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 The Right Tool for the Job? « View previous topic :: View next topic » 
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PeanutMocha
PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 11:25 pm    Post subject: The Right Tool for the Job? Reply with quote



Joined: 07 Feb 2010
Posts: 3

Currently I create continent-size maps for a pen & paper role playing game using 2D mapping software (Profantasy CC3). Now I want to take that to the next level.

My plan is to find a terrain creation package that will let me (an experienced programmer) extract data from my 2D maps (I can do that now) and shape the generated terrain to roughly match the existing maps. By that, I mean I would like to:

- Force land below sea level that's outside the boundary of my continent.
- Generate generally mountainous terrain in areas marked so on the map.
- Ditto for hilly terrain (limit the size of mountains), plains, deserts, ...
- Select coloration methods appropriate for the type of terrain (I have a 2D map layer that indicates desert, green hills, etc).
- Ideally generate rivers to match existing map rivers, else have the ability to post-edit rivers in the correct position.

Once the terrain is generated, I would like to be able to:

- Import objects to represent castles, villages, cities, whatever
- Refine the terrain of local areas in iterations
- Walk/Fly from anywhere to anywhere in the world, by
- Exporting to a 3D package such as Ogre (Paging Landscape Scene Manager 2)
- Photorealistic rendering of fixed camera path (animation)

Nice to have:

- Realistically render rivers, lakes, oceans without manual editing
- Tools for foilage
- Easy LOD support

Does this sound like a feasible project? Is this the right tool? What complementary tools would I need? What am I missing.

Thanks in advance for your advice!
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ALicu
PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2010 10:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote



Joined: 12 Feb 2007
Posts: 1326

Hi,

I will try to respond to each of your tasks from Grome perspective. In the end you are to decide if Grome is suitable or not for your task and I will try to help you with info as much as possible.

Quote:
Currently I create continent-size maps for a pen & paper role playing game using 2D mapping software (Profantasy CC3)


About the size of the map, Grome can have maps as big as your hard disk allows it. It has a custom swap system with which you can send out to disk and bring back in memory portions of the terrain at will. You will keep in memory only the portion of the map you are currently working on.

Quote:
extract data from my 2D maps (I can do that now) and shape the generated terrain to roughly match the existing maps


Many other users have this kind of approach. What is best to do here is to import your map as a texture layer on top of terrain and use it as guidelines to create the actual terrain heightmap. A similar approach was done in this video tutorial:

http://www.quadsoftware.com/index.php?m=section&sec=product&subsec=editor&target=Editor/tutorials_flight_sim

Quote:
Force land below sea level that's outside the boundary of my continent.


This can be done by selecting the sea area (making a selection layer on terrain) and then applying a simple leveling tool on the selection.

Quote:
Refine the terrain of local areas in iterations. Ditto for hilly terrain (limit the size of mountains), plains, deserts, ...


This is a one of the strong points of Grome. It will allow you to manually and procedurally generate the terrain only on selected areas. You can have as many selection layers as you want, one for mountains, one for hills etc and apply different tools and presets on each.

Quote:
Select coloration methods appropriate for the type of terrain (I have a 2D map layer that indicates desert, green hills, etc)


You can procedurally generate texturing (coloration) based on altitude, slope, direction etc. You can also manually paint with brushes. You can import and export textures per each layer. What you cannot do for now is to apply texturing based on selection layers (we are working on this) but you can work around this problem with the generators tools.

Quote:
Ideally generate rivers to match existing map rivers, else have the ability to post-edit rivers in the correct position.


You can dig rivers with the brushes (using various images as brush masks to give proper forms) and following the river charts mapped on top of terrain.

Quote:
Import objects to represent castles, villages, cities, whatever


Grome is not restricted only to terrain, you can find about its object editing capabilities (possibility to spawn individual objects or multiple with brushes, transform objects, group and save configuration of objects to libraries etc) from the video tutorials:
http://www.quadsoftware.com/index.php?m=section&sec=product&subsec=editor&target=Editor/tutorials_objects

You also have Grome SDK to create new formats of object files but by default Grome comes with COLLADA support which can be saved from many 3d packages (Max, Maya, Blender, Modo etc).

Quote:
Refine the terrain of local areas in iterations


Again this can be easily done in Grome. A good mention here is the support for multiple layers of heightmaps. So you can separate your work per layer (a layer contains work on a mountains, another on lakes etc) so work on one area will clearly not affect another. With Grome SDK you can create your own export / import plugins from and to other formats so you can easily exchange data back and forth between Grome and your applications / game engine.

Quote:
Walk/Fly from anywhere to anywhere in the world


Grome support multiple viewports with different rendering modes. You have both "Fly Camera" and "Walk Camera" (with adjustable camera walking distance).

Quote:
Exporting to a 3D package such as Ogre (Paging Landscape Scene Manager 2)


Please have a look at this:
http://www.quadsoftware.com/index.php?m=section&sec=product&subsec=editor&target=Editor/ForEngines/editor_ogre
We already support Ogre via our own rendering middleware (free of use).

Quote:
Photorealistic rendering of fixed camera path (animation)


Grome doesn't have camera path support but you can, for example, place various gizmos (objects with custom properties) in Grome where the camera should pass (the control points for the path), export those and use them to animate the camera into your own engine.

Quote:
Realistically render rivers, lakes, oceans without manual editing


Already done in Grome. Creation of water surfaces with automatic generation of masks, multiple layers on different levels and in short time automatic generation of shoreline waves:

http://www.quadsoftware.com/index.php?m=section&sec=product&subsec=editor&target=Editor/tutorials_oceanwater

Quote:
Tools for foilage


Again, already present:

http://www.quadsoftware.com/index.php?m=section&sec=product&subsec=editor&target=Editor/tutorials_vegetlayers

Quote:
Easy LOD support


You can export the heightmaps (and all the layers) from Grome. There are various ways to apply LOD to heightmaps. One solution would be to use our middleware presented above inside Ogre3D or another engine. Another solution would be to use your own LOD algorithm. Grome is an editor, LOD is a real-time game problem so it must be solved inside the game application with one of the solutions from above.

Grome can deal with most of your requirements and from my point of view it would be a great tool for you (of course there are other good tools out there). We also provide under contract customization work for professional studios with various custom requests. So if your budget allow it you can drop as an email and we can present you some customization work offers. The budget is not indie oriented and we have dedicated programmers full time for the job.

With Grome (indie or professional) you also get additional materials (200+ terrain textures, 30+ vegetation textures, industrial buildings pack), forum and email support (also telephone support for companies), access to Graphite middleware (that can be used for free for non-commercial, while a license can be acquired for commercial use).

I hope this information help you. Let me know if I can provide more details.

Best Regards,
Adrian Licu
Quad Software. CTO
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PeanutMocha
PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2010 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote



Joined: 07 Feb 2010
Posts: 3

Thank you for the quick reply!

Quote:
Quote:
Refine the terrain of local areas in iterations. Ditto for hilly terrain (limit the size of mountains), plains, deserts, ...



This is a one of the strong points of Grome. It will allow you to manually and procedurally generate the terrain only on selected areas. You can have as many selection layers as you want, one for mountains, one for hills etc and apply different tools and presets on each.


How do the seams between regions work, e.g. transition from hills to mountains? Is there an apparent transition or is there some form of blending?

Same question for the transition between coloration zones (mountain to desert for example).

Can the various tasks outlined be automated through the SDK? I'm interested in writing a program that creates the first iteration of the world from my 2D map.
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ALicu
PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 2010 12:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote



Joined: 12 Feb 2007
Posts: 1326

Quote:
How do the seams between regions work, e.g. transition from hills to mountains? Is there an apparent transition or is there some form of blending?


All is done from editing. You can for example create selection layers which don't cut abruptly at the borders, but have a gradient fade-out. Then when you apply an effect on it (a brush, a procedural generator etc) the effect is applied at full effect in the center and fade out gradually with the selection. This kind of effect is seen in the second tutorial (selection layers) here:
http://www.quadsoftware.com/index.php?m=section&sec=product&subsec=editor&target=Editor/tutorials_layers

Also, you have smudge brushes where you can take an effect and smudge it around in other areas (and also smooth brushes). You have multiple layers of heightmaps so if for example you have a mountain in a layer on top of some dunes, when you want to scale only the mountain you can freely scale only its layer, not affecting the dunes.

The tutorials show lots of cases of local and general editing.

Quote:
Same question for the transition between coloration zones (mountain to desert for example).


You have support for multiple layers of texture. Grome has a distinct layering system where a layer can be added to the scene but not allocated to a particular zone. So for example you have zones with only snowy layers and neighbor zones of temperate climate. Then you can add transition layers in between where one texture fades out to a zone and fades in to the other. Check the second video (layers operations) from here for an extreme case where multiple types of climate is combined:

http://www.quadsoftware.com/index.php?m=section&sec=product&subsec=editor&target=Editor/features_video

Quote:
Can the various tasks outlined be automated through the SDK? I'm interested in writing a program that creates the first iteration of the world from my 2D map.


Yes, you have both the SDK and scripting. You can create either a plugin or a script to:

- select/deselect terrain zones
- swap/unswap zones
- activate/delete/move/add layers of all types
- create object instances
- apply any of the tools from Grome to current selection with any parameters or preset

So, to summarize, with either scripting or SDK you can do pretty much everything a user manually can do inside Grome.

Best Regards,
Adrian
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