Do I need to use plugins?
Many plugins have been re-written natively in Chaotica, so even if you need to use a plugin when working in Apophysis, it often does not mean the plugin will be necessary in Chaotica.
To install a plugin in Chaotica, simply copy the DLL and paste it into the "plugins" folder. Most plugins are 32bit, but if you have 64bit plugins, Chaotica can use them. Make sure the bitness of the plugin matches the bitness of the Chaotica .exe you are trying to use.
DLL files are essentially the same as EXE files on Windows, and you would need to use Wine to run the Windows version of Chaotica on other operating systems if you absolutely need plugin support.
Additionally, there are some restrictions as to what plugins can be used:
3D or DC plugins are not officially supported
While these may work to a limited degree (e.g. ignoring the Z co-ordinate or output colour index), they are not officially supported.
Some broken or "hacky" plugins won't work
Due to the low-level nature of the plugin DLL system, some plugins fail to close properly leading to a crash, while others don't work properly because they exploit undefined behaviour in the plugin DLL system (designed for Apophysis). In these cases they are normally blacklisted (see the next section).
Some "variations" (curl, epispiral, noise, etc) are inconsistent across different versions of Apophysis
Chaotica aims to match the original versions of these transforms. If you are using Apophysis 7x, be advised that versions prior to 15C exhibit many fewer compatibility issues.
However, if a plugin DLL works, it will be available anywhere in Chaotica as a transformation, i.e. it can be used just as well as a post-variation or pre-variation (in Apophysis terminology), with different parameters for each instance.
The plugin blacklist is a list of plugins, given by their file name, that should not be loaded because they are expected to crash or otherwise fail. Most of these are extremely infrequently used and/or have working alternatives.
The list is specified in the plugin_dll_blacklist.txt file in the 32-bit Chaotica directory.