Terrain Sculpting

Terrain Sculpting

Hello folks!

As I’ve said previously, while coming up with the concept and the systems for AI, I’ve also decided to rework a bit of the terrain features in order to make it smarter and improve performance.

So I’m almost done plugging in the new terrain system into the game. This time around, I went a bit smarter with my separation of concerns. The current system in the game features a breakdown of the mesh into tiles, quads, triangles, vertices, all controlled by a single TerrainController script which manages the actions on each tile.

It works ok, but it’s a bit overcomplicated in certain areas, and too simple in others. The point that really sticks out is when it has to update the mesh after any alteration is done to it.

Basically, it is currently rebuilding the vertice/triangle/UV list every time you do an alteration. This isn’t ideal, as it contains loops inside loops querying data that hasn’t been changed to find the ones that have been. Plus the current system is also less conducive to having multiple chunks and altering between them. It would be fine if we just stuck to one chunk and made it massive, but that’s not ideal specially if we want really massive levels and easier to manage data.

So, enter the new system! This time around, I have a SmartMesh class who holds the reference to the Mesh component itself, as well as a TerrainChunk component that holds it all together, managed by a TerrainBase class that can decide how many chunks will be spawned and the dimensions for each chunk. Reworking the input management as well means cleaner code and easier to expand. Most important is that all vertex data is held by TerrainVertice objects, which can be directly accessed either y the TerrainChunk or the SmartMesh. The SmartMesh also generates a mesh on startup of the position/index of each TerrainVertice. So what dos this mean?

It means that when a TerrainVertice is changed, it changes its position, and it tells the SmartMesh which index of the vertex list needs to be updated. This is done, and the new vertex list is assigned to the Mesh component. Hey presto; no more nasty loops within loops within loops!

Similar concept will be applied to UV and other aspects of the terrain. So the end result is a cleaner system that’s more manageable. I’ve also picked up more knowledge as I’ve progressed with development, and it has been ideal to implement it now.

Oh, and you’ll also be able to “sculpt” the terrain better, and I’m also reworking the height limitations of the course so you can have nicer features. Check out the simple demo below:

terrain_painting

You’ll be able to “paint” the heights with the new tool. (Also keeping the old options too for those who prefer them). And since the vertices are easier to manage, I’m also updating the height limitations to give you more freedom to build taller things, and smoothing out the process: if you move a vertice too far above a threshold, the neighbouring vertices will also move up, creating a more organic flow.

I should be done with this work by the weekend. At the same time, I’m also implementing the AI system, so stay tuned for that too!

Tomorrow I’ll make a post about the memory system!

Have a nice day, folks!

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