Toolchefs updates free open beta of Atoms Unreal
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Toolchefs updates the free open beta of Atoms Unreal

Saturday, August 8, 2020 | Written by Jim Thacker

Toolchefs has released a free open beta of Atoms Unreal, its new plugin that integrates Atoms Crowd, its software-independent crowd animation system, into Unreal Engine.

The company says the system should allow game developers to create simulations with thousands of crowd actors running in real time, even on consumer hardware.

A skeleton-based crowd system for Maya, Houdini – and now Unreal
Atoms Crowd was developed by former tool developers at MPC and Framestore and is a skeleton-based crowd simulation system compatible with VFX tools such as Maya, Houdini and Clarisse iFX.

The Atoms Unreal plugin is the first step for toolchefs into the real-time market and enables users to transfer simulation caches from other apps for visualization or to create simulations directly in the game engine.

Users can create their own behavior using UE4's native blueprint system or via C ++ scripts.

According to toolchefs, the implementation offers better real-time performance than particle-based systems.

The latest demo video embedded above shows 1,600 crowd agents running in real time on a mid- to high-end laptop with a six-core Intel Xeon CPU and a Quadro P2000 GPU.

Updated April 24, 2020: Atoms Unreal 1.3 is out. The update adds a new ragdoll module and a new agent collision component to the plugin and improves performance by "20-30%".

Updated August 8, 2020: Atoms Unreal 1.5 is out.

The update further improves performance when working with large crowds: According to Toolchefs, this was determined by the requirements of the users who want to use the plugin for broadcast work.

The changes increase the amount that the software can simulate by an order of magnitude: This new demo shows a stadium scene with around 42,000 spectators.

Other new features include a special ragdoll module for simulating Mexican waves in a stadium, a new texture atlas generator and the option to use custom agent metadata in a material network.

Pricing and system requirements
Atoms Unreal is available for Unreal Engine 4.22+. It's available for free during the Open Beta, which was recently extended indefinitely.

After the beta ends, the Atoms Realtime license required for real-time simulation will remain free for anyone earning less than $ 30,000 a year. Users making less than $ 100,000 a year can purchase an indie license for £ 500 (about $ 650). Studio prices are yet to be announced.

Atoms Crowd itself is available for Windows 8.1+ and CentOS / RHEL 6.5+ Linux. The software can also be integrated into Maya 2016+, Houdini 16.5+, Katana 2.6+ and Clarisse iFX.

Read the Atoms Unreal online FAQs

For a full list of what's new in Atoms Unreal, see the online release notes

Download Atoms Unreal and Atoms Crowd for free from the Toolchefs website
(Registration required)

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