Fugue Devlog 23: Migrating to Unity & Clay

· 04.14.2023 · projects/fugue

Unity screenshot

Migrating to Unity

So the last post was about migrating to Godot 4 and now I've gone and started migrating to Unity. At the start of this project I was deciding between Unity and Godot and ended up going with Godot for a few reasons, a big one being that I had used Unity maybe 8 or so years ago (I was originally developing The Founder in Unity) and hated it. At the time I believe Unity's UI support was basically non-existent and the game was rather UI-heavy, so it was a frustrating experience. I think the Unity Editor for Linux was also in beta, though I was probably using OSX at that point.

But recently I figured Unity was worth another look, since this is a 3D game and less UI-heavy, and surely things have improved in the interim years. And they have. The Unity Editor for Linux works (more on this below) and the Unity ecosystem is of course more mature and battle-tested.

Some other considerations:

  • Console/closed-platform support. A big downside with open-source game engines like Godot and Bevy is that they can't yet build for consoles, in part because these platforms require their integrations be closed-source (or something along those lines).
  • Built-in animation retargeting. It's been a struggle to figure out how to retarget animations for my generated characters. I was using the Auto-Rig Pro addon for Blender, which works great but wasn't giving me the right root motion results in Godot. It seemed very complicated to debug. Unity, on the other hand, has a built-in animation retargeting for humanoid rigs that works great.
  • C# is a more mature and strongly-typed language. Godot 4 improved a lot with GDScript but ultimately it still feels too in-development. It has typing support but many important types are lacking and it just doesn't feel as solid as a proper strongly-typed language. C# isn't the prettiest language to work with, but it feels like a good, stable foundation for a game.

And a couple other bonuses:

  • I haven't done much UI work just yet but Unity's new UI Toolkit system is interesting...the styling and layout is basically CSS.
  • Package management is also nice with openupm.

So far I don't have much bad to say about my new Unity experience. The biggest issue is that the Editor still feels kind of janky in Linux; it's rather slow and a bit buggy. It might still technically be in beta. I can't, for example, drag and dock tabs into panels, which is annoying (see below for a workaround). Not sure if this is a limitation with my window manager or what. Godot's Linux support on the other hand is amazing; their editor feels responsive and stable.

Setting up my text editor was tricky but it's working alright now, except that I have to restart nvim to properly process new files (see this issue) and that the language server takes a long time to start.

In general the development loop feels slower than Godot, largely due to the increased compilation times. There are some ways to improve these times (mainly by essentially bundling your code into sub-packages with assembly definition files), but so far I haven't noticed a major improvement (though it's probably not apparent until your project gets quite big). It's not the worst thing but it does make development drag a bit.

And a very minor gripe is the number of artifacts that Unity produces. Tons of .csproj files and other folders. Godot was really lean in this regard; I believe all these generated artifacts were confined to a hidden .import folder.

(I'm also stubbornly not doing the C# new-line curly brace thing)

I'm still getting familiar with most of Unity's core concepts—how input handling works, how unit testing works, etc—and so far haven't encountered any major road blocks. The documentation is ok, but I've still had to do a bunch of forum digging to figure out exact approaches to some problems.

I suppose one bit of weirdness is that there are two different UI systems available; one seems more appropriate for more static/simpler UIs (this is the CSS-like UI Toolkit system) and the other (soon-to-be legacy? idk) is a canvas-based UI system (closer to how UI works in Godot). The latter seems more appropriate for more dynamic interface elements—I'm using them for dialogue boxes primarily because they can use TextMeshPro which gives fine-grained control over text meshes. I think TextMeshPro is supposed to be integrated into the UI Toolkit? Maybe it is already? I don't know.

I am a little sad to stop using Godot...it's great and I'm excited to see where it goes in the next several years. It's already amazing how full-featured it is—perhaps it could become a Blender equivalent for game development. If Unity and Godot were at closer feature parity (especially with the three benefits listed above) I'd prefer Godot. But for now Unity makes more sense.


I ported the character generation system from hundun into its own Rust package, clay, so I can generate characters independently of hundun and via, for example, a script in bulk.

Not much interesting to say here, except maybe on how I bundled static assets into the Rust binary. The character generation part relies on several Blender Python scripts that I need to know the paths for (so I can call blender /path/to/the/python/script.py). The trouble is these files could be anywhere, and I don't want to hardcode or constantly pass in the paths to these scripts.

What I do is package them (and other static assets needed, like brush images) with the compiled application using the include_dir crate. Then they can be extracted to a known location when needed:

/// An interface to run scripts with Blender.
/// Most of the character generation actually happens
/// in Blender with Python scripts. These Python scripts
/// are included in a kind of hacky way (see below).
/// This method means that if the Python scripts are edited
/// the Rust program needs to be re-compiled to include the
/// latest script versions.

use include_dir::{include_dir, Dir};
use std::{
    path::{Path, PathBuf},
    fs::{create_dir, remove_dir_all},
    process::{Command, Stdio, ExitStatus}

const BLENDER_PATH: &str = "/usr/local/bin/blender";

// Where to extract the included Blender scripts when calling
// the `blender` command.
const EXTRACT_SCRIPTS_PATH: &str = "/tmp/clay-blender";

// Bundle the Blender scripts with the Rust binary.
// When needed we'll extract the scripts somewhere we can point to.
// This is a kind of hacky way to avoid juggling filepaths if this
// library is used elsewhere.
static BLENDER_SCRIPTS_DIR: Dir<'_> = include_dir!("$CARGO_MANIFEST_DIR/assets/blender");

/// Path to a file included in `BLENDER_SCRIPTS_DIR`.
pub fn bundled_file(path: &str) -> PathBuf {
    format!("{}/{}", EXTRACT_SCRIPTS_PATH, path).into()

/// Note: this assumes that `script` is bundled as parst of `BLENDER_SCRIPTS_DIR`.
pub fn blender(blendfile_path: &PathBuf, script: &str, env_vars: Vec<(&str, &str)>)
    -> Result<ExitStatus, Error> {
    // Extract the Blender scripts
    if Path::new(EXTRACT_SCRIPTS_PATH).is_dir() {
        let _ = remove_dir_all(EXTRACT_SCRIPTS_PATH);

    let mut cmd = Command::new(BLENDER_PATH);
             "-b", &blendfile_path.to_string_lossy(),
             "--python", &bundled_file(script).to_string_lossy()

    for (key, val) in env_vars {
        cmd.env(key, val);
    let mut proc = cmd.stdout(Stdio::inherit())
        .expect("blender command failed to start");

    let res = proc.wait();

    // Clean up extracted files
    let _ = remove_dir_all(EXTRACT_SCRIPTS_PATH);


A very hacky way of setting the editor layout in Linux

I did manage to figure out a very hacky way of docking tabs in the end. You can export the current editor layout to a .wlt file, which is essentially just a YAML file (as far as I can tell, it's the exact same format that Unity game scenes use). So say for example I want to dock the Test Runner to be in the same dock as the Inspector. I'd open the Test Runner—which opens in a new window by default—and then save the layout. Then I'd edit the .wlt file. The YAML file consists of individual subdocuments, separated like so:

--- !u!114 &1
(some yaml)
--- !u!114 &2
(some more yaml)
--- !u!114 &3

The key here is these dividers preceded by ---. The number after & is the id (specifically, the fileID) of that component. Some of these represent entire windows (so in my case I'd have a main editor window and the smaller window spawned for the Test Runner), others represent docks (which I identify by their m_Panes property), and others represent the tabs themselves.

The gist is to look for the Test Runner tab (by searching for m_Text: Test Runner) and then getting the id of that component (say it's 15). Then I look for the Inspector tab (searching for m_Text: Inspector) and get that id (say it's 20). Then I look for a subdocument where {fileID: 20} is an item under m_Panes. That will be where the Inspector tab is currently docked. I just add another entry below it: {fileID: 15}.

I search for the document to other references of {fileID: 15} and then clear anything that references those parent ids, recursively, just to ensure that there aren't multiple elements referring to the same component (i.e. deleting the dock that used to contain the Test Runner, and deleting the window that used to contain that dock).

Then save and load the layout in the editor.