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Making an open world map. Could use some input.

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Not_Sure, Jul 22, 2017.

  1. Not_Sure

    Not_Sure

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    Hey everyone,

    so this weekend I decided that I'd go ahead and make an open world map. So far I've made a land mass that's 5x5km with 100 terrains each 500x500 meters and placed into their own scenes that load as the player approaches, then unload when they walk away. I made sure to grow the distance after crossing the threshold and I made sure no two chunks will load at the same time. It's looking rather pretty if I do say so myself.

    Questions I have for you:

    1) Do you think that 25 square kilometers is a good size?

    I believe that's a little over the size of Horizon's map which is about 24.

    Ultimately I'm looking to have an open world game that plays like Doom, but with a fantasy setting and with dungeons to crawl like stages.

    So the player will be really fast, Doom-guy fast, which will let the player zip around fairly fast. But I'm also not looking to make a AAA title here. Just something about 15 hours long.

    2) What tools/pipeline should I use to fill in the map?

    I'm not looking to pour any money into this so I don't expect to be able to use any assets that are more than ~$10.

    For height maps I'm thinking that I'll edit out a greyscale map in GIMP. Maybe make an image that's 5130x5130 and paint on it. I think that should work well enough.

    As far as the splatmaps go, I can easily do some color range selections to create maps based on height, but I have no clue how I could do so with slope. Any suggestions how I could create a splatmap that includes slope?

    3) What should I grab to make the terrain not look like garbage?

    I think that some definite must-have features that I'll need are Alpha Blending, MAYBE tri-plainer mapping, and DEFINITELY some more texture options than just Albedo and Normal.

    I'm guessing that everyone is going to say RTP, RTP, RTP on that one though, huh?

    4) What sort of other things will I want to add to liven up the environment?


    I'm thinking that I'm going to create a terrain to draw in the distance, and maybe some 3d clouds. Of course if I make clouds in that layer I'll need to figure out how to cast shadows onto the playing field based on the same clouds, but I think I can manage.

    Time of day.
    Weather.
    Lens flairs.
    Streams.
    God rays.
    Volumetric Fog.

    Any other suggestions?
     
  2. Player7

    Player7

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    UE world composition or Cryengine for that matter, both have better terrain tools and all the rest of things needed for large open world terrain projects... It's good you've solved the loading in/out of terrain chunks, though I don't see you not getting away from needing to use at least 1-3 of the popular terrain assets for Unity to make any headway with it, and that's just terrain.. the time of day, weather, volumetric fog, trees and S*** are all extras you'd need as well. If you keep it purely non modern with no roads and modern building crap you could maybe achieve it, and head towards high end mobile quality for a release date somewhere in the next 1-3years depending on compromises and experience. By the time you get the actual singleplayer gameplay stuff in (no idea if multiplayer is an intention, add another 1year research/bug delay hassles and another 2years after that for unet to show signs of reaching phase2) . No idea how you would go about doing underground dungeons with F*** all decent tools for carving holes into the S***ty terrain system both of which are supported natively in UE and Cryengine.

    And just hope the performance is not garbage, and the memory usage will be inline with newer computers having at least 16gb memory in the coming years to support anything highish quality..

    Rust already needs a minimum spec of 16gb ram and another 16gb ram drive to put the page file on, so it doesn't feel like playing a stuttering slideshow of poor optimization and bad game design with end user memory usage and engine being used in mind. Compare that to even larger world terrain games made on engines that aren't Unity, and yeh you won't have to compromise on the vision or subject your players to awful experiences as much. Not saying it's not possible to do it better on Unity, is a few games that have managed to work around all the problems and have somewhat big terrain worlds, but they've all usually had some talented people on a team to achieve it. For a solo dev I don't see how you can't escape doing it at all without at least using quiet a few third party assets.

    Personally shelve the idea of large open world terrain game with unity or stick to using 1 terrain as merely a placeholder for when unity do get there S*** together on it in the coming years, while working on the actual gameplay, character interaction aspects, dungeon mobs etc. All of which could go towards pivoting the large open world terrain game idea to something more achievable and smaller.
     
  3. Not_Sure

    Not_Sure

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    Dude, I've been over all of this and I know what I'm doing as well as know exactly what my scope is.

    RAM is not the issue that you think it is. I've already done stress tests on my meager 4 GB laptop.

    And I am aware of the time frame involved. Your estimates are grossly exaggerated.

    I asked for suggestions on how to get the broad strokes of the terrain, not whether or not I can do it.
     
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  4. QFSW

    QFSW

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    If you want assets to sort out the terrain for you then I reckon you'll want to spend more than 10 bucks
     
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  5. orb

    orb

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    If it's not just overland, that's potentially bordering on too much - should be good as long as the player(s) can realistically get around everywhere :)

    Which Horizon? Forza Horizon 1-3, Elite Dangerous:Horizons or Horizon:Zero Dawn? ;)

    A crawl around a relatively small area can go on all night. I once spent five hours in an Oblivion dungeon, and I guesstimate the dungeon levels in Eye of the Beholder to be around 50m x 50m with nearly as much time to get through. It doesn't seem like much, but the obstacles you put in can drastically increase the time it takes to play.

    Something more like Hexen then? You need to find a balance between overland and dungeons in that case. With a 25km² map you don't exactly zip across it if it's full of terrain, caves and dungeons. You'll figure out the right balance as you build it though :)

    There are a lot of terrain tools, but I suspect you want more manual control over paths and placement of just about anything, so you'll need ones which do both or can be combined with other tools.

    I'm currently liking Gaia, but Terrain Composer 2 is also nice and has a node-based approach to creating the terrains procedurally (and hence height maps). Both are worth investigating deeply, but neither is super-cheap. GeNa adds on top of Gaia to create the fiddly bits (more manual placements), making it a bit pricey total. If random clutter is mostly in the dungeons you can probably manage without GeNa.

    Map Magic is a third option which I know little of, but which looks handy. Node-based like TC2. RTP-ready.

    Just take a few bills out of the stack of $100 notes you use to prop up the guest beds in your castle? :p

    Maybe you only need a few pricey tools. Watch out for sales. Investing in some good PBR stuff is good, as it applies to many projects.

    Pretty much RTP or CTS for terrain, yeah. They'll handle slope transitions, procedural ground texturing based on height (snow in the highlands if you like), and generally stop your terrain from looking butt-adjacent.

    UniStorm just got a big update again, and I've found it decent enough. It has weather, wind, fog, event scheduling, clock and calendar, seasons, climate, day/night, moon phases and a star system. Everything can scale to all sorts of earthly climates (and probably something unearthly with some tweaks). Basically contains the everything.

    I don't know of any other weather systems with as many features, but Weather Maker is pure weather and volumetric fog/lighting/clouds.

    Lens flares are considered an undesirable phenomenon in CAMERAS. Eyes? Not so common. Games? Toggle defaulting off, please. Or non-existent, preferably. J.J. Abrams is one of the most hated people on Earth for a reason. Users of lens flares will be first up against the wall when the revolution comes.

    Other tools:
    What's your total budget? It's going to cost ya. More than $10 for most tools.

    -UBER shader, which can be had cheaper if you already have RTP
    -AQUAS water is pretty nice, and the $5 LITE edition might serve your immediate needs (you can upgrade to the pro thing later for the difference if you need rivers and more features, as I think LITE basically gives you a big puddle)

    For the rest of the visuals you just need nice textures/models/shader use (not overdoing the shininess), post-processing, particle effects and well-designed lighting.

    If you like the idea of fiddling around with procedural textures I can also recommend Substance Designer. This video really shows off what it can do.

    EDIT: Real Ivy might also be an excellent addition to your toolbox.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2017
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  6. Player7

    Player7

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    Well open world maps come in many different forms, and yeah lol the ram was only a slight exaggeration for rust that I was taking piss with.. most games seem to manage to stay within reasonable limits of under 8gm (cus OS+background S*** can take 1-2gb ram) for current pc gamer hardware those guys have gone off base without a F*** given to players under there dev hardware spec.

    "I've already done stress tests on my meager 4 GB laptop."

    Well atleast the vision for the game will be put under some hardware constraints.

    "I asked for suggestions on how to get the broad strokes of the terrain"

    The most popular tools required for terrain with unity aren't exactly rare finds, they are often most popular threads in the asset forum, and highest rated on the asset store, so its not like its really a question of what to use imo, and you been around here much longer, so figured your post was really just looking for someone to put you off doing it with unity :p

    Good luck
     
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  7. neginfinity

    neginfinity

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    Few minor details:
    I'm not sure if GIMP supports grayscale 16 bit which you'll want to use for terrain.

    It should be a good idea to try painting heightmaps in blender -
    You'll have immediate 3d preview, while in gimp you would be painting blind.
     
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  8. Not_Sure

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    Yeah, I'm find this to be the case. I see lots of people CLAIM they make height maps in GIMP, but their .data file is not a replacement for raw no matter what people say. I tried it and got a weird mess where 1/2 of the heights were correct, but every other row of pixels dropped the terrain a couple hundred meters.

    I will give blender a try, although I am lousy at it.

    Thanks Neg.
     
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  9. Ryiah

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    Rust also has significantly different gameplay requirements from a more traditional open world game. Skyrim was able to fit entirely within the memory limitations of the PlayStation 3 (256MB system, 256MB video) and XBox 360 (512MB shared between system and video).

    Additionally, Rust is an early access game and early access games are rarely optimized.
     
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  10. Not_Sure

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    Okay, so I gave Blender a crack and...

    HOT DAMN!

    Thank you so much for the suggestion @neginfinity, I think this is how I'll be doing height maps for now on.
     
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  11. neginfinity

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    :D Enjoy :D
     
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  12. Deleted User

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    you stitch the parts together? .. i mean, the edges of each part lines up?
    how do you do that? .... well.. i havent messed with Unity Terrain in a looooooong time

    there is somedudes asset that auto does it, its like 10, 15 bucks
    i never knew how to do that back when i was messing with terrains

    well i guess its how you make your heightmaps, i was going for randomized stuff, so yeah...
     
  13. Kiwasi

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    Stitching is pretty easy. From memory Unitys terrain system lets you define neighbours, then it will automatically stitch the neighbours together for you.
     
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  14. neoshaman

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    I need to know more about it :eek:
     
  15. Rodolfo-Rubens

    Rodolfo-Rubens

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    Really? Unity's default terrain system does this?? Like, stitching 2 terrains borders together putting them in the same height?
     
  16. Kiwasi

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  17. Not_Sure

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    The quality isn't the best, but this guy made it easy enough to do.

     
  18. theANMATOR2b

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    ???
    @protopop has accomplished terrain using Unity on mobile -
     
  19. neoshaman

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    I thought it generate 16bits raw :(, it's 8bits png, that's bad
     
  20. Rodolfo-Rubens

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  21. EternalAmbiguity

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    Yeah, I had my hopes up for a second. What I wound up doing for my project was getting the edge pixels of the heightmap for one terrain, and setting those equal to the pixels of the heightmap for an adjacent terrain.
     
  22. Deleted User

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    i had a technique for smoothing the edges of the terrain with GIMP ... its in a notebook at a different house though right now :/ .. wasnt really the best though, but it worked for what i was doing...
    .... oh yeah i wasnt using Unity's terrain either though, i was making meshes, for tiles of ground that are like 20m x 20m or something.. or 50m x ... was for random gen terrain, and so the terrain looks bumpy instead of just flat... micro hills and divots and stuff
    but yeah i was doing it with heightmaps

    but yeah there was a good $10, $15 asset that does it... it was made by one of these guys that was on the forum all the time a couple years ago... i think he made one of the networking middlewares and sold it to Photon, Bolt
    i think it was that guy... maybe? .. or him and the actual dude's forum avatars were kinda the same maybe? i dunno...
     
  23. EternalAmbiguity

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    You're probably thinking of @Eric5h5. I saw him touting it on a couple of questions asking how to do it.
     
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  25. neoshaman

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    SO there is no free way to generate 16bits raw file?
     
  26. Not_Sure

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    Maybe there's an add on for it.
     
  27. Elzean

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    Didnt read all the posts sorry :/

    Here is a nice pic to just get an idea of environment size:



    Now for tools to create large landscape


    terrain:
    Gaia, Map Magic / Terrain Composer

    foliage:
    Gena, Vegetation Studio(not out yet)

    With this tools i would go for a system similar to skyrim where cities/dungeons/interiors are separated scenes.


    Path/road/river:
    So far i only tested easy road, there may be other tools. You will want some kind of tools to generate splines that adapt the landscape for road and river, it's near impossible to do with just using unity tools.


    On a sidenote, something like Voxeland can be worth considering, i didnt try it so i can't give a good opinion on it.



    shaders:
    If you want to have caves and such inside the terrain you can use one of the shaders that allows transparency on terrain and sculpt cave meshes in blender.
    For shader RTP looks nice but i found that it's integration with other recent tools is not always great.
    Megasplat is pretty good for big terrain and the large number of texture you can use to paint, it's not easy to use and you may spend quiet some time to create your texture in the right format and making cluster etc that are needed.
    CTS - Complete Terrain Shader is the most recent one, i didnt buy it so i can't say much about it, looks nice and claim to be easy to use so i would check it out.

    When building such large environment i would go for what the fastest easy to use, you may miss a few fancy feature but you can spent more time actually designing your environment.



    Lighting / Time of Day:
    So far the most complete tool i have been able to use is Tenkoku, i don't like the look of the clouds much and it's kind of heavy performance. Time Of Day is kind of old now and doesn't have Weather system. I didnt try the others.
    Tenkoku and similar tools are probably your best bet to not waist time on a weather system.





    Other addons


    I would add HxVolumetricLights into your list as it adds a lot to scene, it's nice for exteriors and it's just a must have for any interiors.

    Horizon Based Ambient Occlusion and SE Screen Space Shadows can be a good addition.




    There is more tools that can be use for making things faster / prettier but really depends on your game and what is most time consuming for you.
     
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  28. Rodolfo-Rubens

    Rodolfo-Rubens

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    Wow, didn't know BOTW was that big, even bigger than Skyrim.

    Btw, I made some tests some time ago with multiple terrains with Unity and as the camera reaches distances like above 1k units in any axis the shadows starts to flicker, I don't think it's viable doing big open worlds with Unity unless you use some kind of origin shift. What would you guys recommend to circumvent this?
     
  29. orb

    orb

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    Somehow I could tell…
     
  30. Ryiah

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    Same, and I was equally surprised at how small Ocarina and Twilight Princess actually are.

    You already mentioned the ideal solution. Origin shift (aka floating origin).
     
  31. snacktime

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    I've worked extensively with multiple terrains, hundreds. The camera issue has nothing to do with origin shifting, can't say what that is.

    Origin shifting is a can of worms. Honestly, open world is a buzz phrase that most people don't really stop and think about the value of. What is the value of it? Not much really. In fact zones can add strategy and even be a better player experience if done right IMO.

    Open world is one of those phrases like player driven economy. People throw it out and make assumptions but never really think through it critically.
     
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  32. Rodolfo-Rubens

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    I also forgot to mention the glitches (vertices going crazy because they need that extra floating point number that they don't have anymore) you have above 5k units.

    Ah I see... I'm not a big fan of origin shift, I wonder how games like horizon zero dawn and witcher 3 solves this problem... if they have it, because they might have the sweet double precision transforms in their engine.

    Yes, I think it have something to do with >this<

    But, I like open world games... And by zones you mean like in MGS3 and Zelda Twilight Princess?
     
  33. Ryiah

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    I seriously doubt it. Single precision is only about twice the performance on most modern CPUs, but on a GPU the difference is staggering. Most modern GPUs are 32 times faster for singles as opposed to doubles.

    Additionally, while I don't know about Horizon Zero Dawn, I know Witcher 3 is using PhysX and that physics engine only exists in single precision form. They would have to use origin shifting at some point. May as well use it all the way.
     
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  34. neoshaman

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    Also you won't really have any problem with size if your open world smaller than the 20km² centered on 0rigin, since most problem start after that limit (ie 10km away from center in all axis direction).

    Floating point is for really big world beyond the 10km axis radius limit, both BOTW and Skyrim are within that limit.

    But if you want to see what scales is like, I suggest you to look at xenoblade X on Wii U. As big as 4x san francisco and it has big verticality.



    In that video the character is moving on mech, you are on foot for half the game (30h) now that's big open world.
     
  35. Rodolfo-Rubens

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    The problem is that even though technically we can reach this distance, if you pass from 999 to 1000 you already lose one number in the precision (what was 999,0001 is now 1000,000 for example) the same happens when passing from 9999 to 10000, we can still reach this distance but the vertices starts to go crazy, also the lights, the shadows starts to shake when above 1k units.
     
  36. Kiwasi

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    This is a fairly simple maths question. Estimates vary, but Doom-guy runs at about 100 km/hr. That means that in a 15 hour game, your character can travel about 1,500 km. That's assuming an infinite runner style game play, in a more conventional style game the player is probably only travelling about 10% of the time, giving a travel distance of 150km.

    So the question now becomes, how much terrain do you need to have to make the player travel 150 km? On a 5 km map that's the equivalent of going from one side of the map to the other about 30 times. That means your player can only be exploring an 166m wide section of content at a time. And they need to have a reason to visit all 900 166x166m blocks.

    You can drop some of this down by allowing for retraversal, or by forcing the players to travel in a non optimal route. You can also play with the numbers, the more time a player has to spend completing content, the less time they can spend travelling. You can also slow down the players travel speed.

    Its worth pointing out that there are significantly smaller open worlds that take significantly longer to complete the lego open worlds aren't very big at all. Yet the content is very dense, and the player speed is fairly limited.
     
  37. angrypenguin

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    There are many factors that impact that. The near clip plane of the camera and the shadow bias distance of the light both make a huge difference. You may have to script some auto-tuning of these if your game plays across different scales. It's not a weakness of Unity, it's to do with how floating point numbers work.

    5k? What kind of glitches? I've got a project where I'm going way past 5k without any noticeable issues. Heck, some bits I've tested with no noticeable issues out to 100k.

    It really depends on what you're doing, but if you're getting noticeable issues as close as 5k I wonder if there's not also a large disparity in object scales or weights or lots of scaled parenting or something?
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2017
  38. neoshaman

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    For reference, 1 units = 1m in my case, that mean 1k = 1km therefore 10k is 10km.
     
  39. Not_Sure

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    Distance is not going to be an issues, btw. At the very edge of the map (which the player will not ever reach) the player will be AT MOST 250 units from 0,0,0.

    Taking what Kiwasi, digging the name change btw, said I feel comfortable that 5x5 will be good so long as I put lots of obstacles (like mountains) to move around. Also, with the last 500 meters out of reach it's more like 4x4, so 16 square kilometers.

    That sounds like a tight little jaunty.
     
  40. angrypenguin

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    Distance is never the issue anyway. Relative magnitude of numbers is the issue. If floating point precision is going to be an issue then scaling the world up or down won't help it.
     
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  41. Not_Sure

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    I'm saying that floating point is not an issue for me.
     
  42. EternalAmbiguity

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    Do these mountains provide interesting gameplay events, or are they just an obstacle?

    Because if it's the latter, players will hate you.
     
  43. Not_Sure

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  44. Rodolfo-Rubens

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    Mostly with shadows. Here are some videos I made:
    Close to the world origin:

    Around 1500 units away from the world origin: (I think it's very hard to notice in video)

    5k units far from the world origin:

    5k units far from the world origin, light settings changed:

    Panning at 5k units, I think it would be very hard to level design with the camera that shaky:


    Edit: Btw, the terrains are 500x500 units, the "player" is 2 units tall (default unity's capsule).
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2017
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  45. angrypenguin

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    What are your camera settings? Particularly the near clip distance. I'd also look at the shadow distances for your current quality setting, as that'll probably impact accuracy, too. I haven't noticed distance from origin making a difference, but I haven't particularly been looking for it.

    For my game, given the large view distances and long shadow distances I've got set, I find that I need both my camera's near clip and the sun directional light's shadow bias setting need to be pushed out as far as possible. That's obviously undesirable in some circumstances, so my plan is to write a controller script that interpolates between short and long distance optimised settings depending on what the player is doing.
     
  46. Peter77

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    I was just giving this a try, added UnityChan to an empty project and moved it to x=100, 1000, 10000 and 25000 units away from the origin. The model started to jitter quite noticeably at around 5000 units. Did you do anything special to not run into this issue?

    Here is the test that I did about a minute ago.
     
  47. Rodolfo-Rubens

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    I tried increasing the near clip to 0.1 and decreased the far clip to 100 but the shadows are still shaky, maybe it's my GPU.
     
  48. angrypenguin

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    I've not seen anything like that, probably because the project in question for me doesn't have skinned meshes.

    Depending on the distances involved 0.1 is still a tiny near clip distance. For me, when the player is flying around there's no reason not to push the near clip all the way out to its maximum (in the Inspector) value of 2.0, and given the long draw distances and shadow distances I'll take all the precision I can get.

    When the player is near the ground / indoors it's a different matter, hence having a controller script on my to-do list.
     
  49. TerraUnity

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  50. Teila

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    Not sure that is possible. The best assets start at $40 at least, and you will need assets for terrain building, day/night, textures and shaders for the terrain, plus trees, rocks, rivers, lakes, etc. I have found there is no perfect terrain tool that does it all, especially if you want tiled textures that actually work well with neighboring tiles.

    I would suggest a few hundred dollars at least for the tools alone, and then much more for the model/texture assets.

    Good luck!
     
    Kiwasi and Joe-Censored like this.