more interactive objects in the game and create more physics based gameplay. For example you can move an object into an enemy’s line of fire and take cover behind it or kill an enemy below you by pushing a heavy object off the edge onto them. I’d imagine a glocknade going off in a room full of physics objects would look awesome too.
Unity now has added a new native decal system allows us to properly use decals.