UE5 Update: the foliage is improved
Every problem has a solution and sometime when you try to fix a problem you come up with a solution that is an improvement.
One of the problem with UE5 was that all imposters were totally black. (check my previous blog post)
What happen is that the octahedron impostors, a technique created by Ryan Brucks were totally broken.
Billboards Impostors are a technique used to display a 2d sprite at a certain distance from the camera so that huge forests can be processed in a very short time. The octahedron that we used are not flat 2d, but have 8 faces (hence the name) which allow a near perfect 3d emulation from any angle when the trees are far away. The octahedron is just a dozen of polygons, but are looking like a real tree from far away. Similar techniques are used in AAA games to simulate vast amount of vegetation, like in Flight Simulator from Microsoft for instance.
What did happened is that Ryan Brucks has been hired by Epic Game and this technology added as a plug-in into UE5. This is what created the incompatibility.
It was necessary to re-create all the impostors using the new plugin, which is extremely time consuming. We have more than 150 tree species, so we had to compromise and find ways to do it quickly.
The solution is that I have simplified our foliage and kept only the best trees which in result happen to be visually more compact and better looking.
For instance I can get this density of trees at a relatively quick speed, with all the trees moving and bending with the wind, even at a very far distance.
While these pictures are not definitive, they are showing the improvement. The tree density is far more impressive and fast.
In these pictures there are no palm trees yet, as I need to process them, but I wanted to show you a sneak peak of what is happening behind the scene to keep Metaisland at the top of the AAA quality as you would expect.