Meetup Mondays! Game Artist Philipp Schmidt Helps Us Optimize!

By | January 11, 2016

Preface: Philip was very helpful in our email conversations. Unfortunately, I didn’t receive a response regarding this interview. I’m choosing to run my half of the interview anyways as it highlights some of the issues I’ve encountered optimizing for mobile.

I’ve had some difficulty finding information on baking light maps into a mobile scene. There’s plenty of info about what it is, but not a lot of info about how to go about it. For the how of it all, there’s conflicting information and wrong information.

I decided to ask Philipp Schmidt about extensive optimization for mobile. Philipp Schmidt is a game artist who has created some of the most popular environment art assets on the Unity Asset Store. Using BIG Environment Pack Vol. 2 allowed me to meet deadlines on The Blind Shrine Maiden and look good doing it. Currently I’m working with his Mobile Environment Pack 1.2 in combination with Marmoset Skytools shaders. The following is a Meetup Monday developer interview and tech support transcript all in-one.

Hi Philip, thank you very much to agreeing to this interview. What kind of artist do you self-identify as? Please tell us about how you got into game art, the tools you use, and your workflow.

How has your experience been selling on the Asset Store? Is there anything you’d like to see change?

As you know from our email chats I’m trying to create an extensively optimized island scene for mobile using your MEP 1.2 assets and Marmoset Skyshop shaders. I’ve run into plenty of issues with Unity and have lots of questions. First of all you’ve argued against using Unity’s Terrain System. Can you explain why?

Is LOD seems to be better than, say, the Terrain System for trees and grass? The Terrain System essentially being a combination of billboarding and culling. Are LODs something that Unity creates procedurally or something that the artist must create (and if the latter, what is the process)?

Shadows. What is the deal with shadows? Checkout these sceencaps where enabling shadows more than doubles the Tris. count! The SetPass calls (draw calls) count nearly doubles as well (right-click, view image, and then click to zoom in order to see all the stats). It’s obvious that some of this is just a bug but remarkable none-the-less.

In an outdoor scene I’ve been told that ambient lighting bounce isn’t a huge issue. I wanted to make sure, however, that I baked in shadows as that seemed to be a major high-stats factor. In the Inspector View I set the Directional Light to baked. In the Lighting View I selected Object>Lights>Directional Light, Object>Renders>(all the MEP meshes), and Terrain>islandTerrain. Then I selected Lightmaps>Build and let it run overnight. The results aren’t super great (I’m not blaming MEP)…

In the above scrncap you can see that there’s really only one clearly defined shadow to speak of. Is that just a map resolution issue?

//edit: I’ve since learned from Protopop and the following thread that Unity 5 can’t bake shadows to terrain:

There’s only 30-40 more draw calls that the realtime no-shadow version and only 30-40 less draw calls than the realtime yes-shadows version. Is this within expectations?

With that said, trying it out on a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 the performance is actually quite good. Especially since I got rid of Terrain grass as you suggested. I noticed however that the huts and Pandani render much darker than in Unity…

I think this is because there’s a disparity in the shaders. To the other assets I’ve assigned Marmoset’s Mobile/Transparent/Diffuse IBL shaders but when I apply them to the huts or Pandini it turns them inside out! Do you think the disparity in the shaders is the cause for the tonal difference? And is there a quick fix ensuring meshes that were originally assigned the legacy cutout shaders won’t turn inside out when given other shaders?

Finally do you have any suggestions as to how to improve this scene or any other tips/tricks for improving performance?

Thank you very much for all the environment packs, taking the time to speak with us, and for helping me with my game creation!

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2 thoughts on “Meetup Mondays! Game Artist Philipp Schmidt Helps Us Optimize!

    1. admin Post author

      There aren’t any Philipp’s comments. I twice sent him a draft of the questions but he didn’t respond, so this convo is totally one sided lol. I figured I’d run it anyways since it does give some insight into the trials and tribulations of optimizing for mobile. It serves as a meta look at the struggles of making #gamedev things happen too. But I shall not be dissuaded!


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