Help me gather information to make a unity vfx tool for my university final project

Hi, I’m César, and I’m new to this forum. I’m a programmer and I’m studying videogame design and development at university. For my final project I want to learn how to create tools for Unity, and specifically I want to create a tool to work with vfx. And that’s why I’m here.

In order to start with this project I need to do some research. It’d be much appreciated if those of you who have worked with Unity could answer me some questions.

First, I’d like to know which assets, plugins, or software you use when working with vfx in unity. I need to see what’s there, what tools they provide, and so on. Doesn’t make any sense to create a tool to solve a problem when another preexisting tool already does just that. Also, if I see that there’s something universally used by all or almost all of the vfx working with unity it’d be good to try and make my tool work with that.

And second, I want to know what kind of problems you face working with vfx in unity which Unity or other tools have not addressed. I have a limited scope with my tool as I’m on my own working in this project and I should finish it in more or less 4/5 months. That’s why I have to find a very specific problem and create a tool to solve that problem, while making sure that tool is ad good as it can be, instead of trying to make a tool that solves many problems but poorly.

That second question would be the most important one as it’s the one that’s going to determine the tool’s purpose. Any thing that you can’t do with the tools you have, or that’s difficult or obtuse. Anything you think could be more intuitive, or better than what you have. Anything you can think of, every idea helps a lot.

Once I have enough information and find something that fits the criteria and is viable I’ll start designing and developing said tool. I also plan to share prototypes here as I go so that I can get feedback. Also, if you want to know more about me or ask anything, feel free to do so.

Thanks for your attention.


I have to decide the topic of my project before Friday (31/1/20), so after that any other new suggestions or info I won’t be able to take into account.


Ok, so I have the meeting with the professor guiding my project next Monday, I’ll post an update with the results of said meeting after that, and if it all goes well this thread should be finished after that. I will make a new thread when I have something to show or just to update you on the development process. Also I might speak with those that offered to help, with I’m very grateful for, in case it’s needed.

Being that this weekend I won’t be available, today I’ve written my conclusions and I’ve decided which way I want to go, but you’ll have to wait until Monday to know as I want to get the approval of my professor first. Any new answers this weekend or after I’ll try to check and take into account but I can’t promise anything.

Thank you all for your help and all the info you’ve shared with me. Also thanks to those willing to help further on. You’ve all really helped me a lot, and I’m looking forward to start working on the tool. And I think that’s all for this update, thank you for your attention.

Final update:

Ok so I forgot to post this earlier, sorry for the delay.

This monday I had the meeting eith my professor and he agreed to my current proposal.

The two concepts I’ve settled on is the creation of timelines for multiple particle systems, which should allow you to add, remove, and change them on the fly. And the preview of multiple particle systems in the editor scene, without needing to go to play mode.

More details in the future, the important message today is that I have decided what I want to do and my professor has greenlit my idea. Expect more info in the future, but probably in a new thread.

Thank you all for your help, your answers, and all the info!


Hey @CesarRomDev!

Whenever I use Unity to create VFX, I tend to use the same tools. These mainly are Unity’s Particle System, the Animator and sometimes self-made custom tools and / or in-house tools.

About the second question, all the lacking stuff in Unity’s Particle System is now being covered by the upcoming Visual Effect Graph! It is like the equivalent to Unreal Engine’s Niagara. I’d mainly use it to reference and use some specific variables to drive some other parameters.

I can’t think of any specific issue I’d like to have a tool for, but take a look around the forums as I’m sure you’ll find plenty of inspiration and very specific and detailed problems yet to be solved.

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Thanks fo your answer @Lush !

Unity’s new vfx graph is something I have to keep an eye out for, as you said, many of the things I could tackle will most likely be improved or solved by that. When I proposed my idea for this project there wasn’t much news about that, it’s something I’ll have to adapt to.

Even so, thus far Unity’s tools aren’t production ready yet, and will probably take some time to be, so I’ll try to avoid focusing on something that tool solves already but depending on what I find I may ignore it, mostly because my main objecive is to learn about vfx, about tools programming and create something I can show in my portfolio when I have one. Of course I’d love to have a finished tool that vfx artists can use in the future, not just until Unity releases their own new tools, and I’ll strive for that too if possible.

I’ll also take your advice and check the forums to see what I can find.

Again, thank you for your answer!

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Hey, thanks for posting here and asking for our opinion!

A small tool I would appreciate greatly in Unity would be something that allows me to preview all particle systems in a scene without going into play mode or selecting them one by one.

I hope this helps!


Thanks to you! I think the best way to create a tool is to first ask and learn from those who would eventually use it.

Also, another thing for the list. This one I don’t know why isnt already part of the engine, but I can see how it would help you.

Hi! I’m Alba, a friend of Rubén’s : )

In my job I use a tool which allows me to add clips to several timelines. A timeline for the animations, a timeline for audio, four timelines for vfx, etc. These clips instantiate prefabs which can be moved around in the scene and, although I cannot modify them on play mode (the tool only works on play mode, in Unity), it makes the creation of complex scenes that much easier. It is similar to what kuba_kuleszewicz is proposing.

It would be awesome though if it were possible to modify and save the prefabs from within it. Or even to create new prefabs without having to stop play mode.

I do not own this tool so I cannot share it with you but I’ll gladly help you flesh it out, if you’re interested.


Oh that’s great! And I really like that idea for the project. As I understand you stablish a timeline and you can instantiate and move prefabs within that timeline, only you can’t preview it in edit mode, only in play mode, right? But you can’t edit in playmode and keep those changes. Correct me if I understood something wrong. Working on this as well as the previsualization problem might be a good focus as that might help you with the issue of not being able to preview and make chenges in the same mode. I’ll tell you if this is the one I go for in the end, thank you for your answer!

Ruben brought me there too :smile:
I made my own tool since it’s generaly hard to get some. I thought it would be better to write a dedicated post.
It’s already done but I need intern validation to post it. I can’t tell you when or if I would be able to post it. I keep you updated !


Aaaand I got approval !
There it is : My Unity tools for working on VFX

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Oh, that’s great,I’ll check it out, thank you for sharing you tools!

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With pleasure ! I hope this will help to have some tools for VFX production and maybe having feedback too :smile:

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I’m sure it will, really. Your tools are really advanced, you’ve done a great job. I’ll try to make something up to that level. In the end, the goal I’d like to achieve is making something you guys can use, something that really helps you with your work. That’s why I’m here, to see what you use and what you need, and this is an awesome example. Again, thanks a lot for sharing!

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Unity trails/ribbons and procedural mesh has been very limited for some time

a procedural mesh tool both in and outside of VFX-graphing / levels of sophistication for optimization… we’ve needed it for a while now and it could really change things for VFX

AraTrails afaik is one of the better on the asset store now, but it could always use some extra

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That’s another topic I had in mind, apparently there’s a lot to work on and improve when it comes to trails and the like. I didn’t know about that tool so I’ll check it out. Thank you for your answer!