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Level designing terrains

Getting a game-map from idea to a finished playable state is process that involves a lot of steps. Here I will explain how one of the early steps is done here at Reto-Moto.

hg_leveldesign_001

When I first start on a new map I’m sketching out the overall Level Design – on the back of a napkin, a beer coaster or in Adobe Illustrator :-). The layout depends on the mission type – and some maps will be more symmetrical than others.

hg_leveldesign_004

When the layout is in place, I generate a terrain that will suit the layout. We are using a terrain generator called World Machine 2. It’s a graph-based tool that can output all the terrain masks and height-maps used to build our terrain in Autodesk XSI (a post is on it’s way about the way we use XSI to create terrains).

We are using a World Machine file for each type of terrain (flat, sloped, hilly) – but the file contains multiple (endless) maps and in this way a river can cross through multiple maps. This way we can also create maps that are adjacent to each other (or even overlapping) on the terrain.

hg_leveldesign_002

The graph-based layout (above) gives us, as designers, control of each device that generates the terrain – e.g. you can mask out areas where the erosion should be less or you can heighten specific areas that will suit the level design better.
World Machine 2 also features a fully-privileged plugin architecture – and we did our own plugin (reto.road) for leveling roads.

hg_leveldesign_003

The terrain above is a preview from World Machine of the height map used for the “Factory Map” in Heroes & Generals

After exporting height and normal maps, masks and splines we generate the in-game terrain is Autodesk XSI, and I can start to position all the background graphics.

 

  1. RAnDOOmRAnDOOm01-23-2012

    Thats a great read.

    Its always interesting to know how much detail and work is behind a map.

    Very nice!

  2. propapropa01-23-2012

    great !

  3. CplKasCplKas01-23-2012

    great job!

  4. OrganicHallucinosisOrganicHallucinosis01-23-2012

    Neat! Your system is a lot more complicated then what I’m used to.

  5. AvrojetAvrojet01-23-2012

    Interesting insight.

  6. iainiain01-23-2012

    That’s so cool! I love how lumpy and real it looks also.

    I love how the maps will be linked up, it’s good to know you guys are using a technique that makes sense! So the maps won’t feel out of place and random!

    Keep it up!

  7. golani79golani7901-24-2012

    I love seeing behind the scenes stuff – keep up the good work!

  8. FuriousChadFuriousChad01-25-2012

    Saw this on IndieDB and now I’m registered and anxiously awaiting an invite to help test!

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