A7.0 Experimental - FAQ & Feedback: Heightmap terrain + texture editor

Discussion in 'Experimental Features Discussion' started by Hummel-o-War, Sep 25, 2017.

  1. Hummel-o-War

    Hummel-o-War Administrator
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    What is the first element that you will notice in Empyrion when starting a new game in your escape pod?​

    Of course, the planet you are landing on - in particular: the terrain. Thus, the quality of the terrain or terrain generation has a huge impact on how a player perceives Empyrion.

    We’ll do a quick recap on the current mechanics, so you can better categorize what the planned changes will encompass. Currently, all of the terrain is procedurally created. That’s what the description says. Although you might know what “procedural” means, we will give a quick rundown on what the effects of this terrain creation method are, as the implications and details might not be as obvious in this context.

    [​IMG]

    Procedural terrain does not just mean “randomly created terrain”. Actually the random factor, the SEED you pick when starting a game, is only the final part of the terrain creation, applied to a previously created set of rules on HOW a specific terrain should be created. So procedural terrain is not really random - by changing the Seed you do not completely change the appearance of a terrain but you create variations of the same type of terrain.

    To give you an example: When you work with our procedural terrain generator (http://empyriononline.com/threads/a...rrain-generator-create-your-own-terrain.11020) you are basically defining a set of rules on how the terrain should be built up by the algorithm. These modules can work in different ways and will influence the terrain building in different ways. The more awesome or special-looking you try to make your terrain, the more modules you will need to use. This comes at a cost: performance.

    [​IMG]

    This is because procedural terrain is NOT just printed to something like a fixed “heightmap” and then modified, but it is always created by the modules and the instructions for the terrain building algorithm they hold (randomized by the SEED), delivered by a .DLL or .XML file in the Content folder.

    What does this have to do with the terrain in Alpha 7.0?
    A lot because of this ever increasing, non-avoidable performance draw, the level of details for terrain you can do, have a natural limit to an extent, as a too performance-demanding terrain will result in artifacts, chunk load-issues and other visible hiccups when you play the game. So, possible optimizations aside, our procedural terrain is limited in its scope by performance. Plain and simple: creating high-quality awesome procedural terrain is possible, but may be very slow (at the moment). That’s where Alpha 7.0 comes into play, adding the “handmade fixed terrain” as an alternative.

    What is the difference to procedural terrain?
    Handmade terrains allow much more terrain details on a higher quality level. It is created in a heightmap editor, modifying the shape, canyons, hills and other specialties mostly by hand.
    Other than the procedural terrain, the shape of the handmade terrain is not affected by the Seed. It’s like picking a Seed for a procedural terrain and always playing with this Seed, which a lot of players do anyhow, as we learned from the feedback we evaluated. The teaser screenshots you have seen in the last update notes and this update are made with heightmap-based, handmade terrains.

    What is the biggest advantage of handmade terrain?
    You can create awesome terrains with a high quality level that will not demand more performance than any of the procedurally created worlds. Since the terrain is a fixed heightmap, sometimes those terrains might even use less of your PC power as there is no algorithm eating up CPU and GPU time. In addition, handmade terrains will allow a more interesting distribution of POIs and resources. Thus, a scenario creator has much more control to create a specific setting or story.

    ------------------- Q & A -----------------------------

    Q: Will the handmade terrain replace the procedural terrain?
    Absolutely not. We will try to improve the procedural algorithm to make it less performance demanding. For us, the handmade terrains are an alternative to the procedural terrains - not a replacement.

    Q: Can I create the handmade terrain myself?
    A: Basically yes. We are internally using a paid 3rd party terrain creator. You can buy a license. In theory, the game can also work with the export of any editor if it is using heightmaps and splatmaps (texture maps).

    Q: Can I modify the handmade terrain heightmap (shape)?
    A: Not directly, but although the heightmap is fixed, we plan to release several different versions of a “base heightmap” so you’ll have different variations for customization.

    Q: What elements can I customize?
    A: A lot: Decorations, terrain textures, NPCs, POIs and everything else that is defined in the playfield.yaml (except the shape of the terrain). For terrain textures, we have even created a handy in-game Terrain Editor which will allow you to quickly switch terrain textures! Changing a green world into a desert planet is only a matter of a few clicks!

    1. Open Console (ö/~)
    2. Enter "te" (without " ")
    > The editor window will appear on the lower right side
    3. Open console or chat or inventory to get a mouse cursor to work with the features (workaround)

    The IDs for the textures used in the textur editor can be found here:
    [Handbook] PLAYFIELD REFERENCE SHEET v0.1

    20170926090617_1.jpg

    Q: Will the orange and green barriers vanish with the new terrain?
    A: Not yet, these barriers are result of the planet creation and not terrain creation

    Q: Will we be able to use procedural and handmade terrain playfields in the same savegame?
    A: Sure! So Planet A could be procedurally created. Planet B can use handmade terrain. You can of course not mix procedural/handmade terrain on Planet A at the same time.

    Q: Can i still drill and digg into the terrain of the handmade planets?
    A: Of course. The terrain does not change, just its creation. Please have a look here to get up to date about the new mining mechanic:
    A7.0 Experimental - Feedback: Mining

    Q: The handmade planets have a maximumg height of 512m - is this also available for procedural planets?
    A: Of course! Both methods will benefit from this 100% increase of the vertical playground :)
     
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    Last edited: Sep 26, 2017
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  2. SilvRav

    SilvRav Moderator
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    Love it!
     
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  3. SilvRav

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    .
     

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  4. SilvRav

    SilvRav Moderator
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    upload_2017-9-26_20-50-26.png
     

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  5. Kogami

    Kogami Lieutenant

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    Awesome!
     
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    Last edited: Sep 26, 2017
  6. Quarior

    Quarior Lieutenant

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    Beautiful terrain but a question, we can edit in playfield.yaml the minimum and maximum of the height because I think all modders don't use the color 0,0,0 for 0 m and 255,255,255 for 512 meters.

    I think there are the answers in the file but I don't download yet the experimental version.
     
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  7. [OX]Satren

    [OX]Satren Ensign

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    For server admins, is there a place to see the differences between the current heightmaps? I see there are differences in the terrain.ecf files but am not sure how that might relate to in-game.
     
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  8. Hummel-o-War

    Hummel-o-War Administrator
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    You currently cannot manipulate the height of the maps. It is set to 512 for all playfields (old playfields will stay at 255 and maybe get an extra up to 512)
     
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  9. [OX]Satren

    [OX]Satren Ensign

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    Let me rephrase, what is the difference from the Akua heightmap to the lava height map other than the terrain textures?
     
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  10. JuStX2

    JuStX2 Commander

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    Question: I've noticed the Experimental Branch all Planets tend to have the same hand-made map (with all the problems associated with a base in Tropical Forest for Akua); Even for different seeds; can we get an option to use the old terrain system on game-start? Or atleast have a stock scenerio which we can generate custom seeds for like ye-olden-days? I find living in a tropical forest annoying because of the spiders - and honestly would rather live in the mountains anyway..
     
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  11. Jebblue

    Jebblue Ensign

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    UNACCEPTABLE. Put back procedural generation please? What were you guys thinking?!?!
     
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  12. SilvRav

    SilvRav Moderator
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    Its experimental guys, chill...there is still lots to be done.
     
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  13. JuStX2

    JuStX2 Commander

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    With regards to my earlier comment - I'm thinking perhaps this is a temporary thing where Akua is /always/ handmade? I mean I get that the debugging process you want to expose as many people as possible but it will be selectable in the end right??
     
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  14. DazednConfuzed

    DazednConfuzed Lieutenant

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    Is it just me or does the map now feel a bit "too" mountainous ? .... On the previous maps at least you had decent flatlands to plant a base ...

    it looks great though Ill say that much and performance wise feels generally better although there seems to be a funny thing when riding your bike and everytime I "discover" a deposit or POI my game seems to freeze for a second and the bike comes to a halt. Probably my setup but thought Id put it on here to see if anyone else has this
     
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  15. Hummel-o-War

    Hummel-o-War Administrator
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    The starter planets are currently set to "handmade" - so the heightmap won't change, yes (but the seed will distribute the assets different)

    Proceduaral will not go away - as you can read from the blog. ;-)
     
    #15
  16. rucky

    rucky Rear Admiral

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    this one is indeed a problem on hard difficulty settings. I've not only once got overrunned by 5 spideys in the morning I went to go mining... ;)
    nevertheless, akua isn't easy starting then, okay for me...

    besides no base attack drones here? (no PV here I know) but I'm a few days in already, have constructor and food proc attached to the starting shelter (which btw are very different (in loot I mean)), but still no drones. As far as I know I did got attacked in 6.x.x in my shelter...
    Is this a Bug?
     
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  17. Kassonnade

    Kassonnade Rear Admiral

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    Completely agree : no reasonably large "plain" or even semi-flat area to build a large base. Even spawning a big CV is problematic since it will be on an incline everywhere I try to spawn it. Since mountain tops are large and usually there's not much to do there, I suggest some mountains be "pushed" towards the edges of the map (at least on Akua) to leave some room for wider plains between them. Valleys are very narrow presently. It is also more difficult to see if the various biomes live well together with everything enclosed between steep mountains.
     
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  18. JuStX2

    JuStX2 Commander

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    Closest thing to Plains in the Current Akua Map is probably the large tropical forest you start in; while not completely flat it is sufficently devoid of trees to actually build a base/CV unfortunately I think the F&F Tool is going to be needed again ;P

    Which TBH I thought they moved that function to the T2 Drill and/or Multitool...
     
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  19. JuStX2

    JuStX2 Commander

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    I understand your position but i'm more of a casual gamer - not so die-hard to combat. Plus I'm a bit afraid of spiders (particularly man-sized ones - wouldn't you be? :p)

    If my buddy wasn't so into a different game-style completely right now I might be able to deal with the fear - Alas he's headed neck deep in an MMORPG I got him involved in (i know - my fault). It's always less frightening in a group or a duo even.
     
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  20. JuStX2

    JuStX2 Commander

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    Come to think Omicron's map is probably best for the design of handmade maps to date; Akua on the other hand Tends to be far too hilly with not enough ocean to cover it's planet desc. - Also we traded the "impassible" ravines on Omnicron for Akua near the TS.
     
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