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Tocs1001

Large Terrain Creation?

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Well i'm working on a 3D MMO. And its coming along fine its almost to the point where you can connect and walk around. Walk around is kinda loose because as the server see's it you have no verticle coordinate its just a flat plane and the client will move your verticle coordinate along the terrain. (Until I add the ability to jump) but thats besides the point. I was wonder how large endless terrain is created like in WoW, Flyff, and just about every other MMOG thats 3D. Currently I have it so it puts 9 heightmaps into memory 1 your in and the 8 around it. But the real question is how do I go about creating these heightmaps? What do the big MMO's do to make them? Are they largely randomly generated with flat area's penciled in for roads and towns? How are they made to fit together to be vast and connecting? Do they use a commercial tool or create their own? Is there a general process for creating a new tile to fit onto another one? I googled around and havent turned up any dirt.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
To answer your question, they just have an art team. You can use any image editing program to make the heightmaps to paint your terrain elevation. Ive used Bryce with good results and I hear good things about World Builder (I think thats the name). Good luck, and ignore the idiots.

[Edited by - Promit on January 29, 2007 1:12:18 AM]

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Yup. Usually it's a team of artists hand crafting either a heightmap or an actual mesh for the world.

Procedurally generated terrains can be used, but of course a dedicated art team would be better.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
OP: Oblivion used randomly generated terrain which artists tweaked to save a lot of time. What WoW did I do not know but I'd go the procedural generated route with hand crafting of areas to make them look better and save massive loads of time for your artists. If you look on google for articles/interviews etc with the Oblivion team you can get a lot of info out of them.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Back again with some links (I'm 1st, 3rd and now 4th AP, weee!)

Sorry I cannot do nice click able links but that isn't a feature of APs, anyways, here are some links on procedurally generated content, not all are terrain related.

Textures:
http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=409540

Sound:
http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=382755

Content:
http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=382204&forum_id=4&gforum_id=0

Planets:
http://www.gamedev.net/reference/articles/article2074.asp

Terrain:
http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=372113
http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=388992&whichpage=1�
http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=365210

Hope those help in some way. Google has a lot of information on these topics too.

Best of luck.

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Would you look at that, an AP being abusing? no, never...

Guild Wars 'seems' to be using prcedural terrains too, twicked by level designers (lots of weird dead ends!). Although GW is not strictly a MMORPG. More like a succession of loosely connected explorable areas.

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In WoW, if you look carefully, they seams to use tiled textures on the terrain. Not multi-pass and splatters. That same a lot of rendering time. Also, the terrain mesh is irregular. Looks like they used a 3D software to make them (3D studio, maya, lightwave!?)

Like the road border, the cavern, etc.
It's very custom.

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Actually, I'm pretty sure WoW uses multi-textured heightmaps. There are places in the world where they have overhangs, and cave-like structures, but you can tell these are faked using separate models that are thrown ontop of the heightmaps. I'm also guessing they probably generated the terrain procedurally, or at least partially so, with tweaking. If you look at hilly/mountainous areas you'll notice that the terrain texture is blended based on (what seems to be) the angle of the terrain. So the top of a hill will be sand (or grass, or whatever) and the dips in between will be a different texture. It's a nice technique to give contrast to the hills without having to paint it manually.

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With a budget as large as they had, I bet Blizzard either had some custom plug-ins for whatever 3D modeller they use now (they used to use MAX), or they have some custom, sand-box tools like what the Crysis engine uses.

Given the focus on Warcraft lore, the terrain needed to fit certain criteria for certain areas. They probably started with some procedurally generated terrain, and then interactively painted onto the heightmap and tweaked the mesh directly depending on what they needed. Then they added the more complicated models like buildings and doodads.

Also, they obviously use a portal engine to handle things like caves, I believe.

Alot of the terrain (the flat parts at least) are tiled textures. When getting on and off the air ships, my computer would sometimes lag and you could see the different tiles being drawn as they were loaded.

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