Terrain

Terrain is a scene node that represents uniform grid of cells where each cell can have different height. Other, commonly known name for terrain is heightmap. Terrains used to create maps for open-world games, it be used to create hills, mountains, plateau, roads, etc.

terrain

Basic concepts

There are few basic concepts that you should understand before trying to use terrains. This will help you to understand design decisions and potential use cases.

Heightmap

As it was already mentioned, terrain is a uniform grid where X and Z coordinates of cells have fixed values, while Y can change. In this case we can store only width, height and resolution numerical parameters to calculate X and Z coordinates, while Y is stored in a separate array which is then used to modify heights of cells. Such array is called heightmap.

terrain mesh

Layers

Layer is a material + mask applied to terrain's mesh. Mask is a separate, greyscale texture that defines in which parts of the terrain the material should be visible or not. White pixels in the mask makes the material to be visible, black - completely transparent, everything between helps you to create smooth transitions between layers. Here's a simple example of multiple layers:

terrain layers layout

There are 3 layers: 1 - dirt, 2 - grass, 3 - rocks and grass. As you can see, there are smooth transitions between each layer, it is achieved by layer's mask.

Each layer uses separate material, which can be edited from respective property editor in the Inspector:

terrain layer material

Creating terrain in the editor

You can create a terrain node by clicking Create -> Terrain. It will create a terrain with fixed width, height, and resolution (see limitations). Once the terrain is created, select it in the World Viewer and click on Hill icon on the toolbar. This will enable terrain editing, brush options panel should also appear. See the picture below with all the steps:

terrain editing

The green rectangle on the terrain under the cursor represents current brush. You can edit brush options in the Brush Options window:

brush options

You can select a shape (either circle or rectangle with configurable size) and a mode (either modify the height map, or draw on mask of specific layer).

When editing terrain's height, left mouse button raises height map, but if Shift key is pressed it lowers it instead. Something similar is applied to the mask editing - left mouse button draws, but if hold Shift - it will erase mask content.

Creating terrain from code

Terrain can always be created from code, here's comprehensive example of how to create and modify terrain from code:

#![allow(unused)]
fn main() {
extern crate fyrox;
use fyrox::{
    core::{
        algebra::Vector2, algebra::Vector3, parking_lot::Mutex, pool::Handle,
        sstorage::ImmutableString,
    },
    engine::resource_manager::ResourceManager,
    material::{shader::SamplerFallback, Material, PropertyValue},
    rand::{thread_rng, Rng},
    scene::{
        base::BaseBuilder,
        graph::Graph,
        node::Node,
        terrain::{Brush, BrushMode, BrushShape, LayerDefinition, TerrainBuilder},
    },
};
use std::sync::Arc;

fn setup_layer_material(
    material: &mut Material,
    resource_manager: ResourceManager,
    diffuse_texture: &str,
    normal_texture: &str,
) {
    material
        .set_property(
            &ImmutableString::new("diffuseTexture"),
            PropertyValue::Sampler {
                value: Some(resource_manager.request_texture(diffuse_texture)),
                fallback: SamplerFallback::White,
            },
        )
        .unwrap();
    material
        .set_property(
            &ImmutableString::new("normalTexture"),
            PropertyValue::Sampler {
                value: Some(resource_manager.request_texture(normal_texture)),
                fallback: SamplerFallback::Normal,
            },
        )
        .unwrap();
    material
        .set_property(
            &ImmutableString::new("texCoordScale"),
            PropertyValue::Vector2(Vector2::new(10.0, 10.0)),
        )
        .unwrap();
}

fn create_random_two_layer_terrain(graph: &mut Graph, resource_manager: &ResourceManager) -> Handle<Node> {
    let terrain = TerrainBuilder::new(BaseBuilder::new())
        .with_layers(vec![
            LayerDefinition {
                material: {
                    let mut material = Material::standard_terrain();
                    setup_layer_material(
                        &mut material,
                        resource_manager.clone(),
                        "examples/data/Grass_DiffuseColor.jpg",
                        "examples/data/Grass_NormalColor.jpg",
                    );
                    Arc::new(Mutex::new(material))
                },
                mask_property_name: "maskTexture".to_string(),
            },
            LayerDefinition {
                material: {
                    let mut material = Material::standard_terrain();
                    setup_layer_material(
                        &mut material,
                        resource_manager.clone(),
                        "examples/data/Rock_DiffuseColor.jpg",
                        "examples/data/Rock_Normal.jpg",
                    );
                    Arc::new(Mutex::new(material))
                },
                mask_property_name: "maskTexture".to_string(),
            },
        ])
        .build(graph);

    let terrain_ref = graph[terrain].as_terrain_mut();

    // Draw something on the terrain.
    for _ in 0..60 {
        let x = thread_rng().gen_range(4.0..60.00);
        let z = thread_rng().gen_range(4.0..60.00);
        let radius = thread_rng().gen_range(2.0..4.0);
        let height = thread_rng().gen_range(1.0..3.0);

        // Pull terrain.
        terrain_ref.draw(&Brush {
            center: Vector3::new(x, 0.0, z),
            shape: BrushShape::Circle { radius },
            mode: BrushMode::ModifyHeightMap { amount: height },
        });

        // Draw rock texture on top.
        terrain_ref.draw(&Brush {
            center: Vector3::new(x, 0.0, z),
            shape: BrushShape::Circle { radius },
            mode: BrushMode::DrawOnMask {
                layer: 1,
                alpha: 1.0,
            },
        });
    }

    terrain
}
}

As you can see there is quite a lot of code, ideally you should use editor all the times, because handling everything from code could be very tedious. The result of its execution (if all textures are set correctly) could be something like this (keep in mind that terrain will be random everytime you run the code):

terrain from code

Physics

By default, terrains does not have respective physical body and shape, it should be added manually. Create a static rigid body node with a collider with Heightmap shape (learn more about colliders). Then attach the terrain to the rigid body. Keep in mind that terrain's origin differs from Heightmap rigid body, so you need to offset the terrain to match its physical representation. Enable physics visualization in editor settings to see physical shapes and move terrain. Now to move the terrain you should move the body, instead of the terrain (because of parent-child relations).

Performance

Terrain rendering complexity have linear dependency with the amount of layers terrain have. Each layer forces the engine to re-render terrain's geometry with different textures and mask. Typical amount of layers is from 4 to 8. For example, a terrain could have the following layers: dirt, grass, rock, snow. This is a relatively lightweight scheme. In any case, you should measure frame time to understand how each new layer affects performance in your case.

Limitations and known issues

There is no way to cut holes in the terrain yet, it makes impossible to create caves. There is also no way to create ledges, use separate meshes to imitate this. See tracking issue for more info.

For now, it is not possible to change width, height, and resolution of terrain, default values may be either too small or too high, depending on your game. See tracking issue for more info.

There is no way to flatten terrain slopes in the editor. See tracking issue for more info.

There is no level-of-detail for terrain chunks, so distant pieces of terrain will be renderer with the same quality as close ones. This may hurt performance in case of large terrains. See tracking issue for more info.