A Free Trial That Lets You Build Big!
Start building with 50+ products and up to 12 months usage for Elastic Compute Service
The terrain system is a thin slice, where we prepare delicious meals for our level. Hey! Is that vulgar or anything else? Is it food? Or ordinary dishes ?)
Whether it is normal or not, it is true. If any part of your level is outdoors, you need a terrain system. However, the terrain system of the slot cake will talk about it and the players will also have some bad comments (or try to make them Gentle ). If you want to make the terrain system outstanding, you need to make a lot of effort in it. In fact, the vast majority of the efforts made by professional game developers in the game are to make the terrain system as beautiful as possible and as authentic as possible.
In this chapter, you will learn:
■ You can use different methods to create a terrain System
■ Tips on how to create a real terrain System
■ Use the terrain system to provide game services for you
■ Apply texture to the terrain System
■ Add some little items on the terrain system to enrich your game world
Importance of terrain Systems
As the roles in the game become more and more full and more detailed, the terrain systems in the game become more and more beautiful over time.
Let's take a look at the way the game depicts water in the past five years. It has evolved from a blue patch to a ripple patch with a clear border, then, the surface is usually more beautiful than the real water. In any level, the terrain system is a very important part. People walk with basic rules in the terrain system. All we know about the green grass, big trees, and weeds should be what we see; we know that the cliffs of the Canyon are rarely smooth; the stones should be piled up on the ground; and we leave footprints on the mud; water, wind, and gravity are combined to form a messy environment.
However, the game space is rarely messy. This is its strength and weakness. Models of the simplest terrain system are everywhere flat and smooth corners. Such a terrain system is like a quiet lady who is given the power of God. In other words, it is unrealistic at all.
Therefore, part of the work of building a terrain system is to make it messy enough to make it credible. However, this is accompanied by a very obvious problem. Clutter means a lot of polygon, and basic buildings have occupied all 3D objects generated by computers. Moreover, the more polygon the computer processor needs to render, the slower the game. If there are too many polygon, the computer will archive.
For all the 3D models of the game, the terrain system actually plays the role of balancing a game between authenticity and smoothness. The good news is that the computer processing speed is increasing every year, And the bad news is that it cannot run 100% real terrain systems in real time. Therefore, as a level designer, you must always pay attention to this balanced role.
Currently, there are several ways to create a terrain system for game tools. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. It can make your task as simple as sucking your fingers, or as difficult as unlocking the knot of goerdi (a very complicated knot. Nothing is more time-consuming than creating a terrain in a few places, and the incorrect settings of the tool make you feel that you are holding a shovel to clear the dirt on your body (not a big block, but the particles you leave when creating sandcastle on the beach ).
A height chart is a simple 2D image generated by the 254 gradient gray scales between black and white (see Figure 3.1 ). Map makers and physicists use satellite-generated height graphs to create 3D maps of terrain systems. The principle of this method is that the gray scale of each level represents different heights. The higher the color, the higher the terrain. In meters, the color of each level corresponds to different heights. The unit of the picture obtained by the program is variable.
Using a height chart to create a terrain is quite simple, and it can generate some of the most realistic terrain structures, as well as in the game (see Figure 3.2 ). But it also means there will be some of the most ugly terrain structures, depending on the expertise of game engines and map makers. The terrain structure from a height chart may look uneven or very flat. Mixing these two different types of terrain structures may be a nightmare. However, the following two methods are usually used to create a height chart: 1) take an existing height chart from a satellite image and use it in your game. The structure of this terrain is similar to the earth or a part of a nearby planet. 2) It takes a long time to create a Graph Editor, such as Photoshop, but it is very interesting.
Figure 3.1 The height of the US Geological Survey (USGS)
Figure 3.2 topographic map created from the height chart of Figure 3.1
Advantages of height chart:
■ Simple production
■ Convenient and quick change
■ Fast Modification
■ It is difficult to make small changes
■ It may take a considerable amount of time to restore to normal
■ The final topographic map is similar to the topographic map formed by other height charts.
The method for creating the terrain is to manually adjust the model. Obviously, this is a very time-consuming job. 3D modelers spend months on a half-acre Virtual Ground just to make it correct. However, this method can generate the most beautiful and appropriate terrain structure you can get. Alien worlds, magic kingdoms, and other surrealistic scenes can all be made so real that players forget to breathe.
Manually adjusted terrain is usually created in 3D model software, such as discreet's 3D Studio Max or alias wavefront's Maya. The artist first made a large flat grid and used modeling tools to distort the plane into a huge mountain and valley. Then he moistens different regions and pays more and more attention to the smaller details until he is satisfied with the results. Here, the main programmer can have a general concept by understanding all the artists who use polygon to create terrain. Therefore, the artist had to begin to choose what to cut, what to simplify, and what to maintain. This cycle starts to continue.
Advantages of manual adjustment of terrain structure:
■ It may be the best level of detail
■ Best user level
■ Easy to make small changes
■ Surrealistic Effect
Disadvantages of manual adjustment of terrain structure:
■ It is difficult to make major changes
■ It takes a lot of time
■ Frame Rate of the game will be affected if the artist does not pay attention to it
Because there are weaknesses in both kinds of terrain editing, gaming companies sometimes make their own terrain editing tools, try to combine the height chart to make good control of the comfort and manual adjustment of the terrain in a large area. However, these tools are sometimes difficult to use, and they are not as easy as they are used separately.
The main 3D software, Maya and 3D Studio MAX, allows you to import height graphs with some effects. They will give you some control to make some very good adjustments. However, they are expensive and complex tools, and it is difficult for common model makers to afford a version that gives them the functionality they actually need. Although there are still some relatively inexpensive software, the lower the price may bring fewer features. I suggest you try the software as much as possible to find out which one is best for you.
Advantages of hybrid terrain tools:
■ Combines the advantages of the two basic tools
■ Generally, no specific tool is provided for the effect alone.
■ Complex use
The following figure shows the terrain automatically generated by the Program (see Figure 3.3 ). When players do not need to interact with the terrain frequently, the automatically generated terrain can be used. Of course, you still need to know where it is. Simulated flight sometimes uses automatically generated terrain because players usually spend their time above the cloud layer.
Advantages of Automatic Terrain generation:
■ You don't need to worry about the terrain
Disadvantages of Automatic Terrain generation:
■ Minor adjustment functions
Figure 3.3 beautiful terrain randomly created by the terragen program of the planetside Software
Many third-party games, including instant strategy games like Age of Empires and role-playing games like Neverwinter Nights, they all use bricks to make their terrain (see Figure 3.4 ). Bricks are pre-generated ground squares that can be connected to each other to create an infinite change scenario.
It is quite simple to use bricks. The designer selects a brick, drags it to the position he wants to place, and then returns to drag other bricks. Some games allow you to modify tiles, change textures, and scene types to create desert, grassland, or forest. When players are not close to the ground, it is a very good way to make the terrain. However, this method cannot bring a wide variety of height changes to the terrain.
Advantages of brick-making terrain:
■ Simple and interesting to use
■ Fast production
Disadvantages of tile terrain production:
■ Restricted by brick laying and terrain objects in the brick laying Column
■ It can only be used for games with fixed top-angle lenses
■ Not good at making large elevation changes
Figure 3.4 The Aurora design tool of bioware's winter night shows a tile-paved terrain
Terrain And gameplay
It may be interesting to create a terrain. When you slightly adjust the terrain to make it right, it slowly becomes a micro-operating strategy game, a creative task. Because of this, it is easy to forget the main purpose of making terrain: to make the game more interesting. When you try to make beautiful scenes, you may accidentally create some defects in your game. Players may find them lost, discouraged, or worse. They may find vulnerabilities in your level and use them to cheat. To avoid this situation, always pay attention to what is the core gameplay in your level, and you need to make the terrain suitable for this gameplay.
Tips for creating a terrain structure:
■ Create only the terrain structure you need. Do not create some space that you will add to the Easter egg later. Believe me, outside of your plan, these spaces will be self-presented. In addition, creating a huge space means that players have a lot of activity scope, but it also means that you have a lot of work to do.
■ The maze is not interesting unless it is the focus of the game.
■ Hiding the road will be frustrating, and they will be used with caution.
■ Do not make any paths that do not reward players. If a player walks along a path, this path should lead to an important place or have fun.
■ Always stay consistent. If a slope in a place cannot pass through, the slope in any other place like this angle should not pass through. If a forest with the same density in one place cannot pass through, the forest with the same density in other places cannot pass through.
Another purpose of terrain structure: To block players
So far, we have talked about the terrain structure that allows players to walk on it. However, the terrain structure can have a second role: defining the regional limitations that players can explore. In many cases, the level designer places his level in a canyon or valley, where there are steep hillsides and cliffs to prevent players from crossing the boundary of the level. In addition, sometimes, a sea that cannot swim or a wasteland marked with obvious marks, such as a desert, gives the player an image: he cannot get there.
When you set "Block" in your level, remember the following prompt:
■ Clearly marks areas that players cannot go. In general, your blocking will make players feel frustrated. No one likes to be banned from where they want to go. However, if you make blocking easy to recognize, then players will understand that this is part of the game, not just the game designer's instant interest in forbidding players to explore that place. Even an invisible wall can prevent players from entering a desert, as long as the blocking line is clearly marked.
■ Do not place any interesting things on the other side of the block, unless it obviously cannot be reached. For example, some things cannot be too far away, for example, a floating place or a distant mountain. There is nothing worse than exploring somewhere, but finding there is no way. Placing a building, a statue, or a cave on the other side of your block will make players think they should search there. He will waste a lot of time trying to get there, but he will be unhappy when he realizes that this is impossible. It is because you think this is not important, but it does not mean that players think so too.
Areas that cannot pass
Sometimes you should place obstacles in front of a player to make sure that he will not get lost in your world, or go somewhere you don't want him to go. In most game engines, you can create areas that cannot pass through to prevent players from moving forward.
Areas that cannot pass are usually invisible, and players may be angry at why they cannot go in. Therefore, you should spend a lot of time in place of these areas. Make sure that the player understands why he is blocked from where he wants to go. You need to know why it is forbidden, so you can place a fence, create a wall, change the color of the ground, change the forest to secret, or do other obvious things.
Some game engines allow players to embark on any slope below 90 degrees. You may need to place areas that cannot pass through on all the slopes, which are too steep for players to climb. To determine which angle players can climb or which angle players cannot climb, ensure that you are consistent. Even a subtle change, the player may notice it and disrupt his consistent feeling.
This also applies to terrain types. The areas you make that are not accessible depend on the set dangerous terrain, such as lava, muddy swamp. You must be sure to map the terrain structure in the form of easily distinguishing the available areas and the areas that cannot be passed.
Create a real terrain Structure
Nature is chaotic. It is not composed of organized lines and ideal curves. However, there is a balance between drawing all the polygon and maintaining the playability of the game. It takes a lot of time to use tools to create chaos, this tool uses straight lines and ideal curves as building blocks. Therefore, you must focus on scenarios with more details in one place, which players are willing to go. For example, if a player is restricted to entering the bottom of the canyon, it is best to refine the ground from the ground above to the ground above the line of sight, and then draw the bottom when it reaches the top.
Make sure that you have a good material source. It is helpful to have a good map of the terrain type you are trying to create, so that you can make the terrain as realistic as possible. Geographic maps and travel manuals are the best source of terrain photos.
For specific terrain types, here are some tips.
Only a few game engines can make real mountains. Most of the Real Mountains cover a large area of the earth, and many of them are upright, which adds restrictions to all game engines. However, hillsides are very popular in the game, especially as blocked walls. Another benefit of mountains is that it seems to be uneven, and the game engine can do very well. But remember one thing, fighting on the hillside is usually not very interesting, especially in melee games where players fight hard. For these battles, make sure that some flat venues are provided.
The game engine can also do well in the hills and other ups and downs. If it is done well, the hills are very effective for the masking experience, and it will not happen until the player hits another role on the front. However, Hills also mask road signs, so make sure that your terrain structure is useful. If a player finds that he is lost, he can reposition the direction.
Desert, plain, arctic wasteland and other flat land
Flat land is rarely completely straight. They have hillsides and valley, and they can be the ends of rivers and mountains. Even the most boring terrain structure is confused. Try to mix the tiny height offset, the strategic device (where it is appropriate), and the two hills that provide road signs.
Rivers and Lakes
If the game engine you use allows players to swim, they will want to enter any waters you place in front of them. Always make sure players can come out from any place they enter, especially rivers and lakes. Do not make the bank too steep, so that players jump into the river to see if there are some ammunition in the bottom of the water and then they will not be able to go back to the shore.
If your game engine does not allow swimming, you need to be sure that you have set areas that are not accessible on higher water surfaces. In this way, you can maintain the illusion that players can really swim in the past. Once again, do not place any interesting things on the other side of the water unless you have prepared a path for the player to go there.
Deep Pits, Canyon and Gully
If a player falls into a crack or a deep hole, there should be a path for the player to come out. Even if you think that falling down means death, you can still provide some one-way private channels or transfer points. In that case, those cautious players who try to calculate how to reach the bottom will be able to return to the top, without the need to go back and forth.
Canyon and gully are a great way for players to access places they want to go. That's why almost every game has them. Try to avoid over-using this type of terrain, so that you will not be affected by the same trap. Many other level designers have already made such errors.
Make terrain interesting
Pleasing players is the basic responsibility of game makers. This is of course. When you make a game, everything you do should be aimed at this purpose, including making a terrain system.
The terrain system is mainly used to establish the atmosphere. In the best case, it can immerse players in the game world and make them feel like they are truly mountain climbing or in the wet jungle. To achieve this, you should make the terrain as realistic as possible on the given game engine, and the characters players encounter should be appropriate. For example, players should not see penguins in the Desert (unless they wear sunglasses ).
Terrain can be used to create a pressure chart:
Terrain can be used to create a pressure chart by hiding the upcoming battles or by natural dangers in it. Some rocky terrain or dense forests of shrubs can conceal potential enemies, or you can install valuable resources in a small box. A melting pool or steep cliff can increase the sense of danger and ask the player to warn him about the danger while keeping an eye on the Danger nearby. When players use the same terrain to escape the enemy's field of view, it can also create pressure.
The terrain can ease the compression rate:
After a long string of battles is over, the quiet pool or peaceful relics hidden in the trees can provide a moment of relaxation. Try to change the pace of your terrain from oppression to relief. This is more gameplay than the experience of oppression.
Terrain tells stories:
A sculpture on the rock surface, a circular cut off, a complete line on the tree, a trench, a footprint, a road, and a track on the snow, can all tell the story. When I was playing the Dark Age of Camelot, one of my favorite moments was when I reached the top of the hill with a friend, I noticed that a huge bull pattern was etching on another nearby hill. I immediately asked, "Who carved it up? What does this mean ?"
It is interesting to run and drive on the terrain:
In a game where you can drive a vehicle, you should provide some places without a fatal impact to give players some space under their wheels. In skip fans games, a row of stones may be interesting for players who want to move around. However, those discontinuous and difficult terrain may break the player's game pleasure, especially when there are many such terrain in the game.
The terrain can be beautiful:
The terrain can give gamers awe and surprise. Beautiful terrain makes the game more fun. In addition to being beautiful, the terrain can also be disgusting, boring, or any atmosphere that needs to be turned on in your level.
Topographic structure and policy
Sun Tzu, China's famous strategist and general, once said, "The natural barrier of the Territory is the best ally of soldiers ." Military strategists have long ago Studied the strategic advantages and disadvantages inherent in different terrain types.
If you are creating a battle level, you need to remember the strategic aspect of your terrain while making it beautiful. With the advancement of technology and the increasingly powerful computing capability of computers per second, the physical computing of games is approaching the real level. Along with this shot, the bullet has the influence of the Earth's gravity and air; it is difficult to climb the hillside, but it is easy to go down the hill; an object in the game can affect the real system of another object. All of these means that in the gaming environment, tactical issues that run through historical terrain and environments will become more important.
This is the basic advantage you can use to overwhelm the enemy. Standing on the top of the hill means your arrows and bullets can be shot further, and your enemies will have a hard time to rush to your position. This also makes it easier for your army to retreat, as long as there is a mountain road not directly leading to the enemy. However, because the hills are usually loose, the hills expose your presence to the enemy before you hide it in the dashboard. And if your army is too small, it is easy to be surrounded.
A region like a canyon or a valley that is difficult to pass can bring you an advantage. By limiting the channel in your position, it is impossible for your enemies to put all their troops in. However, this usually means that your retreat will not be easy. Again, this type of terrain advantage means that you stick your army in a narrow area, but where your army may be surrounded.
Advantages of flat terrain:
Smooth terrain allows you to move and configure your army to the maximum extent. This terrain is advantageous to cavalry and vehicles because they can play a role in combat more flexibly.
Many types of terrain are dangerous or impede military movement. The swamp and loose sand can greatly reduce the speed of your army, as well as the ice and snow and dense forest terrain.
Players will identify strategic areas and use them as their own advantages. Make terrain step by step and place them in interesting tactical positions, such as arranging a team of enemies to archery at you from the side of the cliff, or in the swamp without other channels, fight through a series of small, interconnected islands. Give players the opportunity to come up with a solution, and you will be treated as a genius in this field.
Attach a layer to a terrain
As I mentioned earlier, terrain structures are generally improved by adding appropriate textures or images that are placed on the surface of 3D objects. A texture can be a monotonous color or as complex as a face. In professional game production, artists were hired to make textures. Believe me, a good texture artist is worth the price.
When you create a terrain, You need to attach a texture to it after creating the terrain. Although each engine and 3D tool has their own way of working for attaching textures to a 3D surface, there are still some general methods you can consider, this will help you.
■ Always select only those textures that are properly set. The green map on your desert level or Arctic level will make it look like a mountain stretching in spring.
■ Make sure that your picture is correct. When you need a repeated texture, there will be a slit between each split, unless the edges of these textures are well mixed. That's why those texture artists are so valuable. It is difficult to create seamless textures.
■ Use as few as possible for dark textures. Many moving objects are usually gray and disappear when compared with dark textures. Players who do not see their enemies are prone to setbacks. If you want to make these things gray, use dark colors instead of dark textures.
■ Keep it simple. The terrain system means to enrich the level, rather than replacing the level. Using bright, uncoordinated colors and reflective surfaces to color your level may cause some players to avoid your work in the future. Similarly, reflective surfaces such as glass or metal that require additional processing may be used in other places, for example, allowing your players to move more than one step every few seconds.
Place terrain items
After you build the terrain and attach the textures, you will start to embellish the terrain with trees, grass, rocks, small houses, walls and anything else you think is necessary. However, you must carefully plan the objects you use and how you place them to maximize the effect they have on players.
Place objects on your terrain
Always, when you place any object or item in your game, you must consider its impact on the speed of the game. In the past few years, many things like forests and shrubs are either too expensive in processing rendering, or too ugly when they are cheap. So many games won't bother with them unless they are necessary. However, the current processor speed has increased enough. You can add many gadgets in the level without reducing the frame rate too much. However, there are many tips to make these things cheap.
One of the limitations of the game engine is that they cannot process a large number of different types of objects at the same time. That's because the engine needs to load every object into the memory before rendering. However, a large number of copies, for example, an object that occupies less resources, the program only needs to load this object once, and then you can use that information repeatedly for each copy. Unfortunately, this will make the level look very unnatural. After all, in the real world, you cannot see two identical trees. However, you can use some tips to slightly reduce this problem.
■ At the same angle, do not place things that look exactly the same so close to each other. It is easy to notice that two identical boulder are placed together. The exception is human objects, such as columns or walls, which players do not think are inappropriate.
■ Second, if you have to place two copies of an object in an adjacent place, it is very helpful to rotate one of the objects, so that players will feel different. If this object is very complex, such as trees, it will be more effective.
■ Do not create a copy of a group of objects. If you have a bunch of four trees and then go down the road and there are another bunch of four trees that look exactly the same, then your level looks very fake.
In the game, another cheap way to make terrain objects is to generate them automatically. Generally, they are small and used repeatedly. They do not need to collide with objects, such as grass, bushes, or weeds. Sometimes large objects can be processed like trees and rocks. To achieve this, you need to create an area on your topographic map to tell the game engine to randomly generate a copy of a bunch of identified objects in this area. However, because it requires repeated objects, sometimes this will cause the problem described previously.
One thing that really reduces the processing speed is collision. When an object has a collision, it means that players cannot pass through it, such as a wall or a tree. The game engine needs to monitor it regularly to see if something is running into it. Players do not want certain things on the terrain to stop them from moving forward, such as grass and shrubs, so they do not need to collide, so you can use this type of things more. On the other hand, trees and rocks need to collide, so they are more expensive to use.
Gamification of terrain objects
When you place objects on your terrain, there are some things to consider here.
Always use only those objects that make sense to the settings. Palm trees will not appear in the Arctic, and frozen stalagmite will not appear in tropical islands.
Do not put your terrain into the player's sight, especially in the "hot zone" where players are likely to fight )". Although designing a running battle in the woods may be very attractive, like Ninja scroll and crouching tiger, but for players, if he cannot immediately find out who is amassing him and fighting back, he will feel discouraged. Similarly, when a player cannot see the objects he wants to pick up on the ground, or the bodies of enemies he can snatch, he will also feel bored.
Small items on the terrain can be used as road signs. A repetitive item, such as a special stone or dead tree, can help players recognize the road, and this road is exactly what you want him to go on. However, be careful with these and use them only as road signs. Placing a marked stone at will confuse or mislead your player, and he may no longer trust your roadmap.
Small items on the terrain should be considered the item with the lowest priority in your level. If your level runs slowly and you cannot scale down the terrain in the level, you should first lose these items.
Example: Construction of prolopeiro Island
To illustrate how a terrain system is constructed, I will construct the plopeiro island. in the previous chapter, I have designed this level on paper. I chose crytek's sandbox level editor to create it because 1) it has a unique design for island creation; 2) it is bundled in the "lone island cry" (far cry), which is a pretty good game; 3) it is actually quite flexible to use. In many cases, the level editor bundled with the game may be very problematic and difficult to use. The sandbox has its own unique settings, which suits my needs and is quite easy to use.
The first step is to create its own terrain structure. The Sandbox can start with a height chart, and I can adjust it in its own level display. Because the height graph tool is a little clumsy, I decided to use the image in Photoshop instead, and then import the height picture into the game (see Figure 3.5 ).
There is a small beach area leading to a place like a dead volcano. I decided to make this level very small, just to leave room for some battles, because it is only for demonstration purposes.
Then I import the map to the sandbox Program (see Figure 3.6 ).
Figure 3.5 initial height
Figure 3.6 height chart after transformation
After that, perform rendering in the level editor and make some adjustments to handle some folds (see Figure 3.7 ).
Now the structure of the terrain is ready, and it is time to attach a texture to it. I decided to stick three layers of textures on the basis of the original: rock textures, lawn maps, and sand maps on the beach. The Sandbox editor has a terrain map tool (see Figure 3.8), which is very helpful. It allows you to set textures by height, which means you can set 0-16 meters on land to sand maps, 16-17 meters to lawns, And the rest higher to rocks.
Again, this method is not perfect. I need to adjust it in the editor and describe it to achieve what I want. After finishing all the textures, I look more like a real island (see Figure 3.9 ).
Figure 3.7 basic island status
Figure 3.8 topographic map layer tool of sandbox. This is the best terrain Paster I have used so far.
Figure 3.9 after attaching a texture, the island looks more authentic
The Paster layer has been set. Now it is time to add a prop to the terrain system. Now there is a clear target for players in the crater, where he is about to go to the position of proloporro. I hope this road will be a little straight, so he will not be able to get there straight, and I also want to put some botnets and wild boars on the road. I decided to place some boulder on the island to make some detours (see Figure 3.10 ).
From the birth point of the player on the beach, he now has multiple roads.
Next, I need to place some plants to make the island more authentic. Placing plants in the sandbox editor is quite easy (see Figure 3.11 and 3.12 ). You can place one tree each time, or use a tool similar to a brush to place a large number of trees. I won't lie to you. It takes only a short time to master the vegetation settings in the editor, and then place the object you want on the terrain, but do not make them look like they are cloned.
Figure 3.10 narrow roads created by volcanic rocks give players a choice
Figure 3.11 adding vegetation to make a more real experience and hide players' horizons to increase the mysterious and dangerous feeling
Figure 3.12 adds a forest inside the island. A lot of trees can be seen in this view.
Now the island looks like a final one. Start the next step: the estate of prolopeiro!
What did you learn
In this chapter, you have learned the following:
■ Different ways of creating a terrain: height chart, manual model, automatic generation, mixing of the two, and paving.
■ How the terrain system affects gameplay.
■ How to make your terrain interesting and have strategic challenges.
■ How to attach a texture to your terrain.
■ How to place static and decorative objects, such as plants or rocks, on your terrain structure.
Start building with 50+ products and up to 12 months usage for Elastic Compute Service