The Projection FOV is a user-friendly and configurable system designed for projecting textures onto a geometry. Useful for:

  • implementing area of visibility in 3D games
  • projecting colorful textures on the environment
  • simulating shadow map in toon shading systems
  • simplified fast cheap alternative for the spotlight

Features

  • camera field of view control combined with depth test
  • supports two types of material rendering (mesh-based and decal based)
  • frustum area attachment debug
  • advanced coloring and texture mapping
  • cinema-like projector
  • multiple types of shape projection (rectangle, circle, masked)
  • can be attached to sockets and bones
  • configurable projection receivers
  • distance-based coloring
  • camera direction and game type independent

Gallery

Documentation

 

Getting Started

Basically, it’s good to start with an example demo that presets all features and a wide range of possibilities of implementing the system in the game.

The simplest way is to use Projection FOV is:

  1. Drag and drop BP_ProjectionFOV on the map. 
  2. Adjust actor to your scene or attach it to actor using (AttachTo function)
  3. Chose the material and set it to ProjectionMaterial attribute. You can use any type of material from templates ProjectionFOV/Materials/Templates

Projection FOV

There are two types of projection that can be used with the Projection FOV system – decal projection and mesh projection. The type of projection is detected automatically based on the master material used in the blueprint. Both have some special features and some limitations that need to be addressed. 

Decal projection

Implemented in master material M_ProjectionFOV_Decal

  • Can be only used with BP_ProjectionFOV  actor because requires a decal component.
  • Can be filtered by “Receive decals” so you can disable the rendering effect on some meshes. 
  • Uses translucent blending
  • Good for rendering area of sight
Decal projection material used in Projection FOV blueprint for presenting the area of visibility.

Mesh projection

Implemented in master material M_ProjectionFOV_Mesh

  • Works pretty well with normal fading
  • Can be used on static meshes (SM_FrustumInside or SM_Light)
  • Uses multiplication blending
  • Good for simulating spotlight (car lights)
Mesh projection material used in example car blueprint as multicolored spotlights.

Material parameters

Basically, the Projection FOV comes with predefined material instances (ProjectionFOV/Materials/Templates) configurated for use in some specific cases.

Users can create their own materials as well by creating a copy or material instance from master materials M_ProjectionFOV_Decal/M_ProjectionFOV_Mesh

Material parameters can be also modified dynamically during gameplay ProjectionInstance in ProjectionFOV. 

Changig base color of projection in gameplay using material instance reference.

Solder is a short RTS style game concept placed in the futuristic science fiction world inside the computer on an imagined PC Board.
The tech demo is an introduction to basic RTS mechanics based on a parasite chip called SOLDER that evolves during the journey on PCB.

Infinity Weather is a powerful and clean system designed for weather control in Unreal Engine.

The package is a combination of 7 systems that could be divided into separate packages: wind, displacement, landscape, precipitation, footsteps, fog, post-process now available as a configurable unified system.

Features

Displacement:

  • configurable displacement capture blueprint
  • top-down projection of displacements rendered using shape definition in the shader (sphere, capsule, box, cylinder, decal, trace-sphere)
  • skeletal mesh displacement supports
  • interface for easy integration with all types of actors
  • area of displacement move dynamically with the actor or camera 
  • time-based accumulation of snow
  • build functions can be used for multiple other effects (like grass interaction)
  • displacement material functions ( snow, mud, sand, grass)
  • small world texture (1024×1024) can handle even 150x150m area

Post-process:

  • two materials with fast dynamic switching between material permutations 
  • post-process effects (raindrops, frozen, sharpen/blur)
  • pre-translucent effects (rain circles, heat haze, experimental glitter)
  • reacts dynamically on weather conditions
  • supports character and sequencer camera

Footstep:

  • notify based footsteps detection system
  • example footstep types (SFX, VFX) snow, rain, mud
  • physics material support
  • configurable footstep component adjustable per character
  • footstep volumes with priorities and conditional spawning

Precipitation:

  • defined effects of snow, rain, dust, hail
  • GPU friendly and efficient, implemented on single material and mesh.
  • up to 65000 particles per emitter with high performance
  • occlusion maps
  • crossfade wind and rain sound effects

Landscape:

  • basic example materials (snow, mud, sand)
  • advanced landscape material prepared for mixing displacement and dynamic weather.
  • virtual texturing and layered landscape materials.
  • multiple example ground layers (rock, grass, mud, sand)

Environment:

  • weather controller actor
  • spherical volumetric fog area and atmosphere and temperature
  • weather surface material function (snow/wet layer)
  • spline-based rainbow mesh with camera facing,
  • water puddle decal
  • directional light clouds shadow reacts on wind direction.
  • wind reactive effects like precipitation, ground dust, flag, trees, bushes, grass, emitters
  • example maps: Snow, Sand, Rain, World
  • character reaction to strong wind

Discord

Roadmap

[Demonstration]

Gallery

Documentation

Project config

Make sure that the Infinity Weather package version is up to date. The current newest version is described on the top of the documentation.

The package requires a procedural mesh component to work so make sure that it’s enabled.

 

I’ve decided to make this project downloadable content that can be added to the project. Unreal Engine does not support sending config files in downloadable content so users have to add footsteps configuration in the project that uses pack to make it work properly.  The process is really simple:

  1. Open the project configuration Edit->Project Settings
  2. Select tab Engine->Physics and scroll down
  3. Add physical surface types: Snow, Sand, Mud, Rock

The package works perfectly with the TPP input config files. if you have used another template then probably you will have to add inputs into your project for package testing: 

[/Script/Engine.InputSettings]
+AxisMappings=(AxisName="MoveForward",Key=W,Scale=1.000000)
+AxisMappings=(AxisName="MoveForward",Key=S,Scale=-1.000000)
+AxisMappings=(AxisName="MoveForward",Key=Up,Scale=1.000000)
+AxisMappings=(AxisName="MoveForward",Key=Down,Scale=-1.000000)
+AxisMappings=(AxisName="MoveRight",Key=A,Scale=-1.000000)
+AxisMappings=(AxisName="MoveRight",Key=D,Scale=1.000000)
+AxisMappings=(AxisName="Turn",Key=MouseX,Scale=1.000000)
+AxisMappings=(AxisName="LookUp",Key=MouseY,Scale=-1.000000)

The package is now ready!

Getting started

Every user of this package should start by checking all examples delivered with the product. Example maps can be found in the InfinityWeather/Demo/Maps folder.

There are available multiple examples that preset different configurations:

  • SnowMap – simple snow effects with lightweight landscape material.
  • RainMap – simple rain and mud effects with lightweight landscape material.
  • DesertMap – simple desert and sunny weather with lightweight landscape material.
  • WorldMap – advanced multi-layered material with mixed landscape effects.

The example character interaction with the Infinity Weather world is implemented in Demo/Mannequin/BP_DemoCharacter by four basic components added to it:

  • BP_InfinityFootstepComponent – spawns footsteps effect from notifiers
  • BP_InfinityDisplacementComponent – renders shapes for ground displacement 
  • BP_InfinityPostProcessComponent – controls post-process and controller communication.
  • BP_InfinityPawnComponent – additional effects on a character like breath particle when it’s freezing cold.

Weather Control

The most important element of the pack is the InfinityWeather/BP_InfinityWeatherController blueprint that gives the users possibility to control the weather conditions like fog, wind direction, precipitation, and accumulation.

Drag and drop BP_InfinityWeatherController on your level to start controlling the weather.

Default properties of the world weather can be set in the BP_InfinityWeatherController

Atmosphere effects requires Exponential Height Fog plugged into the BP_InfinityWeatherControllers to work properly. Remembet to polace height fog actor on your map and set the attribute of weather controller.

A list of weather controller attributes looks simple but it’s a very powerful tool. For testing try to set some rainy windy weather using parameters like below:

The system can be controlled dynamically by blending between parameters during the game using the functions below.

Functions of weather controller implemented for controlling the weather dynamically.

Precipitation

The precipitation system is the most advanced part of this pack. It is based on a single material combined with a single mesh (no Niagara or Cascade). The effect of billboarding is computed in vertex shader in the local space of the camera. That means the system has almost no PCU cost and works ultra-fast.

 There are few predefined effects of precipitation defined in the project (/InfinityWeather/Precipitation/)

  • Rain/BP_InfinityPrecipitationRain
  • Snow/BP_InfinityPrecipitationSnow
  • Dust/BP_InfinityPrecipitationDust

The precipitation effect can be used without a weather controller. You can drag and drop the blueprint of the chosen effect on the map to use it as static volume.

Rain and snow precipitation placed on the map.

A manually placed actor can be configured and limited by the area of precipitation. Users also can set multiple weather types visible locally in some areas of the map. All parameters are described in editor hints.

 

You can create your own precipitation effect classes for specific rain/snow configuration by extending the base class and changing attributes. That newly created class will be available on the Precipitation Effect Class list in weather controller.

The /InfinityWeather/Precipitation/BP_InfinityPrecipitationOcclusion is a specific type of actor that contains render target texture used for calculating precipitation collision with the roofs and other cached meshes. After placing this actor on the scene you will notice that in the area of the occlusion map the rain and snow are not rendered under the meshes.

The white box is the occluder. Occlusion map preview rendered over the mesh. Notice that there is no rain under the occluder.

Currently supported is only one occlusion map per level but its planned to implement switching between multiple occlusion maps dynamically.

Wind

The wind is based on the integration of multiple effects that react to a simple wind direction vector.

Currently, the wind effects can be controlled globally on the full scene using the Wind Direction vector in BP_InfinityWeatherController.

Most of the objects that react to wind use the Environment/Functions/MF_InfinityWind material function that returns all important information about current wind status. It’s the simplest way to get global wind data.

List of implemented effects and objects that reacts to the wind force.

  • Precipitation direction – Attribute Wind Force in precipitation blueprint scales how much it affects
  • Vegetation – MF_WindBush, MF_WindTreeLeafs, MF_WindTreeTrunk, MF_WindGrass nodes implements the effects of wind on vegetation.
  • Flags – specific implementation of flag material M_Flag.
  • Cascade particle emitters (Wind Affected Emitters attribute in Weather Controller is a list of emitters that should use Wind Direction and Wind Intensity parameters to react. (Example Environment/Dust/PS_SnowBlowingLarge)
  • Dust – predefined planar dust effects that rotate and fade based on wind direction.
  • Grass – MF_WindGrass material node.
  • Landscape dust – MF_GroundDust effect on the sandy landscape. 
  • Clouds shadow – M_CloudsShadow

 

Fog

The BP_InfinityFog actor can be used for changing fog settings in some areas.  Fog actor is divided into two parts

  • Fog volume – The volumetric shape of fog rendered as overlay mesh.
  • Fog atmospherics – Atmospherics settings. When the camera is inside the Fog volume the controller uses those settings to blend into new parameters based on the Weight attribute value.

Currently supported is only the ellipsoidal shape of fog.

Accumulation

Accumulation is the group of parameters that controls coverage of snow and wetness of meshes that uses the MF_InfinityWeatherSurface node in the master material.  

MF_InfinityWeatherSurface is an advanced node that adjusts base color, normal, and roughness values to current weather conditions set by the two basic parameters that are used in the material.

  • Weather.Controller.WetSurface – Controls wetness of the surface
  • Weather.Controller.SnowySurface – Controls the snow shell on the surface.

An example of use MF_InfinityWeatherSurface is presented in the rocks material M_RockSnowMaterial. Drag and drop rocks mesh(/InfinityWeather/Demo/Environment/Rock/SM_Rock ) on your map to check how weather conditions affect the material. Notice that the combination of wetness and snowy material can result in a nice-looking effect of icy snow.

Left top: Wet Materials = 0.0, Snowy Materials = 1.0 Left bottom: Wet Materials = 0.0, Snowy Materials = 1.0 Right top: Wet Materials = 1.0, Snowy Materials = 0.0 Right bottom: Wet Materials = 1.0, Snowy Materials = 1.0

Additionally, meshes can be painted by vertex color (red channel) to mask the effect on meshes that are hidden under the occluders.

A more detailed description of additional parameters can be found in the landscape and displacement section.

Displacements

The Infinity Weather system introduces an advanced displacement material system based on render targets. In short, the BP_InfinityDisplacementCapture actor is searching for actors around the focus point, that implements BPI_DisplacementShape. BPI_DisplacementShape implementation adds the list of shapes (a type of shape and transform) to the stack. In the final stage stack of shapes is rendered to displacement texture. The iteration is repeated every frame with some random offset.  

Basically, 3 elements are needed to make the system work:

  1. Displacement receiver landscape with the material that supports displacements. (MI_LandscapeSnow/MI_LandscapeMud/MI_LandscapeSand, MI_LandscapeCombined)
  2. Displacement capture actor placed on the map (BP_InfinityDisplacementCapture), set to capture landscape ground.
  3. Displacement mesh actor or component that will affect the ground (BP_InfinityDisplacementStaticMeshActor)

The video below shows how to combine all these tools and make it work:

Landscape materials

Landscape material is an advanced topic because requires basic knowledge about an unreal material system to inject them into the project.

Example content (Landscape/Materials) comes with a few examples of the landscape configurations to make this step easier. There are simple materials that cover the landscape fully by a single type of displacement:

  • M_LandscapeSnow (uses MF_InfinitySnow)
  • M_LandscapeMud (uses MF_InfinityMud)
  • M_LandscapeSand  (uses MF_InfinitySand)

There is also an advanced version of the material that is a combination of all three effects in one landscape. Additionally, the extended version supports the MF_InfnityWeather. Available in two versions virtual texturing and multilayered 

  • MI_LandscapeCombinedLayered
  • MI_LandscapeCombinedVirtual 

Let’s take a look at the example Sand (M_LandscapeSand) material used on DesertMap:

The material is a combination of four nodes:

  1. MF_GroundDand – it’s the base material layer of sand that contains a color map, normal map roughness, etc. It can be replaced by any material for example created from GameTextures/Example Project/Any pack.

  2. MF_InfinityDisplacement – is a base node that reads displacement render target and returns data from it. As an input, it takes the displacement layer intensity. It’s the layer that will be used to paint on the landscape.
  3. MF_InfinitySand – combines data from displacement and ground layer. Additionally, this node implements some additional effects like coloring displaced ground. There are another two nodes that could be used here to achieve another effect MF_InfinityMud, MF_InfinitySnow.
  4. MF_InfinityWeather – adding the overlay effect of a wet surface that can be controlled by the weather controller.

Displacement capture

The BP_InfinityDisplacementCapture is the main actor that prepares displacement depth textures for landscape. Below a simple explanation of how the algorithm of this actor actually works:

  1. Displacement capture actor is searching for actors that overlap the area of displacement.
  2. If an actor that supports the displacement interface is detected then he is asked about list shapes to displace ground.
  3. New generated shapes are added to the stack.
  4. In the final step, the displacement capture actor renders all shapes added to the stack.  

A simple configuration of the scene with displacements presented below:

  1. Drag and drop BP_InfinityDisplacementCapture on the map.
  2. Add the Landscape actor to BP_InfinityDisplacementCapture.GroundMeshes.

    it’s an important step to notify the system about the receiver of the displacements.

  3. Select landscape and use the material that supports displacements for example M_LandscapeSand.

  4. Edit the landscape and paint the layer of displacement on it.

For optimization, displacements are rendered only in the area of the focus point. The focus point is taken from BP_InfinityDisplacementCapture.CaptureActor. If the CaptureActor is null then it uses the character Pawn as the focus. If Pawn is null then it uses camera location.

Two types of render targets are defined in the system. Both area sizes can be changed in the capture displacement actors.

  • Capture Render Target  – cache shapes around the focus point. Modify the CatureTextureSize attribute.
  • World Render Target – combines all cached data. Modify the render target TR_Persistent.resolution to adjust the size of history.

Simple static shapes

The displacement map rendering is based on ray tracing shapes in the shader to get the best possible efficiency but it’s also limited to the number of shapes predefined in shaders. The shapes that can displace the ground are defined in the /InfinityWeather/Displacement/Blueprints/Shapes/ folder:

  • BP_DisplacementStaticMeshCapsule
  • BP_DisplacementStaticMeshCube
  • BP_DisplacementStaticMeshCylinder
  • BP_DisplacementStaticMeshSphere
  • BP_DisplacementDecal (heightmap mapping on the ground)

All of them can be placed on the map and scaled.

Use Debug Option in BP_InfinityDisplacementCapture to preview shapes that are rendered by capture displacement

Character displacement

BP_InfinityDisplacementComponent is a component that allows attaching a list of shapes that affect displacement ground.

The example implementation of displacement component in clean mannequin character presented on the video below:

Adding displacements to your character is really easy:

  1. Open character blueprint, add BP_InfinityDisplacementComponent to your character.
  2. Select the component and set Displacement Shapes data asset. You can use full ragdoll  (DS_MannequinRagdoll) or foot (DS_MannequinFoots) implementation that is faster and prepared for walking.
  3. Select “Class Settings” on the top bar and add the BPI_DisplacementShape interface to the list of Implemented Interfaces. It should look as on the screen:
  4. Now implement the interface function called AddDisplacementShapeData.

After those few steps character will be detected and ready to work.

Custom collision type

The Infinity Weather displacement capture system uses box collision volume during searching the actors that should be captured in displacement buffer. The overlap detection requires a specific collision type for filtering collision shapes. The engine has no option to include custom collision type into the external marketplace package because it’s defined in the configuration files.

By default, Infinity Weather takes advantage of using predefined destructible collision type but it’s not the best solution for every project, this collision type can be occupied by other functionalities and turned off for specific actors like characters.

The best way to overcome this problem and also improve performance during overlap test is by creating a custom collision type and using it to detect shapes that should be detected in the displacement area This solution will also fix all issues with ALS ragdoll detection and other strange behaviors that could occur after placing BP_InfinityDisplacement actor on the map.

Creating custom collision type is described in the Unreal Engine 4 documentation and the explanation below shows how to apply this knowledge with Infinity Weather:

1. Find  Edit->ProcectSettings->Collision

2. Open the ObjectChannels tab and add a New Object Channel type called InfinityCapture“, set to ignore by default.

Adding custom collision type.

Now you have to set a new collision type in the displacement capture actor.

It’s good practice to inherit BP_DisplacementCapture class and edit the child class instead of changing package assets. If you do tit this way then the next package update will not break your project.

  1. Open BP_DisplacementCapture (or child instance) and find CaptureVolume component.
  2. In CaptureVolume->DetailPanel->Collision->CollisionPresets->ObjectType set the InfinityCapture type.
Object type set to Infinity Capture in displacement capture actor.

Since now every actor that has set Collision Response->InfinityCapture->Overlap true will be considered during the displacement detection process.

  1. Find character class select collision component that should be detected (CapsuleComponent or Mesh)
  2. In details panel find Collision tab ->  Collision presets
  3. If the collision preset type is “Custom…” then just switch InfinityCapture->Overlap to true.
  4. Otherwise, you will have to set custom or edit existing preset the same way in project collision settings.
    Infinity Capture Overlap set to true in a captured actor (Pawn or shape).
  5. Remember to repeat these steps for all actors that should be detected by displacement capture like BP_InfinityDisplacementStaticMeshActor.

You can use debug option in BP_InfinityDisplacement actior to see if the actor is detected.

Displacement data asset

The configuration of displacement shapes attached to actors is stored in Data assets (PDS_DisplacementShapes).

Infinity weather contains few examples of data assets for mannequins and vehicles but any user can create custom data assets that will work with specific skeletal mesh. Creating a displacement data asset is simple:

  1. Press the right mouse button in the content browser
  2. Select Miscellaneous->DataAsset
  3. Pick PDS_DisplacementShapes and create
  4. Set name of newly created data asset “DS_ExampleDataAsset” for future use.

Newly created data assets can be used in the characters but we still need some shapes definition. Shapes can be added by hand but Infinity Weather comes with a simple editor that helps preview how shapes are attached.

Displacement shapes editor. Ragdoll in edit mode.
  1. Drag and drop editor class on map (BPU_InfinityDisplacementShapesEditor).
  2. Select editor, and chose newly created data assed (DS_ExampleDataAsset) in Data attribute.
  3. Pick the skeletal/static mesh reference that will be a visual representation of the shape that makes displacement. It can be your character or car.
  4. Press Load and now you can add shapes to the List. The shape structure described below.
  5. After the working press “Save” to save changes. Remember to apply the newly created data asset in DisplacementComponent.
Shape property Description
Socket Bone or socket name used as an attachment transform. The system will uses component transform if the socket name is not defined.
Shape.Type Shape type. Currently supported: Box/Sphere/Cylinder/Capsule/Decal, Trail Wheel, Trail Sphere
Shape.Intensity Scale the intensity of interaction (not implemented yet)
Shape.Transform Relative transform in space of attachment.
Shape.Pattern The texture used as a pattern in the displacement decal.

Footsteps

Weather System also supports the advanced footstep system integration based on notifiers placed in animation.  

Working with footstep system:

  1. Add BP_InfinityFootstepComponent component to a character. The configuration of components contains default predefined templates of effects and attachments for the mannequin.
  2. Add BP_NotifyFootstep to the animation of walking/running in place when the foot hits the ground. Chose the left or right foot in the properties.
  3. Add BP_FootstepVolume on your scene and select the preset of footstep that should be spawned inside of the volume.

Footstep volume

The engine sometimes wrongly detects the footstep ground because of limited landscape layers blending during ground tracing. Footstep volumes BP_FootstepVolume can solve this problem easily. When the character is inside the volume then the system uses the footstep set in the volume definition so the incorrect footstep effect is overridden.

The priority and Required conditions are taken into account to choose the most relevant footstep effect. It can be even filtered. The example below shows how to config volume on second priority (higher priority more important) that spawns snow and will be visible only when there is at least 0.1% of the weather displacement active.

Screen Effects

The BP_InfinityPostProcessComponent placed into an actor that contains the camera component will add automatically the post-process material and communicate with the weather controller to get info about the current conditions.

Three types of post-process views objects are supported:

  1. Postprocess camera – by default system search for the camera in owner.
  2. Postporcess component – if there is no camera in the owner then the system search for a component.
  3. Postprocess Volume – custom volume can be set for the character on the scene by setting the Postprocess volume attribute.

A custom post-process object can be also set by the function SetPostProcessView.

Features:

  • Raindrops and circles show only when the precipitation actor has IneractWeather > 0.0. That means raindrop shows only inside the rain volume.
  • Screen raindrops fading after some time. The duration of the fade can be controlled by BP_InfinityPostProcessComponent.Rain parameters.
  • When the camera is under the cover it’s not getting wet and raindrops are not appearing.
  • Freezing and heat haze distortion are calculated locally from the weather controller and fog actor’s atmosphere. (temperature, distortion) 
Raindrops post-process. The effect is activating when the weather is rainy.

The screen effects are implemented using two post-process materials.

MI_InfinityPreTranslucent – a group of effects rendered before the translucency layer.

  • Rain Circles – Enables automatically when rain precipitation is active.
  • Distortion – Heat Haze effect that enables when 
  • Glittering – Experimental disabled effect of glittering rendered on snow and sand.

MI_InfinityPostProcess – a group of effects rendered after the tone-mapping.

  • Sharpening – Additional sharpening effect that improves the quality of close objects (can be disabled) by UseSharpening.
  • Drops – Animated raindrops on-screen visible only if the camera is exposed to rain.
  • Frozen – Frozen screen edges.

Replication

The replication of the weather is implemented on the server-side. That means all functions from BP_InfinityWeatherController that controls weather should be activated on the server and then the state will be automatically sent to clients. The state of the weather is also replicated when the player joins to game after some time.

Displacement render targets are not replicated but only calculated locally around the focus point of displacement capture actor that follows the local player 0. That means if multiple actors are walking in the same area at the same time then the result will be calculated locally and similar for all of them. It behaves this way not because it’s replicated but because it’s simulated locally with the same data.

Two players connected in a multiplayer game and displacements.

During testing displacements in multiplayer be sure to run it in separate instances of the game, otherwise, UE4 shares the memory of ground texture and there are bugs because multiple displacement actors render to the same displacement texture at the same. This issue does not affect the final released game so don’t worry. Use option SingleProcess=false for testing the game in the editor with proper displacements in multiple windows.

Testing multiplayer setup.

Future features that will be implemented for multiplayer games:

  • Local weather controllers are not supported yet but it’s something on my roadmap.
  • Replicated foodprint decals that will be sent to clients and activated when displacement actors close.

Integrations

Advanced Locomotion System

Collision setup

The most important part is implementing a custom collision type that will solve most of the problems related to ALS and IW volume overlapping. You can find detailed descriptions of this step in the chapter called “Custom Collision Type”.

After you finish this collision configuration then additionally it is worth setting Climbable  = Ignored in Trace Responses of Capture volume component because it’s not needed. The final configuration of the InfinityCapture actor should look like below:

It’s also important to update ALS_character collision preset in the project config. InfinityCapture channel should be set to overlap.


Ragdoll

When the collision setup is ready then it’s time for ragdoll. During ALS ragdoll mode capsule overlap is not detected and that is why displacements are not rendered by default. There are two possible methods to fix it and choose is on your side:

  1. Select ALS Character Mesh and switch Generate Overlap Events = true, and InfinityCapture channel to Overlap.
  2. Alternative more general method. ALS_Character -> Add Component ->Sphere Collision to character actor and configure attributes as presented on the screen below:

There is another important thing about ragdolls that is switching between presets ragdoll/foots.

The DS_MannequinRagdoll preset is slower and more precise, the DS_MannequinFoots preset works perfectly in low FPS because it supports the continuous movement. Fortunately, ALS can support this feature very easily ALS_AnimMan_CharacterBP has functions RagdollStart and RagdollEnd that perfectly fits the requirements of switching.

Use SetDisplacementShapesDataAsset on the DisplacementComponent.

  • RagdollStart should set DS_MannequinRagdoll asset as a parameter
  • RagdollEndshould set DS_MannequinFoots asset as a parameter

Post-Process

 

Footstep

 

Voxel Plugin

Coming soon

Brushify/MAWI

Coming soon

Questions & Answers

Why landscape is flickering after painting the displacement

Solution: Use a geometry brush on the landscape to displace mesh a bit and mesh will not disappear anymore.

Explanation: It's an engine bug, that I can't overcome but it's easy to fix in your project. The only way to fix this is to increase the size of the landscape component bound box by editing the ground. The bug is related to the bounding box of landscape fragments. If landscape bounds are hidden under displacement mesh (extruded using vertex offset|) then the occlusion system removes the fragment of landscape. It flickers because the occlusion is probably calculated based on the previous frame and in the previous frame, the component visibility was the opposite.

 

Description

Lightning Fast is a powerful combination of materials and blueprints that implements a wide range of realistic and stylized electricity effects.

Lightning effects have plenty of uses in games, from background ambiance during a storm, electronic fences to the devastating lightning guns and spells. This system is designed in mind to achieve all those effects with high performance, AAA quality at the same time.

[DEMO]

Supported effects:

  • lightning flashes
  • lightning bolts
  • lightning chains
  • lightning strikes
  • lightning discharges
  • lightning beams
  • lightning trails
  • lightning guns
  • lightning electrocute

Features:

  • GPU friendly and optimized for all platforms
  • Wide range of high-quality effects
  • Two types o beam rendering (spline mesh/spline billboard mesh)
  • Integrated with UE4 dynamic lights and material light functions and splines
  • Over a hundred parameters in materials to customize the final effect
  • Spline based shape of bolt easy to adjust to the scene
  • Character electrocute discharges effect
  • Advanced lightning mesh editor tools
  • Multiple animated lines rendered in a single beam
  • Depth fade/direction fade effect
  • Glow and line color
  • Refraction based distortion
  • Procedural beam texture
  • Dynamic branch masking and fading effect

Additional content:

  • prototype pack – textures and materials created for demonstration purposes
  • mesh generator – advanced tool prepared for editing and generating lightning meshes, allows implementing external lightning propagation class
  • demo example map – a showcase of 14 use cases
  • Procedural mesh lib – Additional library of functions that helps to create static meshes in UE4

Gallery

Documentation

Getting started

Basically everything starts from the geometry (meshes) and effect (materials) rendered using geometry.

The Lightning Fast mesh combined with the material has some useful features and properties that are very important in the production.

  • can be used witch spline meshes
  • can be skinned and used as skeletal mesh 
  • can be scaled and keeps the proper shape
  • can be used in a particle system
  • can be watched from every angle

That gives us a wide range of effects that the system can handle so the package is divided on multiple blueprints specialized in custom effects.

All of the effects can be found in the Blueprint folder and are presented on ExmapleMap (Demo/Maps/LightningFastMap)

Example use-case:

  1. Find folder Blueprints/LightningBolt 
  2. Drag end drop BP_LightningBolt on scene
  3. The effect is ready to use. Now you can adjust parameters to get the effect that you need.

 

Blueprints

Blueprints folder contains multiple lightning effects that show how the system works with materials and meshes is should be treated as example content or templates prepared for general use cases. Some of the effects contain blueprints the other are represented only by particle effects used that main character is using.

Check the Demo/Manequin/ThirdPersonCharacter blueprint to analyze the implementation of the skills.

The list of effects will be extended in future updates. 

It’s good practice to create your own effects by inheriting Blueprint classes and copy material instances to your project folder.

Lightning Spline

The Blueprints/BP_LightningSpline blueprint is a simple combination of mesh spline effects and lights. You can combine any mesh created using Lightning Fast package with splines even bending the lightning bolts is allowed. 

Drag and drop BP_LightningSpline on the scene and modify parameters. [Editing splines]

Mesh Description
Static Mesh Mesh used to bend
Material The material used on mesh
Forward Axis The axis of mesh that is directing forward of bending.
Translucency Sort Priority Rendering priority
Fix Spline Direction Additional correction of spline UP direction. Fixes some twist bugs.
Texture Scale Scale texture UV for beam start and end.
Glow Color Override material glow color.
Line Color Override material line color.
Lights Description
Lights Count Number of lights created for spline
Light Snap Curve Importance of snapping the lights to the curve (0-1)
Light Color Override color of light
Light Falloff Fall off parameter of light.
Use inverse squared falloff Fall of the mode switch.
Light Function The light material function used for blinking

Lightning Bolt

BP_LightningBolt is a complex example of lightning bolt effect implementation based on lightning spline blueprint. The biggest advantage of this blueprint is that can be easily integrated with every weather system.

BP_LightningBolt Description
Animation Bolt animation curves describe how parameter changes during the update. R – time offset, G – fade, B -(not used yet), A- lightning intensity
Animation Rate Speed of animation update.
Activation Loops -1 (infinite), 0 – not active at start, 0> loop counts
Activation Delay Delay until the first activation.
Preview Time Draw debug preview at some time of animation.
Retrigger Time Random time in range (x-y) that system wait until next activation.
Use Randomization Whether the system should randomize rotation and location in Random Volume.
Rotation Range Range of rotation change during randomization.
World The world that manages the light intensity on the scene

Use parameter World to register blueprint in BP_LightningWorld. The BP_LightningWorld actor is the manager that changes directional light intensity and skylight intensity during the stormy weather according to all managed lightning bolts.

To activate Lightning Bolt by hand (from events) use Activation function and set ActivationLoops = 0.

Lightning Beam

Dynamically updated chain of splines that connects target points in the closest range.

Simple use case of working with a beam:

  1. Drag and drop BP_LightningBeam on scene
  2. Drag and drop a few target actors (BP_lightningTarget) on the scene near to the lightning beam actor.
  3. Select BP_LightningBeam and edit parameters:
    IsActivated=true
  4. Find InitChain array and add one element. Setup the starting chain element. 
    Set TargetActor to self it will make the beam actor the source of effect.
  5. Play and watch how the beam connects the target actors that are moving around.

Basically the concept of BP_LightningBeam actor is based on the idea that the chain should be represented by multiple nodes connected by spline meshes in a specific order. The list of nodes and order can be set by the user or generated automatically. 

The BP_LightningBeam effect is divided on the static and dynamic parts.

  • Static (set by user) – predefined, represented by InitChain structure created by the user during activation.
  • Dynamic (generated) – generated starting from the last element of the static fragment using an algorithm of searching in range.

InitChain is the array that describes the connections between chain elements. The first element of the array is a root (starting point).  For example, the Init Chain of lightning guns can be represented by 2 nodes. The first node is the gun muzzle and the second one is the hit point. The ParentIndex is the index of the parent node in the InitChain.

You can even specify a looping shape in init chain by this kind of config:
InitChain[0] = (TargetActor=Target0, ParentIndex=0) //start, points to self so it’s empty
InitChain[1] = (TargetActor=Target1, ParentIndex=0) //spline from element 0 to Target1
InitChain[2] = (TargetActor=Target2, ParentIndex=1) //spline from element 1 to Target2
InitChain[3] = (TargetActor=Target0, ParentIndex=2) //spline from element 2 to Target0 (loop)

Init Chain Node Description
Target Actor The actor used as node in the chain. The algorithm uses the location of the actor as the endpoint of the spline mesh.
Parent Index The index of element InitChain array where the algorithm will look for the starting point of the spline mesh. InitChain[ParentIndex].TargetActor is used to set the location.
Target Location If the target actor is null then Target Location is used.
Target Normal Overrides the normal direction of spline mesh. It can be used to change the shape f spline.
Source Direction Overrides the source direction of spline mesh. It can be used to change the shape f spline.
Null Target How to react if the actor is destroyed/null:

  • None – use TargtLocation and do nothing
  • Deactivate – deactivate the actor
  • Generate – regenerate the chain using dynamic generation.
  • Remove – remove the node and work as before.

The last element of the InitChain is the starting point of searching. The searching uses the attributes in the Search tab to specify which actor should be in the dynamic chain. 

After the InitChain is specified then there it comes to dynamic chain generation. ChainLength is the number of spline meshes that can be rendered by BP_LightningBeam actor. The ChainLength attribute is used to calculate how many additional nodes should be generated. The number of the dynamic nodes that algorithm will look for is ChainLength reduced by the number of renderable connections specified in the Init Chain.

Example situation (lightning gun)
ChainLength = 4
InitChain contains 2 elements, the connection between start point(muzzle) and one target point is represented by 1 spline mesh.
Finally, algorithm will look for 4-1 = 3 target points and try to render 3 additional spline meshes.

  The algorithm of searching is simple:

  1. Find closest target actor in range to the last element of the chain
  2. Add the element to the chain.  
  3. If CombinedChain is smaller than ChainLength then goto 1

After the searching process, all the nodes are linked together in a chain 0-1-2-3 … -n. UseClosestToChain=true option runs an additional update that changes the topology of the chain to render the shortest possible spline meshes. Basically it looks for closest connections between nodes.

Lightning Gun

A complex example of Lightning gun implementation based on Lightning Beam blueprint. 

Example Lightning Gun use implemented in the demo character Demo/Mannequin/ThirdPersonCharacter

Lightning Discharges

Particle emitter that presents discharges effect.

Lightning Trail

Effect of trail attached to the actor example content was used as a ribbon behind the character during a slow-motion run.

Example Lightning Trail used to show character ribbon during slomo run. Implemented in the demo character Demo/Mannequin/ThirdPersonCharacter

Lightning Target 

Object targeted by lightning gun and other skills. Target also spawns an example discharges particle when it is attacked by a lightning beam or lightning gun.

Lightning Source

Folder contains a base class of dynamic light source components and light materials.

Material

M_LightningFast  is the heart of the package and all material subtypes derive functionalities from this advanced master material.

Creating material instance in UE4 is really simple. Click right on the material (M_LightningFast) and chose option “Create Material Instance”. After that operation the newly created material will be ready to configure and use on Lightning Fast meshes. You can do the same with all material instances created for specific cases stored in the blueprints folder which I am recommending to do first.

The material has a very high potential for setting up and create a wide range of effects. The following list includes all available configuration options with usage recommendations. Some of the parameters can be hard to describe and understand at first but I encourage you to test it in the engine and check the results of changes. 🙂

Base, Fade

List of general basic options.

Base Description
MeshWidthScale Scales the geometry of billboarding mesh.
Opacity Opacity/Additive mode.
OpacitClamp Opacity clamping for high values.
UseBillboardMesh True – use billboarding system for rendering, false – render original mesh
UseDebugMesh Draw debug mesh
UseRefraction Use the refraction effect.
RefractionClamp Clamp intensity of refraction effect.
Refraction Refraction scale.
UseVertexInterpolators Optimization that forces system to use interpolators (does not work with particle emitters)

Group of parameters that helps to fade effect in some specific conditions. Close to the wall or unpleasant angle.

Fade Description
UseNormalFade Normal fade is the feature that helps to hide beam when its in bad wrong related to mesh. The fade is calculated based on the normal vector of the mesh. For the mesh in billboard mode the normal means axis of rotation. When the Axis is similar to the camera direction then mesh should be invisible because we can notice some bugs.
NormalFadeScale Scale the effect makes it fade faster or lower
NormalFadeOffset Offset the effect to make it more visible. 
Fade Makes effect translucent.
UseDepthFade Whether lightning should fade when intersecting scene meshes.
DepthFadeScale How fast lightning should fade when intersecting scene meshes.
UseVertexFade Vertex color of lightning meshes contains additional information about fade this option allows to use the for fading begin and end of the node.
VertexFadeStart Scale vertex fade start
VertexFadeEnd Scale vertex fade end

Branch, Masking

The lightning beam is build of four branches that can be displayed at the same time or one after one. This section covers the basic settings.

Base Description
UseBranchFading Activate the algorithm of asynchronous fading of branches.
BranchFadngAlpha Alpha multipliers of each branch of beam stored separately in RGBA channels.
BranchFadingOffsets Time offsets in fading animation.
BranchFadingPower Exponential fading speed of endpoint.
BranchFadingSource Fading blend in of start point.
BranchFadingScale The scale of fading UV.
BranchFadingTimeScale Branch fading animation speed.
BranchFadingOffset External controller of branch fading time.
UseBranchCombine Combine branches into one beam. Set False to use separate colors.
UseBranchCombineMax Combine branches by max function. False forces system to use sum function.
UseAlphaChannelBranch Use the fourth branch from the alpha channel.

Masking is the feature implemented for randomly hiding the branches of lightning. Even static meshes can look dynamic and various thanks to masking some of the nodes during the update.

Beam, Bolt

Beam configuration focused on UV mapping transformations.

Beam Description
BeamUVScaleSpeed

UV mapping of distortion texture:

  • RG – is the xy scale of beam distortion UV (higher value more dense UV)
  • BA – Speed of UV moving (higher value more dynamic effect)
BeamSkew

Additional skew UV offset stretches the distortion.

UseBeamBlend Beam blend is the effect of the fading beam on start and end.
BeamBlendStart The intensity of start beam blending.
BeamBlendEnd The intensity of end beam blending.
UseVertexColorUVOffset Adding UV offset based on vertex color R-value. Parameter helps to make mesh beam look more variable.
BeamUVScaleSpeed Most important parameter

Bolt is the effect that allows animated offsetting of the beam position on the mesh.

Bolt Description
UseBoltAnim

Whether the bolt animation should be active.

BoltStart/BoltEnd Start/end position of bolt.
BoltMoveOffset Sets the offset of bolt animation (can start from any point)
BoltMoveRange Sets the value range of bolt animation.
BoltMoveSpeed Speed of bolt animation.

Distortion, Line

Each beam is created of multiple light lines that are distorted by noise texture. The texture is moving so the effect looks dynamic and chaotic.

Distortion Description
DistoritonScale Scales the distortion effect.
DistortionTexture The texture used for distortion offset and detail distortion offsets.
UseDistortionDetail Whether distortion detail should be active.
DistortionDetailUVScale Scales the UV mapping of detailed distortion.
DistortionDetailScale Scales the intensity of detailed distortion.

Describes basic parameters of the line that is distorted and generates glow.

Line Description
LineColor Color of line
GlowColor Color of glow effect around the line
GlowTexture The texture used for masking glow.
GlowTextureScaleMove Animating glow texture RG-Scale, BA-Move
UseGlowTexture Whether the glow texture effect should be active.
LineWidthBase

Width of line.

LineDistanceFade

Line disappearing in distance from the start point of lightning.

UseLineSoft

Material supports two modes of rendering glow effect around line Hard/Soft. The first one based on smoothstep function and the second one based on division by distance. 

 

Mesh editor

Lightning Fast package contains mesh editor BP_LightningMesh that allows creating unique lightning meshes. Drag and drop blueprint on scene Blueprints/LightningMesh/BP_LightningMesh to start creating a lightning mesh.

 Each mesh is generated from a node list (attribute Nodes array). The node list is an array that contains a graph of connections between nodes described using a special structure called BS_LightningNode

BS_LightningNode Description
Parent This attribute describes the index from an array of the parent nodes. Each node has a parent. If the parent of the node has the same index as the source node than the parent is the root(starting point) of the hierarchy generated from the node list. 
EndPos Location of the ending point. It can be edited visually in the main viewport as well by selecting and using translation gizmo.
Loop A value higher or equal 0 is the index of loop endpoint. The -1 is the default and means that there is no loop.
Width Node width.
Priority Higher priority means that the node describes the main branch.
TangenInOut The scale of the tangent input-output vector.

 

Lightning mesh during editing on level. Node 0 is the root.

The package comes witch additional tools that help to create unique lightning meshes in the Unreal Engine 4 editor. There are two methods of editing Nodes array.

  1. Editing by hand using Tree Editor
  2. Editing using Tree Generator

Tree editor

Tree editor is the basic method of editing the node list there are multiple buttons that increase the speed of building the new branches of lightning mesh.

Editor Buttons Description
Node Append Append the child to the selected node (selected node index).
Node Insert Divide the selected node (selected node index) by inserting a node in the middle.
Node Remove Removing the selected node (selected node index).
Node Selected Get Load data from the selected index to Selected node Data.
Node Selected Set Save data from Selected Node Data to the selected node (selected node index).
Node transform Transform a selected node by Transform to apply attribute.
Reset Clear the tree.

Tree generator

Lightning Fast has an advanced system of mesh generators that can be used to automatize the creating of wide range meshes. 

Working with generators is simple:

  1. Add generator to the Generator List used by the BP_LightningMesh editor.
  2. Chose the class of generators LTG_Branch 
  3. Click Evaluate All Generators
  4. Double click on the generator instance and edit parameters and click “Evaluate All Generators” again.

BP_LightningTreeGenerator is the base lightning generator class that can be extended by other generators by overriding the Evaluate function. 

Example generators provided in version 1.0 of the package described below:

LTG_Branch – Example generation that creates branched lightning effects.

LTG_Spline – Example generator that creates lightning based on spline shape.

Create static mesh

A generated mesh can be easily converted to static mesh and used in other blueprints and particle effects. Few steps needed to do this:

  1. Select BP_LightningMesh blueprint and find component called ProceduralMesh
  2. Find option UseDynamicMaterial and set to false.
  3. Click button Create Static Mesh
  4. Select where to save the mesh

UseDynamicMaterial = false forces system to use default not instanced material. If you will skip this step then newly created meshes will contain reference to instanced material ant wont save.

Questions & Answers

Integration with Fast Stylized Procedural Sky?

Yes! Last update of Stylized Procedural Procedural Sky supports integration with Stylized Procedural Sky just place lightning bolt on map and activate it on event from build in lightning system.

It is worth buying?

Hell yes! After four mounts of:

  • researching the topic,
  • watching thousands of photos and videos with lightning effects,
  • testing multiple solutions,
  • removing huge amounts of unsatisfying effects
  • hard time spend on iterations and optimizations

I can ensure you now that it's not worth to do it by yourself from the beginning when you have finished solution and my support. I would never start again if I would could... 😉

Description

Ice Cool is an advanced master material prepared especially to create multiple types of ice like ground ice, ice cubes, icebergs, crystals, glass, and icicles. The translucent material option is a great solution for improving your level by storytelling on cold arctic maps. Designed and optimized specially for Mobile, Virtual Reality, and stylized PC/Console games.

Features

  • Customization options. Over 200 parameters to make it look cool. Additionally, Over 50 switches allow controlling efficiency-quality trade-off.
  • Uses the NEW FAST cracks rendering method. Implementation of the new cheap iterative technique of parallax for rendering deep cracks based on Signed Distance Field Textures. Thanks to using the SDF result effect stays clean and smooth even on closeups with using only 7 texture reads! (5 times faster than other methods).
  • Supports multiple types of refraction. Supported cube map with box projection mapping/screen color/ build in refraction pin.
  • Advanced translucency options. Translucency supports depth fading fog for a better quality of covering the objects inside the ice.
  • Subsurface scattering and custom lighting. Useful for more advanced users to better fit the ice into the scene.
  • Extended reflection mode. The system supports pre-rendered cube map reflections mapped on meshes using box projection mapping and spherical mapping. This method is very fast even on translucent materials.
  • Icy vertex offsets. Material supports configurable Vertex displacement for Icicles.
  • Masked dithering. You can configure the system to use translucent material only where you need and dither the opaque material around the wholes.
  • Animated dust. Configurable dust map with refraction noise makes the material look even deeper and real.
  • Efficient and GPU friendly. Uses between 90-210 instructions depending on the number of features enabled can be used on VR and even mobile.
  • Extra tools. The system includes additional tools for generating new Signed Distance Fields and environment cube maps.
  • Multiple useful examples. The package contains an example map with a showcase of multiple samples of using the material.

Gallery

Documentation

Get Started

Ice Cool is a pack based on single advanced master material. The material is placed in folder IceCool/Materials/M_IceCool. Basically every user has two ways of working with the package.

  1. Copy Material (Easy one) – Copy example material and modify the parameter to fit the requirements. You can check the example materials in the demo IceMap.
  2. Create Material (Hard one) – Create a material instance from master material and setup material parameters from scratch.

This documentation covers both approaches to create cool ice material.

It is good practice to create New Folder where the materials created using Ice Cool package will be stored. Try to not modify or add any content do the Ice Cool package it will protect your project from problems after downloading the new updates of the package.

Copy existing material

Ice Cool package contains a demo folder with multiple examples of materials of ice prepared for the specific conditions that can be copied to your project. All examples of ice materials are stored in the Demo/ExampleMaterils folder.

  • Cracked ground
  • Half translucent ice cubes
  • Opaque icebergs
  • Translucent icicles
  • Ice coating
  1. Select material that you want to use in your game
  2. Click the right button on the material and choose duplicate (if you want to copy) or create a material instance (if you want to extend the material and modify parameters).
  3. Move the newly created material into your project folder.

Cracked ground

The cracked ground is the most advanced use of the Ice Cool package. This material is prepared to be used as a ground. The UV coordinates of ice texture are calculated in the world space so the material can be used regardless of mapping or ground size. There are multiple types of this material prepared for fulfil the requirements of quality and platform type that game targeting. The demo allows seeing differences between every type of the material by pressing keys 1-7 on the example map.

Material Type Lighting Reflections Platform
Opaque Unlit Material parameters Cubemap All
Opaque Lit Build-in UE4 Reflection Captures All
Translucent Unlit Material parameters Cubemap All
Translucent Lit Build-in UE4 Cubemap PC
Dithered Lit + Translucent Unlit Mixed Cubemap near the camera. PC
Dithered Lit + Translucent Lit Build-in UE4. Best quality. Cubemap near the camera. PC
Dithered Unlit + Translucent Unlit Material parameters Cubemap PC

Half translucent cubes

Half translucent means that this type of ice is a combination of two meshes opaque and translucent.

  1. Inside layer (MI_IceBlockBigInside) Opaque mesh is rendered from inside of the geometry (normal inverted front face culling)
  2. Outside layer  (MI_IceBlockBigOutside) Translucent mesh is rendered traditionally as a layer over the ice.

This kind of materials are useful when you want to put some meshes into an ice cube and achieve good effects of refraction. Mesh will be rendered between the inside and outside layers.

Half translucent ice based on two materials – mannequin mesh placed inside the ice.

Opaque icebergs

Very efficient good looking opaque material useful for icebergs that use refraction based on external cubemap.

Opaque iceberg material in action

Translucent icicles

This material type was prepared especially for creating icicles hanging from a roof. The additional layer of animated dirt makes it looks wet.

Translucent icicles material in action

Create new material

If you are not interested in using predefined materials of ice then there is always the harder path to follow. You can remove all demo content and create the material instance from scratch.

  1. Find the base material IceCool/Materials
  2. Duplicate the MI_IceCool or create a material instance from M_IceCool.
  3. Rename newly created material and move to the Ice materials folder in your project.
  4. Material is ready to use from now.

I’m not recommending you this method. It requires a lot of knowledge about the ice material and this documentation does not cover all details yet.

Reflection

The reflection effect is based on pre-rendered cube maps. A detailed explanation of how to create cubemap for ice can be found in the Tools/Cubemap Rendering chapter. Ice materials support two types of reflection mapping. Spherical reflections and box projection mapping.

  • Spherical mapping – Very fast but inaccurate. Works out of the box.
  • Box projection mapping – Very accurate in box-shaped rooms. Requires additional room size pieces of information in the materials.
Box projection mapping  
UseBoxProjection Allows using box projection mapping. If disabled then the system uses standard spherical cube-map projection.
ReflectionBoxExtend half size of the room cached in the reflection map.
ReflectionBoxPosition Position camera where the reflection was cached.
UseReflectionBoxLocal Forces system to use reflection box capture in local space of actor position. Useful when the mesh is connected to the same actor as the reflection capture component.

Other reflection parameters:

Reflections

 
ReflectionColor Color of reflection allows adjusting the cubemap to underwater conditions. Alpha channel represents the power of Fresnel.
ReflectionTexture Prebaked cubemap reflection texture should be cached in a place where the glass is rendered.
Use Shlick Reflection Enables physical-based Shlicks Fresnel calculations. Otherwise uses fast simplified dot(camera, normal) Fresnel.
UseReflectionBoxLocal When true then ReflectionBoxPosition will be added to the actor position.

Refraction

The package supports multiple advanced types of refraction. Each type of refraction is useful for a different scenario.

  1. Build-in UE4 refraction
  2. Screen color refraction
  3. Opaque cubemap refraction

Fast dithered layers

The dithered material is the composition of two meshes with the top layer implemented as dither translucent. That combination allows using the slow translucent materials only where it is needed and increases quality of lighting and reflections with low cost by using the opaque material over the translucent.

 

  • The top mesh layer uses opaque dithered opaque material that has high-quality reflections and lighting implemented by Epic.  
  • The bottom mesh layer uses layer translucent material that is covered by the top layer using a dithered transition.

It’s good practice to use bottom translucent layer only where it is needed and cut invisible parts of this mesh to increase a performance by lowering the geometry overdraw.

Dithered material can be masked by a vertex color alpha channel painted in the vertex paint mode. This functionality is active only when the UseDitheringVertexAlpha option in the top opaque material is active.

Material parameter  
Use Dithering Distance Use dithering in distance from the camera.
Use Dithering Vertex Alpha Use masking of the dithering by vertex alpha.
Use Dithering Per Vertex Calculate distance for dithering per vertex to lowers the shader complexity. It can cause some quality problems when using low-density meshes.
Dithering Border Dithering distance border.
Dithering Smooth Dithering border smoothing.

 

Parallax cracks

Advanced algorithm of rendering parallax cracks uses the information about the distance from crack to render very efficient and smooth effect in only 6-8 texture reads. In comparison to other algorithms, it is over 6 times faster and looks much better on closeups.

Material parameter  
Use Cracks Whether the effect of cracks should be used in the material. The cost of this effect is noticeable (about 30-40) instruction so it’s good to enable this flag only when intended to use effect.
Cracks SDF Texture Signed Distance Field texture used to generate the effect. Detailed description about preparing SDF textures can be found in the chapter “Signed Distance Fields rendering”.
Cracks Color A bottom color of the effect of the cracks.
Cracks Color Light   A top color of the effect of the cracks.
Cracks Depth Iteration The number of iterations used to calculate the effect. Best results can be achieved in between 5-10 iterations. It’s worth to minimize this value for optimization.
Cracks Depth Step Size Step size per iteration
Cracks Depth Scattering Depth scattering scale.
Cracks Depth Scale Depth intensity scale.
Cracks Depth Smooth Smoothing of the effect. It should be lowered when there is a lot of holes in the cracks.
Cracks Distortion Distortion of cracks based on normal-map.
Cracks Width Width of the effect. It should be between 0.93 and 1.0.
Cracks Height Height of the effect.
Parallax cracks in action

Dust

Ice Cool package supports a deep layer of animated dust.

Dust parameters  
Use Dust Whether the dust should be used in the material.
Dust Color The color multiplier for the dust texture
Dust depth shift An offset of the dust layer
Use Dust Layered Whether to use the second layer of dust.
Dust Layer Between Interpolation of layer rendered in between base layer and mesh surface.
Dust Texture The texture used as a dust layer.
Dust Texture UV Scale UV coordinates (X,Y) and scale(Z,W)
Dust Texture UV Anim UV animation speed per second (X,Y)
Use Dust World Space UV Whether to calculate dust UV in world space or take it from UV0.
Use Dust Noise Whether to distort the dust layer by noise texture.
Use Dust Noise Alpha Whether to read distortion of UV dust layer from noise alpha.
Dust Noise Texture Dust noise texture source.
Dust Noise Scale Dust noise texture UV scale.
Use Dust Noise World Space UV Whether to calculate dust noise UV in world space or take it from UV0.

Coating

The coating effect extrudes the mesh in direction created from normal and gravity vector. The coating effect is useful for covering geometry by ice with additional icicles hanging from a mesh.

Coating parameters  
Use Coating Whether the coating effect should be enabled
Coating Offset Channels RGB represents the direction of gravity length of this vector represents force. Channel A is a coating size in the direction of normal.
Coating Normal Distortion Changes noisy distortion in a normal direction.
UseCoatingNoise Whether to use noise function to calculate random offsets.
UseCoatingNoiseSkin When true noise will b calculated using Skin vertex position, false force system to use texture UV.
CoatingNoiseScale Noise irregularity
UseCoatingTexture Changes noisy distortion in a normal direction.
CoatingTextureUVScale Coating texture UV modyfikator.
CoatingTexture The texture used for coating effect.
Coating material in action.

Animated coating

Since update 1.1 Ice cool supports animated coating effect that can be useful during freezing meshes.

Multiple types of coating growing animation:

  1. SPHERE – UseCoatingSphereAnimation = true. Coating is growing inside the sphere described by (CoatingSphere.rgb – location, CoatingSphere.a – radius)
  2. PLANE – UseCoatingPlaneAnimatio = true. Coating is growing inside the sphere described by (CoatingPlane.rgb – normal, CoatingPlane.a – plane offset)
  3. FLAT – time based evenly growing. Growing controlled by CoatingFlatBlend float (0 – no coating, 1- full coating )
Coating Animation  
UseCoatingAnimation Whether the coating animation effect should be used.
CoatingAnimationTime Flat coating animation effect blend between no coating and full coating. Should be modified externally by blueprints.
CoatingAnimTranslucent Speed of showing the coating effect in the translucency channel.
CoatingAnimType Displacement mode type. 0 – firs type, 1 – second type (just check the difference in showing icicles and shell)
CoatingShapeDistanceBlend The soft blend between no coating effect and full coating used in a plane and sphere mode.
UseCoatingPlaneAnimation

The coating is growing inside the sphere described by   Coating Plane

CoatingPlane CoatingPlane.rgb – normal, CoatingPlane.a – plane offset. Should be modified externally by blueprints.
UseCoatingSphereAnimation The coating is growing inside the sphere described by Coating Sphere
CoatingSphere CoatingSphere.rgb – location, CoatingSphere.a – radius radius. Should be modified externally by blueprints.
UseCoatingShapeLocalPosition Use local space position of vertex during sphere/plane calculations.
UseCoatingDebugAnimation Show example debug animations. Disable when you want to animate manually in blueprint by using material parameters.

Tools

Ice Cool package contains additional tools that can help to use the full potential of the material system.

Cubemap reflections rendering

Materials use cube maps for simulating reflection and refraction of opaque materials. Those cube maps can be created using BP_CaptureCubeMap blueprint. 

  1. Place Blueprints/BP_SceneCaptureCube on your map and set up a proper position to capture the scene (center of the room would be great).
  2. Open IceCool/Tools folder and select the render target (RT_SceneCapture).
  3. Click right on the RT_SceneCapture and select “create static texture” newly created texture is ready to use.
  4. Set reflection texture cubemap to the material parameter called ReflectionTexture.

Signed Distance Fields rendering

Signed Distance Field is an image where each pixel contains the distance to the nearest point on the boundary. An additional sign of distance allows determining if the pixel is inside or outside rendered shape. SDF image that looks like a gradient can be loaded from a file or generated by mathematical functions called Signed Distance Functions.

Short description of how to create the SDF texture:

  1. Place the BP_SignedDistanceFiled on map.
  2. Setup parameters.
    Source Texture The texture that will be used for generating the SDF.
    Search Width Width of search the distance in pixels. W*W is the number of iterations per pixel. Big numbers can crash the program.
    Texture Size Resolution of the texture.
  3. Click generate to update the render target.
  4. Click right on the RT_SceneCapture and select “create static texture” newly created texture is ready to use.
  5. Use the texture as CracksSDFTexture parameter.

 

Description

Volumetric Glass is an advanced and efficient master material designed for rendering volumetrics and glass. The package is useful for creating sci-fi stylized environments like water tanks, aquariums, and underwater tunnels even glass in submarines. The package is perfectly balanced between quality and efficiency. Designed and optimized specially for Mobile, Virtual Reality, and stylized PC/Console games.

Features

  • Two types of material underwater volume  and shaped glass
  • GPU friendly and very efficient can be used on mobile as well as in the VR
  • Multiple shapes (box, sphere, ellipse, cylinder, mesh)
  • Spline based tunnel blueprint
  • GPU friendly very efficient (only 150 instructions)
  • Over 70 parameters to setup: light shafts, volumetric, scattering, glass color, fog density, wet color, reflections, etc.
  • Animated clip plane surface
  • Vertex color based texture masking
  • Example map contains underwater world and sci-fi laboratory
  • High-quality fast scattering
  • Fast box projected reflections
  • Custom multi-channeled point lights
  • Easy for integrating with other water surfaces like Aquatic Surface.

Documentation

Get Started

The most important think about the Volumetric Glass is that the package is divided into two materials specialized for use in different cases:

  1. Glass Volume (Materials/M_GlassVolume) – Supports rendering of glasses from the inside of the fluid volume. Represents underwater windows, tunnels, glasses, and world rendered from the inside of the water. Material is called M_GlassVolume.  
  2. Glass Shape (Materials/M_GlassShape) – Supports rendering shapes from the outside of the fluid volume. Useful for water tanks sci-fi stylization, volumetric fog used as an environmental effect.

Both materials should be instanced before using on the meshes. To create material instance from the base material click right button on the chosen material and select “Create Material Instance” option.

Glass Shape

Glass Shape material can be used on different geometric objects like a box, cylinder ellipse. 

Different shapes of the glass in sci-fi laboratory

 

Basically, the system requires to use of meshes with unified size (100cm,100cm,100cm) and pivot in the center. The mesh can be scaled properly in actor properties. Example shapes can be found in the Package/Meshes folder.

Example of use:

  1. Chose the shape and place on the map. For example SM_Box
  2. Create a material instance from M_GlassShape
  3. Open newly created material instance and set up the parameters. Find the Shape tab and select the shape that you want to use:
  4. Setup the Reflection Texture cubemap in the material. It should be the texture cached from the scene using the Scene Capture Actor. If you don’t know how to prepare a cubemap read the Capture Reflections chapter.
  5. Apply glass material on your glass on the meshes and see the magic 🙂

It is not possible to use Box/Sphere shaped meshes on the characters props or customization elements because it is not geometric compatible. There is additional UseShapedMesh mode in the M_GlassShape material that implements approximated shape for the undefined shapes.

Base parameters

M_GlassVolume

 
Use Fog Exp2 Use exponential fog or linear if false.
Fog Base Base depth of the fog effect.
Fog Density The density of the fog effect.
Fog Color Color of the deep fog.
Use Wet Color Enable wet color functionality. 
Wet Color The color multiplier applied to geometry inside the shape.
Use Translucency Whether the translucent effect should be active.

Clipping plane surface

Clip plane surface is the effect of clipping the geometry by plane filled by an animated fluid surface.

Clip plane  
Use Shape Clip Plane Whether the clipping plane effect should be active
Shape Clip Plane Equation of clipping plane RGB-normal, A-translation
Use Surface Normal Map Use the surface normal map
Surface Normal Map Texture The texture used as a normal-map.
Surface Normal Map UV

UV scale and translation in an animation of normal maps on two layers.

  • R – Layer 1 scale, 
  • B – Layer 2 scale, 
  • G – Layer 1 move, 
  • A – Layer 2 move, 
Surface Normal Scale Surface normal z value multiplier before normalization. Allow changing height ow wave.
Surface Normal Flatness Surface normal flatness. Allow changing height ow wave.
Use Surface Normal Scale Whether to use Flatness or Scale
Use Surface Normal Map Use the surface normal map
Use Clip Plane Reflection Allow using clip plane reflection effect
Use Water Line Allow rendering waterline on the glass. (experimental)

Lighting

System supports multiple methods of lighting the meshes:

  • coloring edges of the mesh at lower depth (simple and fast) Use Light Color Edge = true
  • simplified directional diffuse light UseLighting = true
  • advanced subsurface scattering (very complex slowest) UseSubsurfaceScattering = true

All of these methods can be used separately or combined at the same time. The only single light source can affect the glass and it can be point light or directional light.

Use Directional Light True – Use Directional Light False – Use Point Light  
Use Channel = true

Reads the directional lighting values from global settings Materials/UtilsPC_VolumetricGlass DirLightChannel0 

Reads the directional lighting values from global settings Materials/UtilsPC_VolumetricGlass  PointLightChannel0-2. 

Point light channels can be controlled by the BP_ScatteringLight blueprint placed on the level with the selected channels to set.

Use Channel = false Reads the directional lighting values from local variable Light Direction in the material.

Reads the directional lighting values from the local variable Light Position in the material.

 

Lighting

 
Diffuse Power Diffuse lighting color.
Light Color Color of light inside the volume.
Use Directional Light
Whether to use directional or point light.
Light Direction If Use Directional Light = true then uses this value as light direction. Length of vector changes fading.
Light Location If Use Directional Light = false then this is the default location of the light relative to the actor. Alpha channel contains Attenuation.
Use Light Color Edge Use the light color as the edge of the shape. The shape will be lightened in depth. The scale of depth can be changed in the alpha channel of the Light Color parameter.
Use Channel 0/1/2 Select which channel will be used as a global point light.

Scattering

Scattering

 
Scattering Ambient Scattering ambient value
Scattering Depth Scattering depth scale
Scattering Depth Block Scattering blocked by mesh depth inside the volume
Scattering Distortion Light distortion inside the scattering inside the volume
Scattering Power Exponential power scattering effect inside the volume
Scattering Sale The scale of scattering effect inside the volume
Use Lighting Whether the lighting and scattering effect should be active.

 

Glass Volume

First, you have to place the BP_GlassVolume blueprint on the scene. BP_GlassVolume represents the shape of the fog volume that will be used for volumetric glass.

  1. Volume is visible only throw the glasses that use specialized material called M_GlassVolume.
  2. Create a material instance from M_GlassVolume and set up the parameters.
  3. Apply glass material on your glass meshes and see the magic 🙂

 

Base parameters

M_GlassVolume

 
Use Fog Exp2 Use exponential fog or linear if false.
Fog Base Base depth of the fog effect.
Fog Density The density of the fog effect.
Fog Color Color of the deep fog.
Fog Scattering Clamp Maximum scattering power.
Fog Scattering Scale Scale config of the scattering color effect.
Fog Scattering Shift Shift config of the scattering color effect.
Fog Scattering Width Width config of the scattering color effect.

Light shafts

Glass material supports simplified optimized light shaft effect settings and configuration listed below.

Light shafts

 
LightShaftColor Light shaft color in scattering.
LightShaftDistance The distance of the light shaft effect from the camera.
LightShaftIntensity The intensity of the light shaft effect.
LightShaftPosition Camera position scale when moving light shaft.
LightShaftSpeed Light shaft animation speed.
LightShaftTexture The texture used as a light shaft.
UseLightShaft

Activates light shaft effect.

Tunnel Spline

BP_TunelSplineActor is an additional blueprint useful for creating underwater tunnels. To start using this actor just place the BP_TunelSplineActor  on the scene and setup parameters.

BP_TunelSplineActor

 
Static Mesh Looped mesh used for tube
Forward Axis The forward axis of the mesh.
Translucency Sort Priority The priority of mesh rendering. Can fix some translucency bugs.

Hold Alt+Drag the point of spline to create duplicate of spline point.

Capture Reflections

The Volumetric Glass system renders reflections based on the cube maps cached from the scene. It is really efficient method but requires some additional effort to cache the reflection.

  1. Place Blueprints/BP_SceneCaptureCube on your map and set up a proper position to capture the scene (center f the room would be great).
  2. Open Material/Textures and find the render target (RT_SceneCapture).
  3. Click right on the RT_SceneCapture and select “create static texture” newly created texture is ready to use in the volumetric glass system.
Example reflection texture from sci-fi laboratory used on all shapes inside the room.

Reflections Settings

The reflection effect is based on a prerendered cubemap. Volumetric glass supports two types of reflection mapping. Spherical reflections and box projection mapping.

  • Spherical mapping – Very fast but inaccurate. Works out of the box.
  • Box projection mapping – Very accurate in box-shaped rooms. Requires additional room size pieces of information in the materials.
Box projection mapping  
UseBoxProjection Allows using box projection mapping. If disabled then the system uses standard spherical cube-map projection.
ReflectionBoxExtend half size of the room cached in the reflection map.
ReflectionBoxPosition Position camera where the reflection was cached.
UseReflectionBoxLocal Forces system to use reflection box capture in local space of actor position. Useful when the mesh is connected to the same actor as the reflection capture component.

Other reflection parameters:

Reflections

 
ReflectionColor Color of reflection allows adjusting the cubemap to underwater conditions. Alpha channel represents the power of fresnel.
ReflectionTexture Prebaked cubemap reflection texture should be cached in the place where the glass is rendered.
Use Shlick Reflection Enables physical-based Shlicks fresnel calculations. Otherwise uses a fast simplified dot(camera, normal) fresnel.
UseReflectionBoxLocal When true then ReflectionBoxPosition will be added to the actor position.

Glass Settings

Volumetric glass materials support advanced glass surface configuration that allows customizing appearance to specific requirements. Glass surface is rendered before the volume and can cover the objects behind the glass.

M_GlassVolume

 
Glass Color Color of glass mesh (with translucency).
UseGlassTexture Allow using glass texture instead of flat color.
UseGlassTextureColor Glass texture color multiplier.
GlassTexture Glass texture used when UseGlassTexture = true
GlassTextureU Scale glass texture on U axis
GlassTextureV Scale glass texture on V axis
UseGlassTexturVertexAlpha Uses vertex color alpha channel as a multiplier for glass texture. Broken glass example.