Unite Europe 2015: PopcornFX helps to work with particles in Unity 5 and UE4
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Unite Europe 2015: PopcornFX helps to work with particles in Unity 5 and UE4
2 July, 2015
Interview

Unite Europe 2015 is one of the places where you can meet the people behind some of the best middleware tools on the market. At Unity’s wonderful event, we met with Persistant Studios’ founder Maxime Dumas and had a discussion about their new tool called PopcornFx.

PopcornFx is a very powerful middleware solution for all those game developers who are struggling to create top-notch visual effects in their games. It’s a high-performance, realtime particle Fx editor that is compatible with Unity 5 and Unreal Engine 4. You can mess around with the editor and give feedback to the company so they can make improvements. There’s also a multiplatform runtime integrated into the game-engine. Oh, and did we mention it’s free to use?

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PopcornFx Runtime Performance lets you use more Detailed Simulations with Fewer Processing Cycles © Persistant Studios

It’s pretty straightforward. The particle effects are created by artists in the PopcornFX editor, they are baked and saved with the game assets, and the multiplatform runtime integrated in the game-engine loads the effects and plays them back! You can also interact with the effects and change their properties to better fit the gameplay.

PopcornFx was formed in 2005 and we’ve been working on visual effects ever since. Basically, we’re providing different options to play with particles. We have a separate SDK for the developers working with Unreal Engine 4. With Unity we stick with the current public API. There are some limitations with this sort of compatibility. We can work around some of them, but not all.

Our team is working hard on eliminating these problems of course. With UE4 we use the current the pipeline of the engine and you can do more stuff here. The main thing is that our system is very customizable and we give a lot of flexibility to the developers. You can pre-design your effects to behave differently in game, and you can adapt the density of the particles. PopcornFx can easily fit your pipeline.

Our system does not work with physical destruction. We’re more focused entirely on visual aspects, but you can always make physics and visuals work together. For example, you can simulate the destruction with one middleware and then add the appealing special effects with our software. This way you can make incredible explosions.

PopcornFx is actually very popular among both big and small studios. The tool is even integrated into the Substance Painter tool by Allegorithmic.

A number of big games are using our technology. One of them is the new MMORPG, Black Desert. The other is Trove, an open-ended voxel adventure that reminds me of Minecraft. It’s actually a very interesting case for us, since the rendering is more stylized and cartoonish. There are a lot of other titles as well, but they are not yet announced so I can’t really talk about them.

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Particle Tutorial Advanced Mesh and Texture Sampling © Persistant Studios

The company is working hard to provide more information on how to work with the software. The developers have a pretty big Wiki detailed with all the possible internal info, which include a number of tutorials as well. Not just that, but they are working with the community to publish their own tutorials and to help their colleagues.

If you haven’t tried it yet, have a look at the videos and check out the tools. This seems like a nice tool for game creators.

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Maxime Dumas, CTO, Persistant Studios

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