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Recipe: RPC Events


Before we dive into this recipe, I'd like to warn you against using RPC messages. Most networking solutions offer RPC messages for sending messages between clients, but we believe this is a bad pattern. It puts the burden on you, the developer, to ensure that all state that is changed in response to an RPC message remains in sync across all clients.

When a desync occurs, it's often either related to an RPC message behaving differently based on the state of the app or it's an issue with the order and timing of messages. This can result in bugs that are incredibly hard to reproduce and debug. This is amplified by services that buffer RPC messages, as important messages may only introduce bugs if they're old enough to be removed from the buffer.

That said, they can be useful for one-shot effects or for things that don't need a late-joining client to be aware of them or the state they alter in your application.


This recipe shows how to use a model to send an RPC-like event message that can be fired by anyone in the room.

For this example, let's say we want to trigger a celebration particle system effect on all clients. We'll want to send an RPC-like message that includes the sender ID, position, and scale of the effect. Typically I'd recommend instantiating a particle system prefab, but if you absolutely have to use an RPC-like structure, here's how you can do it:

Let's start with the template project. Open up the scene located in the _RPC Events Recipe folder. This is an empty scene with a prebuilt particle system called Explosion Particle System. We can test it out by entering play mode and then clicking Emit in the inspector:

Now that we have this working, let's network it. We'll start by creating a model for our explosion event. This model will hold all of the values we'd typically send in an RPC message and an integer that we can increment every time we want to trigger an event:

public class ExplosionEventModel {
[RealtimeProperty(1, true)] private int _trigger;
[RealtimeProperty(2, true)] private int _senderID;
[RealtimeProperty(3, true)] private Vector3 _position;
[RealtimeProperty(4, true)] private float _scale;

This model includes the trigger integer that we'll use to trigger the event, the clientID that sent the event, the position to emit particles from, and the scale of the explosion.

Go into the Unity editor and compile this model so we can start using the public properties on it. Once it's compiled, we'll add a method and C# event to let us fire the event and listen for when it's fired:

public partial class ExplosionEventModel {
[RealtimeProperty(1, true)] private int _trigger;
[RealtimeProperty(2, true)] private int _senderID;
[RealtimeProperty(3, true)] private Vector3 _position;
[RealtimeProperty(4, true)] private float _scale;

// Used to fire an event on all clients
public void FireEvent(int senderID, Vector3 position, float scale) {
this.senderID = senderID;
this.position = position;
this.scale = scale;

// An event that consumers of this model can subscribe to in order to respond to the event
public delegate void EventHandler(int senderID, Vector3 position, float scale);
public event EventHandler eventDidFire;

// A RealtimeCallback method that fires whenever we read any values from the server
private void DidRead() {
if (eventDidFire != null && trigger != 0)
eventDidFire(senderID, position, scale);

Compile your model again so that the [RealtimeCallback] functionality is added by the model compiler.

Now we have a model with a FireEvent() method and a C# eventDidFire event that will be invoked when any client fires an event.

Let's create a RealtimeComponent that uses this to call Emit() on the particle system whenever the event fires:

using UnityEngine;
using Normal.Realtime;

public class ExplosionEvent : RealtimeComponent<ExplosionEventModel> {
private ExplosionParticleSystem _explosionParticleSystem = default;

// When we connect to a room server, we'll be given an instance of our model to work with.
protected override void OnRealtimeModelReplaced(ExplosionEventModel previousModel, ExplosionEventModel currentModel) {
if (previousModel != null) {
// Unsubscribe from events on the old model.
previousModel.eventDidFire -= EventDidFire;
if (currentModel != null) {
// Subscribe to events on the new model
currentModel.eventDidFire += EventDidFire;

// A public method we can use to fire the event
public void Emit(Vector3 position, float scale) {
model.FireEvent(realtime.clientID, transform.position, scale);

// Called whenever our event fires
private void EventDidFire(int senderID, Vector3 position, float scale) {
// Tell the particle system to trigger an explosion in response to the event
_explosionParticleSystem.Emit(position, scale);

That's it! To test it, let's create a script that we can use to fire the event:

using UnityEngine;

public class ExplosionEventTest : MonoBehaviour {
// Debug UI so we can trigger an event from the Unity editor.
[SerializeField] private bool _emit;
[SerializeField, Range(0.1f, 1.0f)] private float _scale = 0.3f;

private void Update() {
// Check if the emit button has been pressed.
if (_emit) {
// Fire an event at the current position with the scale value set in Unity.
GetComponent<ExplosionEvent>().Emit(transform.position, _scale);

_emit = false;

Create an empty game object, add both scripts, wire up the particle system reference, and it's ready to use. Go ahead and export a standalone build and run it next to the editor:

That's it! Despite having a nice recipe for this, I still recommend avoiding this pattern if you can. Any state that is modified in response to an event like this can easily diverge between clients. There are circumstances where it can make sense, but in most cases it will lead to desyncs and bugs that are hard to test for and reproduce.

If you'd like to check out the completed recipe project, you can download it here.