Rendering middleware Umbra courts smaller studios with new cloud licence - MCV

Rendering middleware Umbra courts smaller studios with new cloud licence

New debugger also allows for rapid prototyping and debugging
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Umbra has added a new cloud version of its rendering middleware as part of its plans to open the tool up to more developers.

The Umbra Cloud licence performs geometry processing in the cloud rather than locally, which the firm says offers near-unlimited computation and storage capabilities for developers. The Umbra run-time can also then use the cloud-generated data as if it were created locally.

As well as being an option for new customers, existing users will also get access to the cloud features.

Speaking to Develop, Umbra's Thomas Puha said the new licence is about making the tool, used by the likes of CD Projekt Red, Bungie and Remedy, more accessible and affordable to smaller teams.

“You can use Umbra as before, no problem, this is not for everyone, but the cloud makes it easier to use and access some of Umbra’s features,” said Puha.

“For example, the cloud automatically offers caching of the Umbra computation data and sharing that cache across the entire development team, which, as it turned out, not everyone realised to take advantage of before. So we really try to make our feature set easier to use for developers.”

Another feature being integrated into Umbra is the new debugger, a GUI tool for users to see how the middleware’s visibility system works with their content, as well as allowing for rapid prototyping and debugging.

Puha says this addition came in response to user feedback, as some developers had struggled to fix issues when the tool didn’t work.

“One of the main bits of feedback we got about Umbra is that when it works, it works great, but when it doesn’t, it’s like a black box,” he said.

“It’s difficult to see what the software is doing and visibility problems could be difficult to debug. We used to ship this internal tool we called the Viewer that was never supposed to get out in the wild, but some devs used it and it was really not user-friendly at all, to put it mildly, and had a lot of issues. So we got rid of that.

“So for the debugger, which our internal team built from scratch, we collected feedback from developers using Umbra. It’s easy to use, user-friendly, has a lot of options and is easy to develop for.

“We mostly deal with engineers, but Umbra affects content creators’ work so some of them need a tool they can use to visualise how Umbra works with their content. This was something many developers wanted so we are glad we were able to deliver that, though of course, development never stops.

“The nice thing is that you can just export your levels into the debugger and see how Umbra works with the content, without having to integrate our tech into your run-time. So if you have limited resources, you can just download Umbra and play around with the debugger and see what our tech can do for you.”

For more information on Umbra’s new cloud licence and debugger, visit the official website.

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