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Cloudscape Seasons - v1.2d

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    New video showing the cloudscape reflection over water using the Epic's free asset : Water Planes.

    Last edited by NilsonLima; 02-07-2018, 02:12 PM.

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  • replied
    Q: How to get even more fluffy clouds without changing the turbulence movement and without changing the wind strength too?

    A: The fluffiness can still be achieved without changing the noise textures which erode the depth and shapes, once you make the scale of the curly noise used to distort the edges of the cloud which the turbulence acts.
    To do it change the material MI_2DTexture_01 with the following values:
    > Curl_1stOctaveScale = 0.0001
    > Curl_2ndOctaveScale = 0.2
    > Curl_2ndOctaveStrength = 1.1
    It is necessary to hit the checkbox Update at the BP_CloudscapeSeasons for it to update the whole cloudscape

    Q: I am having constant crashed when I try to open the project once I updated it from version (4.17, 4.18, 4.19, 4.20) to engine 4.21. How to recover from the error?
    A: We have found the cause, but not why it is causing the issue, since it was not present previously. It looks for some reason the editor can't load a map containing the asset when you startup the editor, but once you have the editor loaded you can open the level without problems, meaning it is a regression issue of some sort.

    The steps to get out of the crashing projects is to follow the steps below:
    - Save your project Config folder elsewhere
    - At your current Config folder, edit the file DefaultEngine.ini
    - Locate the configuration section: [/Script/EngineSettings.GameMapsSettings]
    - search inside the section above, the line with the parameter "EditorStartupMap"
    - you can remove the entire line or make the parameter be equal to None
    - now you can open again the project

    As of December 2018 this issue is already solved and available to all UE versions the product supports.

    Last edited by NilsonLima; 12-29-2018, 03:46 PM.

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  • replied
    Q: Is it possible to add lighting effects that will ilumminate the clouds?
    A: It is possible, it requires a lot of understanding on how the main material works and including knowledge of HLSL. We will add this feature in the future updates without any change on its pricing!

    Q: Is it possible to change the turbulence effect for a spiral to make a tornado storm?
    A: We are looking to add this feature in the package in future updates, it will require a little more time because the performance shoud stay at least compatible with the needs for cinematics. One could do it by himself, but it require a lot of understanding on how the main material works and also knowledge of HLSL. We will try to add this feature in the second update for this package and also try to not change its pricing. Possibly sell it as an add-on material.

    Q: Does the package works with VR? Does it have enough performance for VR?
    A: It works with VR with high-end machines in order to produce 90+ FPS. We don't have numbers, but as soon we have the results we will made them available in this post. We will try with GTX 1080TI, TitanXp, dual GTX 1080 and dual GTX 1080 TI. I guess, no one will try VR on low or mid-end machines, because the requirements for VR demands too much, not to mention the VR gear costs that should ofc scale with proper gaming rig.

    Q: Does the Cloudscape produce reflection over water surfaces?
    A: It does, it reflects on every reflectable surface including water, even better with a Planar Reflection add to the water material. I have provided a video showing how it works... check the 1st post.

    Q: Why does my framerate can't go higher 60 FPS regardless the settings I use?
    A: The most cloud crowded with lowest settings in a high-end machine should give more than 120 FPS. This might be the project settings limiting the framerate. Go to Project Settings, then to the section at left called Engine->General Settings and check if at the Framerate topic at right panel and look for the Smoothed Framerate Range. There are two fields one for Min and the other for Max. You can let the default 22 for Min and use the combo at right from the Max field and select Open. You will start to see higher framerates now.

    Q: Volumetric Fog is not showing up properly or there is a box artifact being shown, how could I fix it?
    A: If you are seen a box artifact when looking above of the sides, you need to setup Fog Height Falloff, Start Distance and Fog Cuttoff Distance to values that will include the effect around the box used to receive the main material for Cloudscape. The default cube dimensions are 100x100x100 and the default scale applied to it is 20000 = this means the cube is 2millin units in each direction. Experimental values, performance wise, should be tried each scene you are composing in order to guarantee the artifact is not seen. You could always use a Cloud Layer modeled as Fog to replace the volumetric fog, though the volumetric fog is cheapest in terms of performance, but if you can't gt rid of the artifacts it is a good idea. You want also to consider if when you have fog you need dense clouds (check the theory of fog and cloud formation). We have experienced changes in behavior between versions 4.17 and 4.18, so the same values for one will not work on the other version. Another way to fix the artifact is open the M_Cloudscape material and set the property Apply Fogging to false (default is true) at the Translucency section. As of v1.2 there are maps showing the proper way to activate the engine's Volumetric Fog in a scene.

    Q: All I want is white clouds with no shadows. How do I set this?
    A: Just set Cloud Shadow Density to 0. You can also set Overall Color setting to give it a color you white, even dark colors or even grayish ones.

    Q: Is there a way to implement a Weather system or does the system has this feature?
    A: For a good weather system you have two choices: implement a simulation system which will also drive the cloud shapes for you OR a presset system where you define each weather condition and also the transition between each one. It is possible to implement the 2nd case with our cloudscape. We have at our roadmap a future implementation where we will have small factor simulation and the presset system altogether. The simulation must occur in the CPU to not cause more GPU overhead, and we are still trying to not use C++ code in a plugin format, to keep the package more stable in the future engine changes, not requiring source code updates with API changes, so we will try to relly on compiled blueprints (nativization) as much as we can on other assets to support future simulation implemantation.

    Q: After update 1.1 my cloudscapes are having issues, they don't seen to work anymore. What to do?
    A: The only difference that may sound like this behavior from version 1.0 to 1.1 is that BP_CloudscapeSeasons and BP_CloudscapeViewer don't support blueprint nativization anymore. There is a bug in nativization that makes the solution to not work. We are still trying to figure an example on how to duplicate the issue to create a ticket to the Engine dev team to evaluate the issue, but this issue is a trick one. All the remaining blueprints can be nativized without issues, but as they don't are bottlenecks to the system at all, they can also be left without nativization. As of v1.2 the blueprint nativization works flawless.

    Q: I have issues with other assets for clouds/sky not being shown at water reflection. Does your asset have similar issues?
    A: I have tested with the free Water Planes asset from Epic, and works fine, keeping good performance... there is also a small video showing this at 1st post. I have also tested with the free Community Ocean Project running at 4.17.x, but you really need to tweak your scene because both assets are GPU intensive, and the reflections in this case (almost a mirror at calm water) demands too many draw calls. Turning on the Shader Complexity shows the Ocean Project as white (Ocean Ultra). I donĀ“t have other ocean assets from the MP to do a more extensive test. Im working on one alternative ocean, just for cinematics purpose, which if it feels right, I might take a look on another improvements to get both on performance level together at least.

    Q: Depending on the camera view position the cloudscape is being cut off the scene against the ocean. How to fix this?
    A: If the ocean is using a transparent material, you need uncheck the setting: "Render after DOF", this way the sorting for the transparent material will be correctly figured the correct pass to render as the cloudscape material is not using the automatic deph check and handles it through the composite material. There is a video showing the case here: - As of v1.2 you don't need to do anything else for the clouds to show properly and the Render after DoF can stay checked.
    Last edited by NilsonLima; 05-10-2018, 12:30 PM.

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  • replied

    Q: I added the package to my project and when I put the BP_CloudscapeSeasons into my level I see no clouds, why is that?
    A: Try first open any demo level inside the Maps folder and wait for the shaders to compile for the 1st time (it may take a while since there are lots of them (~5-8min)). After that you will be able to see clouds when you place the blueprint and follow the tech details video to know which parameters you need to set in order to see the clouds with correct appearance since they depends on at least one directional light to act as Sun and also needs information regarding wind that you can set with BP_WindSeasons and set them inside BP_CloudscapeSeasons. As of v.1.1, whenever you open your project in editor, you need to click on the Update checkbox in order to be able to see the clouds, or just click on the Play button in the editor interface.

    Q: How to decrease the turbulence at clouds?
    A: Four different things are related to turbulence. One is wind strength at BP_WindSeasons you are using at the layer, which if increased influence in the turbulence movement along with cloud displacement over x and y axis. Second is Turbulence Amount at BP_CloudscapeSeasons which increase the amount of turbulence (how much crispy) you can see at clouds. Third is the Turbulence Minimum Density near Turbulence Amount, which is responsible to show the turbulence effect at certain densities of you cloud, so a 1 value will make all areas of your clouds crispy while lower values will move the crispyness to the edges where the density is lower. Fourth is Cloud Wind Turbulence Influence, which reduces the influence of the wind on the turbulence, so default value is 1, a value lower will make the turbulence speed reduce as the wind would be reduced, but does not affect the cloud displacement over x and y axis.

    Q: How to decrease the size of the turbulence?
    A: You will need to change the material instance (or create another copy preferebly) MI_2DTexture01 and decrease the value for Curl_1stOctaveScale. Even the smallest changes brings great results, the default at the instance is 0.05 and you should try 0.025 or 0.0125 and check the differences. The value for Curl_2ndOctaveScale refers to the 1st one, and its default value at the instance is 0.25 which means 0.25 * Curl_1stOctaveScale. Also, to improve performance, the main material is rendered with just half the cube, but this causes the system to cut in half the height of the modeled clouds. That said, you can change the value for Mesh Vertical Position Adjustment from 0.5 to 0. This will cause the cube to have its bottom aligned with landscape and use the full cloud heights.

    Q: How to decrease the shadow strength below the clouds?
    A: The 1st and foremost important element contributing to the strength is the cloud density. You always want to model your cloudscape to a reference, so 1st thing would choose which type of clouds (you can check the video of technical details where I explain each type of clouds) you want to model, second is to increase the density for the cloud layer and the overall density until you have a balance of darkness areas below the cloud. After this if it is still too dark, you will play with Cloud Self Shadow Density, lower the value untill it get the look you want, but a value of 0 will make your cloud plain white and without any shadow! The parameter Cloud Self Shadow Distance will displace the position of this shadow moving from the cloud's edge to the cloud's bottom as a falloff effect. Sometimes it is not what you want play with the darkness but instead you should try play with Cloud Extinction Color, which will give the desired color to the shadow gradient and you would also play with Sky Color For Ambient Lighting, to give the areas where there is no shadows the color for the environment, for example: noon would be blueish, while at sunset would go orange or red or even pink color.

    Q: Which parameters should I care for performance settings?
    A: The main material which uses raymarching to form the clouds does three things: determine which point there will have density or not, apply a texture to give the cloud shape and work with shadow and color for that density. To search for density there is a loop inside the material which is based on the Ray March Steps parameter (default is 128) and this means that for each pixel in the display area we will have 128 iterations. To sample the shadows, there is another parameter which creates a loop inside the previous loop, and it is Cloud Self Shadow Steps (default is 6), so this means that for each pixel in the display area we will have 128 iterations * 6 iterations. Increasing any of these values at certain point greatly improves the smooth and details for the clouds. You will need to play with these two when planning your scene and when defining the Low-end, Mid-end and High-end settings for your game and to provide the end-user the equipment requirements to play the game smoothly. Actually, low-end machines will not be able to make use of this package, because they would lack enough GPU memory 1st. Mid-end machines will be able to play with the lowest settings at 45-60 FPS (RayMarchSteps=128 and ShadowSteps=6) and high-end machines with higher settings will be able to play at 60+ FPS (RayMarchSteps=256 and ShadowSteps=10). Im not sure which framerate a high-end dual-gpu would produce. If your game have flying capabilities, when you are gaing altitude you need to increase the RayMarchSteps to improve quality (this does not affect performance because most of your cloudscape are culled off while inside the clouds, and if you are flying above cruiser speed you might need to set Jitter parameter to 1 to reduce artifacts, changing it back to 0 when speed goes slow again. Few high altitude clouds will cost more than lots of low altitude clouds, because when density reaches 1 I just dont care evaluating the further distance from the point where density reached 1... making evaluation during the step leaving faster.

    Q: Is there a way to extract a bit more of performance from the package without reducing the amount of clouds and their shadowing/colors?
    A: Yes, but this might cause loss of definition or give aliasing into the scene. You can set SeparateTranslucencyScreenPercentage to a lower value if your scene does not use too many transparent materials (the cloudscape already is), the default value is 100 and from our experimentation this value can go as low as 50 with almost unnoticiable aliasing at Full HD resolution, but I think that if the intention is to make the solution work for mid to low-end machines with at least 4GB RAM at GPU, that would do it. Another parameter, but this one is hardly as good as the previous one, which works similarly, is the ScreenPercentage, with its default value at 100 and from our experimentation this value can go as low as 75 to avoid aliasing issues. This one is recommended if you are using a lot of transparent materials and its effect hits all materials regarding their type. All the values does not take into account the use of postprocessing effects, which might require different settings or maybe even not allow the changes at these parameters.

    Q: Can I use the package with mobile?
    A: Since the mobile has a very small area for display, it might be possible to achieve good performance, but besides flying simulators, it is hard to imagine a mobile game making good use for this solution, as most of great titles for Android offer an isometric view from the top, so, no clouds can be seen. Tests on emulators are working fine, but on real devices are showing high temperature generated when playing with too many clouds and high raymarch counting.

    Q: Can I use the package with Playstation or XBoxOne?
    A: We didn't test the shaders with these two platforms still. There is nothing up to our knowledge that tell us it will not work. We are lacking the developer kits on both platforms to acomplish an in-depth test, including performance tweaks. Try to reach us and we might cut a deal if it is the case you want to test it. Im not sure you can buy it knowing that it not recommended for these platforms still and ask for refund based on MP policies, so by any means send me a private message if you want to try before buy.

    Q: Can the package work for versions previous 4.17?
    A: We can provide, for an extra-cost, the package working for versions 4.16, 4.15, 4.14 and 4.13. The package should be recriated in those versions, because copying the files just don't work. Our opinion about it though, is that you should try to use it from 4.17 and above since some engine fixes reduced memory overhead, garbage collection, and errors with Render Targets that produced crashes in the editor for those versions. You can replicate all materials and blueprints yourself at previous versions if you don't want the extra-cost, but that will not work for versions previous 4.13.
    Last edited by NilsonLima; 05-10-2018, 12:24 PM.

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  • replied

    the package is under final revision at MP, but I have to sent with low quality Moon textures (hand painted) because of issues with authoring rights on the original ones. Im going to privide an update on this soon, since Im going after another set of textures. Also, I have to send the Maps with low settings, because there is a sort of performance goal for demo maps, and all you need to do is to increase RayMarchSteps parameter in steps of 8 each time until the performance is ok for your target environment and also increase Coverage values and Density values to increase the cloud population and volume. The real performance you will not see while inside editor, you need to run the map as Standalone Game and keep the editor with viewport setting Realtime turned off.

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  • replied
    I had to update the package today for the reviewing crew at MP and already applied some changes and improvements into it, mostly appointed from a company testing it already. Hope you guys enjoyed. I will try to post a more complete video on how to model clouds that actually canonically dont exist, but you keep seem into games, cartoons and anime...

    for now I have created this small video (coff 10min >.<) showing some variations you can easily achieve just with parameters you can drive anytime:

    spacegojira, thanks for the interest, I hope I can achieve even better results in the next updates to the product.
    Last edited by NilsonLima; 02-07-2018, 02:11 PM.

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  • replied
    Hey, thank you for your indepth reply, that's very interesting. And I just saw your last video you posted, the clouds look so much better and much more realistic already. I am really looking forward to this, since I am disappointed by all the other cloud packs so far. (:

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  • replied
    Not released yet by the MP, but I'm already cooking the next release with few extra features, more materials, ready to use cloud types modeled, more demo maps, a complete scene with terrain, trees, grass and few assets, and even a cloud in a heart shape to show the strength and artistic orientation this package provides. Stay tunned for new screenshots and videos.

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  • replied
    It is submitted for MP approval.

    Check first post and for the documentation link released as a video with tech details and hands on here:
    Last edited by NilsonLima; 02-07-2018, 02:11 PM.

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  • replied
    Originally posted by BoredEngineer View Post
    Looks lovely! Will you make it available on itchio or other places besides MP? As it might take a while.
    The MP process has just changed... Im going to give a two week wait on the release, otherwise I will might try Gumroad for selling.

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  • replied
    Looks lovely! Will you make it available on itchio or other places besides MP? As it might take a while.

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  • replied
    This one I got from Amanda Bott from twitter and I know I can reproduce it:

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  • replied
    I got some good news on the project so far:

    - improved the cloud sharpness
    - improved the rim smooth effect with distance from sun or moon light
    - implemented cloud layers
    - implemented alternative to use curves for several attributes
    - finally matched all cloud scenarios I selected previously and added storm clouds to the pool

    but as for implementing higher texture sizes, it didnt turn a good solution and the main reason is that you would run out of system memory too fast since when you change the blueprint attributes the editor automatically add the change to the "undo" feature and as we are working with lots of textures procedurally generated, it turns that too many copies are cached for the "undo" and it makes you to save whole project too many times between changes and even so, run it in PIE for the garbage collector to dismiss that memory.

    That said I have changed some things and could improve the overall cloud look appearance with even less resolution for the clouds, now you hardly notice visual differences with different texture resolutions while your main display stays the same (mine is full HD).

    I would like to make an offer for all developers wanting the Cloudscape tool for free: place a cloudscape picture in this thread that you would like the tool to be capable to achieve and be one of 5 (five) lucky developers to receive the tool for free, including future upgrades. The criteria for the applicants is that he is an active community member with frequent posts in the forum and the picture depicts a cloudscape (during day, night, storm, sunset or during flight), I will check the history myself. I will post here the winners and I will show the pictures of the product in action with their pictures reproduced.

    The submission for this project will happen on the week October 25-29th 2017 and I can't wait to see what people are doing with it!

    Thanks all for the feedback.
    Last edited by NilsonLima; 09-25-2017, 07:10 AM.

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  • replied
    While creating the Demo maps with the several cloudscapes I could find a good photo to base on, I found particularly 3 scenarios (out of 12) I could not match the sharpness of the clouds... and the problem is that I quite liked those 3 photos and find they really up to most desirable. I made some experiments and I have decided to change the product to support even higher resolution which the following impact: more texture memory being used. The previous the best resolution to map into the volume would be 400 pixels from a 8k texture sampled as 20x20 frames (so at Z it was interpolated 400 slices). The current one you will have mapped into the volume up to 1k from 8x8k textures sampled as 8x8 frames (so at Z it will be interpolated 512 slices). Overall, better image and definition of details. The system will adopt the correct material depending on the selected resolutions.

    Hands now at work!

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  • replied

    It does! Bellow you will find the transparent material I have placed into two spheres as to simulate a sort of glass (sorry, did it quickly and with no references), being one sphere with refraction enabled and the other without it, showing the cloudy region where the two spheres are and the behavior for each one. All done for 4.16.3 so it will also work for 4.17. By the way Im quite confident as for the engine matter I can put it to work as far as 4.13.x, since for submission UE4 Marketplace want the current and the following lowest, I might cut a deal to transform it to previous versions if needed.

    video at :

    I hope it translates to what you wish to see, otherwise could you post the material you want me to try at?

    Last edited by NilsonLima; 02-07-2018, 02:17 PM.

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