I have been working on some environments as of late and i have tried a few approaches such as scupting my own within UE4 its self and using an array of terrain generation tools such as world machine but the problem or problems that i face is that with the first option, scuplting my own is just going to take such a long time given the size of the world that i want and the problem with using world machine etc is that i can not seem to get the results that i am after, probably because i just mess around with nodes and hope for the best.

But either way my question was because i am really curious, how do all the other big open world creators/ studios go about creating environments, are they meticulously created by hand trying to capture every detail or would they use a package like world machine to aid with the process, or even would they use real world data from things like terrain party?

Just really curious.

If you want detail then hand sculpting is key. I am a level designer in a large project, our map was made in world machine with mountains running all around the outside. I then went in and hand sculpted mountains and hills etc. Obviously it takes time, but that’s game development :slight_smile:

Tho i agree, i more disagree.
World Machine was made because it is 100% impossible (not implausible) for a human to create anything thats realistic in geology.
The math used in World Machine to create natural looking landscape is far beyond what a human can “eye ball”.
Now with that said, it makes an amazing base landscape you you can then go in and make your edits and custom “hand made” things.
I suggest using World Machine (or something like it) to setup the groundwork and then everything else will (of course) be hand laid (or volume laid in some cases). I use the painter tool over the proc volumes, but, thats a choice due to “fine tuned” painting you can get.

Thats just my opinion and from my own experience.

Thanks for the replies, i see you’re point bennleww but the fact that i am an “indie” developer and there is only me working on the project i have to do everything including all the coding/modelling so the approach that Angrytoilet has said was something i was thinking about, laying a base within world machine and then expanding upon that with some sculpting within UE4.

Only problem i have is i am honestly terrible with world machine i know how the tool works somwhat i know how to output the heightmaps etc but i do not know about the fine tuning of the landscapes, is there any decent world machine tutorials out there anywhere i have looked on youtube and none of them seem to cater to what it is that i am after.

The new version of Houdini has some nice height field terrain tools in it. I’ve haven’t played with them so can’t say if it’s better/easier than World Machine but you can check them out here: https://vimeo.com/209235365

World Machine is very powerful but I agree, it’s not the easiest program to use.

One workflow I use is to rough out the terrain in Mudbox or ZBrush first. That is, I roughly sculpt the large features such as mountains, large hills, valleys etc and then I export that as a height map and bring it into World Machine. Then I use some of the filters in World Machine to get the fine details such as erosion and to produce masks and color maps etc. I find that this method give me more control over the placement of the large features but the downside is that it’s not procedural so if you change your mind part way through you basically have to start again.

You can have a look at what they did with wildlands. World machine and houdini was key in the process they developed.