Looking into spherical terrain, clipmaps on a sphere, etc.

Hello all, hope the winter months are treating you well!

I’m looking into a concept I’ve been interested in for a long time. The idea of taking the campaign maps of things like Total War, etc. but applying them spherically. Essentially, giving the player(s) an earth-like campaign map in the center of the screen.
I’ve been playing with the idea of allowing people to zoom into the sphere, which at the moment has an earth material with 1px = 500 meters.

Ideally (though a bit of a stretch). I’d like to generate procedural terrain information based on data provided (texture color at pixel, region type, etc.) so that you could potentially zoom in to a few hundred meters of the planet and see a landscape which represents correctly the terrain type that you zoomed into. You’d be able to see individual strategy units at this scale, and command them individually, or zoom out and control the group. Allowing for a true ‘Grand Strategy’ experience. Where you’re managing units on the ground, air and sea. As well as economy, resources, diplomacy and a zoomed out campaign map (still spherical) level.

I suppose the issue here is that there can’t be a loading screen. As the game is (up to) 8 player multiplayer, each player would need to be able to zoom in and out freely to the points of interest. They’d only need to see their own units and units from other players within certain masked regions.

The difficult bit here is… I have this spherical earth. Is there even a known approach to generating terrain based on heightmap, color and regional information and showing only a portion of this underlying generated terrain sphere to the player, while culling the rest? Does, for example, a sphere mask, allow for this sort of functionality. Or are all of the elements masked out by a sphere mask still being processed, etc.

Big ask, I know. Thanks for taking the time to read :slight_smile: