Initial Thoughts on Landscapes

Hi everyone,

Recently joined Unreal as part of my teams evaluation on which engine to proceed with for an RPG. Initial impressions are that is has a lot of potential and is a powerful engine, although clearly designed for the higher end GPU. It’s not as well documented as other engines such as Unity, although Unity has a number of years over Unreal as far as the Indie market is concerned.

In terms of what you are getting from Epic’s licensing it is a very good deal, given you have access to the source code. On to the topic though - whilst experimenting with the editor I’ve come across a few issues with the landscaping. I’ve decided to take screenshots and post these. Other than a few over-complications in the editor, UE4 does have a lot going for it.

This one occurred after an auto-save; the height mapping disappeared. Before then though, whilst painting the textures the blackness was appearing. It only disappears when you paint a texture nearby. It might be that the material has an issue or there’s something else I’ve missed but the height map getting lost is a definite bug.

These screens show before and after. It occurred during the auto-save again and affected the terrain textures and height map. Shading and building couldn’t correct this although painting textures or heights has some limited success. When play testing the mesh was as it should be however the “visuals” weren’t.

I haven’t encountered these types of issues with the other major engines and their editors, so hopefully a subsequent patch will resolve these.

Yeah I need to post another bug report on a lot of other issues including the original one specified, in all fairness we are concentrating on artwork whilst Epic sort out some of the quirks of landscapes. Then again you can put some nice stuff together right now, it’s just a pain to do so. Really we could do with the basics fixed before all the new shinies…

So far:

> Saving changes the appearance of painted textures on terrain, everything looks blocky.
> Does anyone know a way to bypass the default TC compression? (on my list to do, thought someone might of done it by now).
> Too many material instances used in conjunction with world composition causes errors to flag and issues to occur, I need to look into that again.
> With world composition sometimes skylight disappears per tile.
> Painting still isn’t fixed, leaving black blocks as you demonstrated.
> As you said sometimes heightmaps can shift out of place on save, deleting and re-adding fixes it but after all that paint work :)…

@ Chance Ivey or any of the Epic team. What’s the ETA on fixes for terrain items? Are we looking at 4.5?

Hi guys,

  1. This is caused by a bug in texture streaming and we’ve fixed it for 4.5. In the meantime, you can disable texture streaming in the editor by making an Editor shortcut to launch with the -notexturestreaming flag, for example UE4Editor.exe “C:\users\jack\My Documents\MyProject\MyProject.uproject” -notexturestreaming

Incidentally the seam/gap in the landscape in HyperMind’s last screenshot is a known issue with the LOD morphing that is more obvious during texture streaming, and it was slated to be fixed for 4.5 but I ran out of time last week. If it doesn’t make it into 4.5, l’ll post the a link to the fix in GitHub here as soon as it’s available and hopefully we can push it out in the first 4.5 update.

  1. What textures in particular are you looking to change the compression on? Landscape blend weight textures as well as the heightmap/normalmap are automatically generated, but they are uncompressed. I guess you’re talking about any textures you import yourself? For UE3 and UE4 we’ve never given a “no compression” option to our level designers because they end up marking all their textures as such, when there really isn’t any need except in exceptional circumstances. Can you post a screenshot of some texture compression artifacts that you want to solve? If you’re using source code you can expose the option to the Texture Viewer by finding the CompressNone property in Texture.h and changing the “UPROPERTY()” line above it to read “UPROPERTY(EditAnywhere, BlueprintReadWrite, Category=Compression)”.

I’ve asked Dmitriy Dyomin, who’s working on the World Composition feature to comment about 3, 4.

5, 6: Can either of you give me a sample map that shows this problem on auto-save? I’ve never seen either the black material painting or the disappearing heightmap before. Any info you could give me about how to reproduce these bugs would be appreciated!



Do you use world origin rebasing in your setup? All actors has a property to ignore rebasing (Details Panel->Actor->Advanced). For some actors that are “global” or always loaded it’s better to have this option enabled, for example: main directional light, skydome, atmosphere. Could you try to enable this option on your skylight?

Also, if your world is not bigger than 12km across I will recommend you to completely disable origin rebasing. Untick “Enable World Origin Rebasing” in WorldSettings panel. We rarely test origin rebasing so there are could be some bugs.

It was my understanding that UE4 could only support maps up to 5km across without origin rebasing. I am curious if it actually supports 12km across without any terrible side-effects from a multi-player standpoint?

Currently we testing 12km world bounds, if everything is fine 4.6 version will have it.

Hi :),

Sorry for the late reply…

  1. Great to know thanks.

  2. So I tested settings between Unity and UE4, if I set 4k / 2k textures using truecolor (uncompressed) with a Bi or trilinear filter plus a decent Aniso level then textures just appear much sharper and far more defined. Using DXT compression obviously degrades, but you have the option to choose. I’ll do what you ask and get back to you…

  3. I think it’s just a texture limit per material, 16 I think off the top of my head. It’s not the end of the world, I can use instances and swap out what I need per terrain tile.

  4. I’ll wave my hands in the air and say that’s my own fault, lights should always be in the persistant scene when used globally with world composition. So apologies for that…

  5. Painting is due to base assigned textures, I’d of thought the top layer with a preview weight set would automatically be chosen for the “base layer”. So as it doesn’t automatically assign one it paints black, it’s not an issue after you paint over it once… All I had to do for it to happen is follow the UE4 tutorial on using landscape layer blend nodes.

The ops pictures show the painting black issue, also shows the seams “move” when the scene autosaves. I’ve not gotten to the bottom of this yet and don’t understand it as World Machine blends the edges the vertices shouldn’t ever move, I’ve give a heightmap to ddvlost to have a look at for another issue. Let me know if you want me to send it to you too…


By the way the heightmaps are streched to meet 30KM2 (or around that), so we do use origin rebasing.

Hi Jack,

That’s good news - nice to see the dev’s are making updates regularly. The increased world bounds sounds good as well.

I’ll try sending the map in question to you via a PM. To give you some more details around it:

  1. Height Map disappearing - it occurred when the auto shading and auto save kicked in near enough the same time. I was painting the Rock target layer at the time. Haven’t had it happen again but then again the defect seems circumstantial and I haven’t made any efforts to try replicate it.

  2. Black “Texturing” - this one is partially easy to replicate. I’m not sure what circumstances cause the blackness when you are trying to paint, but when the auto shading starts certain areas become black as well. Painting a layer will get rid of them though.

Sorry I can’t be of much further help in finding the root cause, but hopefully this will help!

I’ve tried using weightmaps exported from world machine and yet again hit issues, there is nothing more than six landscape weight layers and as soon as you paint anywhere it removes a chunk of paint data from the terrain. I just upgraded to the 4.5 preview just in case and it still happens, please find attached picture and material. It’s a simple as it gets, weight layers for albedo / normals and weight layers to separate out the roughness thing is to sort out the issue you have to completely delete everything!..