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Best Method to Create Terrain?

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I'm about 4 months in to the development of a game and I have some concerns involving the terrain. I've read around many forums and people seem to always say that importing terrains like .fbx or .x is a horrible idea because it takes up too much hardware consumption. I was curious to know if this is true? What are some optimal methods to make beautiful designed terrain like the ones from Dear Esther? I and a friend (Professional Architect) have been discussing of how to handle things with the terrain and we can't seem to find the solution to our problem. I thought maybe I could program a map editor that uses the XNA Primitives and use Mudbox functions like Sculpting which would enable him to make efficient terrains but is that even considerable?

Thanks in advanced!

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Found this old topic that seems to have some alternatives: http://www.gamedev.n...terrain-editor/

You can always write your own, but there's probably no benefit unless you have some specific needs that you can't find anywhere else.

In general a terrain is just a heightmap, an image where white is high elevation and black is low elevation, so you can create terrains in any image editor. However, some kind of editor where you can see the 3D version as you edit it is probably needed. Edited by Erik Rufelt

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I thought about using height maps but those are unable to make caves so it wouldn't be good for what I am trying to accomplish.

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For terrains with caves you'll need to use some sort of

- voxel system or
- terrain mesh created in a modelling program or
- a height map with some sort of system to allow mesh caves to fit in. Practically it means leaving a hole in the terrain. Typically the cave mesh has lots of stuff around the entrance so that the hole in the terrain isn't quite visible. I think WoW used this.

Cheers!

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You can also just use multiple heightmaps—one for the ground, one up-side-down for the ceiling of the cave, and another one right-side-up on top of that for the ground above the cave.

In any case you will need to use heightmaps, and look into GeoClipmapping and GeoMipmapping.


L. Spiro

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Alright thanks so much for the feed back, but I am running into one more problem now. I noticed that when people connect multiple sections of height maps, seams are visible from where they connect. What causes this and is there a method to fix that?

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That should only happen if you use different levels of details for the chunks; if you are sending the same vertices along the edges of each chunk they should be seamless at the same level-of-detail.
For different levels of detail, methods are described to get around this for both GeoClipmaps and GeoMipmaps.


L. Spiro

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As I've played with multiple heightmaps in the past, I am partially against them. Independant heightmaps will have gaps at every chance, even if they use the same LOD level. Now, if we are very careful about placements, those gaps will be minimal, sometimes even sub-pixel, but even this is prone to fail (at the lower level this is a direct consequence of FP computing). In general, their gaps will (1) have to be covered by ad-hoc geometry OR (2) be set up to intersect each other as opposed to just join together or (3) a super-patch terrain system will have to build ad-hoc skirts.

While (2) appears doable, none of the possibilities appear to be The Right Thing.

I'm not saying multiple independent heightmaps cannot be used. They can. And they can probably get out quite some mileage. But let's just be aware of the cons.

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