So far Avaruustaistelupeli has only used statically oriented cameras: top-down view on battles and some undefined rotation on menu background. As seamless 360-degree skyboxes are somewhat tricky to do, I have only used three of the six planes: front, left and right. This has been fine so far, but in order to make player introductions and menu backgrounds more lively, I want the camera to be able to wander freely, not to be restricted by missing background. This requires a proper space skybox.
I first considered doing the skybox completely in shader, but as there are more important things to do right now (more about them in the future posts), I decided to search for a ready solution. I found a couple of wonderful toys, which I’d like to share. Both are completely free, open source and easily integrated to Unity, Unreal or other engines:
Easy to use for fast testing. It doesn’t have many options, but works nicely for quick testing and as an idea bank. It is easy to use, but note that when importing to Unity, left and right planes must be switched.
This one is more complete and more complicated. It has good coloring options and it uses layers similar to Photoshop/Gimp allowing complex composites. User interface is quite cumbersome for experimenting, so some prior knowledge about noise and blending algorithms will certainly help.
Below is a snapshot of the current state. At some point I may use a hybrid approach: pre-create multiple skyboxes and blend/animate them in shader. But that's later.
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