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Do newer games use heightmaps in their terrain?

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Do newer games use height maps in their terrain or is heightmaps just used in tutorials or similar applications to demonstrate? What I mean is, do the use heightmaps or a finished mesh?

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Sure. FarCry does, and so does Battlefield 1942/BF2. Oh yeah, the Unreal engine does too.

The exact implementation will be game specific, but they both ultimatly use a greyscale heightmap as the input data of the terrain (the CryEngine sandbox editor has a heightmap painter in built, IIRC). The terrains in those games are just populated with some nice art (read: static meshes, such as cave overhangs) to make it all look....nice :) (rather than your usual stark terrain tech demos).

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I don't think you can really answer this for definite.

Unless you have insider knowledge on various titles (which, I suppose some people round here have!) we have to resort to guess-work to determine what/how they generate the images we see.

However, whilst there is probably a move towards more mesh-oriented terrain you do see a **lot** of seemingly height-map based graphics in commercial titles.

hth
Jack

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Quote:
Original post by jollyjeffers
I don't think you can really answer this for definite.


Well, when you load up the level editors for these games and start painting a greyscale 2D heightmap, thats pretty indicative [smile].

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A heightmap can be used to start off a mesh of a terrain in an editor, and it doesn't mean that the heightmap itself is used at runtime.

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It's still based off a heightmap, and since it is I'd be pretty surprised that they wouldn't take advantage of the benefits of simple heightmaps.

The main benefits of using just polysoup (or "finished meshes") is you can have overhangs, which you can't get with painting a 2D heightmap. EVERYTHING is converted into a "mesh" in the end anyway (triangles), how it's converted to those triangles depends on the specific implementation :P.

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I think both versions are used. HL² for example doesn´t use heightmaps, but uses something they call displacement surfaces, which is simply a regularly divided plane with the option to move the vertices around, and I prefer that way, at least if you want overhangs, caves, natural bridges and stuff like that. That can all be build using this technique. For the textures they use a simple gray-scale alpha map, because you´re restricted to blend two textures together at one of those surfaces.
Meshes plugged into a heightmap most often look quite unfitting, leaving ugly edges. Getting that traversion right isn´t that simple, I guess, never done it before, though.

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Quote:
Original post by cow_in_the_well
Quote:
Original post by jollyjeffers
I don't think you can really answer this for definite.


Well, when you load up the level editors for these games and start painting a greyscale 2D heightmap, thats pretty indicative [smile].

Good point [grin] I hadn't thought about looking at the world editors for the games. I'm used to looking at the various screenshots that float around the net and trying to work it out from there...

Quote:
uses something they call displacement surfaces, which is simply a regularly divided plane with the option to move the vertices around

I've seen this in regular 3D Modelling packages, nothing new there - but I hadn't thought about its applications for terrain. Might go do some reading up on that [smile]

Jack

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