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Landscape/Foliage WIP map

Had some free time this weekend and the news of the 4.7 update about foliage rendering excited me and I was a tad skeptical tbh so i wanted to spend the weekend trying to make an environment so large and full of foliage that it would bring UE4 to its knees. This level consisted of 902120 foliage instances, 3907 static meshes and 100% dynamic lighting and shadows, trees used subsurface scattering on the leaves, and I set dynamic shadow distance movable light setting from the default 20,000 up to 200,000. The level consists of nearly 1 sq mile of in level space (Does not include background mountains).

I created this level in a single weekend as I had some free time and wanted to test out the new foliage stuff in 4.7. I spent a total of about 20 hours on the map. The only asset I created myself was the grass and even that is using a texture from GameTextures.com Other assets in the level come from, Epics Landscape demo, Country Side marketplace download, TONS of speedtree, the water is from the Vehicle Demo made by Epic Games, and most of the rocks were from the realistic rocks pack on the marketplace.

Video:

Screenshots:

And one final overview shot!

I do plan to continue working on this level to some degree as it is not exactly polished

Looks very unnatural.

Do you use real nature references?

Yes it does look unnatural atm. Keep in mind that this HEAVILY a wip. The level was created in its entirety in a single weekend, it is more than anything a blockout that will be refined and reworked over time.

Pretty good looking either way, whats the framerate with all the foliage?

You’re off to a good start, but I think you need to lighten the bottom of the gradient on the grass as it doesn’t blend naturally with the ground and looks really unnatural.

Am i right in believing there is a new foliage shading model in 4.7?

If there is one, has it improved (visually) from prior methods for shading foliage in UE4???

Off to a good start!

Cheers!

Looking good. I really like the first picture with the water :wink:

Yes and yes!

TheAgent - The lowest I get with the camera being way up high viewing the entire world is 30 FPS I average 40-60FPS on most of the map. I plan on doing a massive optimization though to hopefully get that number a lot better even with a lot more added detail :slight_smile: Since this was initially a test to push the foliage to the limits I literally painted as much grass as I possibly could everywhere XD Going forward the first thing I will be doing is removing grass completely and only painting it where it should be cutting down on foliage in the map by about 90% right off the bat.

dustykhan - Thanks, I’ll work on the grass texture to improve that :slight_smile:

pje - There is a double sided foliage lighting model now in the material. I used this on all of the pine trees, grass is simply using the regular lighting model.

Next goal is to find the appropriate meshes to use in the map such as more foliage pieces, lots of ground plants, fallen logs, more ground textures, etc.

Thanks very much for sharing this info!

Question,

how did you create the foliage?
I feel like im doing something wrong.
my engine can’t seem to handle 500 grass assets 20 verts in size with about 70% being masked.

I only made the grass asset, most of the trees and other foliage pieces were made by Speedtree. For the grass I didn’t use a two sided material, I made simple planes like normal, cloned the faces and reversed the direction the polys faced so that the mesh looked two sided without using a two sided material. After that I took all of the meshes normals and made them point straight up. The material can be a very simple masked material, default lit with nothing special and it will light and accept shadows properly.

The only thing I can really suggest is breaking up some of the color detail in the rock; maybe use vertex color and some random perlin noise for variation?

Also, any reason you didn’t use the new lighting model for the grass? With some work, you can get great results. You could also blend the landscape texture with the grass texture via photoshop, using match color, and using the landscape grass texture as the reference. This should allow all of your LOD’s to blend better with the ground.

One more thing - is that water using caustics? Anywho, good job!

Thanks for the feedback :slight_smile: I definitely plan on doing some adjustments to the rocks, will be redoing most of it and adding something to add a bit of variation to them texture wise will definitely help a lot too :slight_smile:

I didn’t go with the new lighting model only because I suspect that its a lot more expensive with the subsurface scattering than the default lit mode would be. I think the lighting turned out perfectly as well on them, the issues I have currently lie more in the actual texture of the mesh and like you said the actual blending with the landscape, both color and the bottoms of them are very dark.
If by caustics you mean the water reflections on the environment around it no its not atm but would be a nice touch for sure :slight_smile:

Looks great!

Wow this looks awesome to me. Especially when you go up in air with camera to see everything overall. I just want to explore it. They are right about the grass though. Seems a bit off or I would say patchy on the road edges, but everything looks great.

What kind of graphics card do you have?

I must say that having 40 - 60 FPS in such an enormous map is rather excellent!

I was blow away by watching the WIP video. The only word that came to my mind was… “insane” !!! :smiley:

You always find a way to impress us :wink:

No question there. This really looks amazing. I’m just curious what kind of GPU he has to get some idea of performance.

Thanks everyone :slight_smile: Much of this environment was built with speed in mind so most of it was random and inefficient. I’m going to be spending a lot of time studying nature and trying to get things feeling a lot more realistic and much less random as nature is anything but random! One of my biggest goals of the map which I feel is important on any nature map is to focus on the small details that make it feel more natural such as streams going through the level, little farms and other objects in the world that make it feel more realistic and that tell a story about the world they are in. So far I’ve redone the landscape material to support a very high number of landscape materials (And support a more natural blending between layers), started completely redoing all of the cliffs to be much more efficient and natural feeling (Will take a long time), started implementing tons of different speedtrees to get a lot more variation, and getting more assets in to make the place feel more interesting such as bridges, windmills, barns, etc… I want the world in the end to feel like something people will just want to go around exploring, no area should be 100% identical to another. I want people to walk through a dense forest only to stumble upon a secret cottage or waterfall. Will try and keep this thread regularly updated with the progress :slight_smile: I may start twitch streaming again as well, although I’ll need to do a quick test to make sure it doesn’t kill my performance too much :slight_smile:

  • Sanford, I have an Nvidia 780TI

Awesome, That’s for the response. That’s pretty amazing.