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Voxel system explained?

Discussion in 'General' started by Kiin Kendov, Feb 24, 2019.

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  1. Kiin Kendov

    Kiin Kendov Trainee Engineer


    I want to know everything about the voxels in this game. How they look like and work.
    Maybe I would get better understanding about digging and refilling if I knew more about the voxel system.

    Can anyone please point me to where I can read about this?

  2. Tenzo

    Tenzo Apprentice Engineer

    I don't think there is such a guide on voxels.

    The only way I have learned about digging and refilling is through trial and error.

    I don't think the shovel is a very good tool. Particularly, refilling, is very non-user friendly. I constantly get 'you cannot pour dirt on yourself', over and over. For every time I refill a spot successfully, I get 10 fails saying that I am trying to pour dirt on myself. And it's never consistent with the tooltip. Even though I'm very far away. Red + or not. Or, I just swing at the air. It's a very annoying process. I don't think understanding how voxels work is going to make it any easier. It just doesn't work very well.

    I hope they address it in a future update.

    They need a block that functions like an automatic seeder, where you just level terrain by pushing dirt away in a very linear manner. Not with the shovel. The shovel is terrible.

    And maybe a wheelbarrow for filling in areas, where you can walk and pour soil, instead of constantly clicking, so that the work ends up very even as opposed to using the shovel to do either. No matter what you do, there are going to be problem areas with the shovel.

    Your best bet is using voxel hands and a plane defined with landscape stakes. But I find voxel editing even in creative mode to be an utter mess. I remember on initial release, it worked a lot better. You could actually control the perimeter you were defining very well, now... Is there even a smooth terrain feature?.. I am not sure. :stare:
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Kiin Kendov

    Kiin Kendov Trainee Engineer

    I don't think it's the tools that are the main problem. I think it's the voxel system that needs some tuning so it gets more flexible and moldable.
    But before I say to much I would like to know more about the system.
  4. boromir

    boromir Apprentice Engineer

    You might already have noticed this but there's a pattern, when working with the shovel, in how it fills and empties. The pattern for removing dirt is the reverse of filling but only to a similar degree. The filling pattern is easiest to make sense of and describe. I'll start there first. In all cases when working with the shovel, it really helps to have the crosshair enabled in the game (nigh impossible without). The shovel always removes or adds dirt at the location of the crosshair.

    Remember, the voxels are still just stitched together polygons - 3 and 4 sided shapes. Don't think too much about it being dirt.


    When starting to fill a somewhat level section it doesn't matter where you put the dirt unless you're trying to sculpt - which I'll touch on last. Once you dump a shovel full it makes a mound. If you continue to dump on that mound it just continues getting taller. But if you dump around it you'll end up with a mound near the first. A third and fourth mound nearby will eventually form a cone or a narrow trench depending on the layout of your mounds. This cone or trench is what you want, and displays a shadow that grows darker the deeper it goes. Usually this cone isn't deeper than about 1m and not shallower than 1 foot. The next fill location to "flatten" these mounds to a mostly uniform level, with a net rise from where you started filling, is at the bottom of the cone. To do this aim the crosshair at the most darkest part of the cone. A single scoop from the shovel should fill in the cone leaving yet another slightly bumpy surface, which you started with.

    This works the same with the narrow trench, however, finding the darkest part of the trench is more difficult but also less essential since this should be in the shape of a line rather than a point for the cone.

    Filling "above your head" as you know is restricted and crosses the threshold between about mid-chest level and waist level with the crosshair.

    "Dumping dirt on yourself" occurs when entering the characters' circular "personal space" and pointing directly down. I find this threshold is very close but about a foot away from the legs of the character.

    You can fill a narrow cavity between a dirt wall and a constructed wall by coming alongside the building and looking the length into the trench rather than directly down into it. If you do this you'll have to raise the shovel up from your feet and should be able to fill in the cavity without dumping dirt on yourself.

    From time to time you may come across a hole that looks like it has mounds on the sides and looks deep and dark around the middle. This is a bad fill job. To fix this, re-dig the hole until you don't see anymore mounds or the bottom is somewhat smooth. Refill it using the techniques described above.


    You should be able to dig a hole easily enough but to ensure you don't dig too deep you should add a rope and stake system to set a plane below where you're digging. This may require digging deeper around the sides of the place you're trying to go to a specific depth. This is probably where the stakes are most difficult to work with and inconvenient.

    Once you've reached your target depth remove the stakes and place walls at your target depth and fill between the wall and outside surface (where you had previously placed your stakes) to return that land to the higher level you started with and may want to restore.

    You should be able to form a ramp surface with the stakes if you elevate one of the stakes above the others.

    Sculpting With Stakes

    When we're talking about sculpting in this case we're really just talking about making the surface smooth. The stakes control the fill amount for dirt below the "smoothing plane" and control the removal amount when the dirt is above the "smoothing plane." Take note the smoothing plane here is not the semi-opaque plane established by the ropes and stakes. The smoothing plane is about an inch below that semi-opaque plane and runs parallel to the semi-opaque plane.

    The real problem with this is that you can't see the smoothing plane you're trying to work towards because the semi-opaque plane is not transparent enough. Dirt standing above the smoothing plane but below the semi-opaque plane needs to be removed but you can't see it well enough to correct the problem. This leads to a nearly smooth surface when you're ready to take the stakes away. Not exactly the smoothness you were hoping for but much better than not having the stakes at all.

    There's a couple rules of thumb to keep in mind here:

    1) whenever removing dirt that is already below the smoothing plane it will remove about half a shovel full. Replacing the dirt you remove doesn't restore it to the level it was at exactly before you removed that shovel full. Because it fills differently you can repeat this process to fine tune the level to more closely reach the smoothing plane.

    2) you should be able to see some lighter and darker areas as you empty-fill-repeat. It is these slightly lighter areas you should target to empty then fill. As you continue to do this the lighter areas will diminish until there is a uniform level of height - and shade - as it approaches the smoothing plane.

    3) work during the daylight hours so that you have your best opportunity to clearly see the lighter and darker shades of dirt below the semi-opaque plane. Alternatively, sufficient fire light during the night might work to accenuate shadows from various heights below the semi-opaque plane.

    4) sometimes you won't be able to get the dirt to the level you like so targeting a darker area nearby and then refilling may establish enough change in the orientation of the voxels to achieve the leveling you're looking for.

    When I've done this the result is usually rather smooth but has a series of parallel "road bumps" in the surface of the dirt. "Smooth enough" is basically what I'm left with. I hope this helps.
    • Informative Informative x 2
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