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AverageJoeSSU

multi-channel height map for multi level terrain.

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I am looking to make terrain with caves and tunnels and possibly other similar situations.

I have an idea of using a complete texture using each channel to represent a level of a surface.

abstractly. a standard RGBA would be able to handle 4 levels of a surface per pixel, and possibly more if i could be clever about optimization.

has anyone done this before?

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I did something similar once, with 3 layers of terrain where the middle one was visible from below to build caves and overhangs. It worked OK but got a bit restrictive, and it was generally easier to just make the cave as a separate model. I also found it difficult to make a good editor to handle that type of data.

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Interesting.

the reason for doing this is to have destructible terrain like the game Scorched Earth. If it was heightmapped based i could write shaders for rendering in explosions and such that leave craters. It is definitely non-trivial to do this, but it seems like the only way short of doing voxel terrain.

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Why not look into a hybrid method that uses a mixture of heightmaps and voxels/marching cubes. This is exactly what Crysis uses.

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Quote:
Original post by Erik Rufelt
I did something similar once, with 3 layers of terrain where the middle one was visible from below to build caves and overhangs. It worked OK but got a bit restrictive, and it was generally easier to just make the cave as a separate model. I also found it difficult to make a good editor to handle that type of data
Same here. I used shaders to cut "holes" in the "original" terrain (very similar to how L4D2 does body damage!) but in the end I weren't able to research more on the problem and I had to drop the experiment.

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