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Variation Pro-Tools is now available!

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VPT Update: Substances

Posted by: Addison Olthuis on August 22, 2017

Well it seems that I'm back to my old ways of barely posting, and I was hoping the next post would be saying that I have finished the train station, but unfortunately its still not done. I actually have all the assets made and textured, but the big thing is that they are textures and not substances. Every day I finish 1 substance, if they are small assets like a hand dryer I can pump out 3 or 4 in a day but all the small ones are pretty much finished.

I was hoping to have at least some screen shots for you guys today but the scene is actually really quite ugly now. I had switched to baked light maps after getting some pretty bad performance because of the 50 real time lights inside the building, and after I had updated some of the assets with their new substances all of the lighting is now screwed to hell. But don't worry its really not a big issue, I just don't have time to pretty the scene up for a screen shot or 2 to have to do it all over again in a week or so. On top of that I actually really don't light the building in general, so I have been thinking of making a new building and spending a bit more time on the geometry and layout. You are probably thinking its already been a long time which is true, and that's exactly what this update is supposed to be talking about, substances...

So about the shelf in this updates header. It is one of the assets in the example scene, and as you can see there is 7 little slices, each that are a different variant, with the one on the far left being its default state, and as you go to the right it starts to get dirtier, moldier, and eventually snowier and bloodier. There is actually hundreds of sliders and values you can change in the substance to make it look completely different and original for your game. You can also change the type of wood, and the pictures in the frames, all within the substance. Back to what I had said in one of the first updates about VPT, I had said that since I'm going to be using the assets that I'm selling for my future projects, and since originality does kind of matter to me, I want to still be able to have an asset that is original, even though it started from the same thing. It does take probably 4 times longer to make each asset, but I think its worth it, but I guess reviews from people like you are going to have to confirm that.

Now a lot of these things, like snow and water could be done in a shader, which could save me a bunch of time. What's been taking me so long, is that for each asset I need to make a substance with the same values over and over again. Now I could just export a template and input the base and mesh maps, but it definitely does not bring out the best of its potential, so that is why I do it from scratch almost every time. But that doesn't mean shaders are out of the question. One of the features of the tools is that you can edit Material and Substance properties from as many different materials that you want at once, so now you just have to change one value instead of opening up all the materials and doing it one by one, and not only that but it will instance them as well so it will only affect the objects in the group. It may be hard to picture, so once this example scene is complete, it will be time to start pumping out the videos. And before I forget, shaders are also on the todo list, I am pretty new to writing CG so it might be a ways away, but I do plan to make an UBER shader for this pack eventually to replace things like weather/ing effects in the substances. If you want a good book to read for shaders, get "The CG Tutorials." Its pretty old, and does not teach things like Unity's Shader Lab, but its pretty easy to convert them into something usable by Unity. I was able to write shaders fairly easily after one day of reading, and playing around in Unity. Anyways....

So when am I going to explain everything in full? I know I'm running a bit behind, I just had no idea how long it was going to take to make every asset a substance. Remember how I said I've been finishing 1 every day, well here is a list of the assets I still have to complete. Once these our done, all I need to do is attach the tool scripts to the objects, and finally place them in the scene. And finally, here is the list.

1. Laptop
2. Vending Machine
3. Ceiling Lights
4. Clock
5. Train Schedule Sign
6. Ceiling Beams
7. Window/Door Frames (About 7 or 8 of them)
8. Wall Paintings/Pictures
9. Desk Papers
10. 2 types of doors and a door frame

So once that's all set and done, I will be making a series of videos explaining all the features, what features are yet to come. because there is still a TON of stuff yet to come, its really going to have a bunch little tools and things to help you out with various types of things. Haha I know, "and what would that be?" Everything is almost done I swear! Anyways that's enough about VPT for today, I just have a couple other things I would like to mention of what's yet to come.

So what is yet to come? More things for the store, lets say you don't want to purchase my tools, but you would like some of the substances and assets that are in the example scene. Well you are in luck, because they will all becoming to the store as well, either in a pack of substances, or assets, or just one of them on their own. Oh they are coming, I swear. Just to clarify, no I'm not the writer for the game of thrones.

Addios!



Variation Pro-Tools Release!

Posted by: Addison Olthuis on August 20, 2017

Well its finally out, a little bit late but not as bad as it could have been. To be honest I had to cut the example scene for now, I only need to make a few more textures to make it legal, but I still need to turn all the assets textures, the non tile able ones I made in substance painter, into substances. It may sound easy, just export the textures and plop them into a template, but the whole point of this pack is to get as much customizability out of everything as possible. So to do that I actually need to scrap all the textures (Although they will still be included), and then export masks from painter which I will use in designer with their materials I painted on in painter, it seems complicated but its more time consuming then anything.

If you are wondering what's been taking so long, too be honest its the Global substances that are included, if you have downloaded my UBER templates then you'll know what they do, and you'll know how messy they were. So I decided to completely redo them from scratch, and instead of having a separate one for specular and metallic, the shader will decide which one to output. When I made those templates every time I found a bug, I'd have to fix it for all the versions, which was a real bitch, especially when substance designer runs really damn slow with all those input parameters. So that's actually what's been taking so long, I keep finding bugs in the UBER substance, which I have to go and fix, for all the materials I already made, which really really sucks. Anyways...

So yes I decided to release it now, without the example scene, the only thing currently included is the 4 tools, A Little Variation/Group/Snappy/Preset, and then the breakable mirror script that I posted a Gif of. Unfortunately I do not have any documentation, or even a proper descriptive list of features, so no one is going to know if they even want it. So because of that I decided to drop the price by 75% for now, until I get the example scene included in the release. If you do how ever want to take the chance and get it for cheap, you'll need to make an account to purchase, this is so you can just log back in and go to the product page to re-download it if need be.

PLEASE NOTE! We do not have an SSL Certificate, although you will be safe when checking out using PayPal, as it will redirect you to their site to complete payment.

Ok I just went to check how much an SSL Certificate would cost and there was a new option from my provider for a free one, I literally looked it up 2 days ago and it wasn't there so lucky I didn't pay for it then! Its being installed now, I'm not sure how long it will take.

Well I should probably get back to work, I didn't realize how much work this really was going to be, making an asset is easy, but getting it ready for commercial use is a bitch.

Addios! (I'm not spanish by the way)


Quick Announcement

Posted By: Addison Olthuis on August 17, 2017

Hey guys, quick announcement here.

Unfortunately I had to reinstall windows in the middle of making all the textures for the example scene, I accidentally clicked a bad link right from the Microsoft Edge main search page, which installed something that was really making my computer lag, and I started to get a bunch of phishing emails. So the lesson of the day is, don't let sketchy people sit outside your house and use your Wi-Fi, and don't click on news stories from the Edge search page. I also had a pretty gnarly crash on my bike, hit my head and got a bunch of road rash, which really made me realize that I need to take it easy. One good hit in the head and I won't ever be able to do what I love again, you definitely need to be sharp and on the ball to code and model.

Now all is not lost, just a couple days of work, and I admit that it couldn't have happened at a better time, the bad link not the bike crash. My SSD came in the mail, which I wasn't going to install until after the release, but I got to do install that while I relieved my computer from malware. I probably could have said fuck it and waited for the release but I didn't want to risk losing my passwords for the website, and since it was already past the deadline I thought it might help speed up my workflow, the big graphs in substance designer really start to slow down, surprisingly not in Unity though, I think its because Unity only has to render the final output, not the graphs from start to finish, even if those graphs are just a preview.

Another little gem I got out of this is that I'm finally able to use substance painter and designer at the same time. After months of trying to fix this issue it finally just fixed itself after I reinstalled windows, Algorithmic said its an issue with old network adapters and that I would have to upgrade to fix it, problem is I use Ethernet from my motherboard so that wasn't an option. Its a huge pain not being able to use painter and designer at the same time, so I'm gunna go out and say it, Everything happens for a reason.

So now that I'm 18 days late, some may be wondering when the pack is coming out. And the answer is, I don't know, probably only a few days. I'm just working on the store right now, which I totally had a brain fart and forgot about, so once the store is ready it will be ready to go. I still want to clean up the GUI a little bit, but it won't be a big deal for now. I also need to go buy an SQL certificate for some reason, I guess I could run the store without it, but its probably best to have, even though I don't know what it does exactly, if anything. I might not have the certificate by the time of release but it wont be too long after. I'm also going to wait a little bit before uploading to the Unity Asset store, like I said I want to cleanup the GUI a little bit, which isn't bad right now, I just want to pretty it up some more.

So there is my quick announcement, I apologize for the delays. Addios!


Small Delay For Variation Pro-Tools

Posted by: Addison Olthuis on 2017-07-31

Well today is the day I'm supposed to be releasing the Variation Pro-Tools asset pack, but I unfortunately ran into one little problem. While I must admit, even if that problem didn't arise, it would probably still be coming out tomorrow or the next day, but lets just say I had a small misunderstanding for the legality around using Substances I got from Substance Source.

For some reason I remember reading that you can use their Substances in asset packs, as long as they aren't the main feature of that said pack. Well I just wanted to double check that and I found a few different posts over on the allegorithmic forums. Some saying that as long as you edit them, and others saying you could literally just repackage them maybe with an extra node or 2, or somewhere along the lines of an extra input parameter. Well I really don't want to risk anything so I've decided I'm going to remake all the ones I've been using. This may take up to a week to complete, but I also need a day or 2 to just clean up the code a little bit.

So long story short, I will need at the very least 5 more days, give or take.

While your waiting, here is a picture of the main room, I still haven't placed the assets yet, as you can see there is a random chair in the middle of the room. I guess I did put the lights and front desk though.

Anyways, Addios my friends, back to work for me.