[MOD] Distant Terrain

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Interkarma
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Re: Project "Increased Terrain Distance"

Post by Interkarma »

S'all good. I just wish I had a little more time at the moment. I'm sorry if that came across as terse. :)

I should be able to have closer look at this early next week. The Easter long weekend will be my first real time off for over a month, and my wife had made me promise to not even mention Daggerfall for the next 5 days. :D

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Nystul
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Re: Project "Increased Terrain Distance"

Post by Nystul »

do you know this situation?: you struggled with a problem for a really long time and your solution was a compromise at best... you put it away for a while. after a considerable amount of time you get struck by an idea and give it a go and it turns out to be a much better solution for your problem. This just happened to me...
I had the problem of world terrain (the low-detailed model of the world) intersecting the normal terrain - this was due to design decisions regarding performance (I found out that a single terrain for the low-detailed world terrain was the most performant way to do it). A shortcoming of this approach is that you can not cut out terrain in the inner part of the terrain heightmap. My bad old solution was to lower the triangles at positions that are already covered by the detailed terrain. Unfortunately this led to several problems, one of them was that it could still happen that one could see intersecting terrain tiles sometimes.
Recently I complained to myself that it is a shame that one can not cut out geometry from the terrain heighmap. The new solution: instead of removing the concerned terrain tiles it is enough to prevent rendering them. And since I already have a custom shader for texturing my distant terrain this was an easy extension to it.
it is funny that I did not think of the new solution earlier (but it shows me once more how narrow-minded one can be - especially me^^). Embarrasing, embarrasing...

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Interkarma
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Re: Project "Increased Terrain Distance"

Post by Interkarma »

Haha I know exactly what you mean. When this happens to me, I think of it in terms of "ding! levelled up!". :D

ifkopifko
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Re: Project "Increased Terrain Distance"

Post by ifkopifko »

I was wondering… watching you struggling with the heightmap (altitude map), view distance, realism of the terrain and stuff… And let me start with saying, that I really like all your efforts, and if my words sound negative in any way, rest assured, It was not meant that way. :)

So my thoughts are:

If I understood the previous posts, the original vanilla DaggerFall does not use the altitude map at all. I remember the game being very flat actually, the terrain structure horrible.

It seems to me that you are trying to invent functions and algorithms to sensibly interpret this altitude map, but why are you holding on to this original map at all? Maybe that the reason it has never been used is because it is a flawed design to begin with. And thus, it needs to be redesigned… maybe from scratch.

I have no idea whether it is realistic to redesign the altitude map, how much work is needed to do that. I also understand that you are trying to hold on to the original DaggerFall as much as you can, but hey, it was not such a great game, there is so much that can/must be improved.

DaggerFall always fascinated me because of the sheer vastness of the world, but surely you are not going to argue, that the DF world was empty and dull.

All in all, it seems to me, that you are aiming to create a completely different DaggerFall (which is fine with me), so holding on to the original designs is not always going to work anyway.

My conclusion: If you want realistic terrain, you must ditch the original height map, and start anew. Or, you can make a compromise and just correct the worst parts of the height map and be content, that the terrain is not going to look realistic. Let’s face it, the DF world is huge and varies greatly, from deserts, swamps to mountains. It also does not have any rivers or inland water surfaces, so making it realistic is a long and difficult road. (I’d say impossible, but I do not like that word.)

Cheers!

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Nystul
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Re: Project "Increased Terrain Distance"

Post by Nystul »

hey thanks for your well-formulated and constructive criticism!
ifkopifko wrote: If I understood the previous posts, the original vanilla DaggerFall does not use the altitude map at all. I remember the game being very flat actually, the terrain structure horrible.
Vanilla daggerfall seems to only use the noise map (which seems to be a high resolution version of the altitude map - 5 times as detailed - with 5x5 pixels for every pixel in the altitude map - the upper left pixel of this 5x5 grid is always equal to the corresponding altitude map pixel.
Vanilla daggerfall uses the height information of the noise map but the scale used for heights is so small that there are almost no spots in the world were one can spot real terrain elevations...
ifkopifko wrote: It seems to me that you are trying to invent functions and algorithms to sensibly interpret this altitude map, but why are you holding on to this original map at all? Maybe that the reason it has never been used is because it is a flawed design to begin with. And thus, it needs to be redesigned… maybe from scratch.
It is not completely broken, there are though several issues with it.
ifkopifko wrote: I have no idea whether it is realistic to redesign the altitude map, how much work is needed to do that. I also understand that you are trying to hold on to the original DaggerFall as much as you can, but hey, it was not such a great game, there is so much that can/must be improved.
Yeah I would like to use the original files for these reasons:
-) the original Daggerfall Designers put some thoughts into it - I don't want to ignore their intends completely
-) extra Heightmap data can take up a bit of disk space (it is not that much, but in terms of a web-build this can be an important point)
-) I don't want to use any form of random number generation - the world should always be exactly the same and reproducible from data
-) switching to a better version of the heightmap should be possible (but optional ) in the future.
ifkopifko wrote: DaggerFall always fascinated me because of the sheer vastness of the world, but surely you are not going to argue, that the DF world was empty and dull.
yeah it was, but limited view distance and boring terrain supported this even more ;)

ifkopifko wrote: All in all, it seems to me, that you are aiming to create a completely different DaggerFall (which is fine with me), so holding on to the original designs is not always going to work anyway.
it is also kind of a challenge - I am having fun when messing around with this stuff
ifkopifko wrote: My conclusion: If you want realistic terrain, you must ditch the original height map, and start anew. Or, you can make a compromise and just correct the worst parts of the height map and be content, that the terrain is not going to look realistic. Let’s face it, the DF world is huge and varies greatly, from deserts, swamps to mountains. It also does not have any rivers or inland water surfaces, so making it realistic is a long and difficult road. (I’d say impossible, but I do not like that word.)
Cheers!
I disagree to a certain point. The recent approach for improving the original height map does start to look decent in my opinion ;) to a small degree I would say a bit of more realistic

The good thing is that all of these projects/improvements to the dftfu toolset are optional. One can always build a version without them ;)

I think I have to post some improved terrain heighmap screenshots from the scene view soon...

ifkopifko
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Re: Project "Increased Terrain Distance"

Post by ifkopifko »

Thank you for answering, and yes please, post some new screenshots! :) It's going to ease my waiting for the next demo.

It is obvious, that I have completely misunderstood the altitude map and noise map principle. I thought, that the altitude/height map is less detailed because it defines the terrain, and the noise map adds minor detailed variations on top of it. Sorry, my bad.

Anyway, I do not think that realism and realistic looks is what really matters to hardcore DaggerFall palyers. :D It just occured to me, that you are puting too much effort into using the original height map, while you might be beeter off with editing the map (designing your own). Because the result is probably going to look the same. You are willing to use the original map and make the game look like you imagine it should look. (We can not possibly know how the game designers wanted it to look. All we can do is guess and presume.) But I take it that you know what you are doing and I will be more than happy to see the result. :)

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Nystul
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Re: Project "Increased Terrain Distance"

Post by Nystul »

this is what I am messing around with currently:

Image

Mountains are a bit too high I think (does one know how high they should be in terms of altitude values? have to check the elderscrolls wiki

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Uncanny_Valley
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Re: Project "Increased Terrain Distance"

Post by Uncanny_Valley »

That's some great work. I love the progress that you made thus far. Have you increased the resolution of the height map, or is that still the same as before?

mingorau
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Re: Project "Increased Terrain Distance"

Post by mingorau »

That's really awesome. You guys are doing some impressive work here. Can't way to play the demo.

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Nystul
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Re: Project "Increased Terrain Distance"

Post by Nystul »

Interkarma wrote: Completely ignoring cities for a minute, do nature flats in the wilderness more or less align correctly to the ground at such high terrain scales, or do they float a little also?

If nature flats in wilderness seem to align OK, my first strategy would be to change how a location's vertical position is assigned to work more like nature flats. There's probably a discrepancy between Unity's representation of terrain heights and the calculated average position from source data. The more you scale the terrain, the more the discrepancy is scaled also. The nature flats work differently in that they use SampleHeight() directly from live Terrain. This may yield more accurate alignment of fixed structures than the current method of calculating city height based on source data.

In short, see how nature flats use SampleHeight() in TerrainHelper.cs (line 537) and try to apply this method to cities in StreamingWorld.cs (starting at line 691).
that was an easy fix!
my todo list becomes shorter and shorter :)

there are some issues left (but i am not sure if it is a good idea to tackle them before releasing the planned demo, since I don't know how much work is involved in fixing these issues:

-) the sun of Lypyl's Enhanced Sky Mod is in front of the far terrain (not occluded correctly by the far terrain)
-) fog color does not match the color of the enhanced sky - this is especially an issue when it is night and you can see bright grey fog in the night :/
-) in high altitudes false shadows/moire effect pattern type shadows start to appear (I think this is a floating point issue and could be solved by using floating-origin script with y-axis incorporation), see this screenshot:

Image

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