VFX Particle Simulation


Hello. In those turns of life, I found myself working more and more on particle effects in games rather than modeling for a few years now, and I found out I love it.
This is making keep an eye on Houdini, however, is there any other standalone tool that can do particle simulation, and spit a flipbook to use in games?
Haven’t been able to find anything on Google, so I am inclined that I would just need to bite the bullet and learn Houdini, but I thought I would ask first just in game.

Cheers and thanks in advance!


It really sounds like you are interested in FX for games. And less VFX.

So maybe try something like this:

Or in Unity Or UnReal

Houdini is the ultimate for VFX for film. But the priorities for film are completely different.
Film = the best possible FX for a given shot.
Games = Make it look good while running in real time and sharing resources with all other aspects of the game.


Thanks for the reply, though I might have explained myself poorly. I myself already master particle effects in all the modern engines (and some old one I would rather not even think about, hello Havoc). But from time to time, you need to create a very specific flipbook of smoke, fire, or magic stuff to use inside Unity or Unreal.

It’s on creating those that my doubt arises. I can create the simulation inside Houdini, render as a flipbook, and then apply that effect inside the game.

Just wondering if there are any standalone tools I might be missing.


Flipbooks are just frames of an animation packed into one image, right?
I’m not aware of any other software having native support for this, but i know its quite easy to convert separate images to a flipbook in Unreal engine.

Pretty much all major 3d animation apps (max, maya, c4d, blender, …) have particles and you can buy plugins for them that have even more powerful particle systems or volumetrics and fluids.
For example: Max comes with particle flow which is nice, you can buy thinking particles for max too which is also very powerful… and if you need fluids you can get PhoenixFD (or FumeFX but FumeFX doesn’t do liquids currently, only smoke and fire)…

Not sure what the current state is of maya or cinema4d their particle system, but last time i checked max’s particle flow was superior.
Not sure about blender either… I know it has fluids but I have no clue how good they are… But its free so nothing stops you from checking it out.

BUT: if you’re going to focus on particles or any other FX related direction, Houdini is indeed your best bet. I don’t think there’s currently anything else out there that can beat it at that.
It has a steep learning curve though, that’s a direct consequence of it being so powerful (lots of control).


Ah I forgot, there’s also the particular plugin for after effects… which you can do nice things with.
It’s very fast but also very limited compared to the more advanced particle plugins in 3D apps.
Its perfect for when you don’t need to do over complicated simulations.


There’s also particleillusion but i have no clue about how good it is or what it can do… Looks like it’s quite similar to particular.
And that’s the only stand alone particle app i ever heard of.