Any and all chit-chat regarding L3DT.
First off, Sorry I have not been around for awhile.
Several engines I know that you can plug and play so to speak.
Multiverse. - Unlimited terrain size. Directly plug in L3DT maps using a PNG export. Not capable of editing terrain though.
Esenthel - A bit tricky but capable of unlimited terrain. Plug in (as many as you want) 16 giga pixel maps and edit the boundry makes this one able to handle up to your harddrive space.
Sorry but you are not going to find a game engine in which you can have a "single" piece of terrain that big, with all the textures requirement alone it would never fit into memory. I Currently am developing games using the Unreal3 Engine, and the Torque 3D Engine,and they both have varying limitations when it comes to terrain size but both have some of the largest available terrain sizes you can get in a game engine in a modern game engine, although there are some MMO "like" engines that allow you to use more than one terrain map strung together, or a large one that is cut up. This would be "paged" off the hard Drive in most cases, with a LOD(load on demand or level of detail...potatoes-potatoes). Things are not what they appear in a game engine, Like WOW terrain isnt one piece. In any case check out those engines, the UDK is free *read EULA*, Torque has several version, new and old, and 2D as well as 3D. Good luck, I hope this information helps you.
Edit: OK there are some game engines that claim "unlimited" terrain, I have yet to actually be able to get larger than a 4096 map into any of the engines listed above.
Unreal has a limitation of 512K units. The Unit is approxmantly 1 CM of world size. Calculations say The max size would be ~2048x2048 Meters. I spent a great deal of time working with UDK and it is a major pain to get 2048x2048 terrain into it.
Torque can chunk out a fairly good size world but again memory is a limitation. I bought TGEA and was rather disapointed with the engine.
Multiverse is a true streaming MMO engine. I have plugged in 16 giga pixel terrain (131Kx131K) on a machine that has 1 gig RAM. Multiverse seems to have stalled in development. Drawbacks to the engine are that there is no terrain editing in the world editor. You can not put holes in the terrain. A bug in the engine keeps terrain in memory and will eventually crash (stalled development means that it is not going to get fixed anytime soon).
I moved to Esenthel even though it is not a MMO engine but use of a network plugin can make it MMO capable. Esenthel can exceed the 16 giga pixel limitation. The drawback to Esenthel is that there is no texture splatting and you must hand paint the landscape (not an easy task). Esenthel has built in terrain editing and you can paint holes into the terrain making it possible to make a entirely seamless world.
Delta3D is also capable of exceeding the limitations of 16 giga pixels but requires more work than above engines to do so. Delta can not edit terrains.
My current world size in Esenthel is 16384x16384 Meters. The world is insanely huge I would not recommend building a released game larger than 8096x8096 though due to disk space requirements for CONTENT and the TIME involved to build it. However if you want to Just build a world and plug it in to the engine for exploration and personal use then Esenthel is your best case.
i have a idea
if you want your maps to seem big you could just make every thing els in the game smaller so every thing is 10 to 50 times small in the game and giving the player the idea that the map is massive. again just a thought. I've been thinking about using this method for games that i plan on making in the future. tell me what you guys think.
MY AIM SHALL NOT FALTER
Interesting engines, i really had no idea of those ones, but Ill be doing a bit more reading on them and how they do their rendering of the terrain. Are these new? Cant believe I missed them and that Ive never seen them advertised.
After looking at it it reminds me of the Atlas Terrain that was in the Torque TSE Engine, the one T3D replaced. As with those engines you mentioned you can have "Unlimited" Terrain or as big as you hard drive will let you have, and as big as your FSB will handle for object on top of that. With the new version of T3D you can have more than one terrain chunk next to one another, each being up to 2048x each but I have gotten 4096 to work, and there are people in the forums claiming up to 32 maps in one level. if you need more terrain that that i would be amazed that you could fill it.
Last edited by lmaceleighton on Tue Oct 12, 2010 9:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
First up, thanks to demi and lmaceleighton for their reviews and discussion.
Sorry, no joy there. Scaling everything else down is the same as scaling the terrain up (i.e. using a large vertex spacing), and that will just look coarse and low-res. What matters is the vertex density relative to the player size, and that you cannot cheat. There is no substitute for triangle count (well, displacement mapping, but you get the idea).
Maybe I should have been more specific. I don't need the terrain to be a single file, L3DT can split it into chunks after all.
I'm just looking for an engine that can make it appear to be one seamless piece to the player (without loading screens) and not have any issues with floating point accuracy for object placement etc.
I realise that's still a tall order, but hopefully not an impossible one. After all, Bethesda managed something similar on a 486 with 8 Mb RAM back in 1996.
I'm not planning on making an MMO, so MySQL databases etc. would be an unnecessary complication, especially for the player. Small scale (1 to 8 player) multi-player networking support would be nice, but not essential.
There are many engines that have "unlimited" or "very large" terrain listed on their feature page, but after reading the documentation or asking at their forums I've mostly found that there is a limit below my requirements.
So far, Crystal Space looks the most promising, but I haven't read through all the documentation yet. Esenthel sounds like it might also work, but I doubt I could ever afford what they are asking for the source code.
I've been checking the OGRE site every now and again for about 18 months. If I understand correctly, they improved the built-in terrain features to include paging/streaming for version 1.7, but they don't plan to add a similar system for objects or deal with precision issues at large coordinates until version 2.0.
It could probably handle 131,072 pixel square heightmaps (split into chunks) in its current state if the height samples were very close together, but floating point precision would be a problem for my project I think.
aw thats dissapointing but aaron could you make mmo games with L3DT and by using the TGEA engine ? and is it possible wen you would scale everything down couldn't you just add more triangles to the map to equal everything out if not thats fine. just a question.
MY AIM SHALL NOT FALTER
I will cover everyone here on this and save multiple entries.
First @ nod114
Not advisable to modify the sizes of objects unless you are going to get the source and modify the physics. The engines I am discussing have prebuilt physics. If you make everything small an comparison to the terrain, you would find the speed you travel across the landscape to be extreme fast. In Multiverse it is not really that bad because the engine has very basic physics and no falling speed. However with Esenthel the physics covers falling, jumping and so on.
Multiverse has been around since 2005 it uses L3DT mosaics directly. Just plug and play an exported PNG mosaic with the alpha maps directly from L3DT. Multiverse uses the axiom engine which is a c# port of Ogre and uses the PLMS plugin to page unlimited terrain. MV is free but you have to use the portal to access the network. If you want out of MV network it will cost you $200K.
Esenthel has been around since 2007. If you are familiar with how to put maps into UDK Esenthel uses a similar method except the image size can be much larger than the 128x128 pixel limitation of UDK. The editor accepts any size PNG image and you set blocks of terrain which are then broken down into either 32x32 or 64x64 chunks ( I recommend making mosaics of 2048 size from L3DT export PNG. The chunks are independent of each other so the limitation I would guess would be +-2 Terra blocks or +-2 Terra x (32x32) pixels blocks or (64x64) pixel blocks. Beyond +-2 Terra I would venture to say there may be problems with mathematics of drive access. (as noted the limitation of terrain in Esenthel is hard drive related) Esenthel is free to use for non-commercial projects but 200 bucks for commercial use. If you want the source it is 10 grand.
why Esenthel over the others:
Esenthel allows you to edit the terrain as you design the world you can build rivers, waterfalls and so on without having to even close the world editor. You can put unlimited colors on the terrain if you have a fast enough computer (beyond the 8 texture limits of MV). You can punch a hole into a hillside and insert a model of a cave system (use L3DT to make several terrains and flip place one on top of the other). You can place houses into the terrain and have basements that lead to underground dungeons. (the engine can make true streaming unlimited seamless worlds!)
Esenthal converts just about all the common model formats directly. You can build collisions directly from static meshes. Since Esenthel supports common model formats Blender can be used to develop all the models which means no investment for $3000 programs. The set of tools that come with this engine make it a AAA capable engine for the hobbyist.
I don't know why you need the source code for this engine. You have complete control over it from C++. The only thing you can not do is custom shaders and objects which is beyond most game programming.
For a first time game I would suggest just using the basics. If you need Networking I would recommend Netdog over RakNet. I realize RakNet is free to use but it is designed more for Multiplayer the MMO whereas Netdog is a MMO networking engine. For 300 bucks you get 1000 CCU (concurrent connections) which is about 10K player base. If you grow beyond that just buy more licenses. Unless you are a large company with a Hyped game you can start at this level and alway work your way up. If you ever need a unlimited licese it is 150K but you will have the money to throw at it.
I certainly agree with Demi's assessment. However, I think it is important to realize that if you are not comfortable with coding in C++, Esenthel may not be a good choice. If you are comfortable with C++, it is very easy to extend Esenthel to fit your needs.
I don't know if the prices for Ethenthel changed, but the site currently has licenses for 0, 150, 1000, 10,000 and 390,000 USD. It is only the latter which includes the engine source code.
I cannot say at this point whether I will definitely need the source code, but I can see that I might need to make changes, and 390K is definitely outside my budget.
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