View Full Version : 3D Atlas of Barsaive [Earthdawn] using Unreal3/UDK

05-20-2011, 05:36 AM
Hi everybody.

I've been lurking around here a while (see my intro thread) and wanted to thank you all for being such a fantastic resource.

So here's some work-in-progress screenshots from my current project. This project was based on 1km satellite DEM data, and shows the world of Barsaive (roughly analogous to the Volga river basin/Black sea/Caspian sea areas), with 8+ additional major landforms/mountain-ranges added, and lots of fine detail work to get the fantasy river systems to make sense with the irl data.

It also draws pretty heavily on Tom Patterson's ideas about cartography (he runs shadedrelief.com). Specifically "crossblended hypsomertic tints" and ideas about displaying terrain forms to an observer. Thanks Tom!

I haven't added the river textures/specularity yet, or the water surfaces (which will hopefully be animated), and there are no name/place markers yet. Here are some shots of the last few weeks of work.

- Rough edit of new landform placement onto DEM data, stock hypsometric tints, edited hypsometric tints showing the new landforms, a crossblended hypso, and some shots of the final 3d object rendered in the UDK (NOT TO SCALE!).

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/_ET-SdQY3hlo/Tcu2ixgzXiI/AAAAAAAABvk/d3aSb9jdU5M/s800/UDK_BarsaiveAtlas_wip01_week6.png (https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/_ET-SdQY3hlo/Tcu2ixgzXiI/AAAAAAAABvk/d3aSb9jdU5M/s800/UDK_BarsaiveAtlas_wip01_week6.png)

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/_ET-SdQY3hlo/Tc2xafRbngI/AAAAAAAABv8/Wm5eFJvjMYk/s800/2_Hypsometric_Tints.jpg (https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/_ET-SdQY3hlo/Tc2xafRbngI/AAAAAAAABv8/Wm5eFJvjMYk/s800/2_Hypsometric_Tints.jpg)

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/_ET-SdQY3hlo/Tc6X5OAtIoI/AAAAAAAABwc/B8dyqBUegpk/s800/dryBarsaive.jpg (https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/_ET-SdQY3hlo/Tc6X5OAtIoI/AAAAAAAABwc/B8dyqBUegpk/s800/dryBarsaive.jpg)

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/_ET-SdQY3hlo/Tc6X5Pq8CrI/AAAAAAAABwY/xxZE37HZwws/s800/wetBarsaive.jpg (https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/_ET-SdQY3hlo/Tc6X5Pq8CrI/AAAAAAAABwY/xxZE37HZwws/s800/wetBarsaive.jpg)

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/_ET-SdQY3hlo/TdO3hiZCKjI/AAAAAAAABxI/zWP_gjhI8bk/s800/barsaiveFinal_textureTest.jpg (https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/_ET-SdQY3hlo/TdO3hiZCKjI/AAAAAAAABxI/zWP_gjhI8bk/s800/barsaiveFinal_textureTest.jpg)

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/_ET-SdQY3hlo/TdT-gVjhp5I/AAAAAAAABxo/bD7ZRGGMyuk/s800/inEditor_01.jpg (https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/_ET-SdQY3hlo/TdT-gVjhp5I/AAAAAAAABxo/bD7ZRGGMyuk/s800/inEditor_01.jpg)

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/_ET-SdQY3hlo/TdT-goXCpYI/AAAAAAAABxs/Zlbyt_g7Kx0/s800/inEditor_02.jpg (https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/_ET-SdQY3hlo/TdT-goXCpYI/AAAAAAAABxs/Zlbyt_g7Kx0/s800/inEditor_02.jpg)

In-Editor Shot 01: On the left we have the volcano known as "Mt Bloodfire" and the lava shelf of Death's Sea. Behind Mt Bloodfire stands the Twighlight Peaks, with the Tylon Mts further in the distance. On the horizon just up from the gun-sight are the Throalic Mts, home of the powerful Dwarf Kingdom of Throal.

In Editor Shot 02: Same location from a higher altitude, looking west towards the Ork Kingdom of Cara Fahd (just up from the gun-sight) and the Theran (roughly a high-magic roman-empire analog) controlled territory of Vivane & Sky Point (upper left of the image).

I'm having problems building my lighting at the moment, but I plan to add in a sky dome and some distance haze for the first-person version. I'll also be setting up a top-down view, which I can then render out as a large image mosaic for use in MapTool or another Virtual Tabletop.

05-20-2011, 06:23 AM
This looks very interesting. I will keep an eye on your thread to see the latest developments.

05-24-2011, 03:37 PM
Good Job Mate! Keed Doing!

05-24-2011, 03:46 PM
Giving the amount of airships and dragons flying around in earthdawn, this seems like a great idea.

06-03-2011, 05:20 AM
Well, it's not a huge update (I'm working on texture "splatting" before a final shadow-map build), but here's a shot of one of the Named Peaks showing my sun & sky setup, with "light shafts", an atmospheric perspective heightfog, and depth-of-field blurring. You can also see a hint of the specular highlights (which move in real time) on the river in front of the camera.

So, I'm working on getting final textures (rock, grasslands, forest canpoy, swamp/mud) and details onto the terrain, and building the Markers that I'm going to be marking Named Places with.


06-03-2011, 06:04 AM
Can you explain what is going on in that second shot. Is it that in the distance there is a mountain and this is casting a shadow towards the camera ? It looks a bit odd tho. I think the shadow is too severe. If the mountain were so far away then the maximum depth of shadow would be that of the grey tint that the mountains to the left of it are producing since they must also be in shadow too. Are you able to set the blackness of the god rays shadow based on the distance to the shadow inducing terrain ? The lighting on those mountains to the left looks great tho.

06-03-2011, 07:07 AM
Ah, yes, lining up a peak silhouette with the sun probably wouldn't be a good idea IRL (OUCH!). This was an extreme example (the pics were to answer a question on another forum). Here is another series of shots showing those effects, and how the total final effect changes depending on elevation and thus view angle:





The extreme shadowing in the last shot is an example of the Unreal3 engine 'compensating' for not being able to actually achieve the real light intensity from the sun, so the engine fakes what your eye would do when confronting that situation, by simulating the sensory contrast effects that happen with physical light. Real-time engines these days, right?

06-03-2011, 07:48 AM
Note: Everything looks mch more "daylight" than the first shots and the shadows are doing a lot of the work filling in the colors (notice the color saturation differences from the previous shots). This allows the blue rivers (and their white highlights) to 'pop' visually. Shots are from above the Tylon Mts, looking towards Throal and over the Servos Jungle towards Lake Ban.

06-03-2011, 08:34 AM
Sometimes I don't know what do do with myself while I wait for something to render. For example, this current a rain simulation cycle I'm in the middle of takes 2 hours to draw the river valleys so I know where to paint rocky ridges, and where to paint lush valleys (where the Horror blight isn't). Not to mention the 4+ previous hours spent doing iteration after iteration of 30 minute 'low resolution' Rain cycles, tweaking, doing another, tweaking, until I found the right settings for the full 2 hr simulation.

Fortunately, that means I've time for a few more screenshots! Again, click for full size.

Some _extremely_ high altitude "dragon's eye views" of Barsaive. The last one has some notes on where I'm probably going to put Bartertown/Throal and the actual distance scale used (which I noted earlier will probably be tweaked for ED travel times). I want the engine to eventually output the distance between two points in purely ED travel times and rough KM/Miles distances. But that's going to wait on the art side a bit.

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-Qmkg8gqGp7M/TejRtdRg2fI/AAAAAAAABzI/D3OQ8B1IVgI/s800/workInProgress_w9_01.png (https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-Qmkg8gqGp7M/TejRtdRg2fI/AAAAAAAABzI/D3OQ8B1IVgI/s800/workInProgress_w9_01.png)

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-GhGxyxKYUEQ/TejRtMaMeWI/AAAAAAAABzA/tHb5wehGktk/s800/workInProgress_w9_02.png (https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-GhGxyxKYUEQ/TejRtMaMeWI/AAAAAAAABzA/tHb5wehGktk/s800/workInProgress_w9_02.png)

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-aSDk-rpgHnQ/TejRtZTRRUI/AAAAAAAABzE/cIp2mMy2B-Y/s800/workInProgress_w9_03.png (https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-aSDk-rpgHnQ/TejRtZTRRUI/AAAAAAAABzE/cIp2mMy2B-Y/s800/workInProgress_w9_03.png)

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-yUHlrBKZ71g/TejRtpJ_59I/AAAAAAAABzM/92tjDfNwppY/s800/workInProgress_w9_04.png (https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-yUHlrBKZ71g/TejRtpJ_59I/AAAAAAAABzM/92tjDfNwppY/s800/workInProgress_w9_04.png)

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Q9V-Kg4E4W0/TejRuv3k1_I/AAAAAAAABzQ/ZpcUolkjyH8/s800/workInProgress_w9_05.png (https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Q9V-Kg4E4W0/TejRuv3k1_I/AAAAAAAABzQ/ZpcUolkjyH8/s800/workInProgress_w9_05.png)

06-03-2011, 09:50 AM
That just looks amazing!

06-03-2011, 01:02 PM
Is this all done using the Unreal Dev Kit then ? Not having used it, I was wondering what was creating the water flow in these shots since I am interested in these kinds of things.

06-07-2011, 04:40 AM
Hi guys! I'm swamped with IRL at the moment, but I appreciate the comments/questions. Thanks a lot!


I'll tackle the water question in brief. The UDK/Unreal3 material editor allows you to have targa images define pretty much any component of your surface (so, in this example, I used a hand edited copy of some free DEM river-valley-registration of the IRL area). I used this "river map" not only as a mask to paint the Blue diffuse color onto my diffuse texture, but also in a separate node-network to define ONLY where I want the surface highlights to show up. These highlights are animated by some simple noise maps, and some rotation nodes further up in the network (which otherwise would cover the entire landscape). At this point, I do want a few independent water surfaces, but only for the Seas. The rivers are painted right onto the landscape. I do have to note that the vector river data, and my DEM source didn't match up 100% so I do have some streams flowing "uphill" when it cuts a corner faster then the DEM heightfield does.

Tools used: This was not done "only" in UDK. I have extensively used Photoshop and L3DT (bundysoft.com), along with some work in the student version of Mudbox. Most of the visual detail was added with L3DT, and I'm currently using that program to generate a more complex "texture splatting", a set of alpha maps that tell the engine where to paint, say grass vs rock vs mud vs sand. It is also not to IRL vertical scale, and has been "ResBumped" (a custom version of the workflow I developed from ideas @ shadedrelief.com), and as mentioned had 8 major mountain ranges edited into the DEM data.

06-07-2011, 05:12 AM
Oh, RedRobes! I saw in another post that you're part of the ME-DEM team. I owe you guys a few :1-up:s, man. I read nearly every discussion blog on your site a few years back and it really helped with this project, because it had all been lurking in the back of my head while I researched this project.


06-07-2011, 06:09 AM
Cheers, At Medem we have a pretty complicated workflow too and I am only aware of half of it since Monks gives me the final height map as a starting point for the texturing and shading. Everyone finds water and rivers difficult. We have rivers like Anduin which have to be positioned correct for the Tolkien world so its not arbitrary. Although we have to get the mountains and terrain sort of correct to get Anduin in the right place we are still putting that river down by hand in a similar way to what you are doing. I have my GeoTerSys app which will calculate some water flows but its not a quick process and were now using a 40x40 tile set so it takes too long. That app does generate a lot of terrain masks calculated from the inputs plus the sim and were using that to generate the texture types like what your doing with your splat masks. Once we have all the masks then it goes into the programmable shader which maps textures to masks in varying blending amounts to produce the final colour map, we have the light map and shadow map produced from GTS earlier. For the viewing, were investigating this so its useful to look at Unreal. We have looked at Proland - a research app from a chap in France and were also doing a lot of talking with the dev of Outerra and he has been integrating the height maps only into that. In the longer term we would like to see some more colour control and snow in MeDem + Outerra but its very early days.

I used to have a copy of L3DT and we used to chat to Aaron a fair bit. When I tried it out, the terrain viewer was 3D but of limited size and I know he was working on a new one which he must have finished a long time back now. We decided not to go with L3DT mainly because it was well geared up for generating a lot of terrain but not so good for generating a lot of specific placed terrain like an existing Tolkien map that people would stare hard at and criticize for correctness.

These new breed of real time terrain viewers are awesome but are on limited availability. Using Unreal would be a good call for making a game and getting something up and running when you don't have these new ones. Unreal is probably better optimized for running on an existing gaming platform like a PS3 or XBox which are now a few generations of graphics capability behind the state of the art. But look at Proland on you tube and the Outerra forums and just keep them in the back of your mind going forwards.

06-09-2011, 11:42 PM
Thanks for the info, I'll look into that. Here's some recent work.

Some Shots with the final textures (although I do need to tweak them for brightness issues and maybe paint in more Lava). Lookin pretty good.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-mQjB1yqGHII/TfGO877qPnI/AAAAAAAAB1k/CPdCfwQCfn0/s800/Atlas_Textures05.png (https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-mQjB1yqGHII/TfGO877qPnI/AAAAAAAAB1k/CPdCfwQCfn0/s800/Atlas_Textures05.png)

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-i7YeRjcgew0/TfGO9RgOBBI/AAAAAAAAB1o/sw5G54TbjgA/s800/Atlas_Textures03.png (https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-i7YeRjcgew0/TfGO9RgOBBI/AAAAAAAAB1o/sw5G54TbjgA/s800/Atlas_Textures03.png)

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-rXwnSProThU/TfGO8v5HssI/AAAAAAAAB1g/Fp3yJIJGfeM/s800/Atlas_Textures04.png (https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-rXwnSProThU/TfGO8v5HssI/AAAAAAAAB1g/Fp3yJIJGfeM/s800/Atlas_Textures04.png)

06-10-2011, 10:18 AM
So all my materials broke, and then I had to fix them, and now I have to build my lighting for a few hours again. Here are some shots with test lighting.

Final Textures and Materials (normals corrected and parallax mapping/bump-offset on all materials except snow).

Full Map View:

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-dP9_kY_mZFo/TfIk3EDt38I/AAAAAAAAB2E/hYgWNXDyQoA/s800/Atlas_Textures10.png (https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-dP9_kY_mZFo/TfIk3EDt38I/AAAAAAAAB2E/hYgWNXDyQoA/s800/Atlas_Textures10.png)

Lake Ban & Throalic Mts (right), Servos jungle and Tylong Mts (left):

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-w9uJeTNQvfE/TfIk2IpgKxI/AAAAAAAAB18/OYpNQ7hUOc4/s800/Atlas_Textures06.png (https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-w9uJeTNQvfE/TfIk2IpgKxI/AAAAAAAAB18/OYpNQ7hUOc4/s800/Atlas_Textures06.png)

Death's Sea & Twilight Peaks

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-sFhm9H-thdo/TfIk2bCfXjI/AAAAAAAAB2A/TE3BNEXPJr0/s800/Atlas_Textures07.png (https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-sFhm9H-thdo/TfIk2bCfXjI/AAAAAAAAB2A/TE3BNEXPJr0/s800/Atlas_Textures07.png)

Cara Fahd / Landis / Vivane / Sky Point (foreground), Delaris Mts, Liaj Jungle (background):

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-QN0vrgiewZo/TfIk2G5pRwI/AAAAAAAAB14/CY08_Ru9RPw/s800/Atlas_Textures08.png (https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-QN0vrgiewZo/TfIk2G5pRwI/AAAAAAAAB14/CY08_Ru9RPw/s800/Atlas_Textures08.png)

Liaj Jungle (foreground left), Tylon Mts, (midground), Throal Mts (background), Twighlight Peaks (right)

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-8IjAt0zukAs/TfIk3Ah-bPI/AAAAAAAAB2I/0Um_sbuv1kw/s800/Atlas_Textures09.png (https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-8IjAt0zukAs/TfIk3Ah-bPI/AAAAAAAAB2I/0Um_sbuv1kw/s800/Atlas_Textures09.png)

06-13-2011, 04:17 PM
Added some water surfaces, and the lighting came out nicely. Took a hit on the frames-per-second at high altitudes tho.... I may have to do some streaming tricks if that slows things down later.

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-8JJPjQkeY8I/TfZqQMlW9ZI/AAAAAAAAB28/V_zW3G1GZyA/s800/EngineTest35fps.jpg (https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-8JJPjQkeY8I/TfZqQMlW9ZI/AAAAAAAAB28/V_zW3G1GZyA/s800/EngineTest35fps.jpg)

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-MIgOOIAtMzE/TfZu5E2LddI/AAAAAAAAB3I/t9j9Zglyr2g/s800/Atlas_Textures11.png (https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-MIgOOIAtMzE/TfZu5E2LddI/AAAAAAAAB3I/t9j9Zglyr2g/s800/Atlas_Textures11.png)

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-PHQWfNnrlfw/TfZu5Fpit3I/AAAAAAAAB3E/XHjeic6rA3k/s800/Atlas_Textures12.png (https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-PHQWfNnrlfw/TfZu5Fpit3I/AAAAAAAAB3E/XHjeic6rA3k/s800/Atlas_Textures12.png)

12-22-2011, 02:12 AM
This is freakin amazing- great job Telarus

01-21-2012, 09:45 AM
Really impressive!

03-08-2012, 10:14 AM
Looks great man, quite amazing, and a world you can actually explore... just great.

As for the river issues you and redrobes have been having, I'd assume this is something you guys have done (since its seems a pretty basic thing, at least when I world with DEM's and rivers in real life, but have you every played around with "Burning in" the rivers? basically, if you have a vector representation of your rivers, you can "burn" them into your DEM, basically makes the heightmap blacker, thus lowering the height where the vector.. obviously that would cause greater problems if your vectors are too far off your DEM, but if its fairly similar you should be able to sort of override the DEM riverbeds with the vector burns with a bit of tweaking.. we usually do this with every DEM we get, tho most of the time our vectors and DEM's come from the same source, in our case it's usually just to define them more...

I Also had an amazing open sourced program that did a lot of Hydrology raster analysation using DEM's which may allow you to build your own river vectors from your DEM... i'll search around for the name, for some reason i think i actually posted it here a few years back.. it was open sourced, and allowed you to build watersheds which basically define where the water will flow in any given point on the map, this allows you to figure out where rivers would go, most of the time to a greater detail than you would ever want.. unfortunately it won't help for rivers that don't follow traditional rules, and i've found pieced together or modified DEMs usually cause all kinds of problems unless they are done really well, but i would think your DEM would get some great results...

03-08-2012, 10:20 AM
Program is called ILWIS, and it's open sourced.. (http://52north.org/communities/ilwis)

I haven't used it since school, which is uh.. years past.. but i really can't see it getting any worse.. last time i used it it was VERY similar to the ArcGIS Hydronomy tools, in a few cases a bit better (since at that time it was focused on hydronomy)... but now it looks like it might have even more open sourced DEM gold... i'm going to have to check it out!

03-08-2012, 04:20 PM
Program is called ILWIS, and it's open sourced.. (http://52north.org/communities/ilwis)

I haven't used it since school, which is uh.. years past.. but i really can't see it getting any worse.. last time i used it it was VERY similar to the ArcGIS Hydronomy tools, in a few cases a bit better (since at that time it was focused on hydronomy)... but now it looks like it might have even more open sourced DEM gold... i'm going to have to check it out!

Much appreciated! I was just looking into hydrological modeling with GRASS plug-ins. Havign other options is great. Thanks a lot for you comments!

A general note: This project is undergoing a major re-design, using the release of the GMTED2010 elevation model. :D