Thursday, March 6, 2014

UDK Landscapes Part 1: How to Create a Heightmaps and Weight Maps in Terresculptor

If you want to create a landscape for your game, you no longer have to painstakingly sculpt it by hand using UDK tools or a sculpting application. By using a program called Terresculptor, you can generate heightmaps and weight maps to import into UDK to save yourself a considerable amount of time. This tool is especially helpful for huge, sprawling landscapes. This tutorial will show you how to generate heightmaps and weight maps in Terresculptor, and how to import those maps into UDK.

1. Begin by choosing the landscape size you want to create. If you're creating your height map for use in UDK, then I recommend choosing one of the UDK landscape sizes from the list. (If they aren't listed in the drop down list like they are in the screenshot, enable UDK map sizes by clicking the "UDK Landscape" check-box in the options under "Tools > Options > Preferences > Dimensions.")

2. Now that you've selected your heightmap size, it's time to generate the contours of your landscape. On the toolbar, click the "Generators" option and choose the generator your want. Each of them outputs a different type of landscape, so just play with them to see which type you would like. 

3. You are now creating your "noisemap." Move the slide bars around until your noisemap looks the way you want. I recommend browsing the presets because each usually generates a very different kind of map. When you are happy with your noisemap, click the "Save" button and save your map as an "nzrd" file and then press the "OK" button on the right side of the menu.

4. Back in the main view, it's time to fine tune your landscape using the adjust, modify, and transform options.

5. Now click on the "Extractors" option to build your weightmaps (if you plan to use them, otherwise, skip this step). Weightmaps help you automatically texture your landscape in UDK according to variables like altitude or slope. I've honestly not had much experience working with the weight maps, but from the tutorials I've seen, most people do these according to the "slope" option. To set your slope, you need to save each level separately, so begin by making the minimum zero (0) and the maximum about twenty-five (25) and then pressing "save" at the bottom (you can adjust these variables on your own, and can make more than three different ones, but for this tutorial we are doing three). Pick an appropriate file name and save your weightmap file as "r8." Now switch the minimum slider to 25 and the maximum to 50 and save this file. Repeat the process of changing the sliders and saving until you've maxed out the maximum slider and click the "OK" button to return to the main view.

6. When you're done, click "File > Export" and export your heightmap as an "r16" file. As of my last use, the "File > Open," "Open Recent," "Save," and "Save As" tools don't work. The functionality is still basically there, but you have to instead load your maps using the import/export functions. 

Now you have successfully created your heightmap and weight maps. I will make a tutorial on how to import those maps into UDK soon.

Right now Terresculptor is still in alpha, so it's free, but it's still not perfect.  If you want more information about all of the settings, they have a large (but still unfinished) instructions guide available for download on their website.

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