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A spotlight on Asset Store character controllers

November 2, 2015 in Games | 9 min. read
Dual wielding pistol.jpg
Dual wielding pistol.jpg

Friendly greetings, Unity developers!

I’d like to welcome you to the first of a series of bi-weekly editorials showcasing some of the coolest, most useful gems on the Unity Asset Store. I’ll be focusing on extraordinary content that will help you create projects with a maximal impact on gameplay and minimal impact on budget.

During my many years here at the Asset Store, I’ve closely followed the growth of third person controller frameworks because quite simply, it’s my personal favorite type of gameplay!  From Assassin’s Creed to Zelda, third person action adventures have been consistently engaging gamers like me with high-action, ninja-like modes of movement in dangerous and exciting environments,  from adventuring into the deepest dungeons, to leaping across rooftops, to high energy melee in alien worlds.  This style of gaming naturally lends itself to exploration, combat and rich worlds, and many folks who enjoy world design find it to be one of the most satisfying genres to work in.  If you’re eager to create the next great action adventure, read on!

Third Person Controller by Opsive

Dual wielding pistol.jpg Get your gun fu on with Opsive’s built-in dual-pistol wielding.  John Woo would approve!
Get your gun fu on with Opsive’s built-in dual-pistol wielding.  John Woo would approve!

Third Person Controller by Opsive is relatively new to the Asset Store, but is quickly becoming one of the community’s favorites. Opsive have consistently proven themselves with highly rated tools on the store, including Behavior Designer &  Infinite Runner Starter Pack Pro, so it’s no surprise that their latest offering is gaining so much traction.  The Opsive framework is an extremely well-rounded solution built from a powerful c# code base, but you needn’t touch a line of code.  The great minds at Opsive have made things easy with wizard-like tools to handle scene set-up, character and world configuration, health & respawn, input management, as well as managing essential action-adventure mechanic items like sliding physics objects, levers, weaponry, and chests.

Opsive provides most movement modes you’ll need in an action adventure and platformer, combining your standard running, jumping walking, strafing movements modes with pole and wall climbing, crawling, ledge strafing, and an impressively comprehensive weapons system.  You’ll find preconfigured melee and range weapons and a ready to use weapon selection interface.    

While the Opsive framework takes advantage of the flexible root-motion functionality of Mecanim, you can also use it without root motion movement, if your game calls for wilder or less realistic movement (as you often find in platformers).  Unlike most Mecanim-driven solutions, Opsive drives animation state transitions mostly by script, making it easy for the system to add functionality.  

Comprehensive documentation is available on the Opsive website and a variety of example scenes demonstrating different types of third person games, including a top-down shooter mechanic, action-adventure, RPG, 2D platformer, even a working multiplayer version.  The team has taken great care to provide integrations with some of the most popular design frameworks on the store, including Playmaker, plyGame, Adventure Creator and Ork Framework.  The net effect is a solid tool that allows you create a third person action adventure in a short time, without heavy programming.  Community reviews indicate that the Opsive team is highly regarded for quick and friendly support, which can make a huge difference when you’re stuck in the middle of a complex project.  This package is going places and is easily worth the price.

Motion Controller & Adventure Camera Rig by Ootii

ootii1 Motion Controller by Ootii is straightforward, well crafted and easy to use.
Motion Controller by Ootii is straightforward, well crafted and easy to use.

The folks at Ootii have created a tight, smooth running and well-supported controller system, the Ootii Motion Controller, which when supplemented with their excellent Adventure Camera Rig, provides an AAA grade  third person controller system.  Ootii solution is built around Unity’s Mecanim animation system, taking full advantage of Mecanim state machines, dynamically adjustable root motion, and application of physics.  You’ll find a complete set of animations which naturally retarget with any Mecanim Humanoid compatible character, including walking, running, sneaking, climbing, jumping and sliding. I’m particularly partial to Ootii’s over-the-ledge climbing, which smoothly brings your character up and over the top of your climbable surfaces.

If you need to take things further, Ootii provides the tools you need to easily add additional animations you may find on the Asset Store or provide yourself.  Great care has also been taken to make sure the controller works smoothly & easily with the XBox 360-- so if that’s your platform of choice, you’ll be up and running very quickly.  

With the upcoming mid-November release of Motion Controller v2, ootii promises the ability to walk on walls and ceilings, an easier way to share motions using Unity 5’s Animation Asset API, and more motions, like tight-rope-walking.  The system is being built around their newly released Actor Controller, which is remarkable in itself, especially if you prefer to write your own third person controller around it.

Ootii’s Motion Controller includes a perfectly acceptable third person camera system, but if you’d like to add extra flexibility and power, add the Ootii Adventure Camera & Rig, which has been designed to complement the controller framework   With it, you can easily add AAA quality, physics-driven camera control to your game, with configurable rotation limits, preset variants of popular follow camera behaviors, a more sophisticated strafing movement mode and first person targeting.  Documentation and demonstration scenes included with both the controller and the camera system are well crafted, and as many happy customers have written, Ootii provides some of the best support on the Unity Asset Store.

Complete Physics Platformer Kit by Icarus Studios


Icarus Studio hit the ground running with the release of their Complete Physics Platformer Kit, a physics-driven character controller with 3D platforming in mind.  This kit is really the most rock-solid rigidbody-based character controller solution out there, and comes with a lot of other scripts and assets to make 3D platform games a cinch.  Icarus’ solution is best suited to platforming and does not rely on Mecanim, so if you’re looking for a solution based on root motion, you’ll find Ootii or Opsive’s solutions better suited.  

This kit features not just a controller, but also some of the most essential components for creating platforming gameplay:  waypoint-controller NPCs and enemies, which you can melee attack as well as jump-upon Mario style, collectable pickups, a variety of easily configured interactive physics elements including the ability to push, pull and grab on to moving objects, updrafts that lift your player into the sky, fallout and death zones, water and basic buoyancy physics.   What’s more, the project, scenes and code are clean and easy to understand, so if you’re starting out or just want to learn how to use physics in your own projects, you’re certain to learn a lot.

Because the system is so incredibly integrated with Unity’s physics system, the kit invites the level designer to create worlds rich with mechanical and physical game design that is certain to fire your imagination.  If you’re looking to make a game in the spirit of a classic platformer like Jak & Daxter or the next Ratchet & Clank, this might be the package you’re looking for.  Heck, even if you’re just tinkering around, at $25 this package is an incredible deal.

Third Person Character Controller by Invector

invector Invector's rigidbody driven controller
Invector's rigidbody driven controller

Invector’s Third Person Character Controller is one of the newest offerings to the Asset Store.  It's  garnered consistent five-star ratings after arriving just a month ago.    This controller features a complete control system, with support for multiple input devices, including mobile touch-screen input.    

As with most modern Unity controller solutions, Invector’s product is humanoid Mecanim driven with root-motion driven movement.  The system provides tools for quickly fitting your Mecanim compatible humanoid characters into the template in a matter of seconds, not minutes, taking a lot of the technical drudgery out of getting your game up and running.

Invector has taken care to support the Xbox 360 controller, with vibration/force feedback, and an automated footstep sound system which works on both mesh and terrain geometry.    The package includes several example scenes to springboard your production, be it an RPG, 2.5d side scroller, isometric adventure, top-down or modern action adventure gameplay configuration.   Numerous High quality animations for the most commonly used 3rd person movements are included, as well as ladder climbing, climb-overs, jumps and landings, and strafing.  The system has excellent ragdoll support, which is a lot of fun to play around with in the physics-centric example scenes, and comes with an attractive and well made example character for all your prototyping purposes.

The folks at Invector are widely praised for the fast and accurate support, with frequent updates and bug fixes. While it’s the new kid, Invector’s promising new solution is definitely worth following.

Character System by Robin Schmidt

cs1 Robin Schmidt's Character System is a great start for a high action 3rd person adventure
Robin Schmidt's Character System is a great start for a high action 3rd person adventure

Character System by Robin Schmidt, is one of the older solutions. It first debuted in 2012 and is one of the first solutions with comprehensive Mecanim support and accurate IK foot alignment.  If you’re looking to make a game with climbing intensive and high action movement modes similar to those in games like the Assassins Creed or Tomb Raider franchises, this package has a variety of climbing, balancing, sneaking, shooting, swimming, melee and stealth modes working out of the box.  It includes a studly hero character, three example scenes, a complete set of c# scripts, and nearly 180 animations.   Schmidt’s solution currently has an average rating of four stars and has accumulated a lot of in-depth reviews, some very good, but a number from folks who found the system a bit more complex or technical than they initially thought.  We recommend having a good read to see if this is the package for you.

And so many more…

There’s a ton of other third person controller solutions on the store, from Unity’s own standard controller included with our own Standard Assets to a number of solutions in the Complete Projects and Scripting categories. Best of all, it seems every few months a new solution appears on the store, so keep an eye out for the newest and latest additions. With creative vision and ingenuity, you can use these third person controllers to make seriously first class games.

Caitlyn Meeks, Editor in Chief.

Unity Asset Store team

November 2, 2015 in Games | 9 min. read