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Noob Question.

I am starting a new project and I need some advice.
The game i want to make is going to take place at sea. I want to make a “floating city” connected boats, oil rig platform etc. I haven’t decided yet on the details. But I’m not sure how to go about building these locations. Would/should I use a height map and hide the fact that the player is “on land”. Or would static meshes work well enough for a sprawling city, or would that be to taxing on the system?

The UE4 landscape should be used for rolling geometry, anything with sharp corners (or complex geometry) should be static meshes. You could use a landscape for the water and drive it with a material (you could use it to paint oil pools and whatnot). All your buildings and oil rigs should all be static meshes. In terms of performance, you’ll want to take shortcuts in your model creation, you can build a whole city in one scene (in 3ds max or blender) but any geometry that’s repeated should be replaced with one instance of that mesh in the engine. So, in engine, if you are building street lights all over the place, you want to replace all your street lights with one model, and delete the rest from the project (that also makes it easier to edit the materials on one light and have the rest of them update at the same time). Also keep in mind that an object made up of a few hundred meshes is going to push your computer really hard compared to an object made of one mesh; in the case of enormous objects like cities, typically 1 building with an interior will be made up of: the whole exterior, any doors that can open, the base floor plan as one model (for each floor), separate meshes for props/decorations. Anyways a lot can go into one space that isn’t necessarily all 1 mesh, so the next thing to take care of is distance culling and levels of detail (LODs); UE4 has options in each static mesh asset to auto-generate LODs based on some options, you’ll just want to change the model type to something like architecture or foliage, then set the number of LODs to 3.

Go here for more in-depth everything: https://academy.unrealengine.com/