Comparing VPP with other vehicle kits
Taking the correct decisions in advance can save you huge amounts of time and money. Consider these topics before adopting any vehicle physics kit in your own project:
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- Comparing VPP with other vehicle kits
- Comparing with Edy's Vehicle Physics
Usability and coherency
How easy to use, easy to understand, and intuitive are other packages?
Some kits expose a single component with everything inside it. Others artificially split the features into an excessive number of components, requiring each single change to be traversed around a lot of components and instances. In some extreme cases, I've seen some kits exposing in a single wheel all possible parameters and settings individually, including audio, visual effects, materials, etc. A single change on any of these must be done in all wheels from all vehicles present in the scene for the change to be coherent.
Vehicle Physics Pro is designed with coherency in mind. The code is well structured in scripts and components. It's easy to intuitively understand the role of each script and component:
A single VPVehicleController script provides the entire vehicle physics and dynamics (axles, engine, gearbox, etc.)
The component VPWheelCollider implements the wheel entity, the suspension settings and draws the wheel gizmo.
VPP is nicely structured and the parameters are centralized at several levels: scene-wide, vehicle-wide, etc. Whenever you need to modify anything you will have to modify it only once at the location you expect to find it at.
How easy is to add new features or customize the vehicles for adapting them to your project?
Some kits are built on a monolithic script that are very hard to understand, modify or customize. Others are so badly structured that the code is spread on dozens of arbitrary scripts and components, becoming very difficult to understand, use, and extend.
Vehicle Physics Pro is designed to be easily extensible and adaptable at several levels:
You can write custom component add-ons as standard Unity components for adding new features or integrating the vehicles with your project.
You can design and implement custom vehicles if the provided vehicle controller doesn't fit your needs.
You can write custom functionality blocks and combine them with the included blocks (engines, gears, other parts...) if you need simulating vehicle parts not provided in the VPP kit.
You can write your own ground material manager if you want to manage the ground materials in your own way (i.e. weather, changing track conditions...).
Integration into existing projects
Can the vehicle physics kit be easy and harmlessly used in an existing project?
Some vehicle physic kits come as Complete Project or Project Template. Those kits are typically someone's sandbox project for adding things, performing experiments and recording videos. But they're not designed to be easily integrated into existing projects. First, you would have to create a new project for importing the kit (otherwise it would override your own project's settings). Then you would have to export (!) the vehicles and scripts from the new project to .unitypackage files, and finally import them into your own project. In the end, you'll have a bunch of prefabs and a ton of integration work ahead.
Vehicle Physics Pro has been conceived and designed as Editor Extension, making it straightforward and harmless to include into existing projects:
- No external dependencies, no naming conflicts (namespaces are used).
- Unity menu integration (Component > Vehicle Physics).
- Editor inspectors adhere to Unity's standards for usability and coherency.
- Well structured and commented C# code.
Physically realistic and accurate
Vehicle Physics Pro is consolidated on the base of a solid vehicle dynamics model. There are no guesses, no arbitrary assumptions. The core design is physically accurate, so it accounts for all the expected and unexpected behaviors of the vehicles.
An example: do you know what driveline windup is? I hadn't heard of that until I observed the effect myself in VPP while testing the simulation with heavy AWD vehicles.
Which are the performance requirements of the package?
The requirements give a clue on the quality of the code and the design. Saying "it takes 1,4% cpu usage, which is very low and surely it works on mobile" means nothing. Some packages even require you to configure Unity Physics to work at 100Hz or more (default is 50Hz). This effectively doubles the cpu impact for all the physics. But it's justified? I think that denotes a bad and unoptimized design.
Vehicle Physics Pro has been tested with physic rates as low as 16 Hz (physics time step of 0.06) without noticeable adverse effects. This means that you can reduce the performance impact of the entire Unity physics engine without affecting the vehicle's behavior.
In addition, the integration substeps at the VPP solver can be configured per-vehicle. This means that you could have the Unity physics engine working at the default 50Hz, but the main vehicle could perform its calculations at 400Hz (8 substeps).
Code and components are efficiently structured and managed as well:
- No GC allocations.
- No messages sent between scripts at runtime.
- GetComponent, if required, is called only once on startup.
Some kits provide a monolithic PDF, or a forum page, or even a Facebook page or video tutorials as entire documentation.
Vehicle Physics Pro dedicates this site for all the documentation in a comprehensive and coherent structure, which gets updates regularly. The use of responsive design allows browsing the pages comfortably even on mobile devices.
Take a look around. The site is even hosted at GitHub. I update and modify the docs frequently for keeping them up to date with the latest developments in VPP. Also, I'm open to additions, fixes and collaborations.
When someone ask me about a topic requiring a detailed reply, I typically add the reply also to the documentation for everyone wondering the same topic. Check out Miscellaneous Topics Explained.
Source code, updates and platform support
Is the source code provided? How to get updates? Does it support all platforms?
Some kits provide their entire code as DLL. Others even provide Windows only or platform-specific native (!!) DLLs.
Vehicle Physics Pro is 100% standard C# Unity code compatible with ALL platforms, present and future, supported by Unity 3D.
In addition, Professional and Enterprise licensees obtain direct access to the full source code via GIT repository, the same I use for developing Vehicle Physics Pro. You can use continuous integration systems for keeping your project up to date with the latest revision without having to wait for Asset Store updates.
Enterprise licensees also receive credentials for the project's Redmine tracking system, so they can open tickets for bugs and requests directly.
The Free and Standard licenses provide a portion of the source code of VPP (the inner vehicle dynamics part) as cross-platform .NET DLL assembly, still seamlessly compatible with all platforms.
Comparing with Edy's Vehicle Physics
EVP provides a very simple vehicle controller where the actual behavior or the vehicle is configured directly with a few parameters: how much can it steer, how much can it drift, how much accelerates, brakes, etc. EVP is targeted to arcade vehicles requiring physically realistic behaviors, but the most important features being the gameplay and the handling of the vehicle.
VPP implements a fully realistic and complete simulation model of a real-world vehicle. In VPP all components of the vehicle are configured: engine, clutch, transmission, differential etc. The behavior and handling of the vehicle depend on the configured parameters of all these components. Same setup and tunning techniques as in real vehicles are used in VPP.
The parameters configured in VPP have a correspondence with the real world. You might get the specifications of a real vehicle and set them up in VPP for simulating that vehicle.
Which one is better, EVP or VPP?
They are different products targeting different needs. They cannot be compared in so simple terms. Each product may be better depending on the type of project they will be used at.
For example, games like Grand Theft Auto (GTA) or Just Cause best fit with EVP, as vehicles are an accessory within the game. On the other hand, racing simulators in the style of Gran Turismo or Project Cars best fit with VPP, as they simulate real-world vehicles in the a realistic way.
Which product is better for performance on mobile low-mid end?
Both products have roughly the same performance at their default settings.
- In VPP the requirements might get increased depending on the specific settings of each vehicle (integration substeps, number of blocks in the powertrain, etc).
- In EVP the performance depends on the total number of wheels in the scene and the optimization settings per-vehicle.
The controller example at Creating Custom Vehicles may be used for getting the most performance out of the VPP simulation.