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rcallicotte
06-23-2018, 01:04 PM
This looks like a useful way to create terrain in the future. Eventually, multiple ways to output terrain and loads of interface potential to make changes accordingly. It's a standalone application! Good job, Dax Pandhi and Quadspinner team!

http://quadspinner.com/gaea

TheLexx
06-23-2018, 01:35 PM
Interesting. Did anyone ever give World Creator (https://www.world-creator.com/) a go (since LW was shown as export format) ?

Marander
06-23-2018, 03:36 PM
This looks like a useful way to create terrain in the future. Eventually, multiple ways to output terrain and loads of interface potential to make changes accordingly. It's a standalone application! Good job, Dax Pandhi and Quadspinner team!

http://quadspinner.com/gaea

Yes it's a very good application. I'm in the Beta program and have a license for Gaea Enterprise (and Geoglyph Pro). The Enterprise version has an offline license.

The speed is way better than World Machine and the UI is beautiful and offers a great workflow.

Texturing is still in its beginnings but the terrain creation using nodes or layers works very well and offers some unique features. A new beta build was just released yesterday with even more major UI improvements.

- - - Updated - - -


Interesting. Did anyone ever give World Creator (https://www.world-creator.com/) a go (since LW was shown as export format) ?

Last time I looked at it, several key features were still in development. The feature set (and partly the terrain quality) looked weak compared to World Machine / Geoglyph / Gaea. However, it looks like they made a big step forward and the features are almost complete. The UI looks great too, not nodal but very intuitive. It seems to have some nice sculpting features (which Gaea doesn't have).

I would say World Creator is similar to the Vue Terrain sculpting part, while Gaea is more like World Machine nodal networks. In my opinion both of them are great terrain applications with individual strengths.

About the LW export, I don't think it has native LWO support but like most terrain applications exports height maps that can be used in most applications.

TheLexx
06-23-2018, 04:27 PM
Many thanks Marander. :)

Gungho3D
06-25-2018, 01:24 AM
Interesting. Did anyone ever give World Creator (https://www.world-creator.com/) a go (since LW was shown as export format) ?

I have WC, latest version - it is well integrated with creating Unity 3D terrain and assets, and is super fast courtesy of leveraging GPU oomph!

OlaHaldor
06-25-2018, 02:33 AM
I have them all (WC2, Gaea and WM+GeoGlyph).
For now I prefer World Machine + GeoGlyph. Yes, it's slower, but it also produces the best quality terrain in my opinion.

Gaea is still in 'early access', and the latest UI update which launched just before this weekend was a tremendous upgrade. The nodes and node sockets remind me of Unreal Engine, which obviously is a good thing!
I do like how intuitive Gaea is, and you no longer have to be a rocket scientist to make believable, beautiful and natural looking landscapes.

I was an early adopter of World Creator 2, and to be honest, I'm a bit disappointed. The toolset of WC2 haven't changed much since I got it almost two years ago. They have added a few filters and some 'fluid erosion' which is kind of cool, but it's got nothing on WM and Gaea in terms of making something look natural and 'photo real'. It's clearly best for games or fantasy landscapes in my opinion. Or you might just have a lot more time on your hands to fiddle with it than I do. :)

By the way, there is no LWO export from any of these. All can export different image types suited for game engines or displacement maps, as well as OBJ. So no LWO.

To be fair, I've seen some interesting results from WC2, but I can't imagine the time it took to get there, vs. making something similar in WM or Gaea.
That said, I think WC2 has a place in landscape design, but you might want to try them all before you decide, or if possible, get at least two of them.


To sum it up, pros and cons at the top of my head..

Gaea:
+ Nice, modern interface
+ Good user experience
+ Responsive
+ Node graph (and layer based if you rather like that)
+ Developer is responsive and transparent about the future
+ Can split graph and 3D viewer into two windows - can use on multiple monitors
+ Growing community
+ Great toolset out of the box
+ Fast and responsive (because it's GPU driven)
+ Good masking tools

- Still early access with bugs
- No tablet support
- No tiled export (feature is planned for a future update)
- Hard to re-use multiple imported heightmaps, no easy GUI to position and transform them


World Machine + GeoGlyph
+ Production proven and solid
+ Node graph
+ Big userbase, easy to get tips or help from the community
+ Good user experience
+ Can split graph and 3D viewer into two windows - can use on multiple monitors
+ Tiled export
+ Great toolset out of the box
+ GeoGlyph plugin for a lot of awesome nodes to simplify or speed up production
+ Basically limitless resolution
+ Fully procedural landscapes for miles and miles!
+ Multiple 'build extents' let you focus on details, or export iterations of the same graph setup in no time
+ Good masking tools

- A few bugs
- No tablet support
- Hard to re-use multiple imported heightmaps, no easy GUI to position and transform them

World Creator 2
+ Fast and responsive (because it's GPU driven)
+ Intuitive interface
+ A lot of filters with even more settings
+ Custom interface skins
+ Growing community
+ Developer on official Discord
+ Blazing fast way to combine and position imported heightmaps

- Level step system
- Performance issues at larger than 4K or even 2K resolution with just a handful filters (even on a GTX 1080)
- Takes a lot more time to produce realistic looking landscapes than compared to the competition
- No tiled export (don't know if it's planned for the future)
- No tablet support
- A bit difficult import of some height map formats which requires deep knowledge of the formats (type X amount of several <value> slots to get it to import correct)
- Masks are a bit low quality/non usable for *my* needs




So where do they all fit in with each other in a pipeline?
So far this have been my workflow:
- Create base shape in WC2 (because WM is a bit slow at that when you need to *design* something, and Gaea does not have such features yet)
- Bring height map from WC2 into WM (or Gaea), add whatever needs be done to refine, and either
a) bring heightmap back into WC2 to combine with other height maps or base landscape
b) call it a day and export masks and texture etc. from WM
- bring into ZBrush for even finer detailed adjustments

Marander
06-25-2018, 03:59 AM
- Create base shape in WC2 (because WM is a bit slow at that when you need to *design* something, and Gaea does not have such features yet)

OlaHaldor, that's a great review! I completely agree to your findings. For output quality, the WM + GeoGlyph combination is best so far.

About WM being slow for the *design* (I assume you mean basic shapes and splines for mountains, rivers, paths etc.): The dev has fixed this is build 3021 build I think. My maintenance is expired and I have only access up to build 3019. And yes, that's something I miss in Gaea and hope it will be included in future.

So based on your review, I think it would be good for me to renew my World Machine Pro maintenance in order to get the newest builds. The dev is much more active in the recent months than last year (where there was complete silence). Also helpful for me are your findings about World Creator 2.

jaf
06-25-2018, 05:12 AM
Just would add this concerning World Machine -- it appears to be dying. I know there was a release a couple months back, but not much information from the developer as to future development. His email about the last release included a link to "contact me" and I did, asking about future development, but no word back (or in the forum.)

OlaHaldor
06-25-2018, 06:24 AM
He's released three or four builds since December. It's not dying. Even if it is; it's still very solid. I wouldn't swap it for anything, 'just because'.
Looking at the alternatives (Gaea and WC2), WM is still king (until further notice. My bet? Gaea will take over if WM dies).

The developer is notoriously bad at keeping in touch with the customers, sadly.

Last sign of life was May 26th where he writes about a new snow device.
http://www.world-machine.com/blog/?p=634

http://www.world-machine.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/New-Snow-Device-1-1.jpg


Now, looking at the image above, here's a challenge for you: try to remake that in Gaea or WorldCreator 2. At the moment; that's basically impossible. :)

TheLexx
06-25-2018, 07:14 AM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYwlblD4658&t=106m05s

:)

Marander
06-25-2018, 09:07 AM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYwlblD4658&t=106m05s

:)

LOL that made my day... in a way it looks similar to the image OlaHaldor has posted :-)

jaf
06-25-2018, 10:55 AM
I like World Machine and have about 500 tmd's I made since 2010. But I'm getting to the age where I hesitate spending money when it doesn't seem the support/development is there. Too many time where Stephen went silent. And I do this as a hobby.

Marander
06-25-2018, 12:34 PM
How do you guys implement the generated height maps into LW?

So far I haven't been very successful.

I can use the new primitive shapes in 2018, but there is no way to navigate properly because it is only displayed as a simple rectangle, only in VPR I can see the displacement and it's too slow to navigate or make adjustments. Object interaction, placing items etc. wouldn't work because it's not real geometry. I'm not even sure if instancing would work on these (displaced) primitive shapes. Actually I don't find much good use for them.

Using 8k maps from WM / GG / Gaea would result giant meshes / high memory consumption / slow displacement computation when using subdivided ground plane meshes with such detail.

In other applications I can see an approximation of the mesh with a deformer / tesselation in the viewport and render with sub poly displacement (with low poly planes) in full detail resolution. Or use Vue xStream (which don't work with 2018).

What's your workflow (height map to LW) without loosing details?

jwiede
06-25-2018, 07:52 PM
Just would add this concerning World Machine -- it appears to be dying. I know there was a release a couple months back, but not much information from the developer as to future development. His email about the last release included a link to "contact me" and I did, asking about future development, but no word back (or in the forum.)

Given how popular World Machine is, all available evidence suggests it'll have to go dark a LOT longer than it has to date before the market turns away from it.

jwiede
06-25-2018, 07:55 PM
LOL that made my day... in a way it looks similar to the image OlaHaldor has posted :-)

Oh sure, if 4-6 MipMapped-LoD lower, perhaps. ;D

Ryan Roye
06-25-2018, 07:56 PM
How do you guys implement the generated height maps into LW?

So far I haven't been very successful.

Use .EXR files. PNG export from gaea should only be used for simple stuff like color maps and whatnot; it can't store accurate height information.

Marander
06-25-2018, 11:30 PM
Use .EXR files. PNG export from gaea should only be used for simple stuff like color maps and whatnot; it can't store accurate height information.

Hi Ryan

Yes I know how to export with full range (I have done this a lot and also used successfully in other apps).

My question is how to use it in LW with 8k maps without loosing detail, not because of height map resolution / depth but because LW doesn't support sub poly displacement and using a highly subdivided mesh leads to the issues I mentioned.

The new 2018 primitive shapes seem to be capable of high detailed displacements but they're not usable to me because of the reasons I stated.

OlaHaldor
06-26-2018, 01:10 AM
Given how popular World Machine is, all available evidence suggests it'll have to go dark a LOT longer than it has to date before the market turns away from it.

True! I noticed a job listing on Artstation for 'the Avatar project' at Massive, where they specifically ask for World Machine experience.


I think a lot of the reason it's still 'the tool' is because of tiled builds and option to build projects on a farm. (Which I'd love to try!)

erikals
06-26-2018, 04:22 AM
LW with 8k maps without loosing detail
perhaps >
make a low res version + a normal map

Marander
06-26-2018, 06:03 AM
perhaps >
make a low res version + a normal map

Thanks Erikals, that could be an option / workaround, alltough I'm not sure if

1) normal maps can provide the same outcome as displacement maps required for landscapes

2) how I would even convert full range height maps to normal maps

3) it would be a tedious workflow when I can just load the height maps I have in other apps and use their full potential

In LW 2015 I can use xStream. But in LW native I don't see a good solution currently.

In LW 2018 if its only for a background landscape, the new primitive shapes (Plane) can be used with the limitations I mentioned.

Additionally to that a displaced primitive seems to render forever in 2018 VPR while still being noisy but I haven't really gone onto that yet.

erikals
06-26-2018, 11:17 AM
1)  not sure, i think it should be close
2)  like this maybe   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ej15PKF4DC8
3)  shouldn't be too tedious, you'd also save lots of ram/rendertime

Revanto
06-26-2018, 09:15 PM
Funnily enough, from what I saw in the video, it looks like something that could be done in Substance Designer as a combination of height and displacement maps. Very procedural.

Rev. :p

OlaHaldor
06-27-2018, 12:27 AM
What will you use the landscape for? Overviews? Or will the camera be down at the ground?
Depending on your situation it would require different solutions, and depending on how detailed your ground maps are and what you require.

In most cases you wouldn't need insane mesh quality, IF you use ground texture like Quixel Megascans or similar. All the magic happens there with additional displacement and height blending, and add foliage on top of that.
I've only done this in Maya and Arnold so I can't speak of how to set that up in LightWave 2015/2018. Most likely nodes and masks to drive where things appear and blend.

If you're going to rely on the terrain quality alone, it will, again, depend on what you require. Overview or camera at ground level.
If you're going for an overview you could do one of two things:

Overview
a) Proxy model (100K or so) while you work, and swap it to a high res model for rendering. The UV's will be the same and the albedo/normal map should fit both.
b) Make a plane, 200x200 polygons or so (so it's lightweight), apply the heightmap as displacement map, subdivide it in Layout as many times as you require. I would think applying the albedo and normal would work well too because, essentially, the UV map from WM is just a square with even quads, no stretching.

Ground level
a)
- Export the surrounding area as a relatively low poly mesh (a few 100K would probably be fine) OR heightmap (so you can control the quality at rendertime, would be more light weight) with a hole in the middle for the main area to sit. Albedo+normal should help a bit on detail level.
- Export only the ground level area at a much higher quality mesh (or preferably heightmap and displace a plane in LightWave). The higher res the heightmap is, the higher res the terrain will look at render time. Also, apply normal map.


b)
- Export the main area at high quality mesh/heightmap and displace a plane, like above..
- Export the surrounding terrain as separate, standalone meshes (yes, plural), that way you can sort of kitbash the surroundings as you please on the go, to make every camera angle filled with interesting backgrounds to suit your production.


If anything's unclear, let me know :)

Marander
06-27-2018, 09:46 AM
Thanks OlaHaldor, that's a great explanation.

I use it for various things, mostly sci-fi landscapes with fly over surface, foreground and background landscapes.

For fly-by / planet approaches I used LW procedurals / displacements the past but now want to use height maps (sub poly displacement helps for that in my main 3D app).

You're right, separating the terrains into several pieces / meshes (and fore / mid / background) is the way to go. Actually I do this already in Vue and Terragen.

Cheers

Marander
06-28-2018, 10:25 AM
Great news from the Vue front for LW:

Vue xStream / Infinity 2016.6 was just released with LW 2018 support! I'm very surprised and glad this happened. A good sign for both Vue and LW!