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non-heightmapped, overlapping landscapes

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What would be an efficient way of storing information about a landscape where a traditional heightmap would fail? (for example, if the landscape had multiple rock portions defined so you couldn't just use height, like a cave or a rock jutting out above ground.) The first thing that came to my mind: Octrees. Octrees with each node having a value (completely empty, completely full, or neither) which determines if we expand in to working with it's children (if it even has children). If it the node is either fully rocky or fully empty, we either fill in that volume or do nothing. If it is partly, then we move down in to it's children, and we do the same test with each of them. another way could be to store a string or a list for each 2D element that would store the beginning and ending heights of rock formations (sort of like taking a line from (x,y,0) to (x,y,max_z) and on that line having something like "Begin:0 End: 120 begin:128 end:140", but stored more efficiently (not in a string). I like the octree approach better, personally. Would this be good enougH? Are there significantly better ways of doing this that I'm missing here? Thanks in advance.

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