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Obviously progress has hit some snags in the last few weeks but things are continuing, if a little slow at the moment. However the Beta is still getting steadily closer. :)  The gameplay in the Beta is the highest priority but I’m going to talk about something else today.


You’ve all read about the high-end terrain that will allow for greatly increased view distances, especially after the heightmap controversy. However, other then some heightmaps, I’ve never shown the feature in action. I’ve decided to rectify that today and show the current state of that system, which I plan on finishing for the Beta release – once the gameplay is complete. (For the record, the only heightmap used in this video currently is from Daggerfall itself). For terrain rendering, you’ll have several options with DaggerXL:

* (Low) Daggerfall terrain – exactly as it is in the original Dos game. This terrain uses finer heightmap / tiles and ignores the large scale heightmap (for the most part). The good part is that it matches the original game. The bad part is that the terrain quality is low – the fine scale height data, due to how it was made and used, is not very good. That is why only the large scale height map (1000×500) is used in the following modes.

* (Medium) Improved terrain with increased view distance, which will work both in hardware and software modes. This is what I’ve shown in the past, including the last video. This should work for most people who want to use DaggerXL and currently is mostly complete, it supports foliage, locations, terrain types and so forth as shown in the last video.

* (High/Very High) High quality terrain – in most cases renders to the horizon and beyond, a view distance of hundreds of kilometers. This is still not finished and won’t be until the gameplay is complete. However I did work on it a little recently so I’ve decided now is a good time to show it for the first time – in the form of a video. However, like everything, there are some downsides –

– the system requirements for using this quality level are higher, though Medium quality terrain still gives a large increase in quality and view distance over vanilla Daggerfall.

– the original textures are used, the original texel density is honored (mostly) but the mesh density is higher. This is a good thing for visuals but due  to the higher detail (mesh and normals), it doesn’t quite match the original look as well as Medium quality terrain. I think the locations and sprites still work pretty well with it but you’ll have to decide for yourself.


In the video below you’ll see several glitches due to the fact that the system is still not complete and that I did something recently to make terrain cracks show up again – which will be fixed for the build of course. However this means you’ll have to put up with some issues when watching the video. In addition the terrain only has one forest section, in the northern Daggerfall province, and the rest of the terrain uses the same procedurals and textures (with no foliage). These issues will be fixed when the system is finished, allowing for much more variety and matching what the terrain is supposed to be like closer. Also no locations are loaded – mostly because the LOD system is incomplete – but they still work just fine for Low and Medium quality terrain, as seen in the last video, and will work for the build. Finally, this terrain uses only the large scale heightmap (the 1000×500 one) bicubically upscaled with procedural layers to provide additional detail. I still plan on upscaling that heightmap and applying some proper erosion in the future to make the terrain more realistic, but that is not done for this video. So the end result should be higher quality.

The video starts with the player inside a thick forest, testing how thick a forest can be – so its really dense. You’ll see trees on distant hills/mountains as well. Later smaller plants/rocks will be added back in as well as using the other tree species as appropriate. But the main point was to test proper forests for DaggerXL. Once I leave the forest, I travel towards the coast, with Sentinel visible in the background. I then fly across the Bay to Sentinel, fly around the coast and eventually land at the tallest location in the map. Finally I fly up so you can see more of the map – with the Daggerfall province still visible once the camera is high enough in the sky.


(I would suggest watching this in HD)

30 Responses to “Progress and Terrain Revisited”

  • softdrinkviking:

    Awesome! This looks amazing Lucius. I really appreciate seeing this kind of material during the development.
    I wish you luck in taking care of all of those pesky distractions which may keep you from showing us more of this cool footage!

  • AtheistMonk:

    Fantastic stuff as always! Can’t wait for the beta.
    Thanks for all the hard work :)

  • elwing:

    wow, It is just marvelous

  • AnKor:

    The dense forest and detailed terrain look amazing.

  • jlkawaii:

    Simply, Simply Awesome.
    flying city, boat circumving the seas, hyper spell of flying…. ARG…..
    if we could modify the land (aplanir, build something) it’ll be the icing on the cake.

    Great Job!

  • Marco:

    My jaw hit the floor. This is amazing; why, just imagine the potential once this is fully realized! And what the modding community can do!

  • Incredible work. We are all waiting for a new release :)

  • Gudadantza:

    Great tech demo.

  • DepardieuJ:

    Whoa, that was awesome! Nice to see a video of this in action, helps visualize how its all coming together!

  • Dragothor:

    Its been awhile since ive seen any real tangible update here, like an update that actually shows stuff off. i’m sure i would have been impressed with the other updates ive read if i knew have of the terminology and work that goes into this type of endeavor. But honestly, that just blew my mind, simply amazing and i cant imagine that quality of terrain and heightmap in daggerfall. It could use a more realistic, flatter look to it, but im sure plenty of that will come. Ive been waiting years… maybe a few more wont hurt with this kind of quality on the line. keep on blowing my mind lucius!

  • Wynn:

    Wow… Splendid, this is just splendid. Great job mate, keep up the good work!

  • Damanslaya:

    1. Let me just say first of all, this is absolutely amazing like mindf&$! in a bottle!

    2. I know this is kind of late, but I got the XL Engine page made on Facebook for people to follow and promote the project so that it gains popularity. I hope you do not mind, but I thought that you deserved it and we need more followers.

    • luciusDXL:

      I was holding off until the Beta before worrying too much about “spreading the word.” After that I’ll probably want to look at the page in more detail and perhaps suggest some changes.

  • LordHaHa:

    Very nice update, I’ve been waiting to see the latest on the higher-resolution terrain.

    Quick question though. I do remember that one can access the final dungeon (Mantellan Crux) from the exterior map, a small island on in the extreme northwest section of the map. Back in the vanilla days, this wasn’t much of a problem since you had the relatively close fog around your character, but with these latest changes have you removed the entrance?

    • luciusDXL:

      I didn’t plan to – after all it would look a bit weird for it to suddenly appear. I could probably do something like shroud it in dense forest or have the area shrouded in permanent, thick ground fog or something. We’ll see if it turns out to be a problem first. :)

  • Dag:

    How are the relevant data streamed, via the OS’ file mapping? What are the noise functions?
    You have a superior terrain renderer. Really looking forward to testing this in software (is it playable on a P4 & Intel 82865G?).

  • This is so great in many ways! Thanks!
    What is the status of Outlaws on XLEngine?

    Have you considered a libretro port?

    That would open up capabilities to a lot of platforms! :)

    • luciusDXL:

      Its nice to hear someone interested in Outlaws. :D Anyway once the DaggerXL Beta comes out the other games will come out fairly quickly (compared to this build anyway). They have not been forgotten.

  • maxerdy:

    Lucius, when are you going to release DaggerXL Beta? You said in a few weeks… that was 3 month ago.

  • Elliot S:

    First off: Wow, the size of this game and project blow my mind, and I cannot wait for you to get to beta.

    Secondly: This is coming from the viewpoint of a tech-savy end user. I don’t know much about making games, and have very limited experience in game-design and photoshop. I’m going to give some suggestions from my viewpoint, so keep in mind I don’t know much on the technical side. I’ve also never played the original Daggerfall, as I was in kindergarten, so please excuse my ignorance.

    Third: The sand textures look too solid. While you probably will work on refining them later, you should also consider adding a breeze with some sand particles carried along on it. I’m not sure what impact it would have on performance, but the easiest way to tell you’re in a desert is sand in the breeze.

    Seeing gusts of wind from a vantage point would also be amazing, and really add atmosphere.

    I like what you did with the water, is it possible to do something similar on the ground with the sand?

    I would assume some of the landmass was rocks, but it was hard to tell the difference. Having the sand and rocks look and ‘feel’ different is important. Sound of footsteps would go a long way towards the ‘feeling’ of the terrain for the end user. I’m not sure if you have it yet, but it would mean a lot.

    The water could use more waves and coloration. While dynamic light reflection might be CPU costly, I’m pretty sure you could have the textures change to make it look the part. Some parts greener with algae or seaweed, others varying shades of blue that give the feeling of depth, and maybe an effect that causes the water to sparkle and give the illusion the sun is reflecting off it based on time of day. Waves would probably be much more complex, but should be on the list.

    In later versions I also like the idea of the ability to edit the map and place stuff in game. Creating a village on the edge of a previously barren cliff could be a lot of fun. Obviously this would wait until a very late beta or even post release patch.

    Thanks for the work and consideration,
    -Elliot S

    • luciusDXL:

      I appreciate your comments, however there are some elements that you are not yet aware of. :)

      This is just a “first look” at the higher quality terrain option, many things are missing or are just placeholder. This was mainly meant as a way to see the system in action and the view distance.

      Other then the sprites, there are only 3 textures used in the video – the dirt, grass and water – and they are from Daggerfall. Obviously many of the textures are missing as well as more foliage and ground clutter. Other items that are missing include locations (buildings, towns, etc.) – also visible to the horizon (where that makes sense), roads, rivers, different procedural details based on terrain types, proper atmospheric fogging (and sky), localized fog/weather, waves, (most likely) water reflections and more. While not all of this will be in for the Beta, the release will be much further along and interesting then what I’ve shown here.

      To put it another way, if I’m building a house then this video shows you the bare frame and foundation – it’ll look a lot better once I put up the walls, stucco, polished floors and all that stuff. :D

  • maxerdy:

    Lucius, when are you going to release DaggerXL Beta? You said in a few weeks… that was 3 month ago.

    • luciusDXL:

      Unfortunately I can’t give a solid date at this time, other then relatively soon. Anyway any estimates I give are based on the current circumstances which always seem to change. In other words, any estimates I give for hobby work are suspect unfortunately, however I am working on it. :)

  • Marco:

    Don’t take it as though we’re being greedy when we ask for an ETA; it’s because we’re all anxious to see the fruits of your labor, and this little taste really makes it for us! Take your sweet time, we all love what you’re doing.

    • luciusDXL:

      I don’t take it as being greedy at all. I wish I could give solid dates, I really do. :) I was more trying to explain why I’m not giving a target date and why things tend to slip. But its natural for people to want to know “when” if they are anticipating something, so I understand the sentiment (for example – I wish I knew when I am getting my Rift Dev kit).

  • Jason:

    Hey, I wanted to mention – think twice about removing that bug with the trees. It’s not *quite* right, but it actually felt pretty realistic to me, having the forest taper off as the desert takes over. I was literally thinking “Nice transition” when the popup about it being a bug appeared.


    Otherwise, I’m amazed by what you’re getting done. All those zillions of square kms suddenly look like a PLACE. Hammerfell looks real, all of a sudden. It’s really impressive. Can’t wait to see what else you do with it. (and I’m guessing it involves voxels…)

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The XL Engine is and will remain free, donations are purely optional but greatly appreciated.