We’re still putting together the official marketing material for the Unity 5 launch (web pages, tutorial videos, etc.) but I thought I’d share some of the details we revealed at GDC with those of you that are curious. First of all, here’s a link to my GDC presentation in the Unity theater. It’s a little light without the live demo but here it is nonetheless.
And here are answers to some of the common questions we’ve been getting so far:
1) What does it mean that SpeedTree is in Unity 5?
SpeedTree is built into Unity 5 — it is not a plug-in. SpeedTree models will load in any version of Unity 5 and render with wind, smooth LOD transitions (all the way to a 360 degree normal-mapped billboard), ambient occlusion, and branch intersection blending (hiding the texture and lighting seams at branch joints).
2) How much will it cost?
SpeedTree functionality is built into Unity 5 and works out of the box in both the free and pro versions. You can get SpeedTree models either by purchasing them from the Unity Asset Store or creating/editing your own with Unity version of the SpeedTree Modeler. We are finalizing our plans for pricing this application and will be making an announcement in advance of the Unity 5 release.*
3) How does it work?
The first step is to put a SpeedTree model anywhere in the ‘Assets’ folder of your project. Unity will recognize the new file and perform the import process automatically. The import process will create materials, assign textures, generate the LODs (including the billboard), and assign SpeedTree effects according to the settings in the Modeler (wind complexity, ambient occlusion, LOD transitions, branch intersection blending, etc.).
Once the model has been imported you can place it in the scene manually (just like any other object) or paint it on terrains.
4) Do SpeedTree models only work on terrains?
No, you can place them manually and manipulate them with the standard translate, rotate, and scale tools. You can paint them on terrains as well.
5) How fully featured is the Unity version of the SpeedTree Modeler compared to the other SpeedTree products?
The Unity version of the Modeler has all of the modeling features used in our AAA games product and our high end visual effects products except those features that require mesh sequences on export. That leaves out animated growth and season changes (these two are exclusive to film anyway) but includes all of our procedural modeling, hand editing, hand drawing, LOD generation, wind animation, subdivision surface modeling, mesh crawling, and everything else about our modeling process. The main restriction is that models can be exported only to Unity.
6) Can I use my own textures and meshes in the models?
Yes, either in the Modeler or in Unity you are in complete control of the texture maps and normal maps. You can also use custom meshes (imported as .obj files) for leaf, branch, and frond geometry. Custom meshes can also be used as props to grow branches and vines around, over, and through.
7) Can I sell models I make with your tool?
Yes, you will be able to sell models you make on the Unity Asset store. The details are still being worked out but it is our intent to allow enterprising modelers to offset the cost of the tool by selling their creations.
For more information or access to the beta version please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Pricing reference edited on 7/10/14