Saturday, September 17, 2005

Terrain...the good, the bad and the ugly

After a week of trial and error..I finally have some progress on the terrain.

Good:
- Terrain from a 3DSM model is in the Unreal engine.

Bad:
- Unable to convert contour lines into a 3D model. So not all of Palenque is in the prototype.

Ugly:
- Exported 8bit greyscale is far less definition than 16bit. The final terrain is bumpy and 'jerky'. I have smoothed it out a bit but may have to look into using Maya for 16bit heightmap exporting (which 3DSM cant do from my research).


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Rather than importing a terrain 3D model as a static mesh, I want to use Unreal's terrain system as it was designed for this very purpose.

- It renders faster
- It is easy to modify from the editor
- Ability to 'paint' on layers of different textures
- Ability to 'paint' on grass, trees etc

In the previous level we had a (rather quickly) created terrain built from memory of Erik's 3D model. It looked very 'game like' in my opinion and was nowhere near accurate.

I have imported the Autocad contour line files into 3DSM, however am unsure how to get that into a 3D terrain model. The terrain and compound shape tools which seem to be for this prupose only seem to work when the contours/splines are in a 3D arrangement.

So for now I am using the terrain from Erik's "wholesite.max", it appears accurate but not all of palenque is there.

Step One:
Render the 3D terrain from a top, orthorgraphic view and enable the ZDepth render filter. This generates a second, 8bit greyscale image which pixels closest to the camera white, and those furthest away black.

Step Two:
Crop, scale and resize the heightmap accordinhly in Photoshop. Unreal engine only accepts textures with dimensions of powers of two. The heightmap I'm using is only 128x128 pixels to keep the final terrain polycount low.

Step Three:
Convert the 8bit image and save it as a 16bit heightmap (.BMP) using a program called "G16Ed" which was written for Unreal heightmapping.
Import the 16bit .BMP into UnrealEd overriding the heightmap texture.

1 Comments:

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