Terraforming: Grass and Water (Unity 3D)

Hello guys,

We have 2 problems with an idea for a game that is really difficult to figure out how to do in the best way.

So the scenario is that there will be planets in the game which players can walk on and need to terraform them. These planets are spherical and not flat so a lot of basic tricks wont work.

What we need to do.
1- The planet will have no plant life on it but what we want to do is when the player uses a Terraformer the grass must start growing from that point until it consumes the planet. Is this possible with only using materials or is there better ways of achieving this effect?

2- Water. What is the best way for water to be generated on a planet. We are not looking at water that can move around but instead like shallow pools or maybe even bigger dams to form on the planet.


  • You're right. The basic tricks won't work.

    You might get away with grass material, but you would have to look at ways to manipulate the texture image information, and translate it to the texture coordinates of your planet surface. It could be a headache...
    I highly recommend you look at Triplanarshaders instead. And blend the output from the shader with another value...
    It's a bit technical maybe, I'm not sure of your current skillbase...

    Another option is to generate grass billboards on the fly... this is brute force and the quality depends on how much performance you are willing to sacrifice. The end result is grass that is more than just a picture on a surface, and because you're building the geometry where and when you need it, you don't have to worry about manipulating texture images or dynamically changing shader output.

    There might be other ways... hundreds... but that's what i would go with.

    Water. As i understand, water in unity requires that it is always horizontal.
    Maybe there are other ways now?
    Also, depends on how realistic you want water to look in the game.

    Chances are you will again have to settle for something custom...
    If you play with shaders, you could probably edit the standard water shader to work around a spherical point instead of horizontal....

    I'm just throwing ideas around, but I'm happy to go into more detail if you are interested.
  • Awesome thanks a lot for the input. Will see what I can manage.
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