Welcome to Keen Software House Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the KSH community.
  1. You are currently browsing our forum as a guest. Create your own forum account to access all forum functionality.

The World Engineers Guild

Discussion in 'Groups & Dedicated Servers' started by Jugbot, Apr 12, 2015.

Thread Status:
This last post in this thread was made more than 31 days old.
  1. Jugbot Apprentice Engineer

    Messages:
    194
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2015
  2. Bullethead Apprentice Engineer

    Messages:
    245
    Nice logo, Jugbot :). Glad you've set up this place as a clearing house of world-building stuff. I guess I'll contribute the 1st pebble of knowledge to the cairn we'll eventually build up.

    1. World Machine
    I admit to being a total noob with this software but already I can see a few things that I think wannbe world-builders should be aware of, which are:

    A. World Machine comes in 3 single-user flavors: Basic (free, max output 512, only uses 1 CPU core and limited ability to tweak settings of the supplied devices), Standard ($99, output size limited by system, uses only 2 cores, fully tweakable), and Pro ($249, supercomputer-friendly). Honestly, as of right now, I don't recommend buying even the Standard Edition. ME is a decidedly lo-res application when it comes to terrain so a 512 height map made by the free WM version looks WAY better in-game on any size ME map than a sized-for-the-map-size height map from a paid-for versioin of WM. Furthermore, a 512 height map made by the free version looks WAY better than a 512 height map made by WM Standard on the same map. Using WM Standard at ANY resolution results in grossly terraced hillsides instead of smooth slopes, no doubt because it's intented to run all night on a supercomputer making ultra hi-res textrues and so looks like crap someting as small as an ME map.. So don't bother buying WM.

    B. GeoGlyph. This looks very cool. However, it doesn't work unless you have at least the Pro version (or better) of WM, which costs $249 (or more) as of today. There's a fee version of GeoGlyph which I assume has a very limited feature set so probably doesn't do very much of what's advertised, besides being limited to 1024 output. The minimum buy-in on GeoGlyph is $99 (same as WM), which at minimum allows 4096 output. But as mentioned above, you get worse results the more you spend on WM so stick with the free version and forget about GG.

    C. Don't bother learning much about WM. The more you know about WM, the more trouble you can get into, and the less playable your ME map will be. While it's great fun to make epic mountains and all, such mountains reduce the amount of actually useful land. Agricuulture is the source of all wealth in medieval times so you need enough reasonably flat terrain for your peasants to feed you up in that castle. And you'll need a lot of forest as well, not only for building material but mostly for firewoood, which is an unending drain on resources (cooking, lighting, and forging).
    2. ME Map Size
    This is where you can really get yourself in trouble. You can edit the Scenarios.sbx file to change the ME map size both horizontally (maximum width) and vertically (total elevation change from lowest to highest voxel). At some point, we'll have a better understanding of how much area we need for a viable survival game, but at present I'd say that a 500m map is too small and a 4km map is too big. The stock "Large Terrain" is 2km square which is about all the game really does well with, so I'd make maps that big at max and 1km at minimum.

    A. Height Map Texturs Size vs. ME Map Size: In my experience, the smaller the texture size is to the size of the finished map in ME, the smoother the slopes. The closer the height map texture size is to the map size, the more unwanted terracing you have. And if you' paid for WM, you'll always have bad terracing regardless of the texture size to ME map size ratio.

    B. Biome Map and Tree Mask Size vs. ME Map Size: This doesn't seem to matter a whole lot.

    C. Tree Map Size vs. ME Map Size: This is crucial because each pixel on the texture = 1 tree. Thus, if you stretch a 512 tree map over a 4km square map, you end up with 1/8 the density of trees you want. Every forest is park-like "light woods" through which formed cavalry could ride without "disruption". Thus, insufficient firewood for long-term occupation by any sizeable population. Problem is, in WM using Jugbot's macro, it's usually only possible to make a 512 tree map, maybe 1024, rarely bigger, and never 2048. A 512 tree map works OK on a 2km map but no bigger.

    D. In the Scenarios.sbx file, you specify the map size from 0 to the far side. However, world boundaries for player movement start at 0 in the middle and go to 1/2 the full size plus and minus. Thus, if you have a 2km map, the world boundaries need to be in between +/- 1000. The height you specify is the electation change from the lowest to the highest voxel, but the playable world is a cube defined by the horizontal extent of the world. Give the player the ability to fly somewhat above the highest mountain and dig at least that deep below. Cutting the lower limit off close to the lowest level of the map precludes digging deep mines.​




     
  3. Jugbot Apprentice Engineer

    Messages:
    194
    Wow you really like to type! :p
    Just another note to anyone reading this that may be thinking of buying WM; don't buy it unless there is support for infinitely large worlds, water, and/or you are willing to spend 249 for geoglyph (geoglyph was literally made by God)
     
  4. Bullethead Apprentice Engineer

    Messages:
    245
    I type about 60 words/minute so have a tendency to spew walls of text. I don't really enjoy typing per se, it's just that back in high school I took 2 semesters of typing mostly because I was the only guy in a room full of girls :).

    As to GeoGlyph, I'm willing to bet that the free version is just the merest taste of what it can do and you'll have to buy it to do all the cool things you're really interested in. So, $249 for WM capable of using GG, then $99 for GG itself = $348 in total. And if my experience with WM Standard is any guide, it probably would not be money well-spent when it comes to making ME maps. The free version maps "better" height maps than the $99 version, and ME's 1m terrain voxels are too big to produce fine details anyway.

    By "better" height maps from the free version of WM, I mean the following. You build a map using WM Basic (free), save this project, and give its height map to ME to generate the actual game world. You will have smoothly sloped hillsides. Then you open the exact same project file with WM Standard ($99), make no changes to the WM project at all, just run it to generate new output files. Give those maps to ME and you end up with the "Towers of Hanoi". Instead of smooth slopes, your entire map is a staircase of 1m cliffs and perfectly flat ground between them. There are no smooth slopes at all, regardless of the steepness of the hillside. Very annoying.

    Now it could be that this is a function of using Jugbot's macro (developed in WM Basic) to generate the height map in WM Standard. Next chance I get, which will probably be tomorrow, I'll get the height from outside the macro and see if that makes a difference.
     
  5. Jugbot Apprentice Engineer

    Messages:
    194
    It really just sounds like you are doing something wrong in the world extents. No way does the paid version do worse than the free version -_-
     
  6. Bullethead Apprentice Engineer

    Messages:
    245
    That's what I thought myself, but it does appear to be the case. I get smooth slopes with free WM and stairsteps with $99 WM when both use the same WM project file and I make no changes to anything in WM or ME. I'm sure you'll get $99 WM yourself soon and can see for yourself.

    In general, my observations are that:

    1. Free WM makes smooth slopes, $99 WM makes stairsteps.

    2. The smaller the heightmap file is compared to the final size of the world in ME, the smoother the slopes will be. IOW, a 512 heightmap on 2km or bigger ME world is much smoother than a 2048 heightmap of the same terrain. OTOH, a 512 heightmap on a 500m ME map will not be as smooth. $99 WM will always have stairsteps but they won't be as bad with the small heightmap file on the big ME map.

    3. The bigger the WM world extents are compared to the final size of the world in ME, the smoother the slopes will be. Leaving WM's world extents at the default 8km and elevation change at 2650m will look smoother on an ME map of 2km with 500m elevation change than if you set WM to 2km and 500m.

    None of this really makes any sense to me, but that's what I'm seeing. I'm thinking there must be some fundamental difference in how $99 WM calculates heightmaps compared to free WM, and that this difference isn't suited for the course-grained ME world. But other than that, I have no idea.
     
  7. Jugbot Apprentice Engineer

    Messages:
    194
    If I were there right now I would say
    :p
    Seriously think that it's just something you're doing...
     
  8. Regnilse Trainee Engineer

    Messages:
    29
    How many bits per channel are you using? I've had something similar happen when using 8bpc, where increasing from 512 to 1024 to 2048 made the terraces much steeper as the height map was less stretched out but since i started using 16bpc i haven't had that problem as my height levels went from 256 to 65K.
     
  9. Bullethead Apprentice Engineer

    Messages:
    245
    @Regnilse I'm using 16-bit PNGs coming out of @Jugbot's macro. I then use 32-bit GIMP's DDS plug-in to export these as DDS files. There is no setting in GIMP to see how many bits the resulting DDS has so maybe something's getting lost in the translation, but I wouldn't think so. In any case, this is the ONLY way I've been able to make a DDS file that ME will use. All other software I've tried for making DDS files results in a perfectly flat plain of grass.

    When I started messing with map-making using WM Basic, I had nice, smooth slopes. All that has changed since then is that I bought WM Standard. Now, I get zero smoothness, only stairstep terraces. And this is whether I'm using WMS or WMB. Getting WMS (64-bit) doesn't overwrite WMB (32-bit) so I still have both on my computer. I can make a WM file in either version and use it with the other version without making any changes to the WM file itself.

    And to correct my previous posts (which I will now go back and edit), I'm getting stairstep terrances, zero smoothness with BOTH version of WM, using the same WM file for both. This is REGARDLESS of world extents specified in WM or world size specified in Scenarios.sbx. I've tried getting 3rd party macros that supposedly smooth out slopes but these actually just turn the map into a dense forest of spikes so I gave up on that idea.

    Anyway, I'm pretty much dead in the water here, so I'm putting my stuff up for you all to see and maybe figure out what's wrong.

    BEFORE WMS:
    [​IMG]

    See? Nice smooth slopes.


    AFTER WMS:
    [​IMG]

    Total stairsteps. Heightmap texture here is 512. No matter what I do, I get these terraces. I can use WMS, I can use WMB, I can change the world size in ME, and nothing fixes this terracing.

    So here's a file I'm been playing with all morning trying to get rid of the stairsteps. Please take a look and tell me what I'm doing wrong. Thanks.

    [URL]https://www.dropbox.com/s/il37221ekgx9hkt/Stairsteps Test.tmd?dl=0[/url]
     
  10. Jugbot Apprentice Engineer

    Messages:
    194
    You really need to use 16bit dds (Photoshop method only) for higher than 1 meter/ pixel terrain. When all you have is 8 bit (Gimp can only do 8bit), more pixels per meter will steepen the terracing effect.

    Anyways, no matter the size you will get terracing with 8bits/gimp

    Go to my new guide for how to get 16 bit: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=424611793
     
  11. Bullethead Apprentice Engineer

    Messages:
    245
    Hmm, then why didn't I get terracing on my 1st few terrains? Same 32-bit GIMP, same plug-in for it, but no terracing.
     
  12. Jugbot Apprentice Engineer

    Messages:
    194
    I said gimp can't make anything above 8bit
     
  13. Bullethead Apprentice Engineer

    Messages:
    245
    And again I ask... So? Before I paid for WM, I had smooth slopes. You saw them for yourself. That was using 32-bit GIMP with whatever format of DDS files it makes. If that was 8-bit, then 8-bit can make smooth slopes. The ONLY thing on my end that's changed since I had smooth slopes is buying WM Standard, and now I've got terraces.

    I found an online PNG --> DDS converter that offers four 16-bit format oiptions: R5G6B5, A1R5G5B5, X1R5G5B5, and A8L8. ME doesn't like any of those, always producing a totally flat plain of nothing but grass. If none of those is what ME likes, then what does it really want?

    Bottom line is, there's nothing magic about 16-bit textures. If I was making smooth terrain with 8-bit before, then that should still work. So I'm thinking I totally killed myself by spending $99 on WM Standard. Also, you can't just say "16-bit DDS" without specifiying how those 16 bits are arranged, being as there are numerous options.

    Photoshop is a complete non-starter since it's gone to the never-to-be-sufficiently-damned cloud. Sic transit gloria.

    So I tell you what. You've still only got the free version of WM, right? Grab my file from Dropbox in the link above and see what it does for you using GIMP. If it comes out smooth for you, then we know the problem lies with buying WM Standard, which I'm pretty sure already is the radix ultima malorem.
     
  14. Regnilse Trainee Engineer

    Messages:
    29
    I've taken a look at your world machine file and I found some things that can cause you problems,

    The first problem is your using a bitmap output for your height map, even if you export it in 16bit after the dds conversion by gimp the output is 8bit which can cause terracing.
    8bit bitmap output
    [​IMG]

    Using a bitmap output for a height map isn't necessarily a bad thing, many of my maps are made this way. This leads to the second problem, that your not using world machines full range. By using world machines full range which is default ~2600, (I see you set yours to 4000, that's fine too) you get better resolution. You can get the full resolution by using a clamp on the heightfield and pressing find extents, this will still produce terracing but it will be most noticeable in flat areas. Now most often you wont want a full range map in ME so you can use the in game heightfield height slider to get the range you actually want.

    8bit full range bitmap compressed in game
    [​IMG]

    The best option though is to use a 16bit height map output, to do this you will want to use a height output and select RAW-FP32 then follow the guide made by Jugbot, using this method you wont need to use the full range of world machine but its still a good thing to do. I know if your using Jugbots macro the height output is a bitmap that wont work with the height output but you take the heightfield from before the macro and use that as the height output.

    16bit height output not full range
    [​IMG]
     
  15. Jugbot Apprentice Engineer

    Messages:
    194
    Those examples given are not 16 bit red, just 16 bit per pixel. Since you have never used 16 bit before (a garuntee you havent) all your maps probably have some form of terracing, just that some may show it more. Trust me.

    Try and use the method for 16 bit and see what happens.
     
  16. Bullethead Apprentice Engineer

    Messages:
    245
    Hmmm, in the ME ModSDK package, there's a texture converter that will change TGA and TIFF to DDS and can handle 16 bits per channel. WM can output in 16bpc TIFF. So there we go. This converter is intended for texturing 3D models but I bet it will work on maps, too.

    The converter is a Python script, so 1st you have tio install Python if you don't already have it, and learn to run its scripts, and learn to edit Python scripts enough to specify the source and destination folders for the textures you're converting. The process appears to be that you put all your TIFFs in a folder, run the script, it converts them all to DDS (with 16bpc if the TIFFs started out that way), and stashes them in the same or a different folder. I suppose the simplest thing would be to specific ME\Content\Scenarios for both purposes and have WM save its TiFF output there as well. Then just have a shortcut on your desktop to run the script.

    Sounds simple enough in theory. I haven't tried it yet. I've now got Python and can make it run scripts, but I don't yet know how to specify the folders in the script (never messed with Python before---I haven't do much coding since FORTRAN days :D). And I doubt I'll have much chance for a whle. I'm busy at work the next 2 days, have to pack on Saturday, and then leave at 0100 Sunday morning for a week-long business trip.

    Hopefully, somebody here knows Python and can see if this works. If it does, PM me with the necessary edits for the script source and destination and I'll get rolling when I return home.
     
  17. Bullethead Apprentice Engineer

    Messages:
    245
    Almost forgot: Keen's info on the converter is in the ME "Official Guide: Modding for Textures". It's right about in the center of this long guide. Can't find a URL for it but in Steam it's Medieval Engineers > Guides > George Mamakos's Guides

    EDIT: Here's the link: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=395248715
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2015
  18. Regnilse Trainee Engineer

    Messages:
    29
    It seem promising, I was able to get it started and to recognize the files but the TextureBuilder keeps crashing on me so i dont know where to go from there
     
  19. Jugbot Apprentice Engineer

    Messages:
    194
    Yeah I would have tried it too if it worked :woot:
    Did they fix it yet?
     
  20. Bullethead Apprentice Engineer

    Messages:
    245
    OK, Regnilse has more info on the details but here's the bottom line. I got the ModSDK thing to work. No editing of the convert_all.py script required.

    1. Go to the MD ModSDK\Tools\TextureTool folder and create 2 subfolders called "Source" and "DDS" (without the quotes, of course).
    2. Got to WM and change the BMP Outputs to save as 16bpc TIFF files in the Source subfolder.
    3. Double-click on the convert_all.py script. A DOS box will pop up briefly saying that the script is converting all 4 of your terrain texture files. This box is only up for like a couple seconds.
    4. At some later time after the DOS box closes, you will have 16bpc DDS files in the DDS subfolder. The amount of time required varies from a few seconds to up to 30 minutes depending on the size of the texture you specified in WM. In between the DOS box closing and the DDS files appearing, you have no clue that anything is really going on at all, but have patience and the DDS files will eventually show up.
    5. Move the DDS files into ME\Content\Scenarios (and edit Scenarios.sbx as needed).
    6. Run ME, generate FromMaps, and voila! And no terracing :)

    Same map as above, no changes except using the above steps to maek the DDS files.
    [​IMG]
     
  21. Jugbot Apprentice Engineer

    Messages:
    194
    @Bullethead Great! Now to get rid of Photoshop...
    @Regnilse So what was the problem? Wrong extension? Impatience?
     
  22. Bullethead Apprentice Engineer

    Messages:
    245
    OK, so now I'm safe and sound at home again ("let the waters roar, Jack") after 850-mile drives both going and coming and a week of intense firefighting training and a (ahem) wee bit of drinking in between. Any exciting breakthroughs while I was gone?
     
  23. Jugbot Apprentice Engineer

    Messages:
    194
    Nope. But Regnilse and I are seeing about modded voxels and using them in maps...
     
  24. Regnilse Trainee Engineer

    Messages:
    29
  25. Jugbot Apprentice Engineer

    Messages:
    194
  26. Regnilse Trainee Engineer

    Messages:
    29
    you already know of them, i was just slow posting this here
     
  27. Jugbot Apprentice Engineer

    Messages:
    194
    Well what changed because I don't see it :(
     
  28. Regnilse Trainee Engineer

    Messages:
    29
  29. Regnilse Trainee Engineer

    Messages:
    29
    Ok the other guide is now updated with the same information.
     
  30. Jugbot Apprentice Engineer

    Messages:
    194
Thread Status:
This last post in this thread was made more than 31 days old.