From Unity Standard RP to HDRP, and back to Standard RP

May 18, 2022 at 06:45 am by nemirc

From Unity Standard RP to  HDRP, and back to Standard RP
From Unity Standard RP to HDRP, and back to Standard RP

Recently, I began work on a small project (the infinite runner I casually mentioned during my Dreamteck Forever review, and I had decided to use Unity’s HD Render Pipeline because I wanted the game to have better lighting and overall image quality. However, at some point during development I had to move the project to Unity’s Standard renderer. Obviously, if I spend more time experimenting with the Unity HD Render Pipeline, I will become more familiar with it, but time is not something I have right now.

One of the things we needed for this specific project is to produce nice glow effects. Glow using the Standard renderer is pretty straightforward. You just add emissive color, and use a multiplier to make things glow more. To make things more interesting, you can even use a Post-Processing Volume to your scene.

However, using HDRP, glow seems to be very different. For example, simply turning on the emission in your material doesn’t really do much.

The default emission intensity for the material is set in “Nits”, but you can switch it to EV100. After tweaking the emission, I noticed the glow looks nice after I ramp up the Nits value all the way to *insert Dr. Evil sound cue here* one-million-units.

And no, I am not kidding.

Another issue I experienced is using the Post-Process bloom effects. I don’t know why, but the bloom effect made everything look blurry. Again, learning from the sample scene and taking the time to tweak all the scene would surely fixed the issue, but I just didn’t have time for that.

While this is not an issue with the renderer itself, but rather a third-party tool I use: Amplify Shader Editor. This software seems to have some issues running on the latest version of HDRP for Unity 2021 (I am not sure about version 2022), returning compiling errors.

On top of that, regular materials also behave somewhat differently. For example, I needed to use some transparency, but in usual Unity fashion, transparent materials were producing some artifacts.

And lastly the way fog works is also different, and the way to control it too. I think in this case, the Unity fog was not something that would fit my project, and that was the source of my problems.

I think Unity HDRP has changed so much of the core lighting and rendering functionality, to the point you need to re-learn a lot of the things in Unity. For example, I would have never guessed I needed to ramp-up the emission rate so much for the glow to show up (I discovered it by accident when I just decided to increase the value to insane levels). Switching to HDRP comes with its own set of challenges and learning curve, and that’s perfectly OK, but I think the problem arises when you’re just too used to the way certain things work (for example the fog or glow) and you need to re-learn how to do stuff.

Either way, this shows that game development requires constant learning of your tool, so you are prepared when you really need to use one of those latest and greatest features.

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