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Thread: Middle Earth DEM Project

  1. #391
      monks is offline
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    Hi Jez, if you're using FT then you'll pretty much have everything regards terrain that you need. I have a copy of the latest version as well, but not used if for a wee while. We use real satellite data so that adds some more steps to the process of modelling the terrain. We use Global Mapper to store all of our data and it assists muchisimo with using real terrain. Outerra will be using vector import at some point in the future, so having your enviroment/ game maps stored in vector format will be helpful- but at the mo, it's image maps.
    I see World Machine 2.3 supports the preservation of gereffing data in the bt format.That's a good trend but not that helpful to us as we use hfz because it's a much smaller compressed format (plus supports gereffing info). I tend to use Wilbur for certain global processes so I need to be able to get the entire map into Wilbur. Hfz helps do that.
    Basically all you need to do, like Robes said, is speak to Cameni. There's another chap over on Outerra who's also interested in getting his own terrain in there. Biomes are being developed at the moment. I imagine they'll be with us within 6 months. There have been some pretty cool enhancements to the enviroment recently- better textures, different colours in the trees, large boulders with overhangs, and tweaked the fractal for outcrops.

    I''m talking purely about the terrain (not texturing). I should say though that you might be disappointed with the results of using procedural terrain in Outerra. The sheer scale of draw distance is great but it also allows people to see the terrain warts and all...as geography (rather than a restricted film set, render,/ game level, etc). You will inevitably compare your world to the Earth data. The first time we got our terrain into Outerra Robes, Cameni and myself thought the procedural stuff was disappointing. So I demoed a new process I'd wanted to try for a while, using real world data to create Mordor. The results were pretty spectacular compared to the old stuff, so we decided to do the rest that way too. I suppose it depends on what you want. If you want Earth-like land forms, then you need the macro forms of the mountain chains. FT will do a pretty good job of the rivers (only Robes, Joe Slayton and Johannes of GeoControl have tackled that problem), so that will help but it doesn't do convincing mountain chains. If you don't, then FT terrain out the box will be fine.
    I think there may be an iterative process you could apply to try simulate them using Wilbur (and no doubt FT could do it). Basically the idea is to run the erosion processes. Then mask out the rivers, and run noise and incise flows again on mountain areas. Mask rivers, add noise and repeat. That way you might get tree-like river/valley networks growing. You might need to add some height at each step though as erosion would wear down the terrain to nothing. Scripting would be great, but unfortunately we don't have that. Maybe you could put in a feature request? :-D I use Wilbur to create coastlines- crinkle up the terrain at the edges. A bit of noise and a few iterations of incise flows creates some pretty cool fractal erosion. I'm thinking that maybe that might do it.
    Or you could use satellite data. I think there was a small tut or something on WM recently about how to use it. But it's pretty straight forward really.
    Presuming you would want the realistic macro land forms, this is what I'd do. Create your terrain in two layers. A base, and the top layer. The base gives you a more or less flat surface onto which to add the top layer and it controls the landforms (height) at a geographic level. (In our case it also controls water flow but that might not be important to you). The bottom layer doesn't need to be at full project res- I usually apply global processes to it at 1/4 res. The top layer is the satellite data and any procedurals. I don't use procedural terrain now, just erosion. Layering allows you to just "add" terrain and it's clearer what's happening to the heights. For us only using the add operation helps preserve the correct water flow set up in the base layer or any layers beneath it.
    I've not used FT for a while but what I'd do is maybe try running the erosion to get all the rivers, then mask out the rivers and remove all of the terrain detail between rivers (blur or whatever other tools there are available). Grab the river mask and export to World Machine.. and import your satellite data as patches. For the raminaing spaces you could fill them with procedural noise or you could selectively apply another satellite data layer to fill them in. I might reverse the order of the last two steps, ie add the mountains last.
    I'd also create an estuary map- a river mask which controls the width of rivers along their course. That's another strong visual cue when seeing things in Outerra. There's a couple of tuts on here on how to do it in Photoshop. You might also use that or some variant of it to control erosion. That might help give you wider/deeper rivers towards the coast- something you probably won't have. I'd apply that erosion at the beginning of the tmd to the bottom layer.
    (We created our bottom layer using vectorised contours -that's a very natural way to get those river forms but it's a pita to create it, and you need Photoshop, Global Mapper or WinTopo).
    Basically my tmd network is the two layers are added, and the placement of the fill-in data is controlled by masks.
    At the end sprinkle some erosion in WM to knit together the layers with the sediment carry and the channels. It might take too much height off, so clamp the output.
    ...this was only meant to be a short post so apologies ...I'm sure you have tons of alternative ways of doing the various steps. Hope this helps. Feel free to drop us a line

    I looked at your site btw. Very cool stuff, I especially liked the terrain and the splat maps using the channels. That's something I should learn how to do.

    monks
    Last edited by monks; 04-25-2013 at 09:47 AM.
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  2. #392
      jezelf is offline
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    Hey monks

    Wow, thanks for all that info. I appreciate it, but I'll need to read again to digest it all, got a bit lost along the way there.

    My goal is really for my creative writing than a game environment. I've got info on creating a legit solar system (ill post that link next time it's really cool ), got FT for my planet (though I do want to make sure I have proper tectonic plates etc)
    I'm doing a LOTR epic, yeah, I know, another guy :-) , but all for my own pursuit at this point.

    Anyways it would be cool to have something like what's happening with outerra right now, it would another tool for me, it would inspire descriptive scenes, locations, distances, finding logical locations for settlements etc.

    I'm FT is great but I'm not a big fan of the fractal 'look' , not realistic enough. I would have to put it through Wilbur or WM, yeah, get those erosions. Textures I could add more too or such as in go, but just to get where you have would be fine for now.

    Oh yeah, the website, yeah that terrain was actually for an art test for the company that makes Need for Speed, it was my first real 'go' with world machine other than tests and experiment muck abouts. The splat map was their method, their own tools used those RGBA channels for blending tiled textures. There is also an ambient map , another grey scale for lights and darks . For my one, it started out as an ambient occlusion map and I ps blended it with the height map from WM. and worked into it.

    I modeled the scene in maya using sculpting and then went into WM , the render out diffuse and the high res mesh. The high res mesh then went into zbrush where I added more rock detail, to get a normal map out. and ZBRUSH has a thing called decimation master which is why you can see theres a higher density mesh closer to the road, where the player would be - which I needed to do as the mesh was destined for in game. I used the colour diffuse render from WM at a high res, and in PS used the colour picker tool to select the different separations , grey scales .

    I was writing a tutorial document on the whole process, it's for maya but can be translated to max, as i used both, but max is what I'm using now. I was doing that anyway. I didn't get to finish it coz at the time I got made redundant and did have the time, moved jobs and countries! but I could dig it out and send to ya if you're interested. I'll have check it that is making sense, but can't remember how far I got. I was really writing it for myself. As I worked out the pipeline and usually forget what I did if I don't keep doing it, but happy to share the knowledge.

    Anyway, didn't mean to write this much either! Thanks for your response I look forward to going through it again.

    Cheers!
    Jez

  3. #393
      cameni is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by jezelf View Post
    Hello
    Do you have a tutorial or workflow you can show? I'll love to find out. Im guessing at this point it'll be a few years before there's a chance for me to get to see something like a user friendly importer implimented into Outerra? (I'd ask this on their forum, but I'm waiting for my registration to be approved)
    Please let me know your user name at Outerra forums, if you weren't approved immediately, it means that the spam filter (based on StopForumSpam lists) rejected your IP or email. There are like 4,000 such accounts weekly, no chance to filter through them.

    As for the import, I started to make it more configurable, but basically if you use the same format as ME-DEM guys here, you can use it to import your own world too. I know Carl wanted to do a tutorial about the process he's using, because without that extra effort you'll be likely dissatisfied with the level of detail - what looks ok in a map viewer usually lacks a lot of necessary details when rendered in real scale.

    -Brano (Outerra)

  4. #394
      jezelf is offline
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    Hi Cameni

    First of all - fantastic project! - I'll actually look to buy a licence sometime soon , completely worth the $15!

    Thanks for your reply here. Yeah I guess my request got dumped. Ok, I'll try again. I did get an immediate email, but it says " your request will be reviewed and approved.When this happens, you will receive another email from this address." - never got the confirmation, but didn say anything yet because Im sure you're busy!

    anyway, my user name is same as here 'jezelf'

    I was flying around the demo again tonight

    Thanks for responding here!


    <Edit> - yeah just went back there when I login in still get ...

    "
    An Error Has Occurred!
    Your account is still awaiting admin approval."

    can't seem to find anywhere to tell you on your forum?? I went to Help, it talks about the process, but only if everything goes according to plan. there's this bit

    "A Need another activation email? link is also displayed in case the email has somehow been lost. " but I don't see that on the page of the above message.

    I'm probably being dumb and missing something..
    Last edited by jezelf; 05-02-2013 at 02:55 PM.

  5. #395
      cameni is offline
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    Ok, you are approved now. You were listed there as a "suspect", because your email could not have been verified with the antispam database. Hmm, I should check other suspects too ...

  6. #396
      Korash is offline
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    hmmm for some reason that last post was caught up in moderation...not sure why... :/

    I DO find it ironic thought....
    Art Critic = Someone with the Eye of an Artist, Words of a Bard, and the Talent of a Rock.

    Please take my critiques as someone who Wishes he had the Talent

  7. #397
      ravells is offline
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    I've just downloaded and tried it out, it's so cool. I can't wait until you have buildings in it too.

  8. #398
      monks is offline
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    :-D ...Outerra is looking better and better all the time. The latest textures, tree colouration and rocks are a nice improvement. I think the single biggest improvemtnts will be the biomes. I happen to know that there's other seriously COOL stuff being developed right now as well...but I'd definitely be shot if I said anything. Haha...what a wind up! Glad you liked it Ravells!

    Jezelf, sounds like Outerra is exactly what you're looking for. Heh..another LOTR epic..and why not?! :-D
    If you write the tutorial, link us to it please. What did you use for the rocks in ZBrush? I've heared of people using it for terrain touch-ups, I imagine they're custom brushes...but I could never find anything online.

    monks
    Last edited by monks; 05-05-2013 at 04:15 AM.
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  9. #399
      jezelf is offline
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    Hi

    thanks for the approval, cameni!! - I'll be over there soon.

    @ Monks. you mean the tutorial for the terrain on my website? I dug it out and took a look

    here's a bit of a workflow overview -

    Maya > Photoshop > World Machine > PS > Maya > in game engine.

    The same could be done using Max, I've not checked for Max's tools yet. I was using Maya at the time, but I hope to make the tutorial for people who use either.I hope to find some time to go through it and follow my own directions, make sure it makes sense, edit etc, before posting. might be a while yet.

    However, it's worth checking out these video tutorials, pretty similar and great results and superior in some ways tbh - generally the same,

    How to create a terrain for Cryengine and UDK Part 1/8
    How to import a terrain to UDK

    the difference in my method withe UDK one here, is he uses the diffuse WM output as his colour map and then tiled grey scales of 3 materials (Grass, rock, soil) in his spat map + normal maps plugged in, and paints them in (to decent results). I dont use WM colour map in my final work. I was sampling the diffuse output from WM with the colour range tool in PS to get more accurate material masks and use my tiled detail maps to recreate the color map.

    so a quick comparison
    UDK version above :
    1 Normal map terrain output from WM
    1 Colour map terrain output from WM
    1 'splat map' .tga made up of 3 grey scales from the 3 detail maps (grass, rock, soil ) in the RGB channels
    3 corresponding Normals of detail maps as separate textures to plug in,
    (6 textures)

    What I was doing :
    1 Normal map terrain output from ZBrush ( WM result mesh into Zbrush, then added some more details custom for the game end result - you don't have to, could be just WM normal map, but it was a bit of a test at the same time )
    1 'splat map' mask .tga made up of the detail areas 'color range picked' from the WM colour map + has an AO and light/dark tone variance map in the Alpha channel 1
    3 colour tiled detail maps (grass, rock, soil )
    3 corresponding Normals to detail maps
    (8 textures)

    I guess it depends on budgets. In the long run, the UDK way locks down that 1 Diffuse map to that terrain. If you plan to reuse rock, grass, soil textures, then it's worth the extra 2 .These could also be colourized in the maya game engine tool plugin I used to add variance and optimize texture usage so the reddish looking soil I have in once place could be a sandy tan elsewhere without requiring another colour map.

    The Alpha map means you can reuse things and change the tone and saturation. The way I was doing it (arguably) gives you more authenticity and creative control imho, but it all depends on the engine.

    I've some other terrain for games links I can dig out showing workflow if you want 'em

    yeah the novel thing is really for me to get something out of my system. Self publish maybe, a hobby , so don't go expecting of a new HBO series! ha ha - in my dreams! it's a 'years in the making' thing - everyone else has one around here, so I'll join in

    Another thing I'm looking forward to do with Outerra is find a location and then take screen grab, and then work into that into a matte painting as a great starting point. I found a few locations the other day from the current demo and took some grabs. need to buy the license though before I can confidently move forward. It's just some fun mini project - kinda see it like concept art for a game using Outerra.


    For rocks - yep - using Z-brush/Mudbox. Make some custom brushes via PS and import.

    basically, model highest LOD , UV map in Max> import into Zbrush and sculpt in detail, drag over some custom brushes for details> you can do the colour map in ZB too if you wanted > export maps, mostly Normals. Might need to retopologise in max again depending on if you edited the highest LOD a lot. Good to have a rock which is generic and reusable - meaning, it's a closed mesh that can be rotated in any direction to maximize reuse. Then it can intersect with your ground, and placed many times in an area.

    For textures it's worth checking out dDo - looks like a great time saver. I haven't seen organic textures yet though, but it creates a lot of nice maps needed for textures using the normal m

    here's some links on sculpting rocks if you're interested...

    Rock modeling techniques [Part 1/5]
    Zbrush Rock sculpting
    Zbrush Sculpting - Rock Plates
    Zbrush Tutorial - How to make alphas from pictures for Zbrush
    Rough Rock tutorial - ZBrush

    If you're using Max, you might also find this handy Rock Generator script useful - pretty cool and fast in doing some generic rocks. You then just need to create a low poly version and bake normals to import into the game. I can dig out more links on all this kind of stuff if you need 'em.

    cheers
    jez
    Last edited by jezelf; 05-05-2013 at 02:10 PM.

  10. #400
      monks is offline
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    Awesome info JezElf! THANKS

    I have a copy of Max, Maya, Mudbox. I *might* be able to get a copy of ZBrush...which is actually my favourite out of all of em.
    I've decided to try and model a rock...lol...phew, but I'd like to try and get an obelisk or something into Outerra - see how it looks.
    I've no idea how to get models into Outerra so will have to read up on that. I'm sure it can't be that difficult.

    Haha...years in the making, ok ok, well ya never know...best foot forward and all that..
    I'll check your website again and I might take you up on that offer of other workflows but post any screenies you have of the terrains, it's always cool to see those.

    btw, check this out, Cameni sent us this the other day. This is really big news imo. I think this technology will really make it possible to make terrain and games at planetary scales.
    HPCG lab

    monks

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