Since both my project involve human clothing I did some research into clothing simulations.
As expected the best simulations were done outside of these engines, however I do not even know if they are realtime. Even if they were these simulations done outside of game engines such as unreal and unity require me to spend time studying college / siggraph research papers such as these:
That is really out of my scope. Looking into unity, the cloth simulation of the engine itself is basically a joke. However I did find a mostly acceptable plugin called Shroud. Shroud is a decent simulation, however it doesn’t allow a specific motion I really wanted to create. I really want my transforming dress to be able to extend and fold upon itself. Shroud doesn’t seem to have that capability.
The Unreal engine cloth simulation is much more sophisticated, although I think its questionable to assume that it would allow itself to fold upon itself seamlessly. I have more experience in Unity so I think that may be the preferable engine to use if I exclude that particular cloth motion. However I think unreal is still worth trying out since the cloth really looks that much better.
I think the best approach right now is to dive into Unreal Engine a bit and see how quickly I can get familiar with it. If I can’t get familiar with unreal fast enough I think the Shroud plugin is fairly acceptable.
Some alternatives that many game companies do is simulate the cloth in some other program and key-frame the dress. Then they would have cloth flowing in multiple directions and use blend-shapes to morph between them to control the flow.
(By the way I also saw lots of demos of free flowing cloth in the wind. Thats fairly easy to make with a bunch of springs, the difficulty in simulating these demos is colliding the cloth and the character. Another issue is also the character folding their limbs causes the cloth to self collide tightly.) Those two problems make developing my own simulation slightly out of scope.