Allegorithmic officially launched Substance Store. Just like Unity, Autodesk, Cryengine V and so many other middleware companies the company is trying to build an ecosystem around it’s family of products. The new marketplace for 3D artists can help to get curated content selected by the Allegorithmic team. Anthony Salvi, Creative Director, and Jérôme Derel, Chief Product Officer, talked about Substance Store.
The idea for Substance Store started in January of this year.
We realized through our own work as 3D artists that there are many accessible, detailed platforms with the resources that artists need. Having that kind of choice is great; however, it means sifting through a lot of content of variable quality and price. Constantly filtering that content is a time drain for artists.
We believe that there is room for a crucial step of centralizing content and presenting the best of it to the community, and promoting the technical and quality level of products rather than volume.
The central idea of Substance Store is making life easier for artists with curated content. You can come here and get vetted, quality products in order to spend more time creating.
Substance Store is a way for us to provide the right content for everyone. Our community is diverse enough that we can no longer ship a product that contains everything that everyone needs. We wanted to create a place where each user can find and download the content that fits their needs and customize it. In this way, the store is an extension of our products.
Substance Store contains 4 types of content:
- Resources that you can use to build content with our products (textures from Texturing XYZ, material scans from RDT)
- Content created and exported from our products (GameTextures Substances)
- Context that sets a mood or theme that you can use as a reference, or a background to fit with a specific intent (Hyperfocal Design HDRis)
- Moodpacks that contain the above content and group it around a specific theme/asset pair
Substance users will find content for our software with our formats, while generic content can be used in our software but elsewhere, too.
We chose different suppliers to cover all possible usages and markets. These suppliers aren’t competitors – each one will offer something different that creates a complete offer. For example, Texturing XYZ offers high-quality skin scans. They are complementary to – but don’t overlap – products offered by RDT, which specializes in scans of things like rocks and vegetation.
What you see in Substance Store today is just the beginning. We are identifying new content and vendors to present to the community, and will be presenting them within the coming months.
The products offered on Substance Store are ones that we know and have tested. The quality check has already happened on our end – and we’ve worked with some of these vendors for a long time.
Take Hyperfocal, for example. This is the only provider who creates time-lapse HDR domes with real skies and no architecture. We bought and used these products before adding them to Substance Store because they met our standards for quality. Same thing for the textures offered by Game Textures – we know the company and have worked extensively with their products. We’ve also met the founder of Texturing XYZ and share his same criteria of quality and innovation, and his idea of making good content widely accessible.
The idea behind content curation for our customers is similar to the idea of a specialized accessory store for your tablet or smartphone: rather than choosing from a selection of 30 or so covers at a big-box retailer, in a specialized store you’ll find a selection of 5 or 6 that are specifically designed for your device. You don’t have to worry about getting a cover that obscures the charge port.
We paid a lot of attention to details of the user experience on Substance Store. These are things that you won’t necessarily notice at first, but are important for a smooth shopping experience.
Shape, lighting, and material always work together. When you focus on one aspect, you need to have the references for the others in order to predict exactly how it behaves. For example, we always use the same shape for materials and environments. When looking at a material in Substance Store, the lighting will always be the same. This way, the only difference between two materials is the material itself. It’s the same for environments. Standard materials have been chosen (diffuse white, gray, black, chrome, and satinated aluminum) to show how this environment lights everything so that there aren’t any surprises.
The team did a lot of work on the presentation spheres that you see. Having a sphere that shows what a material surface looks like under convex, concave, flat shapes and gaps, and also how it is scattered and absorbed in the volume under different thicknesses, is necessary. You can see what the material looks like accurately in one shot before you purchase it.
A lot of work went into the lighting, too. We wanted to position the light precisely to display the desired highlight, shadows, and a good contrast. This way, you can be sure the color you see is the color you will get when using a particular material.
Sketchfab 3D display is another feature that we believed was necessary for Substance Store. When you click on a mesh, you get the Sketchfab view from all angles. Even if no one will ever see inside the mesh in the scene you create, it’s important that you be able to see it before purchasing.
These are features that aren’t always standard in selection of online content marketplaces.
Fantasy HDR maps included in some of the Moodpacks
The Moodpacks are not limited to just textures and materials. You can personalize the material with tools provided in the Moodpack, create faster, have more choices in what you create with materials, use “smart materials” that automatically adapt to your geometry, and the tools available in Substance Painter. Particle brushes can be used for blood tools.
Another exciting thing about the Moodpacks is the focus on imaginary environments. This is the first time that a vendor has offered HDR maps from an imaginary universe.
The majority of HDR maps are linked to environments where it’s possible to go and take photos. That means that most HDR maps feature real-world settings. But there is so much to do with imaginary ones that we wanted to expand the concept to include them, too. Rather than a forest, road, or natural physical environment, our HDR maps are completely different and out of this world.
This is just one feature of what is offered in the Moodpacks, but the creativity it represents indicates how we want Substance Store to evolve.
We are excited about this new place and are looking forward to making it grow over the next few months. What you see in Substance Store today is just the beginning. We are at work curating the next batch of content for our users, who represent a diverse set of needs that is growing every day.