Amplify Texture Plug-In for Unity
We haven't really used or needed a lot of plug-ins for RedFrame thus far, however there is one we started using that is pretty incredible. Amplify Texture is a plug-in for Unity that allows textures to be streamed into your game dynamically. What's cool is that it only streams the visible parts of a potentially massive virtual texture, which contains all the textures you add to it. Consequently the scene loading time is negligible and you can have one Virtual Texture for each scene, making it virtually unlimited.
A few weeks ago, I was working on puzzles and prototyping some tutorial like gameplay while Mike was working on environmental story ideas. He asked me if I had gotten very far testing Amplify, as we had talked about using it in the past. I hadn't really tried it out seriously but Mike had realized that a lot of his environmental story ideas would benefit from very detailed textures. For example, someones name carved in a wall or scuff marks, the kinds of things maybe only Sherlock Holmes would notice at first.
There where obviously other reasons to look for a good texture solution, we use tons of light maps and also have dozens of paintings, all of which are severely hurt if they are displayed at at small size. There were also performance reasons, once all the textures, sounds, and 2 million triangle house are put into RAM, there is not a lot of room for high resolution light maps. My previous solution was to load and unload light maps based on them coming into visibility while frustum and occlusion culling were running. This was an adequate solution but messy and not necessarily scalable. We also weren't getting great performance on older hardware, this was expectable but not ideal.
I knew we could get the game to run fine but didn't enjoy having to thread this needle, it would be much nicer to just work freely. It's hard to except that there is now such a good solution but early tests seem to indicate that it is so.
The current version of Amplify doesn't support light maps, however, because texture memory is not much of an issue, I did a test where I simply baked light and color all into one huge map with no need for repeating textures. I can also bake hi-rez normal maps into this map so the level of detail is pretty stunning so far. As you can see the first tests are pretty promising and I look forward to continue testing this plug-in moving forward. You can learn more about Amplify Texture here.