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[UE4] Massive Geo-Specific Landscape ( The Valley )

polycounter lvl 10
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chriszuko polycounter lvl 10
tldr: I put a big freaking landscape into UE4 and made a bunch of cool tech to help make our live's easier.

This is a geo-specific 12km x 12km map at 1 meter resolution we made here at the Army Game Studio. The actual location I am not allowed to say. Around 6km of it is actually populated with afghan style props and buildings. This was a huge project effort in which I handled setting up the landscape from Global Mapper to World Machine to Unreal Engine 4. Once it was in, I handled setting up the streaming sections in world composition and setup the material and LOD's. The material is weather reactive and has automatic cliff blending to help speed up the painting process. I extracted color values to approximate where sections of dirt, mud, grass, rock, and sand would be. To save on layers and textures, I setup what I call the Modifier layer. This layer controls a color blend between 2 colors per layer. This makes the variation much more realistic and helps ease the amount of layer overhead there is on the material. After the landscape was in, we needed a fast way to populate this region with 1000's of non-square unique buildings. I developed a building creator that allows for multiple point / convex / concave buildings. Once the pieces are loaded into it, you can make any shape you want. See the UE4 Tech Reel to see more of that madness. Overall, this project was extremely challenging being that we are a tiny team working on many many projects at once. 

Other Credits
Miguel Santiago: Lighting System and Weather System
Jonathan Sells: World Building and Propping
Jeff Severson: World Building and Building Creator Assets

Questions are welcome, critique's and methods with Massive Landscapes that you think could help me out would be awesome too!

PS. I have figured out a blending method with landscape that completely eliminates the dark spots with more than 3 height blended layers if anyone is interested. I can do a write up in another post. 

 

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  • BeserK
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    BeserK polycounter lvl 12
    Looks like a lot of work, really impressive, well done!
  • blankslatejoe
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    blankslatejoe polycounter lvl 14
    nice work, Zuko!
  • Lucas Annunziata
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    Lucas Annunziata polycounter lvl 11
    Really cool! Would you mind going a bit more in-depth on what you mean by modifier layer? Is it just a lerp between colors based off the modifier mask? Phenomenal results you've gotten here.

    Also, have you had any issues in unreal with misaligned maps with your landscape coordinates? 
  • chriszuko
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    chriszuko polycounter lvl 10
    Much appreciated folks!
    @Lucas Annunziata
    The modifier layer is an actual landscape layer that controls a lerp between 2 colors yes. Essentially it allows for really nice gradients. It is basically a way more optimized way opposed to the older methods of having a Grass01 and a Grass02 etc which simply just had different color tints. Less layers saves lots of texture space on the landscape backend.

    Here is the simplest form of it.


    Also, have you had any issues in unreal with misaligned maps with your landscape coordinates? 
    YES, it sucks so bad. I imported the landscape many times only to find out it was off by 7 meters. Which doesn't sound like alot, but when it comes down to road locations it is quite a bit and you get super double imaging because the top down imagery isn't matching with the height of the landscape that was imported. Specifically with world composition and it bringing in individual landscape proxies really causes some things. Here is a write up I did of it here at work so that I would remember ( Since you asked... sorry it's a bit of a book )


    I was hoping no human being would ever had to read that other than me one day. :P  Hopefully that helps!

  • bigodon
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    bigodon polycounter lvl 4
    impressive sir, thats alot of work!
  • chriszuko
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    chriszuko polycounter lvl 10
  • chrisradsby
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    chrisradsby polycounter lvl 11
    chriszuko said:
    PS. I have figured out a blending method with landscape that completely eliminates the dark spots with more than 3 height blended layers if anyone is interested. I can do a write up in another post. 
    Awesome post man O_O! Really nice work! I'd love a write-up of this because I've hit the same wall with my material!
  • chriszuko
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    chriszuko polycounter lvl 10
    @chrisradsby ok i'll see about setting something up. The overall idea is very simple but the execution of it can get quite complex with more and more layers.
  • cptSwing
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    cptSwing polycounter lvl 10
  • Lucas Annunziata
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    Lucas Annunziata polycounter lvl 11
    @chriszuko have you had a chance to write anything up concerning the black spots in landscapes?
  • chriszuko
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    chriszuko polycounter lvl 10
    @Lucas Annunziata Unfortunately no, I can try to get to it in the next week. I just moved to a new place and yadda yadda. Overall the jist of it is, you need to isolate the black spots by using an if node for anything below 0. The black spots register as null. Then from there you can lerp in whatever you want. I chose to do a non-heightblended layer setup as my lerp. So it ends up lerping the correct color information and everything pretty darn close to the height blended layers before the black spots show up. Maybe that could help get your gears turning in the mean time if you are looking for an immediate solution. Sorry!!!

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