Esteban Maldonado
Esteban Maldonado's blog

Esteban Maldonado's blog

Unity Tips - Object Pooling

Esteban Maldonado's photo
Esteban Maldonado
ยทAug 16, 2022ยท

7 min read

Unity Tips - Object Pooling

Photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash

Table of contents

Context

One cool feature that I've been wanting to try out in Unity is Object Pooling. The benefit of pooling objects is that they Improve performance and memory use by reusing objects from a fixed pool instead of allocating and freeing objects individually.

I like this diagram from the Game Programming Patterns book:

Here we see how allocating items individually can cause memory fragmentation, which can lead to improper use of resources, slower execution, and just a mess in where all objects are located.

In this chapter the book talks about a very common use for pooling objects, particle systems! ๐ŸŽ‰

I wanted to go ahead and try out Unity's own object pooling system, so I created a test scene to randomly spawn bouncing spheres in a 30 by 30 flat platform: image.png

I'll show how I got to this point...

Scene Setup

Let's create a scene where we'll test the object pooling technique: image.png

Create a new cube that will be our bouncing floor, and actually call it BouncingFloor: image.png

It should look like this: image.png

Go ahead and modify the BouncingFloor with the following:

  • add a RigidBody component to it , and make sure that the Use Gravity checkbox is unchecked, as in disabled.

  • Modify the Transform component values to be like the ones shown in the image below.

It should look like this: image.png

We need a better view of the floor, so let's go ahead and modify the Main Camera's own transform values to the following: image.png

This should get you this view, and when you play the scene, the ground should remain in position. This is thanks to disabling the image.png

Nothing going on so far, but we'll change that real soon. ๐Ÿ˜

Object Prefab Setup

Creating the Prefab:

Let's add a new sphere to the scene, and call it BouncingBall: image.png

It should look like this on the Hierarchy view: image.png

Now drag the BouncingBall object to a folder in the Project view, preferably a folder called Prefabs: image.png

Honestly, I don't know why my sphere looked like that when I created it. ๐Ÿ˜… In the end, the material doesn't matter for the purposes of this tutorial.

You'll also know you successfully created a prefab because the original GO's name will turn light blue: image.png

Making the sphere bounce!

Create a Bouncy Material

Go ahead and create a new folder called PhysicsMaterials. Afterwards, create a new Physics Material, and let's call it bouncy: image.png

It should look like this: image.png

In the new material, let's change the Bounciness to 1, and the other fields set to 0: image.png

Adding the Material to the Prefab

To open the prefab and edit it, double-click on the actual prefab file created. image.png

Make sure that you're in the prefab editing mode โ—

Go ahead modify the prefab:

  • Make sure to set the Position and Rotation values to all zeroes. Scale should be 1 on all values.

  • add a RigidBody to the ball, and modify the Mass to be very very light, something like 0.0001:

  • In the Sphere Collider component, change the Material field to use the bouncy material we created earlier.

image.png

First test!

Let's see what happens when we test with just one bouncing ball: Unity_rwx4PllQqh.gif

There we go, that's the behavior we want for now!

CREATE MANY BOUNCING BALLS!

Create a new empty game object called BouncingBallCreator: image.png

Object Instantiatiors

Let's define an interface to describe the basic behavior of an object dedicated to instantiate prefabs and releasing the newly acquired memory:

using UnityEngine;

public interface IPrefabInstantiator
{
    public GameObject InstantiateNewGameObject();

    public int objectsInstantiated { get; }

    public void ReleaseInstanceOfPrefab(GameObject prefabInstance);
}

And here's the first prefab instantiator. It creates new copies of the prefab using the regular Instantiate method, and destroys them using the Destroy method:

using UnityEngine;

class RegularObjectInstantiator : IPrefabInstantiator
{
    private readonly GameObject k_prefabToInstantiate;

    public int objectsInstantiated { get; private set; }

    public RegularObjectInstantiator(GameObject prefab)
    {
        k_prefabToInstantiate = prefab;
    }

    public GameObject InstantiateNewGameObject()
    {
        var newInstance = Object.Instantiate(k_prefabToInstantiate);

        if(newInstance != null)
            ++objectsInstantiated;

        return newInstance;
    }

    public void ReleaseInstanceOfPrefab(GameObject prefabInstance)
    {
        Object.Destroy(prefabInstance);

        --objectsInstantiated;
    }
}

Now let's create another implementation that uses Unity's own object pooling. But let's first create an object that holds an object pool from Unity:

using UnityEngine;
using UnityEngine.Pool;

class PrefabObjectPool
{
    private readonly ObjectPool<GameObject> objectPool;
    private readonly GameObject k_prefabToPool;

    public int objectsInstantiated => objectPool.CountActive;

    public PrefabObjectPool(GameObject prefab, int defaultCapacity, int maxSizeOfPool)
    {
        k_prefabToPool = prefab;

        objectPool = new ObjectPool<GameObject>(
            CreatePooledPrefab,
            OnTakeFromPool,
            OnReturnedToPool,
            OnDestroyPoolPrefabInstance,
            true,
            defaultCapacity,
            maxSizeOfPool);
    }

    public GameObject GetInstanceOfPrefab()
    {
        return objectPool.Get();
    }

    public void ReleaseInstanceOfPrefab(GameObject prefabInstance)
    {
        objectPool.Release(prefabInstance);
    }

    private GameObject CreatePooledPrefab()
    {
        return Object.Instantiate(k_prefabToPool);
    }

    private void OnReturnedToPool(GameObject prefabInstance)
    {
        prefabInstance.SetActive(false);
    }

    private void OnTakeFromPool(GameObject prefabInstance)
    {
        prefabInstance.SetActive(true);
    }

    private void OnDestroyPoolPrefabInstance(GameObject prefabInstance)
    {
        Object.Destroy(prefabInstance);
    }
}

And now here's our prefab instantiator class that uses the object pool:

using UnityEngine;

class ObjectPoolObjectInstantiator : IPrefabInstantiator
{
    private readonly PrefabObjectPool objectPool = null;

    public int objectsInstantiated => objectPool.objectsInstantiated;

    public ObjectPoolObjectInstantiator(GameObject prefab, int defaultCapacity, int maxSizeOfPool)
    {
        objectPool = new PrefabObjectPool(prefab, defaultCapacity, maxSizeOfPool);
    }

    public GameObject InstantiateNewGameObject()
    {
        return objectPool.GetInstanceOfPrefab();
    }

    public void ReleaseInstanceOfPrefab(GameObject prefabInstance)
    {
        objectPool.ReleaseInstanceOfPrefab(prefabInstance);
    }
}

That's a lot of code though! Let's see how these all work together: image.png

Yep, that's a class diagram created in good old MS Paint!๐Ÿ˜‚ ๐ŸŽจ

Using the Instantiatiors

Now let's put all of this code to use, let's add a new script component to the BouncingBallCreator object. Call this script PrefabInstantiator30by30:

using UnityEngine;

[DisallowMultipleComponent]
public class PrefabInstantiator30by30 : MonoBehaviour
{
    public GameObject prefabToInstantiate = null;

    [Range(50, 2000)]
    public int instanceCount;

    public bool useObjectPooling = false;

    private const int k_poolingSize = 2050;

    private IPrefabInstantiator m_prefabInstantiator;

    private void Start()
    {
        if (useObjectPooling)
        {
            m_prefabInstantiator = new ObjectPoolObjectInstantiator(
                prefabToInstantiate,
                instanceCount,
                k_poolingSize);
        }
        else
        {
            m_prefabInstantiator = new RegularObjectInstantiator(prefabToInstantiate);
        }
    }

    private void Update()
    {
        if(m_prefabInstantiator.objectsInstantiated >= instanceCount)
            return;

        var newPrefabInstance = m_prefabInstantiator.InstantiateNewGameObject();

        if (newPrefabInstance.TryGetComponent<AutoReleaseObjectInRandomTime>(
            out var autoReleaseObjectInRandomTime))
        {
            newPrefabInstance.transform.position = GetRandomPositionIn30by30Range();

            autoReleaseObjectInRandomTime.StartCounter(m_prefabInstantiator);
        }
    }

    private Vector3 GetRandomPositionIn30by30Range()
    {
        return new Vector3(
                    Random.Range(-15f, 15f),
                    11f,
                    Random.Range(-15f, 15f));
    }
}

Note: Please notice that we're using a very descriptive and specific name and purpose to this script. This is for purely for testing purposes.

This is how the UI interface of this component will look like: image.png

Randomly Release the Instance

The same way that we created code that uses the memory allocation, we must add code to release the memory used by the created instances.

Let's add a new script to the BouncingBall prefab called AutoReleaseObjectInRandomTime, (make sure you're in the prefab editing mode):

image.png

Add the following code to the script:

using UnityEngine;

public class AutoReleaseObjectInRandomTime : MonoBehaviour
{
    private float m_timeToDestroyInSeconds;

    private IPrefabInstantiator m_prefabInstantiator = null;

    private bool m_isCountDownStarted = false;

    public void StartCounter(IPrefabInstantiator prefabInstantiator)
    {
        m_prefabInstantiator = prefabInstantiator;

        m_timeToDestroyInSeconds = Random.Range(0.5f, 3f);

        m_isCountDownStarted = true;
    }

    private void Update()
    {
        if (!m_isCountDownStarted)
            return;

        m_timeToDestroyInSeconds -= Time.deltaTime;

        if (m_timeToDestroyInSeconds <= 0f)
        {
            // will only matter when re-activated from the pool
            Reset();

            m_prefabInstantiator.ReleaseInstanceOfPrefab(gameObject);
        }
    }

    private void Reset()
    {
        m_isCountDownStarted = false;

        m_prefabInstantiator = null;

        m_timeToDestroyInSeconds = Random.Range(0.5f, 3f);
    }
}

Let's Test All This!

Success!

image.png

Check it out, we're allocating a max amount of 50 spheres. I tried with 1000 or more, but I noticed that after a specific amount, no more game objects were created. I believe that Unity has a limit of active GOs built-in somewhere.

Initial Conclusion of Experiment #1

Completed Goals So Far

  • Researched how to apply object pooling in Unity
  • Created a basic object pool test scene
  • Created basic, but functional object pooling code classes to test a high amount of allocations

Lessons Learned from So Far

  • Unity handles physics collisions quite well with many objects on screen! ๐Ÿ˜€
  • Learned that Unity has a limit of game objects on scene! โ›”

Please let me know what you think!

  • Have you heard of Object Pooling before?
  • What projects have you applied it to?
  • Would you be interested in trying this out?

๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰ Happy coding! ๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰

References/Inspirations

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