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UE5 Deserves better procedural foliage tools

Hi,

the one area UE, including UE5 is still severely lacking, is some reasonable toolset to procedurally scatter foliage. Right now, the only really usable tool is the Foliage Paint tool, but that one isn’t feasible for scattering the foliage procedurally.

We also have the forever-beta Procedural Foliage spawner, but the workflow for that whole system is so insanely bad and inefficient that most of the time it’s just not worth using in the end. It makes it borderline impossible to art direct the foliage distribution due to overcomplicated way of scattering based on semi-biological parameters, and over 90% of the time using that tool is actually spent on juggling and wrangling all the weird asset types (procedural foliage volume, procedural foliage spawner and static mesh foliage) and manually keeping all the fragmented paramters of all the different static mesh foliage assets in sync when iterating. And then also having to refresh each iteration manually by clicking a button on a level actor, or multiple buttons if using multiple volumes.

When there is just one foliage asset per single static mesh asset, managing distributions with significant variety just becomes way too time consuming.

The Procedural Foliage toolset is so bad it has motivated me to learn C++ and write my own plugin just to fix this shortcoming:

Unfortunately maintaining the plugin in rapidly evolving UE environment is also a chore, especially when using early access/preview versions, such as UE5. I’d very much like to have an option to use some reliable, albeit basic scattering solution made by Epic directly, which I just knew I could rely on.

I am really worried that the existence of gravely insufficient Procedural Foliage Volume system means the checkbox for procedural scattering feature existence is already checked in the minds of Epic when it comes to UE feature set, and won’t be revisited in future. But I really think that Procedural Foliage/Scattering system needs to be rethought completely. Especially now when UE5 allows users to create way larger and more complex environments than ever.

And I think the fact this is coming from someone who is literally making money off of the built in procedural scattering tools being bad says a lot.

So what I would like to see is either an alternative to, or ideally a replacement of Procedural Foliage system with some more generic mass scattering solution, which has, unlike Procedural Foliage system, acceptable level of usability.

3 Likes

I second this. We need something proper especially with scattering on a specified base mesh surface.
Why can’t we have a procedural scatterer with an option to select surfaces we want to scatter them on?

I’ve just created a post because I thought I was missing something with the foliage tools… I can’t believe there is no way to save brushes & presets! Not to mention control what surface gets painted on by texture and angle/steepness. I remember using a Vegetation Tool in 2005 in Cryengine that had this functionality. I’m a bit confused how people are making large maps now. Do we really have to write down the settings and recreate the brush every time? Bizzare.

+1

Simple Scatter looks really good, will definitely check it out - however I get what you’re saying that keeping it updated would be a chore. Would love to see something just like this integrated in UE5.

I guess a number of people won’t mind if such tool is external or semi-external so using Houdini or GraphN is an option, but I very much prefer tools that exist fully inside Unreal (performance can be better since external tools spend quite some time on data in/output, and better integrated in terms of UI and data assets).
while I’d love an official tool I don’t have high hopes of it really, which is why I’ve only just started writing an own set of custom scattering tools. I only just got a first simple version of a StaticMeshActor+Blueprint actor scatterer, but sometime I’ll also tackle Foliage.

with that in mind, what would you guys expect from a proper Procedural Foliage spawning toolset? I’d like to start gathering ideas for myself but this could also serve as a pool of ideas for anyone (Epic or otherwise) to look at

+1 from me but I don’t think you’ll see a better foliage toolset until Epic is making a game that needs one.

I’ll check out the OP’s tool. Foliage is an area I spend a lot of time on and will in the future as well. I find it is better to have direct artistic control over parameters, coupled with a few simple, semi-procedural methods.

The idea to simulate forest seeds spreading is something only a programmer could come up with :). What level designers okay’d that system?

edit: checked out OP’s tool. Thats perfect - exactly what is needed, no more no less.