Terrain editors..

Community Forums/Developer Stations/Terrain editors..

Mike V(Posted 2004) [#1]

I'm still looking into a potential "static" toolset for working with Blitz3D and am missing one component.. a terrain/world editor...

As of now, I'm down to to two - TerraEd2 and ALE.

TerraEd 2: This program has *really* impressed me so far. The breadth of the tools and the results (especially in the two demo maps you can check out) are convincing enough to me that it can yield some highly polished looking results. I love that the terrain mesh maintains an adaptive resolution as you work, adding more polys where needed, removing them where they're not. Also, unless I'm not understanding this correctly, it seems that everything, as you see it in the editor, is exactly as it can be saved/exported and used directly in B3D, including lighting, fog, camera-clipping, water, etc? Also I think you can disable, or just not set a skybox so that you can use a skydome instead within B3D... All in all, the program seems very slick and I think this is where I'm leaning right now.

The one thing I'm kinda "eh" about is having to have a pre-painted texturemap to cover the entire terrain with no option of painting in finer details later, beyond vertex colors.

A.L.E: Now.. to be fair, I haven't had as much insight to this program as with TerraEd, but then it doesn't seem there are video tutorials and demo/preview terrains available as with TerraEd... So, I don't feel like I can make a real fair "comparison" in that context.

All in all, A.L.E. looks like it does pretty much most (if not all) of what TE2 does. The interface seems rather simple, though the real meat of it might be waiting below the surface. I don't like that a smoothing operation is applied to the entire terrain and not available as a painting option - at least I haven't seen one. I *do* like the fact that you can paint on the layers of textures, a la UnrealEd and Torque. I read a post about it where the developer says that its terrains are superior to TE2's.. I'm not understanding how, they both look about the same, and actually, from what I've seen, TE2s are perhaps a bit better. Is it because TE2 is height-map based whereas A.L.E. uses an actual mesh? I'm not clear on that.

One thing that, sadly, I didn't see as a listed or illustrated feature of either program is the ability to "carve holes" in the terrain.. that is "erase" polys to allow for structures to be extended underground seamlessly. Both UnrealEd and Torque allow for this and they provide an excellent amount of flexibility.

In any case.. I'm open to objective discussion about pros and cons of each, preferably based on hands-on experience or understanding of how each product works, and not so much on pure opinion.


Skitchy(Posted 2004) [#2]
ALE Tutorial :

I'm saying nothing more because whenever I talk about my own programs on this (volatile) forum I get flamed.

Mike V(Posted 2004) [#3]
LOL... Okay.. I hear ya.. Certainly wouldn't want a flame war to erupt...

Thanks for the link!

I'll check it out. :-)

mrtricks(Posted 2004) [#4]
Have you tried Total Terrain? Click my sig to get it...

Dreamora(Posted 2004) [#5]
simple way: look in the strange thing called Tool Box in the top menu. there you will find different programs for that task, but only if you at least try to find something on your own ;)

Mike V(Posted 2004) [#6]
Wow. That was incredibly pointless, Dreamora.

1. I was not asking which program to use, or where to find them. I was asking for people's objective feedback, based on their own hands-on experience, of the pro's and con's of each. See, this way I could take others' feedback, which would be more extensive than my own at this point, figure it into my own research and come to a more informed conclusion.

2. If you actually read what I posted, you would see that I had already downloaded and tried at least two of them, enough to give my impressions of each. I wasn't pulling any of that out of thin air.

3. Please actually read what people type before racing down to the reply box to give pointless and unnecessary responses.

Thank you.

Dreamora(Posted 2004) [#7]
You tested 2 of them yes.

One that is basing on Blitz3Ds own Terrain and one that creates meshes.
But there are others as well that can be used to create terrains, which is the reason why I posted.

Both tools you mentioned are good for their specific task but I don't think they are meant for the same stuff.

I just wanted to mention with my post, that there are other possibilities, free ones as well.

Mike V(Posted 2004) [#8]
Ahh... I understand. I apologize, then, if my reply to you was harsher than necessary.. I took your response as being a bit sarcastic and rude.. I see that wasn't your intention. My mistake.

On topic... I have tried other options and they really just didn't grab me much.. that's why I said in my initial post that I was "down to two", TerraEd and A.L.E. I had tried, but eliminated the consideration of others.

Here's my dilemma...

Each of the two will create terrains and, to different degrees, allow the placement of objects, etc. They'll both provide, basically, what I'd like to accomplish, even though they're categorized differently.

The key differences between the two, as I understand it (and please feel correct me if I'm off in any way), are:

- TerraEd 2 works with a native B3D format that will take advantage of real-time LOD in-engine, but cannot be modified or light-mapped (e.g. GILE[s]) by an external program because it's height-map based, not mesh-based.

- A.L.E. will work "directly" with terrain meshes, in a way that is *very* reminiscent of Torque's editor, which can be further edited, lightmapped, etc.. outside of the editor because they are actual meshes. Painting in layers of up to 6 textures isn't a bad thing either :-).

I really like the flexibility of the TerraEd 2 system, but at the same time, I like the option of further tweaking a mesh outside of the editor itself...

I'm gonna have to continue working with each for a bit, I guess and really push to see what each can do..

Filax(Posted 2004) [#9]
You can import lightmapped Giles object under terraed :) the result is the
same :) because terraed add shadow to the object=>Terrain :)