Originally posted on 17 February 2022 and updated with details of Cesium for Unity.
Geospatial software firm Cesium has released a set of open-source plugins that make it possible to stream high-resolution geospatial data into popular game engines.
There are now plugins available for Unreal Engine, O3DE and – as of last week – Unity.
Each one can generate a full-scale digital replica of the Earth based on the WGS84 standard, recreating real terrain inside the game engine with the accuracy needed for architectural visualisations and military sims.
Create interactive real-time versions of the Earth inside game engines
The plugins enable developers to use high-resolution 3D geospatial data, such as that captured by aerial photogrammetry and LIDAR scans, to reproduce the real world inside popular game engines.
A runtime 3D Tiles engine makes it possible to stream massive 3D geospatial datasets into the host engine in real time, and provides level of detail and caching functionality.
The resulting digital replica of the Earth conforms to the WGS84 standard used by GPS systems.
Suggested use cases include open-world games, architectural visualisations and military training apps.
Available for Unreal Engine, O3DE and as a preview for Unity
The first such plugin was Cesium for Unreal, released in 2021. It integrates with standard Unreal Engine features, including Actors, Components and Blueprints.
Cesium for O3DE followed in February 2022, providing support for open-source game engine. Again, it integrates with key features of O3DE, including visual scripting system Script Canvas.
To that, Cesium has now added Cesium for Unity, which supports Unity‘s Game Objects, Components and Character Controllers.
The Unity plugin is currently still a preview, and is capable of deploying projects to Windows, macOS, Android, and for Meta’s VR headsets, with more platforms to follow.
Integrated with Cesium.ion, but should work with other data sources
To make use of the Cesium plugins, users need a source of geospatial data to pull into the game engine.
By default, that’s Cesium ion, Cesium’s own platform, which provides streamable content including world terrain, buildings and imagery from Bing Maps, and which is integrated inside the plugins.
However, the plugin is open-source, so developers can create their own integrations for other platforms.
Price and system requirements
Source code for all of the plugins is available via Cesium’s GitHub repository under Apache 2.0 licences.
Compiled binaries of Cesium for Unreal are compatible with Unreal Engine 4.26+ and Unreal Engine 5.0+. Users can deploy projects to Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS.
Compiled binaries of Cesium for O3DE are compatible with O3DE 21.11+.
Compiled binaries of Cesium for Unity are compatible with Unity 2021.3.2f1. Users can deploy projects to Windows, macOS, Android and Meta’s Quest 2 and Quest Pro headsets, with more platforms “coming soon”.
You can find quickstart tutorials for all three plugins on Cesium’s website.
Cesium ion is free for non-commercial use, although there are limits on the amount of data that can be streamed each month. Commercial subscriptions start at $149/month.
Download the free Cesium for Unreal plugin (From the Unreal Marketplace)
Download the free Cesium for O3DE plugin (From GitHub)
Download the free Cesium for Unity plugin (Preview release, from GitHub)
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,