8x8 km Landscape approach


I’m going to start creating my first 8k landscape in UE4 however I want to make sure of the best way to go about it.
World composition seems to be a nice thing though I have no clue how it technically works. As docs say, the chunks player is near to them are loaded and the rest get unloaded. So you look at a far distance and you see emptiness but when you get to a certain point suddenly mountains and all appear? Or perhaps I have misunderstood the “unloading” here.

I also have a second question but that’s bound to the answer I get for the one above so I’ll wait for the replies first.

Thank you all. :slight_smile:

Hey man,

World Composition does completely unload each chunk of the terrain (and any object placed on that “Level”) currently, however 4.8 seems to have a new system from what I have seen so far. The Kite & Kid demo from GDC for example, I think it was 20km2, but you can see the entire map from the other end. I know it uses level streaming of some sort, but the current world composition does not work this way.

Until we have some more info on how they created this I can’t give you a proper answer, but if it isn’t possible already it should be soon.

I asked this question a while back about what to do with the horizon line, and the best solution was a low poly version of the terrain used for distances greater than the streaming distance. This causes it’s own set of issues though, as you will have to manually add and remove the meshes using a script of some sort.

Hope this helps, but I think 4.8 is the answer. :slight_smile:

This can be done in 4.7 aswell, using LOD levels. Each cell can have up to 4 LOD levels, either automatically generated via simplygon (if you have a license) or manually by creating a map with the same name as the cell and appending _LOD# (# being the LOD level 1-4), World Composition will automatically detect it (So it wont appear in your map list as another map) and then you can go to the level properties for that cell, define how many LOD levels there are and adjust the streaming distance of each one.

Yes, Kite demo uses this. It uses LOD1 for distant tiles. Basically you see all the map, but distant tiles replaced with LOD1 tiles, this is hard to notice because they look like real from the distance. When player moves close to them real tiles with landscape and all the stuff are loaded. In 4.8 automatic LOD maps generation will be unlocked for levels that have landscape actors in it, even if you don’t have Simplygon installed. For landscape actors simplification we don’t need simplygon, it’s required only for static mesh simplification, so static meshes will be removed from LOD map when simplygon is missing.

As much as I would like to use simplygon, I just cannot find any information on it, other than

  1. I need a license
  2. It’s integrated into the Engine - But if this is the case, why do I need to download it from their FTP and rebuild the engine? Who isn’t talking to who here?
  3. Cloud Personal is free, but is limited way to much, so I need Cloud Pro (which I cannot afford), and this is a cloud solution which is not integrated into UE4

So wtf? And yes, I have tried to contact them, but since I’m not exactly a multi-million dollar studio, why would they contact me back or give me any info?

You dont actually have to use simplygon though, it helps make things easier, but is not mandatory. Unfortunately it is also required to enable Landscape LOD generation, but with a few code changes, its very easy to unlock this now already or wait for 4.8 where as ddvlost stated, it will be available. I can provide this code if people are interested.

Also I am thinking of maybe building a MeshUtility plugin for people who don’t want to or cannot afford to use simplygon. Now it wont be mesh decimation. But it could help to automate LOD generation, ie. If you create LOD models yourself and name them a particular way, this plugin would then create the LOD levels, substituting these meshes for the original, so the same steps u would do manually, but in an automated fashion.

Thank you all for the awesome replies. :slight_smile:
So as far as I understand:

  1. We do import the 8k height map.
  2. We create a low poly version of it in a 3D app and import that and put it right below-ish the 8k landscape.
  3. When distant chunks of landscape disappear we’d see the low poly geometry underneath it (with a few meters difference).

Haven’t been into this before so sorry if I’m misunderstanding. I think this deserves a Wiki page.
Also, do you recommend we wait for 4.8 or not? because even if we get it to work now, the official solutions are always doing a better job and I’m afraid I’d redo it at that point.

One issue being when a landscape chunk disappears the assets on that chunk disappear as well, like foliage for instance. Therefor we don’t have any x trees or anything when we are looking at the low poly mesh version. (?)

You can however bake the foliage into the landscape texture, allowing from a long distance to have the look of foliage in your LODs.

Hmmm… maybe I misunderstood something, but in 4.7 it is possible to use landscape LOD, select Landscape, and under LOD in Details tab. You can see the actual mesh rendered if check Lit/Visualizers/Wireframe on Top or LOD. Or isn’t it working with World Compositor? (I’m currently testing my stuff in a single landscape environment, but will need to use it in future.)

You can’t unless u have simplygon at the moment, The Generate button will be grayed out. 4.8 it will become available for landscape LOD generation but will still require simplygon for static mesh LOD. However you can change the code to allow you to generate landscape LOD in 4.7. I have done this and it works fine.

No, I have only simplygon cloud installed (but I think it worked before installed that), and there is no even generate button:

The foliage issue is another part 4.8 is trying to solve using the new EcoSystem tool. There was a demonstration on how it all works in the Twitch stream yesterday. Here’s the archive version (it will be on Youtube soon also):

It’s not available yet but is still worth watching sometime so you can plan ahead. :slight_smile:

So I guess I’ll be waiting for 4.8 to port the map. Thank you all for the helpful responses. :slight_smile:

Hey guys, because of some timing issues I can’t wait till 4.8
The question is would I need to rework it if I just port my landscape to engine and paint it now? I’m afraid 4.8 would require some rework there in order to make it compatible with the new huge landscape handling approach?

Excuses for necroing this thread, but I’ve somehow missed 4.8 landscape level LOD generation change. Is it true, that you no longer need Simplygon license for this and it is avaliable at no additional cost?

Simplygon was used to generate a LOD for each landscape tile and everything on it. But right now if you want to generate a LOD for each landscape tile you don’t need simplygon anymore and it can be done directly in UE4. (But this doesn’t take the other meshes on that landscape tile into account, generates a lod only for the tiles themselves.)