Game Development Resources - Part 2: Content - Creating Terrains

Last Update: 26.05.2007. By azarai in game development | resource tip

One of the first content you will need is a terrain, a place where your characters can walk over. There are two possible mainstream ways for creating one in most game engine, via heightmap or mesh (just a normal model). Most of the terrain creation tools we’ve tested could also export the terrain as a mesh (3ds or obj).

You can find a huge overview of terrain related tools over at vterrain , i’ll stick our list to the tools we’ve tested.

Pure Terrain Creators:

  • GeoControl : You can split the terrain in multiple layers, generate them via various algorythms or, what i like the most, use a brush and start painting on a 2d canvas. Combination of both methods is possible for the overall terrain. The demo is fully functional up to 30 days, so you can test the export capabilities. GREAT!

  • Terragen: Can just generate terrain or you can create whole virutal landscapes and also render them. Actually its much more then just terrain creation. For pure terrain creation there are better tools , but if your also in virutal landscene rendercreation, give it a try

  • World Machine : Creation via a graph based system where you can combine different filters and generators. As theres no brush painting system, you have to get used to the graph based creation.

  • Planet Genesis : Same graph based system als World Machine, but not as powerfull. Development seemed to be stopped, but source is available via sourceforge.

  • L3DT : Creation of large terrains with textures generation, various filters like erosion, temperature related terrain modifications.

Terrain Creators with possibility to level design:

  • PNP Terrain Creator : A complete level editor with terrain generation and manual editing in 3D view; supports terrain texture splatting and large terrains via sectors

  • Freeworld3D : Also a complete level editor with terrain editing, supports terrain texture splatting. Was much faster then PNP, too bad i cant test the export in the demo.

  • Grome Editor : Powerfull level designer with terrain creation and support of large terrain and much more, check it out yourself. The only drawback i found was that the software is tied to your system and you can’t just reinstall when switching computers (i.e. buying a new one) without their support. Software protections is fine in some way, but thats going to far imho.

If you know a good one we didnt test, just drop a note. Your welcome.

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