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)