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Workflow and Feasibility of Huge Landscapes

I’ve been working on a new project that requires a considerably large landscape. It’s supposed to be a flight simulator of some sort, so I’m aiming for maps up to 100 x 100 km (~60 x 60 miles). After some considerable research I found out that I’ll need some sort of tiled landscape made in a software like World Machines. Apparently such a huge map would take several weeks to build + the time needed to import and build the lighting inside Unreal 4. It would also be performance intensive due to it’s limitations.

So instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, I’m asking the community to brainstorm ways to make a feasible landscape of such proportions.

Some important threads that gave me some insight:

virgil_182’s 12,500KM² map - https://forums.unrealengine.com/showthread.php?83703-Tiled-terrain-25-000-square-kilometers&highlight=huge+terrain

gwrought’s open world map - https://forums.unrealengine.com/showthread.php?73932-World-Machine-amp-UE4-Massive-Tiled-Worlds-amp-Landscape-Materials&highlight=huge+terrain

**gwrought’s explanation on another thread **- https://forums.unrealengine.com/showthread.php?76466-Help!!!-Can-someone-give-me-a-Tutorial-on-how-to-make-a-huge-open-world-map&p=332614&viewfull=1#post332614

So, my project has some different characteristics compared to the mentioned threads. Due to the nature of my project, the player will only see the terrain up close during landing and takeoff, so the level of detail should be quite low, although I would like a realistic look. The map will be seen from above most of the time, which will limit the performance, so extreme LOD management will be necessary.

Tools and options that would be required for the job:

  • Tiled Landscape heighmaps generated from third-party tools (as low res as possible).
  • Well made LODs for the terrain and assets.
  • Culling volumes for optimization.
  • Level streaming
  • World Composition

So, I’m looking for examples, tutorials, tips and tricks on the workflow required for my project, like ways to break the map into manageable chunks and save performance costs or some insight on problems I’ll face.
Any feedback would be apreciated. Maybe, with a bit of luck and expertise, we could turn this thread into a learning experience and help other developers in the meanwhile.

I too was trying to figure this out during my cold war submarine simulator pet project days because I wanted a map the size of the world even if I had to scale my models down to 5% of life size and never really got anywhere. Good luckl on your endevor though and will be watching!

make a 10x10km map and build the lightning for it, with the fitting parameters it should not take long. then scale the landscape up by 10 in all axis. landscapes can be scaled like any other static mesh in all axis.
then place the hotspots like towns as sub-levels so they stream in when required.
for the foliage you should one of the available forms of procedural generation. look thru the forums here to see the different approaches for this or the kite demo.

Alright, I did try this briefly resulting in poor performance. I will dive deeper into this matter once this holiday season ends and then I’ll update this thread with any findings.