When I click the button to use fastest performance, I see only 19 "setpass" calls, with only 8 setpass calls if I disable the water. But if I click the highest quality button and move closer, it jumps up to over a thousand setpass calls. I have the "Main Camera" set to deferred rendering, and I set the _LushLODTreesManager to use deferred rendering... other than that, it's a fresh install and I changed nothing else. Although I do see other problems related to the 2017 version of unity which I'll get to work on fixing, but I don't see any issues with batching or speed for that matter, it seems to be as fast as it was before.
When you say it's doing so many draw calls, where are you seeing this information? Your screenshot doesn't show the draw call information you're seeing.
One test you could run, is after you click the "best performance" button, then you can search your Hierarchy for LOD_0 and select them all, and confirm that the mesh renderer is disabled on all of them. LOD_0 is the high quality tree models... and their mesh renderers should all be disabled if only the billboards are being displayed. If their mesh renderers are enabled, then some kind of error is occurring, and that would also explain the high draw calls.
I have to download 2017 so it'll be a bit, but I'll get it updated for you. Can't give an ETA till I see what's the matter with it, but I wouldn't expect it to take more than a day.
I haven't updated the trees for unity 2017 and I assume that's the problem here, they may have changed something about how batching works in deferred. I'll look into it right away.
I'll give it a test. What version of Unity are you using?
Transitioning billboards (those billboards that are closer to the camera, doing their transition) can each create a draw call.But distant billboards (those far enough away that they aren't transitioning anymore) should only create a single draw call. How far away are you from the billboards in this test? I think you can submit screenshots through this userecho, you might post some screenshots. I'm not aware of there being any difference in draw calls between deferred and forward. Also, you might see better results though in the regular demo scene (not the "fast" one).
The billboards for SpeedTrees and LushLOD Trees are both much more complex than the conventional billboards. But the conventional billboards bend and twist when you turn the camera, and they don't transition very smoothly, so they may be fast but they don't look very good.
I apologize for this, but yes, in editor mode the trees display the high quality mesh always, which lags. When the game is running, the trees work faster. But in edit mode, the trees may lag. In my next update, I will add the option to display only the billboards during edit mode.
Fixed in version 0.74
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