Help with Level Design & Landscape Tool.


I am developing a survival open world game in Unreal Engine right now and I need help with creating the actual world. I’ve been trying to mess around with the landscape tool but, nothing looks good. I’m looking for a more wooded world with pathways for the player to walk. Some hills and mountains as well. I’m looking for bright colors as well. Basically, I am looking for colors like No Man’s Sky. I am a complete beginner so, any help is greatly appreciated :D. Also, a question I have is, I have been trying to add grass to my world but, it’s super laggy. I have the recommended specs for Unreal Engine so, that’s probably why. I just wanted to check if that’s normal and if that would affect the performance of my game. Have a nice day.

The best way of creating the landscape is first using a dedicated software for generating them such as World Machine. There are lots of tutorials on how to use it if you google them. With WM or similar softwares you can export a height map that you can import into unreal to automatically get a landscape of the same shape. The landscape sculpting tools in unreal are pretty simple and more suitable for fine tuning and adjusting a landscape you previously made in WM.

You can also export masks that you can use to mask out the various types of ground you want on your landscape. You’ll have to set up a landscape material (this is documented well in the unreal documentation) with layers for each ground type you want then import the masks into each layer of the landscape painting tool once you apply your material to the landscape.

To fill your world with content such as trees you can use either the Foliage Paint mode which is good for smaller maps or the Procedural Foliage system that lets you generate areas within volumes you place (much better for large worlds).

As for colors it’s all up to the artist :slight_smile: Make colorful textures to use in your landscape material.

It will seem like a huge task at first and it is but you can definitely start from zero and build something like this. I knew absolutely nothing a few years ago and now we’ve come a long way in finishing our survival game.

Thanks for the long reply. I will definitely look into World Machine. One last question I had was, is it normal the grass makes my game super laggy?

Well it shouldn’t but it all depends on a multitude of things. It can be caused simply by having weak hardware, most likely GPU but as you say you have the recommended specs that shouldn’t be it.

It can also be happening because the grass is too thick and the view distance is too far. No need to render grass that doesn’t take up more than a few pixels on screen and perhaps you could lower density and still have it look good?

It’s also highly dependent on the grass itself. How many vertexes or triangles does it have? Does it use LODs? (Simpler versions of the same mesh that are shown the further away you get) and how big part of the actual model is transparent?
Rendering tons of transparency is very costly for performance but having less dense grass, LODs and minimizing the transparent parts of the mesh all helps with that.

Another very important thing is how the grass are placed in the level? Did you place them by hand? Were they placed by the Foliage tool or Procedural Foliage or perhaps the grass function in landscape material? The first of these is bad and will cost much more than the others since it won’t instance the grass which saves performance. I would recommend using the grass tools:

It can also be caused by the shader but I wouldn’t say it’s likely in this case.

One other thing that will help tons but might not be desirable is to turn off shadows for the grass.

Hope that helps. You’ll find examples all over the forum, answer hub and the wiki on how to do all this. :slight_smile:

I used Unreal Engine’s grass from the Open World Demo. Basically, I filled my world with the landscape tool, applied my texture, then I went to the foliage tool and placed grass on my whole world. I also upped the density so it filled almost the whole ground. I am really trying to go for an environment like this:’s_sky/images/NewEridu.png

I realize that it’s probably super laggy because I filled my whole world with it but, even when I did a little area it was laggy. I even put all of my render settings to low and res scale to 25.

I don’t remember but I believe that grass isn’t all that optimized and you should probably cull it out at a distance (Make it disappear when too far away). I can fill an infinite area with grass as thick as the NMS screenshot you linked without a big performance drop, but I have optimized our grass a lot and it’s also culled out far away. Our grass cast shadows unlike the grass in NMS though and that’s quite costly so if that’s the look you’re going for you will save tons by turning them off for the grass

I will play around with it some more and see what happens. Thank you!