Game Development Toolset

The Game Development Toolset is a collection of high level tools aimed to speed up games related workflows in Houdini. There are over 90 tools that range from UVing to generating Motion Vectors from simulations. 

These tools are not tied to the regular Houdini development cycle and become available the moment they are ready for testing. They are currently deployed through our github page, and will soon be updatable from within Houdini. 

Downloading the Tools

As of 16.5 you can download the tools straight from Houdini.
Under the Games Development Shelf (you might need to add this to your shelf sets) click on the Update Toolset button.
This will pop up a dialog prompting you with which release to download from, recently we have started daily builds, so you can choose whether to download a daily build or a production build.
It is recommended to always grab the daily build for the very latest tools.
You can also clone the tools directly from our Github repository, more details below

Github Details

You can download the tools from our Github Repository.
There are 2 main branches Stable and Development. We are actively developing tools and checking them into the Development branch, so if you want the very latest, that's the place to go. The Stable branch will be retired soon as releases have taken over for that gate keeping responsibility. 

DISCLAIMER: These tools are provided as is. We provide as much of the source as we can in order for you to troubleshoot any issues that may arise. We have developers working on these tools full time, but these tools do not fall under the regular SideFX support team.

DISCLAIMER 2: As of build 1.26 we have added analytics to the tools to report which nodes are being created. You can read more about the Anonymous User Statistics and how to disable them here:

Tutorial Collections

SideFX has compiled tutorials for a number of the gamedev tools on the Game Tools Learning Path page. This page links you to a number of tutorial collection pages which you can access using the following links.

Tools Details 

SOPs - Surface Operators 

Auto UV 

Automatically generates the seams for an object and immediately runs a UV Flatten after the fact. There are 2 main techniques: 
- Shortest Path : Uses the shortest path algorithm to define seams based on the surface's curvature
- Cluster: Subdivides the meshes into quadrants which turn into uv islands.
- Axis Aligned: Similar to the UV Unwrap, but does a better job as clustering smaller islands
- Unwrap: The traditional UV Unwrap

Tutorial Link

Axis Align  (NEW)
Easy way to align your models' XYZ Axis based on its bounding boxes

Tutorial Link

Measure Curvature - renamed from Calculate Curvature
Provides 7 different ways of calculating an model's curvature. 2 built in methods and 5 other contributed by Houdini user Petz
Useful for doing procedural edge damaging and several other effects. 

Box Clip  (NEW)
Simple HDA to do 6 clip operations at one, allows you to control which of the 6 sides to clip. Useful for isolating a small piece of geometry 

Calculate Occlusion
Calculates vertex Ambient Occlusion at the SOP level. Lots of controls for intensity, falloffs and blur

Tutorial Link

Cylinder Generator  (NEW)
HDA part of the Mesh Generators, creates a cylinder with a curve as it's input 

Tutorial Link 

Decal Projector  (NEW)

Behaves like an in game decal system, but it utilizes boolean under the hood for more accurate decal geometry. Generates decals with proper 0-1 UVs 

Delete Small Parts
Utility SOP to remove small disconnected parts based on a size threshold

Tutorial Link

Delight  (NEW)
Removes ambient directional light from Vertex Colors. Very useful for Photogrammetry Workflows 

Destruction Cleanup

Optimizes RBD simulations based on whether the objects have moved or not. As seen on the Epic Twitch Stream. 

Disk Generator (NEW)
HDA part of the Mesh Generators, creates a disk 

Tutorial Link 

Edge Group to Curve
Convert an edge selection (group) to a polygon curve. Useful if you want to sweep something along your model or many other applications.
Tutorial Link - Shown at the 5:07 minute mark  in the Auto UVs SOP tutorial

Extract Borders  (NEW)
Extract Border Edges to Curves. Optionally UV Borders instead of Geometry Borders

Extract Filename
Utility SOP to store a file information as a detail attribute to then be referenced in other SOPs.

Tutorial Link 

FlowMap - renamed from Create Flowmap
Initializes the correct attributes on a mesh in order to export a flowmap. 
Tutorial Link - All flowmap nodes

Flowmap Guide 
Uses a curve as an additional input and bends the velocity field of the flow map based on said curve. Very useful for non destructively combing the flow field.  

Tutorial Link - All flowmap nodes

Flowmap Obstacle
Uses an object as an additional input and warms the velocity field around said object. Useful for very quickly bending the flow around objects. 
Tutorial Link - All flowmap nodes

Flowmap To Color

Converts the worldspace velocity vectors into Tangent (uv) space colors. This allows the user to then bake the velocities out as vertex colors to be used in a game engine.
Tutorial Link - All flowmap nodes

FBX ROP - Built Into 16.5 and removed from GameDev Toolset
Utility node to bring the FBX export capabilities into the SOP context. We can currently export geometry and alembic from the SOPs but we didn't have an equivalent version for FBX.  

GameRes  (NEW)
Automatically Decimate, UV and Bake Maps for your high resolution Mesh. The culmination of the Mesh Pipeline effort 

Group by Attribute  (NEW)
Similar to the partition node, but with slightly more forgiving interface. Generate groups by a single attribute

Group Edge Loop
Procedurally generate Point, Prim and Edge Loops.  There is also an option to skip every N units, which allows for interesting results. 
Tutorial Link - Update Imminent 

Group Expand
Expands or contracts a group by a number of iterations. Positive iterations expand, negative iterations contract
Tutorial Link

Instant Meshes Bridge 
Instant Meshes is a great open source Quad Remesher. This sops simply wraps around its command line interface for a more native Houdini experience.
Tutorial Link

Make Loop
Makes a Volume or a mesh with constant topology automatically loop. It does so by offsetting the animation by half and cross dissolving the animation onto itself. 
Tutorial Link

Mark Seams 
This nodes allows for a more intuitive way of managing edge groups for common workflows like UVing.
It is essentially an uber group node which lets you store selections as well as convert primitive selections into edge selections of said primitive borders
Tutorial Link

Merge Small Islands
Underlying node part of the AutoUV, also exposed as a standalone node. Combines smaller UV islands into neighboring larger islands

Mesh Tiler
Take a collection of meshes distributed on a planar surface, and make sure the meshes are configured in a tileable layout. This is especially useful for generating tiling textures from 3D meshes.
Tutorial Link

Multi File 
This nodes allows you to load multiple OBJ or FBX files in a single SOP

Tutorial Link

Niagara Impacts, Niagara Interpolate, Niagara RBD Split, Niagara ROP (NEW)
Several nodes that compose the Niagara Export Pipeline to Unreal 4

Tutorial Link

OSM Import
Open Street Map is a great database for city street data. This node efficiently loads the OSM files into Houdini as well as all of the different tagged attributes on the buildings and streets.
Tutorial Link

OSM Buildings 
Open Street Map is a great database for city street data. This node parses the data brought in from the OSM Import node and generate building geometry from the profile curves. 

Physics Painter (NEW)
Allows you to paint scatter objects and simulate them with RBD in order to cause them to settle 

Tutorial Link

Deforms the first input to match the shape of the second input. Incredibly useful for modifying scanned data.
Tutorial Link

Quick Material 2.0 (NEW) 
QuickShade on steroids. Not only apply diffuse textures, but all of the different PBR material settings right at the SOP level. Now allows for multiple materials with custom names
Tutorial Link

RBD Director (NEW)
Part of the new RBD Workflows. Allows you to control active chunks based on volumes 

RBD Fracture (NEW)
Part of the new RBD Workflows. Wrapper around Voronoi Fracture with several common tricks done by production artists

RBD Solver (NEW)
Part of the new RBD Workflows. Allows you to simulate an RBD object in SOPs 

Remove Inside Faces
Optimization Node to clean up geometry without relying on the boolean node

Retime (NEW)
Simple interface to retime an animation sequence based on a curve parameter.

Simple Baker
A Wrapper for the Games Baker at the SOP level. Takes a low mesh and a high mesh as the 2 inputs
Tutorial Link

Sketchfab Output (NEW)
Upload your model to Sketchfab straight from Houdini

Tutorial Link

Skinning Converter
Skinning Converter is a Houdini Digital Asset (HDA) that can convert any non-changing topology deforming mesh sequence into a bone based animation. The user gets control over a couple of parameters, which allows the user to get their desired result.
Tutorial Link

Soften Normals
Utility script for softening the normals of an object and optionally hardening the UV seams.
Tutorial Link 

Sphere Generator (NEW)
HDA part of the Mesh Generators, creates a sphere with UVs and Vertex Colors for Realtime VFX

Tutorial Link 

Static Fracture Export 
Exports pre-fractured pieces for realtime destruction setups. Useful in Unreal's destruction System and NVidia's PhysXLab 

Terrain Mesh ROP (NEW)
Export Heightfield Meshes in tiles with several options

Tutorial Link

Terrain Texture ROP (NEW)
Export Heightfield textures with several options, including generating Normal Maps from Terrains

Tutorial Link

Give planar surfaces thickness with this node. It also has a slightly smarter logic on how to thicken an object in order to avoid geometry errors. Great for making things water tight! 

Tutorial Link

Turntable (NEW)
Simple HDA to rotate the model based on your timeline and a speed parameter

Unreal Pivot Painter
Tool to generate the appropriate data necessary for Unreal 4's pivot based animation nodes. Which allows you to do complex shader animations with a very slight overhead compared to a traditional joint setup. Now with less coming in sideways
Tutorial Link

UV Stack 
Stacks similar UV shells together. Great for hair workflows and general UV management. 
Also contains some extra controls for splitting stacks randomly for variation. 
Tutorial Link

UV Unitize
Simple Utility tool to make every face of a mesh to be UV'd from 0-1

Tutorial Link

UV Visualize
Helper script to visualize UVs. Including features such as: 
Visualize Seams
Warp between UV space and Model Space 
Modify the tiling of the grid texture
Visualize Islands

Tutorial Link

Workflow script to simplify the VDB roundtrip that is very common in geometry cleanup

Tutorial Link

ROPs - Render Operators 

CSV Exporter
A simple example ROP to demonstrate how you can extract data from geometry and write it out with Python. The bulk of the code is in the Scripts Tab in the Type Properties Dialog. 

Games Baker
A wrapper around Mantra's baking capabilities. This node simplified the baking process by allowing you to bake the common maps easily, as well as any point attribute without additional setup. A recent upgrade allows for the baking of multiple high>low pairs at the same time, and proper compositing of the resulting textures.
Tutorial Link 

Impostor Texture
The impostor tool creates texture sheets to fake 3D objects in your game engine.  The tool will create full 3D, fixed axis and animated impostors.

Marmoset ROP (NEW)
Export your assets to Marmoset from within Houdini and use Marmoset as a Renderer. 

Tutorial Link

Motion Vectors

Renders out the velocity vectors to camera space, which allows them to be used as frame blending flow maps. The tutorial goes in depth on how to render them and hook them up in Unreal. 
Tutorial Link

Pyro Preview
Preset for rendering Pyro, which creates a light rig and sets good initial settings for your Mantra ROP.


Export a destruction sequence to FBX. It takes a packed primitive destruction setup and moves all of the point data up to object level, which allows FBX to interpret that as top level motion. Most game engines will interpret this data as a skeletal mesh animation that can be played back natively.
Tutorial Link 

Texture Sheets

This node helps with the generation of Flipbooks/Texture Sheets. Including the generation of normals (both based on the volume data as well as a traditional 6 light rig)  and the ability to channel pack your texture. 
Tutorial Link

Vector Field 
Vector Fields are velocity grids used to control GPU particles in UE4. This tool exports them to the FGA file format that Unreal consumes.

Tutorial Link 

Vertex Animation Textures
Export simulation data to texture files. This allows for very effective vertex shader playback of your high resolution simulation. There are 4 types of simulation supported

  • Consistant Topology throughout the Simulation (Soft) 
  • Packed Primitive style Rigid Body Simulation (Rigid) 
  • Changing Topology throughout the Simulation (Fluid) 
  • Camera facing cards, points moving through space (Sprite)

Tutorial Link 
Webinar Link 

Volume Textures

Converts a volume into a flipbook representation of a 3D texture. The resulting texture is usable in Ray Marching shaders which render your Houdini in Realtime! 
Tutorial Link

COPs - Compositor Operators 

Normal Color
Utility node to initialize the Color node with the proper normal map colors (128, 128, 255) 
Tutorial Link

Normal Combine  

Combines 2 normal maps together while keeping them properly normalized
Tutorial Link

Normal Invert

Inverts individual channels of the image, usually for flipping that pesky Y channel
Tutorial Link

Normal Levels  

Regular Levels operation but done in the proper -1 to 1 space 
Tutorial Link

Normal Map 

Generates a normal map from a grayscale image, with additional options to soften the normals and an intensity scale
Tutorial Link

Normal Normalize 

Ensures the image is a valid normal map with all of the 3 channels properly balanced
Tutorial Link

Normal Rotate 

Rotates a normal map while keeping the normal vectors correct
Tutorial Link


  • kevinthebright 1 year, 5 months ago  | 

    Looks like Edge Group to Curve didn't make it in the zip file?

    • lkruel 1 year, 5 months ago  | 

      They Kevin, that one is on the Development Branch. It's fairly new so we're watching for feedback

  • xenakis82 8 months, 3 weeks ago  | 

    I am currently only able to save one frame of data to a CSV file even after setting the export frame range. I would like to export point data from an animation including frame numbers. Is this possible using the CSV exporter?

  • joemaker 7 months ago  | 

    Great post

  • wosborne 5 months, 3 weeks ago  | 

    Hi, I just watched this video where it mentions a new mapbox sop.

    I have downloaded GDTools v1.38 but I cant see this one.

    where can I find it or will it be in the next point release?


    • wosborne 5 months, 3 weeks ago  |

      • wosborne 5 months, 3 weeks ago  | 

        its at 37min 37 seconds.

    • lkruel 5 months, 3 weeks ago  | 

      It's coming, it won't be in the next point release, but hopefully within the next 2 weeks

  • baida 5 months, 1 week ago  | 

    Hi guys! Just noticed that in 'Unreal Material' node there is 'unreal_face_material' attribute created. While in the Houdini Engine plugin documentation it is stated that this attribute is depricated and it is recommended to use 'unreal_material' instead. The both options work fine though, but it would be more clear if the node would correspond to the documentation, So could you please fix that please? :)

  • limbicnation 3 months, 3 weeks ago  | 

    For the VertexAnimationTexture Fluid , how can I change the translation and rotation of the static mesh in blueprint?

  • mangax 3 months, 3 weeks ago  | 


    i was wondering if possible to add a feature, which is ability to bake multiple objects into a texture atlas, so it is possible to use exported fbx objects into any game engine then use the atlas generate in games.

    this is very important feature as it saves alot of performance.

  • JulienH 2 months, 3 weeks ago  | 

    I got the latest version, and it looks like the 'Instant Meshes Bridge' has been removed ? Where can I find it ?

    Also, it worked at the first install, but not running the 'Update Toolset' gives me that error:
    Traceback (most recent call last):
    File "update_toolset", line 374, in <module>
    File "update_toolset", line 149, in __init__
    File "update_toolset", line 184, in get_releases
    TypeError: string indices must be integers

  • eyeclick 1 month, 3 weeks ago  | 

    Is there only a limited number of Game Development tools available on the Apprentice version? I only see 17 out of 90 on the GD tool shelf.

    • lkruel 1 month, 3 weeks ago  | 

      The shelf only shows a portion of them, if you hit Tab while inside a geometry node you'll see the GameDev category will all of the nodes.

      • eyeclick 1 month, 3 weeks ago  | 

        Thank you.
        I'm still not seeing the one for Marmoset, to try.

        • lkruel 1 month, 3 weeks ago  | 

          Marmoset I believe is a ROP. So it's under the /OUT network

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