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World design

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Hi all, it has been a long while since I last posted here but I'm looking to set back to work on my game programming endeavours. I would like to see if I can get any further answers to my single biggest problem I had previously encountered. This major problem was level editors. I had managed to write a program to parse and render a worldcraft *.map file. I had also toyed around with a *.bsp renderer to render Quake 3 maps. Neither of these felt right though. Levels always felt too small and constraining, what I really felt a need for was the ability to create nice reasonable sized outdoor levels that could have some areas with more detail. Heightmaps alone would not suffice for this purpose as you are limited to essentially 2 dimensional terrain. What I desire would be something inbetween the two types of levels, something with an existing editor that I can easily modify like Worldcraft or Q3Radiant, but that can also handle outdoor terrain nicely. These editors can only be modified to a degree, and no matter how I scaled my terrain levels always felt very confining. What I'm after is something perhaps more akin to Dungeon Siege style terrain. Outdoor areas with a top down viewpoint (perhaps alterable) where it is possible to include features such as tunnels and houses and dungeons that a pure heightmap cannot offer. Does anyone know of existing software that could be used to produce such maps that is relatively friendly to port into a custom game engine? I had considered writing my own level editor but I feel it got a bit overly complex and was detracting quite a bit from my actual task of wanting to produce the game itself. It is something that fascinates me and perhaps some time I shall work further on a custom level editor, but for now if anything already exists that could create the types of levels I'm after, I'd appreciate knowing about it. Thanks for any help, Steve AKA Mephs I should also point out that I must admit 3D Studio Max overwhelms me a bit, it seems a huge amount to have to comprehend to be able to get a level out of it. Perhaps someone has a good guide of how to convert 3D Max into a good level editor? All I have been able to find are extremely simplistic guides that really leave you wondering where in the heck to start out. [edited by - mephs on December 7, 2002 1:48:08 AM]

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