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grazer

a *good*, free heightmap/ terrain editor?

24 posts in this topic

There are a million and one terrain based projects on these forums, many of which also seem to include (or be) heightmap editors. I have had no luck, however, trying to find a decent, free editor to use to create terrain based maps. I have seen planty of screenshots/IOTD's, etc, but no actual useable software. Am I missing something? Is there some great editor out there that everyone uses, but I just can't seem to find? I really didn't want to detour from working on a game to building a map editor, especially since it seems that this particular wheel has been reinvented many times over. Any pointers would be greatly appreciated, thanks in advance. -g
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Hi there!

Most terrain"engines" use a simple image where white is the highest possible point and black is the lowest...
then you could always hardcode a specific color to be trees or rocks/houses etc...

This way even paint would be the ultimate terrain editor!! :)


Cheers!
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Thanks for the tips.

I get that I could just use photoshop/gimp/whatever, that's what I have been doing so far. As far as generating them with fractals, perlin noise, etc.. I could do that too, but this doesn't really make for very playable, fun maps.

I was just thinking that the most usable editor I have found so far is the sim city 3000 editor from like 5 years ago. I just thought that maybe someone would have built and released something better by now.

I am talking about being able to tweak the heightmap, add entities, things like that.

I have been looking for a while and have seen a couple on sourceforge like hme (2d only), and terraform (interesting, but linux only). I have just been suprised that with the number of terrain projects I see every day, that there is no particularly usable map editor to be found. Freeworld3d looks like it might have fit the bill, but it has to be registered, and the demo crashes every time I have tried to start it.

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Hey thanks for that. This is the kind of thing that I am looking for. It would be perfect if it had the ability to add entities, or was open sourced/plugable so that it could be exended into a full-featured level editor. I does not appear at first look that the embeded macro system would be suited to this task.

This is the best I have seen so far, though. Any others? I am kind of disappointed to discover that the folks here haven't produced anything like this.
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Making tools is often as hard as making the game itself. Thus, many professional developers, and most hobbyists, end up making only the bare minimum tools necessary to get the job done, and focus their time on the game making.
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I used the UT2003 editor to edit terrains for my engine :E
It's 16-bit accuracy though, so can't be subsequently edited in a paint program without losing the accuracy.
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Quote:
Original post by hplus0603
Making tools is often as hard as making the game itself. Thus, many professional developers, and most hobbyists, end up making only the bare minimum tools necessary to get the job done, and focus their time on the game making.


This makes sense, I guess I am in the same boat.

I was just hoping to avoid the "spend a few days/weeks hacking up an editor" that everyone seems to have to do by reusing someone else's solution. Every evening I spend working on a game editor is an evening that the game itself gets ignored. If everyone has to make one, then there must be hundreds of them on people's hard drives just begging to be set loose :)

Thanks for the unrealed tip. Great idea, but I don't have a copy of unreal :). Don't most commercial games' editing tools have (understandably) restrictive licensing when it comes to creating content for other games, though? I was actually looking at the far cry sandbox editor earlier (screenshots), and it looks pretty cool as well.
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I took a quick look at Raduprv's Height Map Editor some time ago. Seemed to be good piece of software, and it's free. I'm not sure, but I think it uses Perlin noise to generate the starting heightmap.

If you have a decent image-editing package, like Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro, then a very good way to quickly generate pseudo-random terrain is to use Gaussian Noise and Gaussian Blur effects alternately. Start by creating a large greyscale image (about 512x512), then flood-fill it with middle grey (128, 128, 128). Add Gaussian Noise, then apply a Gaussian Blur. Repeat as many times as you need to (I find about 3 to 5 times gives nice terrain). Reduce the image to the size of your terrain mesh. There's your heightmap. The interesting thing about this technique is that you can draw in very rough detail with a paint brush tool, or something similar, before you start with the noise/blur cycle. This rough detail is then smoothed and randomized by the noise/blur cycle, and the result is terrain that looks random, but has actually been engineered. You can also change the Gaussian Noise and Gaussian Blur settings to vary the terrain.

If you want to try out the method above, a trial version of Paint Shop Pro 9 (unfortunately the only Paint Shop Pro to have Gaussian Noise) is available from the Jasc Software website...
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Not a bad method, since it lets you add large details. But aren't you stuck to 8-bit precision for the height?

I'm actually working on a proper heightmap editor for my game. It's not been touched for a few months since it became semi-usable - check out The links in this thread. My editor saves the level in a very nice way to work with, and also exports to my game-friendly format (much smaller files, geomipmaps etc). If there is such a lack of editors maybe I'll release it - adding the ability to add entities, check-points etc is amongst the top entries of my to-do list. If anyone's interested in it then email me (john DOT dexter AT fsmail DOT net or see my profile) - I might be persuaded to tidy it up and release a version.

[Edited by - d000hg on February 8, 2005 9:23:08 AM]
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Quote:
Original post by d000hg
Not a bad method, since it lets you add large details. But aren't you stuck to 8-bit precision for the height?
Yeah, you are. It's more of a temporary solution to the problem, or something to use if you want terrain to test with really quick.

Quote:
Original post by Aph3x
Just found this terrain editor whilst looking for gaussian noise source, and a tutorial for it.
That looks rather excellent. Seems to work along the same lines as Battlecraft 1942 (the terrain-based level editor for Battlefield 1942). I'll test it out tonight; could come in very handy for future projects.

Quote:
Original post by Aph3x
Ed: erk quick doog, edit your email address!!!!
Do it, do it now, before those evil spambots get you!
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I have always used Leveller, but do not know what limitations the current demo version has. IMHO, it's well worth the money if you're going to spend any great deal of time doing heightfield modeling.

http://www.daylongraphics.com/products/leveller/index.htm
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That is a great site, of course, but they don't really have much in the way of game-oriented editors.

Thanks for the link, though.

-g
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You won't find any because they are insanely easy to make.

Here, buy the book Focus on 3D terrain program. He gives you a basic terrain programs. Than just hack on it, make it if you click and move the mouse up, raise the terrain in a brush shaped region upwards, and downwards blah blah blah.

It's insanely easy dude, if you can make a 3D engine you can make a terrain editor in a day.

Putting models on it is not much harder really.
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It is mostly you do not find them because terrain engines usually have the editor built into it.

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Quote:
Original post by qesbit
You won't find any because they are insanely easy to make.

Here, buy the book Focus on 3D terrain program. He gives you a basic terrain programs. Than just hack on it, make it if you click and move the mouse up, raise the terrain in a brush shaped region upwards, and downwards blah blah blah.

It's insanely easy dude, if you can make a 3D engine you can make a terrain editor in a day.

Putting models on it is not much harder really.
It's easy to make the abilty to deform a heightmap, yes. But to make a useful editor which allows a level designer to turn their design into a level easily and quickly...
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Quote:
Original post by d000hg
Quote:
Original post by qesbit
You won't find any because they are insanely easy to make.

Here, buy the book Focus on 3D terrain program. He gives you a basic terrain programs. Than just hack on it, make it if you click and move the mouse up, raise the terrain in a brush shaped region upwards, and downwards blah blah blah.

It's insanely easy dude, if you can make a 3D engine you can make a terrain editor in a day.

Putting models on it is not much harder really.
It's easy to make the abilty to deform a heightmap, yes. But to make a useful editor which allows a level designer to turn their design into a level easily and quickly...


Exactly! I could hack up something quick, but to really create a *good* and flexible/useful editor could take a long time. The most important aspect would most likely be the interface, not the terrain generation/rendering.

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Yeah - having to properly do all that windows stuff you get to avoid with direct3D! Which means plain Win32 probably isn't the best way anymore with all those message/event handlers. Which entails learning MFC/WTL etc if you don't already. But getting it useable in an intuitive way is a whole field in itself which game programmers might not be suited to especially - it's more a serious application.
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