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Terrain Suggestion: Tile Maps for Terrain Textures

Discussion in 'World Building' started by ArtFluids, Sep 10, 2019.

  1. ArtFluids


    May 9, 2015
    One of the things I really would like to have in a terrain editor is something that allows more fine detail on surface textures. Splat maps allow really fast editing but there's no detail like transitions between layer textures (i.e. dirt to grass is just a fade).

    What I suggest is some sort of texture alternative to splat maps: tile maps.
    Not a replacement for splatmaps, but an alternative to them.
    If I could import a tilemap of textures and then choose a single tile for each quad on the terrain's surface then I could get really fancy with things like texture transitions, roads, etc.

    Take for example the textures on the terrain of 1997's Might and Magic VIII (Bethesda's Daggerfall is another example of similar terrain texturing):

    Here we see that the textures have clear transitions (because there are transition tiles) and also roads with corners, forks and crossing paths (a difficult thing to do with splines and decals). This way it would also cover the need for road decals and such.

    Tiles allow more sophisticated detail on ground textures. Look at the transitions between different terrain types here

    Essentially the surface texture would be stored as a texture atlas mapping something like this to the surface:

    It would require more work on the part of the person editing the terrain (or some tool to handle transitions while painting) but would allow more variety and fiddly detail.
    It could also take up less memory than the splatmap approach (depending on the tile resolution). The texture atlas could have a lower resolution than a splatmap and you could use only one image containing the entire tileset (instead of a separate image for each layer).
    This would also be a nice way to have more dynamic normal maps on the terrain surface as well (like for raising roads) because you could also import a normal map tileset as well.

    Unity already has the tools for working with tile sets in 2D, I would love to be able to use those on Terrain surfaces in 3D.