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directNoob

Terrain-Engine like SimCitys or Pariahs

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Hi everybody. I´m very interested in Terrain-Engines. I wondered how, for example, simCity4 the Terrain Engine handles. I mean, what techique do they use? For example how is this engine texturing the terrain? The terrain looks something like beziér patches. Very very smooth. How did they do this? And a very important question too, is, how do they put the textures on the terrain? Do they use shaders or something else? It would be magnificent, if somebody helped me and gave me some links and hints. Greetings Alex [Edited by - directNoob on March 27, 2006 9:53:09 AM]

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Guest Anonymous Poster
As far as I know, the smooth looking is the effect of using normals and then lighting it. So yes, I suppose they use shaders for that.

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Might just be a heightmap with high resolution textures? For a top down view of the terrain, there isn't as much need for LOD algorithms. Probably just a quadtree heightmap. Texturing is most likely a splatting technique. You can get pretty damn good results by using moderately easy programming techniques with high quality materials

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What do you suggest I have to do now?
Do you know some good material I can go through, except that one from gamedev.net.
I mean, do you have further material for me? Links or something?

Ok. How to programm LOD or normals from terrain or store verices in the vertexbuffer or how lighting works, I can read in books. But high quality textures sound to me, that you must be a more enhanced programmer to govern with this. What are high quality textures and what exactly do you mean with high quality materials, Funkymunky?(well pronounceable name, I like it, Funkymonky)

Else, I´m not realy involved in pixel- and vertexshaders. I think I have to get through some tutorials first... I think you suggest me to make me familiar with shaders first, so that I can program a good and nice looking terrain-engine.


Thanks
Alex

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In my experience terrain texturing doesn't neccessarely have to be compelx to code (as FunkyMonkey pointed out). But making it look good it a lot harder. It requires some artisitc skill and a lot of parameter tweeking. What FunkyMonkey means with high quality materials is good textures (I guess:)). And it's indeed very important. Using bad texutres will yield bad results even if you use a very complex lighting and texuring technique.

The splatting technique is very, very easy to implement with shaders.

You also mention the smoothness of the terrian. While it's possible to use bezier patches it's a lot easier to just apply a blur filter to a simple heightmap. That will give you nice, smooth rolling hills.

Take a look at the screenshots in my blog. If that's anything like the effect you want I might be able to give you some pointers on how to implement it.

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