The Standard Tab in the Gaia Manager is your entry point for creating a new scene with a Gaia Terrain from scratch. This article explains the different steps you go through usually when creating a new scene with Gaia, and gives a detailed explanation of the different settings along the way.
The workflow of creating a new scene with a Gaia Terrain can be broken down into 4 different steps:
1. Creating the Terrains that make your world
Gaia terrains are based on the unity standard terrain objects, and to create a terrain with Gaia, you need to lay down those unity terrains as a foundation to work on first. The simplest case is creating a single terrain tile at the desired size that then can be populated with objects like trees etc. but in more complex cases you may want to create multiple of those terrain tiles when creating bigger worlds.
2. Create Tools to sculpt and populate the terrain tiles
After the basic terrain tiles have been laid down, you can start shaping your world according to your goals by adding mountains and valleys with the Gaia Stamper tool. While doing so, or after the final height changes to the terrain have been made, you can populate the terrain with textures, trees, terrain details (grass) and other objects. This process is called spawning and is performed mostly automatically - e.g. instead of placing single trees on the terrain manually, you can define intelligent spawn rules that will place trees in fitting places in an automated process.
3. Create Runtime settings and objects
Beyond the terrain and the resources on it, Gaia can also create additional runtime objects commonly found in a scene with a terrain - such as sky, lighting and water. You can configure the runtime setup (which sky type, water type, etc.) you want to use in your scene and let Gaia set up the required objects in your scene.
4. <Optional>Light Baking
The Unity Engine features different Light Modes where some of the modes require you to bake lighting in your scene. You can start this process from the Gaia Manager to improve your visuals (if you chose to use baked lighting in your scene). Additionally Gaia has features for generating light and reflection probes across your terrain which can improve the final lighting result.
These 4 workflow steps are reflected within the Gaia Manager standard tab and will guide you through the process of creating and completing your scene.
The following sections explain the 4 steps and the respective settings / features found for those in detail.
The terrains tab initially only presents dropdown boxes for two settings: World Size and Target Platform / Quality. The values found in these dropdowns represent presets for a more complex selection of settings.
The "World Size" selects the target terrain size of your game world - larger worlds mean more space for your scene, but also a higher impact on performance.
The Target Platform / Quality settings adjusts the quality of the terrain objects in terms of resolution and objects being displayed on the terrain.
You can go more into detail by pressing the small "+" button right of the dropdown. This will show the advanced settings for the category, and when you switch between the different presets for world size / target platform, you can see how the advanced settings change accordingly. If you chose your own advanced world size / target quality setup, the selection in the dropdown will change to "Custom" instead, indicating that you chose custom settings for this category.
Advanced World Size Settings
Please note: There is additional documentation for the Floating Point Fix available on Canopy.
Advanced Target Platform / Quality Settings
Please note: The "Resolution" values and how they work are not exclusive to Gaia, these are settings / limitations of the unity terrain system. You can find more information about the settings of the terrain objects in the Unity manual.
When you are happy with the world size and the Target Platform / Quality Settings, you can click the "Create Terrain(s)" button to create the terrains with the selected settings in your scene. This allows you to continue with the "Tools" step in the scene creation workflow.
At first sight, the Tools tab offers two features: A checkbox to select whether you want to create a stamper in the scene, and a dropdown to select a biome preset.
The Stamper is Gaia's main tool to manipulate terrain height, or to "create hills and valleys" in your terrain. If you plan to sculpt the terrain you should leave this box checked.
The biome dropdown allows you to select the main biome you want to use in this scene. A biome is a combination of resources that, when spawned together on the terrain, give a specific look to the terrain. A biome consists of multiple spawners that are triggered one after another to spawn all the resources used in this biome. You can review the spawners included in this biome and fine tune the included spawners by clicking the small "+" button next to the biome dropdown:
The checkboxes in front of the spawners control how this spawner will be set up when being added to the scene:
* S = The spawner will automatically be triggered whenever the stamper is used. This is especially useful for texture spawners.
* B = The spawner will be set up as active in the biome spawner.
* P = The prototypes (Resources such as textures, tree prototypes, etc.) will be added to the terrains in the scene when this spawner is added. If this box is not checked, the prototypes will only be added "on demand" whenever the spawner is executed.
When you are happy with the settings, click the "Create Tools" button to create the selected tools in the scene. Note that you can always come back to this tab to create the stamper again, or to add more biome spawners to the scene. After the tools are created, you usually would close the Gaia Manager to work with the tools on the terrain.
You can now work with the stamper and the biome controller to sculpt and populate your terrain. Once you are happy with what you have created, you can move to the next tab in the Gaia Manager, the Runtime setup.
The Runtime tab displays a collection of settings for objects you can add to your scene that influence the runtime behavior. Other than the Gaia tools these are objects that can remain in your game for the final build and may also be directly visible to the end user. The available settings / features are:
You can choose a combination of appropriate options / features, and then click the "Create Runtime" button to set up the runtime objects with the given configuration. Note that this selection is not set in stone - you can always change settings in the runtime tab and click the "Create Runtime" button again to override your runtime setup with the new values. This is especially useful when you want to experiment with the look of different sky / water setups in your scene, or when you want to reset the runtime setup to its default values.
After setting up runtime you are mostly finished with creating your Gaia Scene, if you are interested in Light Baking you can also perform the next, optional step in the Gaia Manager.
The Light Baking tab in the Gaia Manager is an optional step after the terrain creation that assists with baking the light for your scene. The tab offers two panels for the creation of reflection and light probes for your terrain, and two buttons for starting the light baking process.
The "Quick Lightmap Bake" button just bakes the global lighting and reflection probe information of the scene, without baking any of the individual lights. This is a very quick process that improves the visual look of your scene somewhat, especially how the shadows look when a HDRI skybox is being used.
The "Full Lightmap Bake" button does a full bake including all lights, light and reflection probes in your scene.
Please Note: Both buttons are just "remote controls" for starting the lightmap baking process from the Window -> Rendering -> Lighting dialogue. Gaia does not perform the light baking by itself, but rather triggers the internal light baking process of unity. If you experience problems with the light baking process it is recommended to start the light baking manually from Window -> Rendering -> Lighting. If you run into the same issue there, it is an issue with the internal light baking process of Unity.
Adding Reflection Probes
Unfolding the "Reflection Probes" panel gives you additional options to spawn reflection probes in a grid-like fashion across the terrain:
The options for the probe placement are as follows:
Please Note: Most of these settings are not Gaia exclusive, but are rather the same settings you would find on a manually placed reflection probe. You can find out more about these probe settings in the Unity manual about Reflection Probes.
When you click the "Generate Global Scene Reflection Probes" Button, a grid of probes will be created across your terrain according to your settings. You can find the generated probes as a child object of the terrains in your scene.
The "Clear Reflection Probe" button clears the generated probes again accordingly.
Adding Light Probes
Unfolding the "Light Probes" panel gives you additional options to spawn light probes in a grid-like fashion across the terrain. Since Light Probes do not have as many individual options as reflection probes, you can only define how many probes you want per column / terrain.
Same as with the reflection probes, the "Generate" Button, generates a grid of probes as a child object of the terrains in your scene, and the "Clear" button removes those probes again. Light Probes only become active after pressing the "Full Lightmap Bake" button in the Gaia Manager or starting the full light baking request from the Window > Rendering > Lighting window.
Please Note: Alternatively you can also spawn light and reflection probes from the Gaia Spawner by selecting "Probes" as a resource.