Playground Trails

Amp up your effects with particle trails

Playground Trails enable drawing versatile trail meshes after particles. The trails can be configured in size by Animation Curves, coloring by Gradients and rendered billboarded in 3d towards a Transform or flat on a 2d plane. Their point creation is based on your configuration where you can specify minimum to maximum distances and maximum deviation angles.

The Playground Trails mesh calculation is done in a multithreaded environment and will dynamically batch to lower draw calls.

The Playground Trails is part of the Playground Components which extends the functionality of Particle Playground systems. These components are introduced in Particle Playground 3 and is part of the Particle Playground installation.

Playground Trails Overview

Multithreading friendly

Mesh calculations are done asynchronously determined by Particle Playground’s configurable thread distribution.

Dynamically batched

All trails with the same material will batch into a single draw call.

Control width over time

A Playground Trail’s width is set through a normalized Animation Curve.

Point creation control

Define when new points on the trail can be made by minimum to maximum distance values or by maximum deviation angle from its current trajectory.

Optimized procedural meshes

All trails are caching their mesh data upon creation to not generate new memory allocations.

Click & go

The Playground Trails component just needs to be added to a Particle Playground system to start emitting whether you’re in Play Mode or not.

playground-wizard-trails

To start rendering Playground Trails after particles in a Particle Playground system you select the particle system in Hierarchy and press Playground Trails found in the Playground Components section in the Playground Wizard (Window > Particle Playground).

Editing the behavior of the Playground Trails is done through the Inspector.

Time

Time
The Time parameter determines the lifetime for each created point in the Playground Trail. All lifetime dependent values such as vertex colors and UVs uses the points lifetime value (when their Mode is set to Lifetime) to apply their behaviors. When time is up on the last point (which is following the particle’s position) the trail will be removed.

Width

Time Width
The Time Width value is done by a normalized Animation Curve, which determines how wide a point is over its lifetime.

Width Scale
The overall scale of the trails.

Rendering

Material
The material of the trails. All trails with the same material will dynamically batch.

Lifetime Color
The color of a Playground Trail is done with a Gradient. The far left is the start time/point and the far right is the end time/point. The Gradient will be iterated through based on which Color Mode is set.

Color Mode
The Color Mode determines if colors from the Gradient should be picked by the points Lifetime value or the normalized point index in the Point Array. Using Point Array can come in handy if you for example only want two points drawing a straight line, where you want a start- and end color only.

Point Array Alpha
When Color Mode is set to Lifetime the alpha can be set from a normalized Animation Curve.

Uv Mode
The Uv Mode determines if mesh UVs should be set by the Lifetime value or the normalized point index in the Point Array. Using Lifetime will make the UVs move over time where Point Array will make them stretch over the available points in the array.

Render Mode
The Render Mode determines what perspective the trail is rendered.
Billboard – Perspective is set towards the assigned Billboard Transform.
Horizontal – Render the trail flat on XZ axis.
Vertical – Render the trail flat on XY axis.
Custom Render Scale – Perspective is set towards a custom scaled normal.

Point Creation

Maximum Points
The maximum amount of points that is possible to be created on each trail.

Minimum Vertex Distance
Determines the least distance from last point creation before a new point can be created.

Maximum Vertex Distance
Determines the highest distance from last point creation before a new point is forced to be created.

Maximum Path Deviation
The maximum amount in angles of the current trajectory before a new point is forced to be created.

Create First Point On Particle Birth
Determines if a point should be created immediately upon particle birth. When disabled the first point will be created when reaching the next mesh calculation cycle. Enabling this can affect how the initial trail path behaves if your source is moving.

Create Last Point On Particle Death
Determines if a point should be created at the moment the followed particle dies.

Create Points On Collision
Determines if points should be created on particle collision. Note that you need to enable Collisions on the Particle Playground system to see any effect.

Advanced

Particle System
The Particle Playground system the Playground Trails is based upon.

Multithreading
Determines if the Playground Trails should take advantage of more than one CPU and run its mesh calculations asynchronously. (Recommended)