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Landscape sizing question for low to mid poly game

My goal is to create an 8x8 km multiplayer level. The players, buildings and props will be low to mid poly. The foilage tool will also be used. The meshes used by that tool will also be mid to low poly. I’ll be building this 100% (the landscape that is) in UE4. I watched the great live training videos and read up on the documentation and have some questions.

I have one of three options below it seems. The map will have varied terrain, but not massive mountains. I think in the end, a player could potentially see a long distance without obstruction from the landscape itself (1km) but potentially obstructed by foliage/trees. I’m leaning towards the 1st option, fewer and larger components (with 2x2 subsections), but, the third option would create (I think) many more components of course but with less landscape detail (less detail is ok for this game). So not sure which to use there.

One thing I would really love to do is make grass that is visible from a long distance and something that can be used as cover. In real life, very tall grass can provide excellent cover. But if the player is being shot at with an 8x scope, they should be just as or as not visible behind that grass either looking through a scope (ADS) or not. So whichever landscape setup would permit that would be great. Granted this grass wont be everywhere, it just needs to provide the cover to the player that they think they are getting vs. it not being drawn for the shooter.

255x255 quads, 2x2 sections, 16x16 components 
	8161 Resolution
	256 total components

255x255 quads, 1x1 sections, 32x32 components 
	8161 Resolution
	1024 total components

127x127, 2x2 sections, 32x32 components
	8161 Resolution
	1024 total components

the engine coughs and splutters on just laying down 1km or 2km of landscape on my machine and you want to
do landscapes up to 255 x 255? I don’t see how this engine can handle all of that sounds like you’re talking about putting in tens of thousands of meshes…

You should consider going completely different way, and use landscape resolution of not higher than 500-1000, preferably 64 components for each. Then use world composition to split the world into tiles of this size and set up level LODs in a such way, that you would not have to render more than 4-6 landscapes at at time.
As for grass visible from the long distance, your solution here would lie outside of graphical part, since it is practically impossible to maintain consistent grass density at large distances in terms of performance.
But my general advice would be for you to do something much smaller for a start.

Thanks! I was thinking about world composition as well since it’s designed for things like this. Getting things to look good at the seams of each landscape will be tricky.

You must have a pretty naff machine then cos very little out there handles landscapes better than UE4.

I’ve imported terrains that are 85x85km and the engine barely flinched.

I imported a google heighmap of North America 50% to scale. Was awesome. Performance was a little painful. Now, as soon as i added anything other then the landscape, full meltdown. lol… checkerboard landscape worked fine tho.

255x255 is a bit much, unless you want something like 5,000 players on your map.
You are effectivly making a 160 mile x 160 mile map. average walk @ 3mph. looking about 53 hours to walk from one side to the other. about 2.5 days … roughly.
Wont happen. We can say “oh yeah, well, you can do it”. In all serious talk here, you can, but dont. You will struggle with optimizations for the next … well, whens the 2k nvidia series come out? lol
you can use lots of culling and this and that, but, in the end, like i said, 2.5 days to walk across it and unless you have like 5k users per map (and you wont) then your just making big for the sake of “wouldnt it be neat if…”.

Who am i to say not to tho, feel free. Its your vision, im just letting you know (in measurable terms) the size you are looking to create.

@Ap_Studios
That doesn’t sound right, 255x255 isn’t synonymous with 160sq miles. The resolution on all of those in my original post were 8129x8129 (just near my goal of 8km by 8km). Unless I’m wrong to assume that the landscape resolution is synonymous (at xyz scale of 100) to be 1 unit being 1cm.

Sorry if that threw any of you. Just trying to figure out the most optimum landscape for 8km by 8km for a low poly game. World composition is fine, but it seems that may not always be needed per their docs.

…Components, which are Unreal’s base unit of rendering, visibility calculation, and collision.
*Smaller component sizes allow quicker LOD transitions and also allows for the occlusion of more terrain, but the smaller size necessitates more components.
Each component has a render-thread CPU processing cost and each section is a draw call, so try to keep these numbers to a minimum. For the largest Landscapes, Epic recommends a maximum of 1024 components.
*

With that said, for low poly, if each section doesn’t have much in it then I could leverage a higher number of components and get the quicker LOD transitions (not a big deal for me) and occlude more terrain (very helpful on big maps for me).

@Thorax, I also created these in the engine without a hitch :-)

I built the landscape within the editor itself with the landscape tools, I didn’t have the full version of
WM to create those big huge terrains for me. I downloaded just the trial verson to see what the program is like. Well I read their license page, they seem to be saying that the trial version was only to assess the program for your needs, so if you want to publish and distribute their landscapes out in your own game (commercial or non commercial) you have to pay them the $88 dollars to buy the simple version if you just want 1 tile landscape or if you want the pro version which allows you to create tiled seamless landscapes which you can then import them into Unreal Engine and join the landscape tiles all up then it will cost nearly two hundred and fifty dollars to get the license to unlock that feature, so that would be the license to get if I want sacred 2 sized worlds on my planets.

But If you’re a small studio or company it looks like its gonna cost a thousand and a half dollars.
A big landscape will work in my machine and not slow the engine down if its been made in that WM program, in the trial version, it loaded up into Unreal engine with no slowdown, no holes showing when moving the game camera, everything was smooth. But as for the editor’s own landscape tools, I only got the landscape to about 2km in size before I started noticing the game camera starts jerking when turning the game camera or jerking when moving my pawn through the landscape. (holes appear in the landscape with the sky sphere when moving the camera or running with the player, causing horrible frame jerking issues.

WORLD COMPOSITION:

I did want my systems (worlds) to be roomy to beable to roam around in but maybe I expected too much from unreal engine because my game also has over 100 systems in it and well with the larger the landscapes, the more meshes you have to put in it to break the landscape up a bit and also the bigger the filesizes I would assume if going for bigger landscape terrains…

The game also has alot of dialog as well because of the many different systems that are involved… I know in Mass effect 3 for their planets, the outdoor maps were fairly small on the planets except maybe for some of the outdoor vehicle maps, but the areas looked big because of the illusion of the planet’s distant big backgrounds while keeping the player all confined to only roaming around the planet’s station base. That made the game feel like a walking around in a enclosed invisible shell instead of being a part of the vast environment.

ISSUES WITH OPEN WORLD ENVIRONMENT

But I don’t want to provide an open world if the open world environment aint gonna be used… I don’t want it to just be used with just driving everywhere to places all the time like Jak II did and having to avoid those annoying hovercars and guards and those awful time trials so I want to put side-quests also along the way as well not just drive quests that only just follow main storyline events. Although the game would have to have a hovercar or speeder or hoverboard or transport gate system to move through, I can’t expect the player to just roam around on foot like Starforge did although that game had a few vehicles to get you around but that game had awful rigging and the textures
for the landscape horrible, and in their last update I saw, a big huge object in the middle
of the sky doing nothing at all, a vast open world that does nothing but just roam around in it,
no side quests or anything, except a few creatures to kill which are the same creatures and
building things like minecraft. it reminded me of No Man’s Sky, another Starforge like game,
endless procedural worlds which must tax the CPU in creating them on the fly, the graphics
were pretty. but My game don’t have a procedural endless universe because I don’t know how to create this in BP’S. Plus I don’t want endless crashing all the time if the array bombs out when
trying to create the endless universe. Error… universe halted… and then you get the
BSOD crash screen saying the game has crashed.

MACHINE SPECS:

As for my machine its an all in one HP desktop machine with 2 tb hdd space, using an Nvidia 810 gforce card, running under windows 8.1 with 16 mb of ram. So because of the ram limit I have to keep the landscape sizes down as I cannot upgrade to 32mb of ram on that machine.

FOLIAGE AND MESHES ON LANDSCAPES:

My main concern is with the foliage, putting in trees and grass and buildings on the landscape
might slow the engine down It did on the Editor’s own homemade landscape, but I’ve
not tried that yet on a landscape built with World Machine. I would be plesantly surprised
if it causes no slowdown issues with the world machine landscape by putting foliage on it
because I can’t do very much with the editor’s own landscape.
.