Landscapes, is really complicated?

After struggling 6 months on building a landscape I give up and ask for your help, I tried World Machine, Terragen and many others tools and nothing gives me a “playable” map. All the enviroments in the marketplace are mostly for scenes but not for real gameplay. Anybody is having same struggle or I’m just overthinking this? I just wanna make a medium open world like a island where you can explore with others, I already done the AIs and purchase some prefabs so all I need is to build all togheter but my main struggle is the landscape. Any help?

“Just” making and open world multi player game is something that is complex no matter how you slice it. Terrain is probably one of the easiest parts of the task to be honest. My suggestion would be to just focus on using the built-in tools for terrain in the engine for now vs. trying to learn a third party toolchain. There’s a lot of functionality built right into the editor that will work well to get you started. It may give slightly worse results than using a third party tool in some aspects, but as a single developer your time is the most valuable asset you have so it’s probably worth it.

have you seen this?

Like 11 times, I even bought the tutorial from digital tutors and is a total failure, again only shows how to make scenes, not actual gameplay terrains.

What do you mean by “gameplay terrain”?

Like a terrain where the players can explore have some heights and some flat areas where can be cruise with a car, lets take for example Ark:Survival Evolve map (no I’m not thinking doing something this big), all the tutorials for WM ends with a mountain in the middle and that’s not what I’m looking for. I want a map with ocean floor and forest/areas to explore to name a few. I know being a single developer is not easy at all but not impossible since others have done it. Sadly UE4 don’t have any procedural terrains generators and I’m not going into Unity where others have done it. Something like this:

Well you can use landscape for that. Simply use the provided Brushes and form the landscape you want by raising and lowering the terrain. For an Ocean you need some sort of water material which you then normally apply to a suface like a plain. For forests and vegetation you can use foliage and treepainting modes of landscape. Ofc you need the 3d Models for that.
Trust me it takes a LOT to create a map even a small one in the quality of Arks’ island. You need to iterate and iterate and iterate before you get a decent looking map.

i would also recommend landscape auto material to quickly populate the landscape.

since you already use world machine and can actually modify the landscape with brushes, i dont quite understand the problem.
just make a big wm map with these different areas planned in world machine. you will probably need a very big map so better export tiled. make sure the numbering of the maps is correct. drop the auto material from market on it, and it will automatically distribute layers based on slopes.

good luck.

Oh no, I saw it lags down to like 6 FPS on a good pc.

well the projects is just a framework. you can insert custom maps and optimize the scene however you want.
nevermind though.

Landscaping is not something you just do, it takes a great amount of forethought, planning, and then no small amount of artistic talent. Here is what you want to do.

  1. Plan the general atmosphere of your landmass. If you have great expanses of land, you are probably going to separate this by loadchunk. More on this in a moment.

  2. Once you have your artistic direction established, start planning the player path. Where can the player walk, where can they not walk? This is actually far more important than you might think. At this point you are DRAWING, as in pencil and paper, height-maps. Get the general idea of the terrain you are going to be working on.

  3. If you have wide expanses of terrain or villages/dungeons/ect that need loaded, you are going to want something hiding their loading. In Skyrim, Halo, Far Cry, ect, the loading is normally hidden as you crest a hill, mountain, or other obstacle. This is where the very careful planning comes in. Open world means lots of potential load points.

  4. Planning also allows you to plan for LOD assets. As a player is standing a distance away from a town, mountain, ect, it will change it’s LOD until it becomes a backdrop or some other low priority asset. Skyrim was masterful with this.

The steps have been truncated; the bigger your project the more massive this task becomes.

If you are having trouble with the tools, nothing will fix that except hard practice. If you are having a specific problem, like collision, lightmaps, ect, you can definitely get help! Just generally saying the tools/mapping are/is hard is not going to get you any sort of magical tutorial that makes you good at this fine art.

Believe me, if I had a tutorial like that I would be rich.


There is a fine art to this as TB said. It takes the same full-on attention to detail as 3D modeling. But maybe you’ve not got heaps of patience :stuck_out_tongue:
If its an island map you’re after, why not cheat?! Get existing landscapes from the Launcher demos / community Tools and bend them to your will.

Sink each below a water plane using static meshes to over up extruding edges so that everything blends together.
In effect you’re creating multiple mini-islands that can be joined up using static meshes of adjacent rocks… roads… bridges.
Re-sculpt each landscape to fit your game. Play with flatten / noise using different brush sizes. (Visibility tool to create holes).

Can we take a second to talk about this? Tutorials aren’t supposed to be followed along and then give you the exact result that you wanted. They’re supposed to teach you the techniques that you need to make it yourself.
If there’s a mountain in the middle of the map that you don’t want, then just don’t add a mountain to the middle. Simple as that.

Making a decent environment isn’t something you learn to do on a weekend by strictly following tutorials.
As others said, plan out what you want to do, learn how to do it and apply what was learned, instead of following it step by step. And if it’s the first time doing it, take your time instead of trying to rush to the end result.

World Machine is not for making gameplay ready maps. It requires alot of manual influence to do so because World Machine does not know what makes a good balanced map. What I do is I actually sculpt out my map in Mudbox, then add erosion and stuff in World Machine. I’ll have nice mountains etc. While keeping the playable area in tact.

Mudbox… that’s something I haven’t tried yet. Franktech I been looking around for examples but nothing useful and I haven’t bought the ones at marketplace because I don’t really wanna buy something and end not using it.

Huh, mudbox. I never gave that a whirl for terrain creation. Thanks for the idea.

what he is saying it that you can block shapes roughly in any other software to define your areas. even photoshop.

i think it is better to do this in unreal:
paint roughly the shape of your level. test it out and all that jazz.
export the map as a png.
bring in the height map as an input into wm. play around with erosion nodes.
depending on what settings you have, erosion will just add the finer details while retaining the base shape.
export the map back into unreal.

please dont try mudbox. its dead as a dodo.

Zbrush works too, I just find Mudbox easier for basic sculpting.