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Level Design Technical Question

Hey guys,

I have a somewhat silly/novice question for you! For games that tend to use static levels (MMOs and such), is the general world/landscape made in a level editor or is it made in a 3d modeling program and just loaded into the game? I know props and all that are added later on, but I didn’t know if the “level” itself was one giant static mesh or something along those lines.

What do you mean with “the level”?

The landscape?

The ground and status features like mountains. And I guess in older games even some buildings were static and not props added later.

If we were to take WoW for example. The area where Stormwind or Orgrimmar is located. Everything around that area would be a landscape. Orgrimmar, Stormwind, or anything in it would be a Static Mesh. Just think of WoW as a giant landscape with Static Meshes to fill in the details.

If the game is mobile (low-poly / low detail), you could make the landscape as a single static mesh in a 3D app.
But most games will make the landscape in UE4 or using specialist tools like world machine for quality purposes.
Rarely does it make sense to create large fixed items in a 3D app, as its more flexible to make smaller sections…
In general its better to make everything modular, so assets can be reused later and even merged for efficiency.

I could be mistaken but terrains are static meshes designed to work like they do in sculpt tools but following a 2d heightmap on the Z axis

Can create the terrain in something like WorldCreator, GeoControl or World Machine, sometimes modelling software, on the fly modifications done in-editor, and polishing to be done in the terrain engine again to bring back a more natural look is also an option.

This is what I’ve picked up on anyway.

You can indeed get very very nice results when using something like Z brush alone, I’ve seen it done, but it’s not procedural/automated, that’s the problem

Continuing on from Jita, UE4 uses a 2d heightmap to render terrain details, so it can not have caves, overhanging cliffs, protruding rocks, these are all created in editors