Unity offers several rendering pipelines, two Global Illumination systems, four Lighting Modes, three Light Modes, two Shadowmask Modes, etc. This tremendous flexibility allows you to create projects targeting high-end PCs and console, as well as mobile and XR devices. However, the number of options can be overwhelming if, for instance, you are new to Unity, aren't familiar with rendering jargon, or are accustomed to renderers with a very tight set of features.
A few months ago, in May 2018, I joined the European Spotlight Team based in the UK. Our mission is to closely support high-profile developers and push the envelope of Unity. One of my other roles is to help creators to get the most out of Unity. During my career as a game lighting artist, I have principally worked with game engines with fully locked and ultra optimized rendering pipelines, therefore I understand the multitude of lighting features and permutations in Unity can initially seem daunting. This is why I wrote a new best practice guide: Setting up the lighting pipeline in Unity.
I have created several diagrams, decision flowcharts, and tables to give you a high-level perspective of the lighting pipeline and to help you decide which render pipeline and which global lighting settings would best suit your project. As an amuse-bouche of what you’re about to see in the guide, have a look at this diagram giving you an overview of the whole lighting pipeline for every step along your lighting journey in Unity:
In the guide, I essentially focus on the first four main steps, from the selection of a rendering pipeline to the addition of lights. Later on, I present several project examples, such as a mobile strategy game, an AAA corridor shooter and a battle royale. Optimal settings and recommendations for these scenarios should help you get started on the right foot.
After you read this guide, you should have a good understanding of the different render pipelines available in Unity and their lighting settings. Let’s get started!