Author Topic: An Update on Substance support in Unity 2018.1  (Read 22645 times)

Hello,

The built-in support for Substance materials will be deprecated in Unity 2018.1. To maintain compatibility, we are
working on a new external plugin, with plans to release it on the Asset Store for 2018.1.

The Substance Plugin will be free. I will have more details to share soon but this will be a positive move for both Allegorithmic and Unity. Unity is a great partner and we are very excited about what we will be doing with the new 2018 Substance support.

The original integration has become old and we are now able to rework the entire plugin with our new framework as well as deploy timely updates to coincide with new Substance Engine features. We will be wrapping the Painter Live Link and Substance Source integrations all into this new single plugin package. This will greatly streamline Substance support for users in the Substance ecosystem.

The team has been working diligently and focused on the feature set, so I wanted to share some answers for questions I've been seeing. 

1. What can asset store creators do if they want to include substance in their content?


This answer is coming from Unity but I wanted to include it here as well.

Asset store creators could write and link in the asset description that their product requires the Substance plugin to work (like they do for the required Unity version). This is easy to do and clear for the user.

We kind of auto-detect the missing plugin by showing this error message: "Built-in support for Substance Designer materials has been removed from Unity. To continue using Substance Designer materials, you will need to install Allegorithmic's external importer from the Asset Store." but we have no way of auto-installing the plugin at the moment.

The substance plugin will not be available in the package manager, this is our new way to package our "native" code. The Asset Store and Package Manager are two different entities. Because of the possibilities offered by the new Hub (https://blogs.unity3d.com/2018/01/24/streamline-your-workflow-introducing-unity-hub-beta/) it might be possible in the future to create templates that will automatically setup your plugins for a project but this might take a while before being operational.

2. In regards to Live Link and Source in same package as then engine, will these features be separate DLLs? Will an editor feature like Painter Live Link inflate the build size of projects where SBSAR files are included in the build?

Yes, they will be separate. Livelink and Source are editor only and will not build out with the game.

3. How is ProceduralMaterial class going to be handled?

You will be able to manipulate Substances through Scripts, but the API will change. There is not a ScriptedMaterial type available in Unity, so the Substance will be made available as a ScriptedObject that the developer can execute Script functions on, which will then relay those commands to the Unity Textures (which would be reflected in a regular Unity Material)

4. Will the official 2018.1 + the new substance plugin pack be able to correctly upgrade a 2017.3 project with all sbsar, their materials (currently saved in the sbsar.meta file) and their applications within a project?

It’s one of our major feature concerns. We will be investigating this aggressively before release, but the upgrade path may not be as straightforward since we are talking about different “objects” entirely in a technical sense. We may be able to read the .meta files though and interpret what we need.

5. Will Substance plugin support 4k-8k textures, GPU processing and 16 bit per color channel?

It’s on our roadmap but not for initial release. Our focus now is building the new plugin to have the same feature set but be more robust and at a high level quality for release.

6. Will the new Substance plugin be free?

Yes! The plugin will be free. It will be available on the Unity Asset Store and contain the Engine, LiveLink and Source in the same package.

7. When will the plugin be available and will there be a beta?

The new plugin will be available at the launch of Unity 2018.1 on the Unity Asset Store. We have plans to release a beta but we don't have an ETA to share just yet.

We know this is a lot of change for Substance users. Please rest assured we take all of your concerns very serious. We are working hard to make this change as smooth as possible with the least amount of disruptions in workflow. In the end, we will be releasing a much better Substance product for Unity users with the ability to expand and grow with new features.

Cheers,
wes






Last Edit: January 31, 2018, 10:23:19 pm
Head of Substance Demo Art Team
the3dninja@adobe.com
Twitter: The3DNinja

That's great news! Can't wait to see the new integration.

This sounds fantastic in theory. Unity does not have near the incentive as you guys do to have their support for substances be top notch. I really am glad you are taking this on.

I would love it if you guys could somehow get it so that Substances can chain inside unity. So that output from one substance can be the input of another. This was never supported before because Procedural Texture was never a real Texture2D (I think it inherited from Texture).

I assume there will be some sort of script support from this plugin so we can control some/most/all of the substance functions from script.

I can't wait to see what you guys came up with in terms of supporting substances.

what is the difference between, built-in support and external plugin?

I'm glad to hear it, and very excited that you guys will finally "be in control of your own destiny" so to speak (the amount of time everyone had to wait for Substance Designer 6+ support was truly painful).

That said, PLEASE get that integration out as soon as possible, even in beta form.  If you're planning on waiting until the end of the 2018.1 cycle that might seem like a smooth transition on paper, but to the many designers, developers, and creators who test their stuff on Unity beta versions, it means a pretty significant disruption in Substance support.

My partner and I are just two independent artists and not some game studio with a full time staff, but with no plugin asset available we either are unable to develop and test on 2018.1 or must avoid using .sbsar on projects that require it.  To us, it feels like the ball has been dropped again (it's not like you guys didn't know this was coming).

Questions:

* What about existing assets that rely on the old plugin? Will the new plugin be fully backwards compatible or do asset developers have to make adjustments? Given the time it takes Unity to review a changed asset, which can be 1 month (!), assets which rely on the plugin might not work for a long time.

* Are asset developers allowed to include this plugin like they do with e. g. the postprocessing stack or parts of the standard assets unitypackage? Or will downloading the plugin from the store become a precondition?

* What means deprecation, i. e. will the old plugin be classified deprecated and still be available or will it be removed with 2018.1?

* Will the plugin work without Source subscription? I use my own materials, I don't use Source.

Concerns:

* Some things most probably will not work, given history of bugs in Unity with every release. So an early beta would be really appreciated during the 2018.1 beta phase instead of after release.

Thank you very much!
Last Edit: January 20, 2018, 09:34:36 am

Please have a look at the unity forum for some questions and concerns from users

mainly the wording deprecated, but this will change I understand, and also the fact that asset stor authors can't rely anymore that the plugin is installed on the users side.   the best way would be an auto detection of substance materials and auto download the requested plugin when needed. 

Otoy does the same with the Octane plugin.

https://forum.unity.com/threads/an-update-on-substance-format-support-in-unity.509408/#post-3356285


@Rowlan, currently it means that any builds you have that use an .sbsar file are broken in the Unity 2018.1 beta.  They will remain that way until Allegorithmic puts out their standalone plugin, or at the very least a beta for it. 

With 6+ months to prepare for this transition, Allegorithmic appears to have chosen not to have the plugin available for testing during the 2018.1 beta testing phase, which puts artists and developers in a difficult spot.  Halt testing and development on projects that use .sbsar files and require testing on 2018.1 for however many weeks or months that it takes them to make something available, or find an alternative to using .sbsar in your project.

Problem is that asset developers are already removing Substance from their assets to make the assets compatible. This means also that you can't even use bugfix releases of the assets anymore and you are stuck. I read that 2018.1 is targeted for a release in March. In Unity terms that's usually end of March. So that's a very long wait.

I was using the ProceduralMaterial class in a game i'm working on, i am not upgrading to 2018.1 for this single reason now. I don't want to rework the code now. It's really annoying, but i expect better performance and easier integration and more update to the upcoming importer, still, it's annoying that it is deprecated right away without being first obselete .

major unity asset such as CTS use proceduralmaterial support for the terrain, what will happen to all those... kind of scary to know that not only i have to update all my script but also all the asset imported in the project... i had bad experience with upgrading asset at some point you break stuff. Maybe you have modified an asset too and reimporting will wipe out your code...

oh well... I welcome the change, but i'll wait, but the more I wait the more painful it will be and i will probably eventually need to upgrade... argh

Is there any update from the Allegorithmic guys as to a potential timeframe for even a beta release of the new plugin?  As noted above, Unity dropping support in 2018.1 and a plugin not being ready at launch has put developers in a tough spot. I am developing on 2018.1 to take advantage of the new Template system that sees a "High Definition" option that adds a lot of post-processing features to compete with Unreal Engine (which I have recently moved over from) but a lack of support for Substance materials really halts production.

It feels like the message Allegorithmic is sending to developers and artists is "use our products at your peril, we don't have your back and relying on our products could cripple your project."

If that was not the case, we would have either the plugin or a beta, as well as plenty of detailed information about the timeline.

It feels like the message Allegorithmic is sending to developers and artists is "use our products at your peril, we don't have your back and relying on our products could cripple your project."

If that was not the case, we would have either the plugin or a beta, as well as plenty of detailed information about the timeline.

Hi,

We are very sorry you are getting this feeling from us. This is definitely not the case. I'm sorry but I must say that is a very inaccurate statement about how we work. There is much more that happens behind the scenes than what you may have perceived as "plenty of detailed information about the timeline." This isn't something that we knew about months in advance and decided to just sit on it and put our user's projects in jeopardy. We acted on this immediately, the moment we found out Unity was going to take this direction.

Our team has been working diligently on the new plugin and we will have the plugin ready for the official Unity 2018.1 release. We fully support Unity's direction to remove the Substance plugin. We were not happy about the update delays we had to incur with the previous version of Unity and this new direction gives us the ability to fully support our user base with timely updates. 

I apologize for our silence on our progress. The truth is the team has been so focused and working that we haven't had time to share any new updates. However, I take full responsibility for not being more transparent.

Cheers,
Wes
Head of Substance Demo Art Team
the3dninja@adobe.com
Twitter: The3DNinja

Is there any update from the Allegorithmic guys as to a potential timeframe for even a beta release of the new plugin?  As noted above, Unity dropping support in 2018.1 and a plugin not being ready at launch has put developers in a tough spot. I am developing on 2018.1 to take advantage of the new Template system that sees a "High Definition" option that adds a lot of post-processing features to compete with Unreal Engine (which I have recently moved over from) but a lack of support for Substance materials really halts production.

Hi,

We will have the plugin ready when Unity 2018.1 officially launches. We are working on a beta which we are looking at releasing this month. I'm sorry but I can't give an ETA just yet on the beta.

Cheers,
Wes
Head of Substance Demo Art Team
the3dninja@adobe.com
Twitter: The3DNinja



With 6+ months to prepare for this transition, Allegorithmic appears to have chosen not to have the plugin available for testing during the 2018.1 beta testing phase, which puts artists and developers in a difficult spot.  Halt testing and development on projects that use .sbsar files and require testing on 2018.1 for however many weeks or months that it takes them to make something available, or find an alternative to using .sbsar in your project.

Again, this is a false statement. We have not chosen to put artists and developers in a difficult spot. It wasn't our idea to remove the plugin in the first place. We acted on this decision the moment we found out about it. It's not constructive feedback for us or other users trying to get information if you insist on making claims about timelines and development process without knowing the actual facts of the situation. I understand your frustration as this situation is frustrating for us as well. We appreciate your feedback and it's definitely warranted, but we just ask that you try to keep things constructive.

Cheers,
wes
Head of Substance Demo Art Team
the3dninja@adobe.com
Twitter: The3DNinja