Creating a Flame Effect with Particles in High Fidelity

Blog Posts ,High Fidelity ,Tutorials ,Virtual Reality
January 31, 2017

So, I’ve had a fire pit in the game room of my High Fidelity domain for about six weeks and up until now, it has been sitting sadly, unlit, waiting for the right particle system to come along and bring the flames to life. I am more excited than I should be that I finally sat down last night and added in a lovely little effect that has it flickering and spreading joy throughout my virtual world, and now you can check it out too!

If you aren’t familiar with High Fidelity, it’s both my new place of employment (yay!) and also an awesome, open source world building social VR platform. I’ve been working hard on customizing my home in the metaverse using the sandbox software, and it’s been a blast.

To create my flame effect, I added in a new particle system in Edit mode and customized the entity properties – the default particle system kind of looks like a fountain, which wasn’t exactly the look I was going for for my fire pit, but then again – you can make fire look however you want it to in the virtual world, so if fountains of fire is more your jam, I won’t try to stop you! I’m still pretty new to working with particle systems, so this was all done with the default properties and didn’t require custom materials or scripting.

The roughness in the effect here is from the process of turning the capture into a gif

There wasn’t much of a method to my particle-making adventure – I started with the colors until I had something that vaguely resembled flames, and started making incremental changes to other values in the Particle Explorer until I found some that I liked. Changing the accelerator spread from {x: 1, y:0, z:1} to {x:0, y:1, z:0} and the radius finish value to one that was smaller than the radius start value were the two biggest changes that gave the fire the desired visual effect, but I also set it so that the transparency of the particles would also gradually decrease to 0 toward the end of the particle’s life span, which helped with the tapering effect.

A nifty feature of High Fidelity is that you can export entities in the scene as JSON files to share, and as part of that, you can also save and import user data into your entities, including particle systems. So, if you wanted to create this exact system in your own domain, you could simply:

  1. Enable editing tools on your server, and add a new particle system
  2. Open up the Particle Explorer tab and click ‘Import: Paste JSON Here”
  3. Copy and paste the JSON from here: into the text box
  4. Enjoy your fire pit flame!

I think there’s still quite a lot I can do to make this look even better, so if you try it out and make improvements, share it! I’d love to see what you come up with!

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