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GTS looks horrible on my terrain


vdeijk
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As soon as I created a new GTS profile, my terrain became horribly shiny. See screenshot: https://ibb.co/P1rbM17

Before taking this screenshot, I did the following:

1) Removed mask maps from all my terrain layers

2) Disabled all post processing effects

3) Turned off all GTS features.

As you can see, the problem remains. What can I do? 

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Hi @vdeijk, this is the so-called "Smoothness" concept in the shader, it controls how strongly the surface reflects light. Here is a more in-detail explanation of what "smoothness" is in context of the Unity standard shaders:
https://docs.unity3d.com/Manual/StandardShaderMaterialParameterSmoothness.html

You can adjust the smoothness per texture by adjusting this slider range closer to 0:
image.png

As to why you got such a strong shiny value initially - normally a terrain texture has an additional "map" for the smoothness that decides how smooth a texture should be in the different areas of the texture - imagine a grass texture with a small puddle in the middle, you would want the puddle to be fully reflective while the grass is less so. The smoothness map for that texture would then be fully white in the area of the puddle, and gray to black on the grass. This information is normally encoded in the Alpha channel of the diffuse / albedo texture, or in the mask map texture - if that information is missing the smoothness value is "100%" across the entire texture, which results in that glossy effect that you were seeing, the texture becomes fully reflective.

While you can adjust the value with the slider to your liking, you should get the best results with actual smoothness maps on the textures. You can maybe check if the terrain textures you are using do support an alpha channel in the import settings.

image.png

If the alpha channel is turned off it will omit the smoothness info stored in the texture. If you do have mask maps, as you mentioned, the smoothness should be stored in those in the alpha channel as well.

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Hi Peter, thanks for the explanation, but I'm afraid that's not the problem (yes, I did read it in its entirety).

Incidentally, my texture maps from gametextures.com didn't come with a smoothness map, so I recently did a lot of research on mask maps and smoothness maps in particular. The resulting mask maps worked absolutely fine until I switched GTS on. And as soon as I switch off GTS, they work fine again. 

Adjusting the GTS smoothness slider has zero effect. This is actually weird by itself because isn't it supposed to do something? 

I can definitely see the benefit of GTS, but this problem makes it completely unworkable. 

Actually, reading the above again, I think the actual problem is that my GTS smoothness slider has no effect for some reason. Could this be a bug? 

 

 

 

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In fact, it doesn't seem to be just the smoothness slider but also the ambient occlusion slider. Both of them have zero effect, even though I have mask maps that work absolutely fine otherwise. 

Also, how do the Unity terrain settings work when GTS is active? Do they not apply anymore at all? I'm asking because my Unity terrain texture layers have a smoothness slider as well. 

 

 

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Hi @vdeijk
 

3 hours ago, vdeijk said:

Adjusting the GTS smoothness slider has zero effect. This is actually weird by itself because isn't it supposed to do something? 

Yes, it should have a very noticeable impact for the texture that you are editing.
 

3 hours ago, vdeijk said:

Actually, reading the above again, I think the actual problem is that my GTS smoothness slider has no effect for some reason. Could this be a bug? 

To rule this out, can you please test the following:
1. In a new scene, create a new, empty terrain
2. Add the two example terrain layers to the terrain that come with GTS
image.png
3. Paint a little on the terrain so you can see the two textures at the same time:

image.png
4. Open the GTS Manager, create and apply a new profile
image.png

5. Check if the terrain shows the same issue with shinyness as before and if you can adjust the smoothness of the two textures individually with the smoothness sliders. You should be able to make them appear e.g. very shiny:

image.png

or non-reflective at all:

image.png

If it does not behave this way using the example terrain layers, it must be a bug in GTS, it would be good to know your unity version & target platform & graphics API then. If this works as pictured above, we would need to take a closer look at your textures and how the information is encoded in the mask maps, there must be some issue then how the info is read from those textures and put into GTS texture arrays - but even if there e.g. was no alpha channel, the smoothness slider should still have an effect regardless.
 

3 hours ago, vdeijk said:

Also, how do the Unity terrain settings work when GTS is active? Do they not apply anymore at all? I'm asking because my Unity terrain texture layers have a smoothness slider as well. 

No, they do not apply anymore, those would only affect the default terrain shader. When you remove the GTS profile from the terrain it should switch back to the default shader again and those settings should work again.

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Yes, in this other project, the smoothness settings look fine. 

In my own terrain, I did manage to somewhat improve the situation, but the shininess remains, especially from afar. I'm baffled by it as turning off mask maps doesn't help. Even when I turn off ALL GTS settings, the problem remains. 

My textures use a fully white alpha channel for the smoothness maps, which is why I have to turn the smoothness down in whatever shader I work with. However, that somehow doesn't seem to fully work in GTS.

Should I send you my stripped project? 

 

 

 

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Hi @vdeijk,

Could you please check the generated texture arrays, which can be accessed from the GTS Manager, under the Texture Array Settings?

image.png.96216648457e1c04c4a68ec020f0ce0c.png

Select the Normal Texture Array asset, and see if the alpha channel corresponds to the smoothness value you stored in the mask map?

image.thumb.png.30ab9ddb6696e705dca4788a6114b3e0.png

If you are now using a different texture in the texture layers on the Unity Terrain, you may want to confirm that GTS has a reference to the correct texture by clicking on the name of the corresponding texture layer:

image.png.b64fc1236da6839ce85a95c1de354bb6.png

If these textures no do match up to the textures in the Unity Terrrain Layer, then hit the 'Clear Layers' button, then hit the 'Apply Profile' button again. The textures should now correspond to the ones set in Unity Terrain Layer. 

If it hasn't updated since you changed the textures, you may want to re-generated the texture arrays, which can be done in the Texture Array Settings by pressing 'Create Texture Arrays' again. 

image.png.96216648457e1c04c4a68ec020f0ce0c.png

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Hi Isaac, thanks for your reply. Unfortunately, none of these things did the trick. The alpha channel looks fine to me (completely white as expected) while the texture layers were correct and up to date. I followed your instructions anyway, but no difference. "Create texture arrays" also didn't help. 

(Incidentally, I also tried adjusting these settings yesterday on my own with the same result.)

I have to say the shininess is less than it was when I first turned on GTS, but it's still clearly there on all mountainous areas from a distance, even with the smoothness settings set to zero. 

What can I do?

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Hi @vdeijk,

This is getting stranger and stranger. Can you please answer/check the following to circle it in further:

 

  1. Can you please post your unity version / render pipeline / target platform / Graphics API used?
     
  2. Can you please select the terrain and double-check it has the GTS component on it, which shows the same GTS profile as in the GTS Manager?

    image.png
     
  3. Please check in the terrain settings in the inspector which material is used there and which shader it uses? (Expectation: There is a material there called "Terrain")

    image.png
     
  4. When double clicking on that Material, you should see a lot of "raw" GTS settings on the material. Please scroll down until you see a block of settings called "_MaskMapRemapData". When you change the smoothness values in the GTS Manager, do you see corresponding adjustments here in the raw settings?
    (This is to test if the slider changes are correctly translated into the GTS material)


    image.png
     
  5.  Does it work when you apply a tint to the textures from the GTS manager?

    image.png
     
  6. If all of the above does not lead to any new insights, is it possible that you provide us with one set of your texture files (diffuse, normal, mask map) that shows the issue for you so we can see if we can replicate it with that? We can provide an upload possibility via DM if needed.
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@Peter, @Isaac That is useful info. As it turns out, the shader was NOT set correctly but to the default URP Lit one. However, setting the shader and material to GTS did not solve the problem.

The raw data values do appear to be changing and tinting also works. The profiles matched as well.

It seems to me that something about the shader/material is still off as the material looks quite distorted in the inspector. I'm not sure whether that helps, but it certainly does look odd. I observed some other GTS shaders as well in the inspector and the only one that looks distorted is the one active on my terrain. 

Does that help in any way? 

 

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Though I'm not an expert, I did some further digging, and toggling the "World Normal Map" in the GTS shader makes the shininess completely disappear.

Does that help us?

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6 hours ago, vdeijk said:

That is useful info. As it turns out, the shader was NOT set correctly but to the default URP Lit one. However, setting the shader and material to GTS did not solve the problem.

This would essentially mean GTS was not active on the terrain before in that scene. Now with the correct shader being selected, can you adjust smoothness per texture?
 

6 hours ago, vdeijk said:

It seems to me that something about the shader/material is still off as the material looks quite distorted in the inspector. I'm not sure whether that helps, but it certainly does look odd. I observed some other GTS shaders as well in the inspector and the only one that looks distorted is the one active on my terrain. 

This is not relevant to the problem, the material preview was not made to render things like terrain shaders, water shaders etc. which is why you can get weird / distorted results when it tries to render an entire terrain on a sphere essentially.

 

5 hours ago, vdeijk said:

Though I'm not an expert, I did some further digging, and toggling the "World Normal Map" in the GTS shader makes the shininess completely disappear.

Does that help us?

What does "toggle" mean in this context? Do you mean you remove the reference to the World Normal Map in the shader settings on the material? Can you please post a screenshot of the world normal map that was referenced in there before? If there is no other visual impact it should be a valid workaround for now, but I would need @Isaac to go more into detail on the implications of that.

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@Peter, @Isaac,  I already got the smoothness slider to work, and it does have the intended effect. However, it does not make the weird shininess that is our problem disappear. Rather, it seems like there are 2 separate layers of shininess on my terrain, one controlled by smoothness and one that isn't. I know that sounds weird, but that is what I'm observing. 

World normal map on: https://ibb.co/RNwJGkk

World normal map off: https://ibb.co/khMPxgg

As you can see, removing the normal world map solves the problem, but it also obviously worsens the quality of my terrain. 

Also turning the world normal map off is not a workaround as GTS/Unity immediately reassigns it when I hit Play. 

I'd also like to point out that you've clearly priced GTS as a premium product on the assetstore, which is why I as a customer expect premium quality. This sort of bug does not fit that depiction.

What do you suggest we do to solve this problem? 

 

 

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Also, to prove that the problem really is GTS, not my mask maps or anything else, here is the same screenshot again, but with GTS turned off. That is the only difference between the first screenshot and this one.

Without GTS: https://ibb.co/w7K0G2j

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@Isaac, @Peter, I'd also like to point out that others have experienced the same issue. When I mentioned the shininess problem on one of your Discord channels, two other people immediately stated they've experienced the same. 

Sounds like you have a pretty serious bug that needs fixing. Any idea when this could be ready?

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Hi @vdeijk,

normally when it comes to talking to users on Canopy, I like to concentrate at the issue at hand and the technical aspects surrounding it. Given your current and past behavior on our platforms, I need to break away from this for a moment to give you a recap of this issue from our perspective:

- You create a support request about "shininess" on canopy during the weekend. We usually do not work on the weekend, but I decided to reply because I thought I might know what that is (smoothness) & that would unblock you.

- You reply back claiming the smoothness sliders are not working. While you do you that and while it is still completely unclear what exactly causes your issue, you also immediately post a 1-star review on the asset store. The review contains the following completely false claims:

  • GTS has a general bug that turns it unusable
  • GTS modifies the smoothness maps of your textures
  • You are not able to adjust the smoothness maps of your own textures anymore.
  • You "tried everything" to remove the issue (when you just had notified support about the issue)

This review stands unchanged at the time of this posting.  

- We continue supporting you over the past days. During the support case you are unwilling / unable to answer some of our questions, but instead you jump to conclusions and drag completely unrelated things into the thread, making it difficult to support you. 

- In turn of the investigations you confirm GTS works completely fine in a different project using the example textures. 

- In the end it turns out that GTS WAS NOT EVEN ACTIVE on the terrain you were looking at - turning all the past investigations completely useless. Only after asking again you admit that the smoothness sliders are working now.

- You shift goal posts to a different issue - the World Normal Map seems to create weird highlights on your terrain. You now claim this was the real "shininess" issue all along. While this does indeed seem like an issue, it is a completely different problem that needs a new investigation.

- While you wait for a reply, you hop on discord to give a disingenuous account of the situation there, which further damages our reputation with our community. Nowhere do you mention that e.g. it works for you in a different project, or that you set up our support for a wrong issue initially, etc.

- You come back here to post about your experience on discord, delivering another disingenuous account to us what happened there - you claim two users had the exact same issue as you. In reality

  • one user said it was not really an issue for them, as it turned out it was the rain weather feature of GTS (where the shininess is intentional) 
  • while the other user says for him it can be ok for a while but then suddenly the shininess appears - which does not fit the description of your issue.

To sum this up, while we have been nothing but helpful trying to look into your issue, you have been difficult to work with, twisting and turning words and are actively trying to damage us where you can. This is something we do not want to endorse. Before we continue looking into your issue, I would like you to look at this process from our perspective and want to know if you think you can improve your behavior from now on? If yes, we will continue looking into the problem from a clean slate. We would expect you to adjust your review accordingly when there is a final result of the support effort for your case so that it reflects the reality of the situation.

If you see nothing wrong with how you acted here, please send us a message via the contact form. We will refund you all your purchases because in this case we do not want to support you as a customer anymore.

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Hi @Peter, I totally get what you're saying and I also acknowledge some of your points. As Procedural Worlds, you certainly have a reputation to protect, so I will do my best to keep this in mind. 

However, what worries me is that you sound overly critical. A reasonably objective bystander might just as well argue that, with your above post, you are twisting my words and are actively trying to damage me. This is exactly what you're accusing me of, which is interesting. 

I have thoroughly read all of your posts and that of your colleague, and I've also played around with GTS' various settings for hours, observing their effects. Based on that, I feel that the likely cause of the issue is a bug in GTS. I'm not sure what makes you so convinced that it couldn't possibly be. After all, GTS is quite new and isn't nearly as widespread in use as Gaia. 

At the very least, you should acknowledge that it isn't impossible. 

I asked you whether I could send a stripped-down version of my project. To me, this seems quite reasonable under the circumstances. You could take one or two weeks to examine that--I don't care. Just by taking that simple action, you would make me feel heard as a customer. 

Yes, I will adjust my review. No company that offers a refund deserves a low review score, in my opinion. I will let you know tomorrow whether I will make use of this or not. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If you turn Detail Settings off, does the issue still remain? 

What is the format of the texture you provided in the Detail Settings? Is MarsCrackedRock_normal the type 'NormalMap'? Our documentation and tooltips recommend leaving this texture as the 'default' setting for it be compatible with the Detail Settings. 

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6 hours ago, Isaac said:

If you turn Detail Settings off, does the issue still remain? 

What is the format of the texture you provided in the Detail Settings? Is MarsCrackedRock_normal the type 'NormalMap'? Our documentation and tooltips recommend leaving this texture as the 'default' setting for it be compatible with the Detail Settings. 

Hi @Isaac, thanks for replying. As stated earlier, I turned off all GTS features as a test, and the problem still remained. Turning Detail Settings off doesn't affect the issue. 

Yes, that is a useful tip. However, I followed the online video tutorial where this was mentioned, and  followed the recommendation. 

What I'd like to do is send you a stripped version of my project, so you can have a look. Maybe @Peter is right and I've been a stubborn, ignorant customer. But honestly, I'm unable to find the issue, and I've played around with GTS and its settings for hours. 

Could I send you this stripped-down version? 

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Hi @vdeijkIt looks like you have decided to improve your behavior & go on with the investigation so we will continue to look into this. 

We did not want to look at your project before as the focus of the investigation was elsewhere initially. With the new issue of the World Normal map it might make sense to take your project to analyze the world normal map that is being created and why it results in those weird highlights you are seeing. It might take us a bit to look at it though, as you are running on a mac and we do not have that many mac machines available for testing within Procedural Worlds.
I will send you a link for file upload via DM.

I did notice in your screenshots there is an error message visible at the bottom - do you have the impression this error is being thrown when GTS creates the world normal map? If yes, I think this might potentially play into the issue.

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Hi @Peter, yes I can see how this would look from your end. However, while I only partially agree with you and your analysis on this, you have basically given me what I've been pushing for, so I won't go into it further. I only want the problem to be solved.

No, I don't think that console error is related. I create my terrains using Gaia Pro, and I sometimes get errors while using it. If I remember correctly, PW's advice is to ignore these as Unity can be overzealous with its errors and warnings. This certainly seems to be the case on my machine.

In any case, I just applied my GTS profile again and I have gotten no errors or warnings at all.

I will upload the project files later today. Yes, I understand testing might take a little while. The most important part is that we're on the same page again regarding the issue and its cause, so I have confidence you'll be able to fix it.

 

 

 

 

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Hi @vdeijk,

Could you please ensure the textures that you use on the terrain have a smoothness value either placed in the terrain layer's mask map texture's alpha channel or the base color's alpha channel. If you want to match this to the terrain smoothness remapping, in the texture editing software of your choice just set the alpha channel to be the same max remap value. I.e. if the terrain layer has a max setting of 0.3:

image.png.de1d1f49508a55eb20d15e2ccb7fc4cb.png

Then make the alpha channel's texture 0.3 (if it goes from the range of 0 to 1), or 76 if it goes from the range of 0-256 (that's 0.3 * 256 = 76). If you reimport this texture, it should now have an alpha channel associated with it. If not, you can delete the meta file assoicated with it and copy the texture back in (only do this in the file explorer):image.png.3911348ddb9b478f6841e9ec1f1590fa.png

image.png.24d6a260c916b6796440e4e761c03e21.png

image.png.a4571d6430ff8d294347fa4af2b67e30.png

 

You can then go back into the terrain layer and reset the remapping values back to 0 (min) and 1 (max).

image.png.05a3bf13d810066edfda9d44d95505a1.png

Now with GTS, go to the Texture Layers Settings, and hit 'clear layers':

image.png.d0de9d543c1fc639737fa88d40646dfc.png

And go to the Texture Array Settings, click on either albedo or normal array to navigate to them in the project window, and delete both of them:

image.png.f2c884286156d2548acb6e6e07143a44.png

image.png.276b668bba2030fdc9a5336073c1a025.png

The slot for the texture arrays should be missing now:

image.png.f459ec262fd2c5802070ca3c4ceeade5.png

Also navigate the area where GTS saves the terrain data. Which can found through selecting a terrain, going into the settings, finding it's material template, and selecting it in the project window:

image.png.acd60cf1bedb09b74a981c1270322e89.png

image.png.d5f00bcb364b5cb63d7ff188f490ba2d.png

You can go ahead and delete the folder that can contains this data, it will be re-generated soon. This applies for all the terrain components in the scene (all these folders can be deleted):

image.png.0f842d4089ec1ba64e5ea6e71c4d9d20.png

Now hit 'Apply Profile' at the top of the GTS Manager:

image.png.7943a8116a6b632f295c62ea6c512246.png

To test a direct comparison, following these steps I disabled all other GTS Settings and this was the result:

Unity:

image.thumb.png.0aa1a94d89e2c7e429e5c874adb82c0a.png

GTS:

image.thumb.png.806d57ef8448dc73912b180b58bdfbcf.png

Here is a package that should have the updated textures you are currently using on the terrains:

marscomfixedtextures.zip

Detail Settings

As for some of the other issues, can you ensure that the Normal Texture used with the Detail Settings has sRGB unchecked?

image.png.7af48155e9364a57fbcbb41e25860a18.png

 

Geological Settings

If you find that the Geological Settings cause too much of the terrain to darken due to the texture provided, have a look at the format the example geological textures are in, including their color intensities.

image.png.c02b5bc6afe7c1020e1196312a04cd7f.png

They can be found in Procedural Worlds -> GTS -> Content Resources ->Textures -> Geo. 

image.thumb.png.816c3be26de2907021272c8a0be173f7.png

Geological settings works by sampling the V component of a texture (i.e. the rows of pixels) based on world height, so texture with a lot of varying color / intensities works best, that's why our size is 16x2048, as the columns aren't important. 

We have an update for GTS coming soon that will ensure that where PBR textures have been provided without smoothness GTS will pick it up instead from existing terrain settings. 

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Hi @Isaac, thanks for this in-depth reply. This is clearly an example of stellar customer service, and I very much appreciate it!

You could very well be right about setting the mask map smoothness value; I hadn't thought of that. 

Your advice about the darkness of some of the textures is also appreciated. I don't think I had even mentioned it, but you are absolutely right. 

Your resulting images look excellent; this is EXACTLY the look I'm after. 

I'll find some time today to complete all of the steps you mentioned and will notify you about the result.

 

 

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Hi @Isaac, I followed your steps to the letter but was unable to achieve success. I adjusted the mask map alpha channels in GIMP, adjusted the remap values, deleted the GTS texture arrays, and followed the other steps you mentioned, all in the proper sequence. 

It is clear to me that the problem is neither the textures nor their smoothness. As soon as I applied the GTS profile, the "additional layer of shininess" appeared again. I could post a screenshot again, but it is exactly the same as before. Nothing has changed at all.

If I'm not mistaken, we previously established that the issue is somehow related to GTS's world normal map, and that still seems like it is the case to me. 

Clearly, it is all working fine on your machine but not on mine, which suggests to me that it is somehow related to the difference in our setups.

How can we proceed from here? Despite my personal disagreement with a specific colleague of yours with a name, I like PW and Gaia Pro in particular, so I'd hate to opt for a full refund. What do you suggest?

 

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