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Is World Machine as good as they make it to be?

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It's among the best Height map tools and yet it sucks. That is because height maps are only good for creating the base of the terrain. You could import the mesh and that will provide you with a whole new list of problems.


When you do have a environment artist they will prefer the build-in tools in Unreal 4 over the limitations of World Machine. Although they can still use World Machine to produce a rough base for the environment. Considering there are cheaper and better ways of making terrain bases, it is a expensive way of doing simple things

Buying World Machine doesn't mean you will suddenly have large terrains for you Unreal open world game. Large part of an open world game production is dealing with loading large terrains, World Machine is only going to give you the map.

It does have problems. The map isn't optimized for games. Depending how you get into Unreal it could have performance problems. It will have collision problems for you to deal with and most damming is the fact that it produces similar looking terrain that you have to hand edit to make unique.

My opinion: Buy world Machine if you have the money for it and will only have a small team. Don't expect to get ready to use maps from it.


The cheaper way of getting a map base: There is lots of captured terrain data about earth, ASTER is the latest I think, use these and import them to your 3D tool and correct using sculpting tools. Bake to height map.

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5 hours ago, Armantium said:

Thanks, I figured as much. But could this be different, it is supposedly built in for both UE4 and Maya.

Terrain tools will give you two things: Either a height map that will work smoothly with the engine, yet will look lower quality. Or you get a mesh that you import, the mesh will be high poly. The height map is then edited by an artist after loaded in the engine to create the maps you see in AAA games; this is what Unreal works best with.

If you adjust the game to the mesh this leads to what is now known as "Unity Games" if done wrong. Doing it wrong would be keeping the terrain high quality and force the rest of your assets to lower there poly count to makeup for it. Doing it wright would be using a chunk system where the terrain is divided and a LOD system is build; there are other better ways also.

The other option is then to adjust the art to the engine and this will often result in lower quality. theoretically height maps actually counts as adjusting the art for the engine; height maps is the fastest.


What this means there is no instant terrain tool. All the tools will require more work from you to look good in game. If it was possible to get that high quality terrain at in 30 seconds Unreal would already have had it build in the engine for there own team.

The screenshots you see from these terrain tools is staged, they edited to show what is possible but your not getting that quality in just one day or without practice.


World Creator is better than World Machine, although it doesn't matter because neither is the bottle neck. Using either will have the same results as it is what you can render at real time that matters.

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