Particle Tool – Peer reviews!

This week I focus on getting peer reviews. This means that anyone reading this is free to make comments, suggestions and constructive criticism.

I’ve been posting the same thing in multiple places and it is as follows:

I’m posting to ask for feedback and opinions from artists in the games industry and hobby game artists for a tool I am developing for particle effect creation. This is not advertising or anything to buy my product, but a friendly hello and some opinions for a game programming degree assignment.

The background is that there’s not many programs around that allow someone to easily create realistic sprites for their game’s particle system. Games these days seem to have nicer looking particles and engines are powerful enough to render animations and other warping effects. These sprites would require advanced animation programs like FUME FX and similar, After Effects, and hours spent in Photoshop.

In addition to this, I find in tools like FUME, there’s a giant waiting time between setting up the effect and then having to render it all, only assuming how it will turn out in the end. Why do this when graphics cards are powerful enough to do almost all of this rendering? Look at game engines today like Unreal Engine 4. They are looking more and more realistic and this is because of graphics card power.

So the tool I’m proposing is going to be an extremely simple tool that lets you paint particles of your choice of properties for smoke, fire or magic effects. It will then allow you to animate them by giving the particles random velocities or adding nodes that repel or draw in the particles to customise slightly. You can then export the animation as a sequence in a PNG ready for engines like Unity.

The program will also be browser-based and use WebGL. One of the main focuses is going to be a live preview of the effect by utilizing the graphics hardware on the user’s computer. This will allow most of the effect to be rendered instead of it being represented as white dots and running at 1 frame-per-second. My goal is to have it run at 60 fps, but will settle for 30.

So for example, you want a nice explosion animation and can’t afford stock animations or want something more personalised, you can open the website (browser based), create a particle type like fire, give it some velocity ranges, rotations, etc, then create a 10-million or so burst that you can step back and forth through and alter as you see fit. You can then add another particle type like smoke, and create a burst. You can then export it.

You may be thinking “why not just use FUME FX? It’s better and looks great”. Well, you still can. Basically. The main differences with this tool though is that it’s aimed at game artists as FUME tends to be more of a video exporting tool. It also removes the huge interface of Maya or 3DS Max with all the tools that you probably won’t need. All you really need is a center point and a particle simulation and export.

As stated, this is not just an idea, I’m going to be creating this, and have to for my degree, so any feedback is greatly appreciated. If you have any constructive criticism, let me know.

Some things I do want to know from you guys is:

  • What are the best features of Fume FX? What are the things that you cannot live without?
  • Do you find the interface overwhelming?
  • Are all options used or are there settings that are mostly used and some that should be default anyway?
  • Would you pay for software like this particle tool idea?
  • Do you think having it run in a browser would be beneficial? Why / why not?
  • What are the hardest special effects to create?
  • What features do you wish were there / were easier?
  • Would a GUI speed boost make workflow a lot easier? (live preview instead of rendering)
  • What sort of interface would work better? Is one like Photoshop a good choice? Would an interface that goes away from the trends of Photoshop be a burden?
  • Any other feedback.

So for anyone that reads this and finds it interesting, please leave your feedback here or on the forums. The forums are as follows:


I’m also going to ask some YouTubers that have posted some videos of FUME FX examples.