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Question about HUGE terrains

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games that have really big terrains. how do they get the world so big? do they just have several heightmaps and posisiton them around the world? or is it just one? it would seem hard to get every mountain and valley and things posistioned in the world? whats the trick to making huge terrains?

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Every game does it differently, but the idea is that there is a lot of data you can put on a CD (especially if compressed) and you don't have to keep the whole thing in the memory at the same time (you can divide the terrain in sectors, for example, and load only the current and nearby sectors).

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A common way is to have a 2-d array of int's, where each int indicates
which tile to use at that exact position. (Asuming a tile engine is used)

At the end of the road, what will consume too much of your time is to
start plotting these numbers inside the HUGE array manually.

That's prolly when you decide to fire up your favourite RAD...
Say Borland C++Builder, and throw togeter a tile map generator project
where you can basically just fill the world with the tile bitmaps from
a file. Much like you would fill pixels in a ms-paint session.
(Or see if there is a freeware version available, and figure out the file format it uses)

Give it a "save everything" routine, and load the saved file
into your original project

Pretty much a map editor

To utilize height, a simple solution could be to have another 2-d array
of unsigned char's or something small, and give them "height values" or
level's indicating the tile at that positions terrain height
(Let the map generator program handle it, and save it along with the other stuff)

If you are thinking of 3-d games, I realy cant tell hehe.
But it seems like standalone map generator programs is commonly used there aswell, like DeleD, Blender and even 3DS Max.
And what they all save to file seems to be acres of coordinates

[Edited by - pulpfist on November 4, 2005 12:18:19 AM]

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Back in our old years, when we were young and innocent, 3d games were often using procedural terrains (see Daggerfall for example, or even older: TES:Arena or Drakkhen). Now that we, as players, wants more realism, and the developments studios moved from procedural terrain to modeled terrain (TES:Morrowind, Saga of Ryzom). There is still some games that are using a procedural universe (most of the time it is because the world is very very large - see Ysaneya's journal for an example).

Techniques used to represent these maps may vary from a game to another. One might use a big heightfield (TES:Morrowind); another might use purely modeled tiles (Dungeon Siege II; the terrain is made of 3D models but they are tiled in 2D AFAIK); a third one might use big continuous 3D modeled terrain using bezier patches (Saga of Ryzom) and so on. Each game might use its own technique which is suitable for its needs.


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