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Good basic process/flow to work with?

Started by Wolfsong73, December 06, 2011, 05:30:26 pm

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Wolfsong73

December 06, 2011, 05:30:26 pm Last Edit: December 06, 2011, 05:32:27 pm by Wolfsong73
Hi all,

So, having gotten past my first dilemma which I was discussing in a previous thread, I now have a question about and request for some feedback/advice going forward.. Bear in mind, I'm brand-new at WM and am still learning, so much of it is stuff that I still have to learn and understand, although WM seems wonderfully flexible, responsive and forgiving in terms of experimentation - which is a great thing. Unlike other terrain generation programs I've tried, which are very slow to provide useful feedback, WM seems capable of giving fairy rapid feedback, which is immensely helpful in making changes or choices as I go... Definitely a HUGE +++ in my book.

To summarize my goal really quickly, I am working on a game and am looking to create the overworld map for it in WM. It's going to be quite a large map and will have to be broken down into tiled heightmaps, which is fine. However, in terms of creating it, I realize that having as many devices on-screen as I'll need can quickly become messy. I have already determined to treat each major region of the map as its own group of shapes, which I can then label and such. Even then, if I don't have some kind of organization and process flow worked out before hand it could become quite unweildy, I imagine, considering there are 27 regions in my world map altogether.

So, that's the purpose of this post; to see about getting off on the right foot and nixing any bad habits early on so they don't come back to haunt me when I'm many hours into the project.

For starters, here's a screen-grab of a quick test I put together tonight, based on what I learned last night:


It's pretty self-explanatory to anyone with experience in the program, of course, so all I'll point out is that the File Input on the top left is where my map image is "stored". I just go in there and click on "Set In Layout" (or whatever that button says) when I need to work on one of them.

I'll be following a naming convention, and probably a color coded system for each "group" box to quickly identify what type of region each one is for (grey for mountains, green for grasslands, etc).

Mostly, though, I'm curious about how it will all work out with 27 separate groups of devices set up like that? It seems I'm going to have to have combiners connecting to combiners... decreasing continuously until I'm down to the last one connecting to the final output node(s). It seems to me that this could help with the speed of viewing changes as I can probably just disable the combiners for those "chains" that don't concern me at the moment. Then I can just make sure they're all enabled when I'm ready for a full build.  That is, of course, if I understand it correctly.

In all, though.. Does anyone see any potential issues with this approach? Any suggestions, advice or nuggets of info that might help me on my way? I'm liable to figure things out as I go but some early tips are always appreciated as well of course :).

Thanks!




Wolfsong73

Hmm... Not the most talkative bunch around here I guess?

monkschain

Hi, I've had, some pretty enormous networks going in the past. Doing what you're doing. Basically, there's not a great deal to add to what you've said. Colour code, and group. I found that moving groups within groups on screen was a bit messy- can't remember the details of it, but you'll come across that- and it's unavoidable.
If you're outputting texture maps, I'd suggest having a single group dedicated to texture mixing and combination- but you may do it entirely differently to me.
I found that working (grouping) by terrain type was the best way to approach it, rather than by geographical regions. Your distribution masks'll do that obviously.
Try to be efficient with your devices and avoid replication, but that can also lead to visual complexity- following the routing can become difficult, so it's swings and roundabouts really.
It might be an idea to take advantage of the checkpoint device- IF it's in your version. Not sure if that's around. It was in a previous beta.
It just depends how much variation of terrain types you will need- that will drive how many branches from initial types you have.
I'd recommend grouping your rivers and lake devices together so that you can apply global effects such as fall off of terrain close to the those features if you want that.
You might also want to apply a falloff from the coast too, too simulate coastal plains but maybe the coastal erosion does that- not used that yet.
I grouped snow and glaciers together too.
I occasionally found it useful to import groups of devices from another sub project. Easy enough.
If you find an easy way of vertically offsetting a terrain along a river mask to create river beds let me know please. ;)

Oh yes, one major thing I do, is build the terrain in two vertical layers. Do a rough build of the world without hills or mountains. Import that in your input device and then add terrain on top of that. But that's just my own particular way of working.

Guess there was quite a lot to add after all!...:)

monks

Wolfsong73

Hi there and thanks for your response Monks!

I've been playing with my map for some time now and got more or less the results I want, though I've come to realize it's purely accidental and not really through any real understanding of how things work.

Although, when I go back and try to clean things up, it just doesn't work out the way I want it to.

The #1 thing that's giving me trouble is erosion. I'm trying to create a "clean" continent map that is surrounded completely by water on all sides, except for where I deliberately have placed islands.

It works fine up to the Erosion device. At that point, no matter what I do, in order to have affects that I like made on the main terrain layout/islands, there are always "artifacts" sticking up out of the water where I don't want them; namely around the perimeter of the map.

I've tried to use a mask to "cut off" any erosion effects except where I want them, but that seems to affect the erosion applied to the continent and islands as well... they don't look as eroded. And, at other times, I see islands poking up through the water on the outskirts even with the mask in place. So I don't know what's going on there.

I tried using a masked texture applied to the Perlin Noise device to create the continent that way, but for some reason, the erosion doesn't seem to want to work properly on that either.

The only way I've gotten erosion to work more or less the way I want is to have traced out the entire continent as a shape (very tedious to do and difficult to get all the ridges and nuances along the coast that I drew in) and work from that. But of course, with that, I get the erosion issues I explained above.

I have decided to take a different approach from what I originally described, and have started using different layout devices for the major features... One for the main continent, one for mountains and one for islands. I can get Additive  layouts to work fine, as all I have to do is set their height to be greater than the surrounding terrain. However, I can not get subtractive ones to work. I've tried laying in rivers and lakes and have had no success. They either have no effect at all, or are "swallowed up" by the erosion process.

I'm finding Erosion to be the most troublesome step of the process. It's like this uncontrollable, spiteful beast that will not give you something you want without giving you something you don't along with it; can't have one without the other.

The end effect I'm going for is a continent of roughly 30x30 kilometers (not large, I know, but it's for a game world where everything will be scaled down.. so.. doesn't have to be :-p) that slopes very gently from the SE upward toward the NW. The SE areas will be more lowland or desert climes... the middle areas will be the more temperate areas and the Northern region will be arctic tundra and highlands... with some variation in between of course.  I can get everything I want in place... until the Erode device comes along and destroys everything.

Is there some trick to controlling the Erosion process better than what I've been able to do?


monkschain

December 12, 2011, 06:13:07 am #4 Last Edit: December 12, 2011, 06:18:44 am by monkschain
 Yes, the coasts are not as easy as you might first think, for starters just cutting off erosion at the coast can create the problems you said.
The artifacts in the sea off the coast might be a result of sediment deposition. You might want to check your sediment carry setting and maybe the deposition output from the erosion device. A good way of viewing output like that is to put an equaliser on it and then you can see more clearly. Erosion tends to get moire predictable (though not completely) if you set sediment carry ot 0. But then you lose those effects which do add to the realism. I used an erosion that fell off towards the coastline- not ideal but it worked- but it worked for me because my bottom terrain latyer was smooth- hence it looked like sediment-high coast. You might vary your noise inputs with a mask that falls off towards the coast- that way you get a similar visual effect to the coastal plains, but without using erosion. Again, maybe the Coastl erosion is the device to use, I don't know yet. But this is why I like to break the terrain up as much as I can rather than doing it all in one monolithic block- very difficult to do if you're creating continents.

In the past I've used two erosion devices in series. One set to deep channels to break up the terrain, and then second set to none, or less channel to develop those cracks into some detail.

What you probably need is an erosion mask that falls off rapidly just below sea level too. You could also drop the elevation of everything under water. That way sediment wouldn't build up enough to create artifacts. By artifacts I'm taking you mean little islands. I'd also check your masks in Photoshop for any stray pixels set to black or white. I had some spikes in my terrain from that. By perimeter, do you mean sea level, or the project perimeter? Again, that could be deposition at the perimeter- anywhere where erosion ends.

Yes, that's the best way to do it- trace out your coastline and use that and yes, you have to be careful that the erosion doesn't mess too much with your coastline. It's the nature of the game unfortuntately. A little bit will add detail to the coastline nicely.

With the subtractive layouts I think you have to set the default height in the Layout Shape properties to 0 (right click on layout shape), rather than trying to control the height from there. Can't remember now. (don't have a working copy at the mo to check) I always control height of terrain I add with a Clamp device on the output, rather than from Shape Properties. With the erosion, you have to add the river mask to whatever other masks you're using to restirct erosion. That's why I group my rivers and lakes together. You might want a little erosion going into lakes but you don't want any on rivers really- my rivers tend to be 1 or 2 pixels wide so that works for me.

I'd also suggest working at as large a res as you can. That way you can get a better idea of what erosion is going to do to the output.

On using Shape properties to subtract I've got a wee text file which says:
set height to 0
drop curve to surface
use lofter


One way to carve river beds from masks is to use a duplicate of the input terrain with its elevation clamped to just below the original. Then combine them with a Chooser using a river mask as the "chooser", or perhaps just a straight Combiner would work. I don't like doing that because I imagine (I'm not sure though) that duplicating the large input terrains I use, will create too much load on my system

Hope this helps!

monks

Wolfsong73

December 13, 2011, 04:36:49 am #5 Last Edit: December 13, 2011, 04:38:59 am by Wolfsong73
Hey there..

Thanks for the detailed response!

Apparently I still have a lot to learn about this program because most of what you just described there went straight over my head lol. I honestly have no idea what half of the devices or techniques you're describing are.

I've been trying to find a way to control the height of areas below the sea level only, and nothing seems to work. Everything I try seems like it can only affect the entire map. Masks don't seem to work the way I'm accustom to (in Photoshop, GIMP, etc) because they either have no effect at all, or have an effect I don't want. They do either too much, or too little and I can't seem to find a way to control that either.

So... for all I know I could be getting results 1000x better than what I have (and I already think looks decent), but I just have no clue about what most of the devices are or what they do. I've tried attaching some to the chain to see what would happen and either they don't seem to do anything, do something I don't them to or I can't seem to connect them to anything.

Hmm.. Now I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all lol.

Ah well.. I'll just have to keep fiddling with it I guess.

Thanks!



monkschain

Yeh, keep experimenting. :) That's really all I ever did. If you can't do it with a network, there's nothing stopping you doing it in Photoshop like you did with the coastline.

Hope I was of some help anyway!

monks

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