Holes in terrains

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Stephen
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Holes in terrains

Post by Stephen » 2008-10-29, 15:11

I was wondering if it is possible to have a hole through a terrain, say for a tunnel? I was playing around in CaWE, and I see that you can't carve through a terrain, or put anything in the height map that signifies a hole...

Is this why the entrance from the outside world to the tunnels in the Tech Demo map is off to the side? Having a little bunker further in the terrain (or maybe a tunnel into the side of a mountain) would be a far better entrance... Especially seeing as you can get up on top of the wall and see parts of the map through the skymap...

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Re: Holes in terrains

Post by scott » 2008-10-29, 15:38

This is definitely a must needed feature. Nothing has been discussed about it before.
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Carsten
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Re: Holes in terrains

Post by Carsten » 2008-10-29, 20:23

Hi Stephen,
Stephen wrote:I was wondering if it is possible to have a hole through a terrain, say for a tunnel? I was playing around in CaWE, and I see that you can't carve through a terrain, or put anything in the height map that signifies a hole...
Yes, that's right, holes in the terrain are not yet supported.
We're considering (or in fact planning) to augment the Terrain Editor by another mode, where the map is presented as a black and white image, where white means "solid" and black means "hole", so that you can directly paint the desired holes anywhere.

Image Image

The concept will later be extended so that you can also draw the texture itself.
Is this why the entrance from the outside world to the tunnels in the Tech Demo map is off to the side?
Yes. :oops: :cheesy:
Having a little bunker further in the terrain (or maybe a tunnel into the side of a mountain) would be a far better entrance... Especially seeing as you can get up on top of the wall and see parts of the map through the skymap...
Agreed - we will change that as soon as the new feature is ready. (For completeness, it would be possible to prevent the player from climbing the outdoors wall right now, e.g. using clip brushes.)

Until then, mapping tricks are required to cover the issue. E.g. buildings on top of the terrain are no problem at all. Next version will come with many great changes, and I hope that we can implement this one until then, too! :up:
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Carsten
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Stephen
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Re: Holes in terrains

Post by Stephen » 2008-10-31, 11:32

Carsten wrote:Agreed - we will change that as soon as the new feature is ready. (For completeness, it would be possible to prevent the player from climbing the outdoors wall right now, e.g. using clip brushes.)
Actually, I had another look, and you can't see it if you go onto the wall, but you can if you move back a bit up the hill it seems!

Anyway, speaking of terrains, I've been playing through game called Project IGI again recently (it's quite old, but still has great graphics for its age and is very fun). It has the most incredible worlds out of any game I've ever played - take a look at this screenshot for example, and as you can see, there's no need for mountains in the skymap, because they're just part of the world. I was about half or a third of the way up the mountain I took the shot from - it's probably about 800 metres high, and the terrain around it just goes on and on (You can walk for ten minutes in any direction and still not hit it - in fact, I have never reached the end of a world!). Is there any chance that Ca3DE would be able to render a world like this? It would be a really impressive to see something similar in the tech demo! It would probably require a different way of texturing it though. Like ScottS said in his review at Devmaster, a missing feature is:
Decent terrain texturing, something like texture splatting, right now you have one large texture with a detail map tiled through it.
This, along with the terrains not being fully bright all the time would make the outside world look far better.
Last edited by Stephen on 2008-11-01, 16:29, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Holes in terrains

Post by Carsten » 2008-11-01, 15:39

Stephen wrote:Actually, I had another look, and you can't see it if you go onto the wall, but you can if you move back a bit up the hill it seems!
Yes, that's a side effect of PVS characteristics, possible only due to the "see through" nature of the sky polygons.
Anyway, speaking of terrains, I've been playing through game called Project IGI again recently (it's quite old, but still has great graphics for its age and is very fun). It has the most incredible worlds out of any game I've ever played - take a look at this screenshot for example, and as you can see, there's no need for mountains in the skymap, because they're just part of the world. I was about half or a third of the way up the mountain I took the shot from - it's probably about 800 metres high, and the terrain around it just goes on and on (You can walk for ten minutes in any direction and still not hit it - in fact, I have never reached the end of a world!). Is there any chance that Ca3DE would be able to render a world like this?
The terrain in the screenshot looks pretty low detailed, especially the far away mountains at the horizon (which in turn hints at how this huge area has been technically made possible ;) ). Is the game level supposed to play in the buildings that are visible in the screenshots? (I.e. does the "normal" play area extend beyond the buildings visible?)

I think that such huge terrains can also be rendered by Ca3DE, e.g. either by dragging/scaling the existing terrain larger, or (more elegantly but requiring some coding) by providing the terrain renderer with a procedural terrain source.
The more I think about it, the latter sounds pretty attractive to me, because it would make truly infinite terrains possible, at very high prevcision. Of course the procedural function that defined the terrain had to be tweaked so that in the center there is a flat area where the game level would be built.
It would be a really impressive to see something similar in the tech demo! It would probably require a different way of texturing it though. Like ScottS said in his review at Devmaster, a missing feature is:
Decent terrain texturing, something like texture splatting, right now you have one large texture with a detail map tiled through it.
This, along with the terrains not being fully bright all the time would make the outside world look far better.
Yes, right. I hope that we will have finished our enhancements to the physics system soon, so that we can finally start the many tasks related to better terrains. :up:
Best regards,
Carsten
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Stephen
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Re: Holes in terrains

Post by Stephen » 2008-11-01, 16:18

Carsten wrote:The terrain in the screenshot looks pretty low detailed, especially the far away mountains at the horizon (which in turn hints at how this huge area has been technically made possible ;) ).


They are fairly low detailed, but the texturing helps to make it look better. They also use some kind of different level of detail stuff in the distance, so they get less and less detailed as they go on - which is why the buildings look not very detailed.

Here are some screenshots showing different views of terrain in the same level.
Carsten wrote:Is the game level supposed to play in the buildings that are visible in the screenshots? (I.e. does the "normal" play area extend beyond the buildings visible?)
Well, in most levels, (like this one) you start within 200 - 500 metres from a compound and have to gain entry to complete an objective. In this level for example, you have to enter the compound to steal a key-card which lets you in to the radar dome (to the far right of the shot) where you have to activate a console. Then, you have to walk another compound another 400 metres away to rendezvous with the helicopter.

Some levels are far more spread out though - in one you have to follow a road for a few kilometres through a town and a couple of checkpoints to get to a border crossing.
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Re: Holes in terrains

Post by Carsten » 2008-11-03, 22:30

Ah, I see; thanks for the additional screenshots and info! :-)

So this essentially underlines the importance of being able to have holes in the terrain, and to design complex outdoor levels in general. :sailor:

Btw., another idea to have very large worlds (that seem to have no end when explored by foot) is to just "overlay" two terrains:
One terrain is scaled very large and extends from horizon to horizon. This terrain defines that actual physical dimensions of the (possibly far away) environment.

Another terrain is scaled much smaller, e.g. like the current TechDemo terrain. The "normal" game level action would all take place in, on (and "under" 8) ) this detailed terrain.

The two terrains can be combined by just placing one "over" the other, where the edges of the smaller terrain undercut the larger terrain, so that there is a seamless transition.
Nice feature of this approach is that it works with the given Ca3D-Engine as-is, no special code etc. required. I might add a sample map of this to the next release. ;)
Best regards,
Carsten
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