Made an Island in world machine - I think I am happy with it but now I need advice...

Heres my first ever usage of world machine - I like it so far…

I have realized though, that the application seems to be for top down geology - which has one major flaw - Adding detail to horizontal facing items (cliff faces etc) is not very well catered to.

I take it if I want to add some seriously cool detail to make my island more real - I need to do something like get a mudbox or zbrush licence and begin carving it out after an import?

Also, if there are any improvements you think I could make withing world machine before doing something like that, let me know, as I am really new to the software and am learning it by messing around.


Hello LeamDelaney,

The issue is a “height” map is simply having height data stored in it along the Z axis. So even if you carved horizontal details in software like mudbox it’s not going to work when you extract the height map.

Looks nice though, try a coastal erosion node to give it some beach.

Oh - I didn’t realise, what if I import to unreal from world machine, then carve it up with the terrain tools?

Adding some more tweaks now and will post an update!

Basically, you cannot have a vertex on another vertex along the Z direction.

If you wanted to make tunnels you’d have to make holes on the terrain surface in engine but then you’d need to make the tunnel interior with 3D models. So nothing horizontal you can do to the terrain unfortunately. (for now)

Not even add things like rock faces? Hmmmm… How do we improve the terrains then?

This is my improved island :

Worldmachine uses height just like UE does. You can have a landscape just like this picture but if you want anything that sticks out above another part of the landscape you need to do it with meshes.

^ That.

And don’t forget there are a bunch of good examples already in your (Documents\World Machine Documents\Examples) :slight_smile:

Hmmm, sorry, I am baffled now. I would have thought I could have done the following :

  1. Create world in world machine and export to unreal
  2. Create (or buy) various rock meshes and import them to unreal also
  3. Place them strategically along cliff edges and terrain do add more detail
  4. Do the same with trees and grass on their respective area of terrain aswell

If this isn’t doable, then how do games companies add detail?

Why do you think this is wrong? That’s how you do it. The only thing you cannot do is modelling overhangs and caves with only the landscape component. Its using just a heightmap, it cannot represent overhangs/caves. You can make holes in the landscape and place meshes there to provide that.

ah okay - I had assumed from reading above that I couldn’t - So what I can do then is have rocks etc protruding through the terrain for most of a cliff face, but for the top, overhangs etc, I need to remove sections of the terrain and add my own meshes?

You don’t necessarily need to remove anything, unless you make caves. Just use meshes to add the overhanging parts you need to your landscape.

Look at the “Visibility” section.

You only need to make holes for stuff that end up ‘inside’ the terrain. Overhanging stuff is just placed onto the landscape.

Probably some pro could explain in detail of to make it look unobvious that its not one piece. :wink:

You know the documentation search page? It searched along all UE resources, it will find you a lot information.

Ah brilliant, I will (eventually) have underground stuff like caves etc, but for now all I am adding is above ground terrain :slight_smile:

I should be able to just place things then - Might buy a few rock packs, and a licence to speed tree to pick speed things up though!

Thanks for your help

nice islands!

Good job.
Unfortunately there are a few possible issues with the design as it as.

  1. The heightmap includes a flat altitude where the ocean/water would be.
    This is not correct realistically or naturally.
    So now there may be issues integrating a water plane into the scene.
    The water plane will have to be above the heightmap’s water plane altitude.
    If the water plane is not high enough above the terrain, it may result in poly-fighting in the distance.
    The player will be able to walk way out into the ocean at only foot deep or knee deep water.
    If the ocean water plane is partially transparent/translucent, then the ocean floor will look like just be one big long flat region instead of proper underwater terrain that also includes bumps and dips and such.

  2. The coastal erosion procedure often results in a vertical altitude bump at the seam.
    This is quite noticeable in your last screenshot.
    This will be very noticeable when walking on the terrain.

Hey Leam,

I’m guessing you’ve got things sorted out by now but I wanted to point you to my screenshots gallery of Far Cry Primal. I’m also working on an Island level and as such I was taking reference screen shots of how they’ve placed the meshes in Primal so I thought it might help you.

Also, I suggest searching UE4 Speed Level Design on youtube. You’d be suprized at how infrequently people actually use landscapes to build out most of their playable area. Here’s a great example:

I started out like you thinking that you’d use landscape to model out the entire world, but I later realized that landscapes are best used to simply form the ground that you walk on and modular rock meshes work better for actually forming the cliffs and tying it all together. World Machine is better for generating distance mountains that you never actually get to or adding some extra details to the parts you’re walking on. You can also use it to create some pretty awesome modular cliff pieces that you can then use like the guy does in that speed level design video. Here’s a tutorial that I made for creating quick vector displacement stamps using Mudbox and World Machine

Might I also suggest the following Marketplace packages as I just bought them myself and they’re brilliant:

Don’t bother with the speed tree licence as you’ll have to learn the software and it only comes with limited set of textures for making trees. Save yourself time and money by purchasing high quality assets from the marketplace.

Oh, and finally I recommend the free version of L3DT as a really fast way to generate a base terrain for you to work from. L3DT - Large 3D Terrain Generator