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Hi map/terrain/environment/world… makers,

 

this is, after working at BI/BISim for almost 10 years, my first topic created here at BI forums. In my defense, I’m mostly active in Arma 3 Maps Terrains Skype’s group, but the topic I want to share with you deserves to be discuss here(skype has short memory and is not as comfortable as forums, for such kind of discussion).

 

The Topic?

It’s of course the bLandscapeTools(bLT), an addon for Blender I’ve been already working on for the last 8 years. The main reason I started this addon was:

  • already knew Blender

  • wanted to improve my python scripting skills, as I like to automate or at least speed up processes

  • many handy world creation features were not available back then, are not available now and will never be implemented in BI/BISim world creation tools

 

Necessary to note that I never intended to write a tool which would take over the world BI/BISim tools, but rather try to fill gaps(small/large) in terrain development.

Blender is a 3D modeling tool(and much more), but you can’t expect fancy features which can handle big chunks of terrains with millions of objects on it, it has its own bottlenecks and limits, but even back then I could see, that the advantage of having possibility to import terrain mesh and its textures to Blender and start placing environment content much more easier way(comparing to Buldozer) or even modeling content over a terrain is a feature that will never come into Terrain Builder/Buldozer.

 

By sticking together Blender’s default features like sculpting, painting + powerfull API I was basically able to add many time consuming and “Visitor4/TerrainBuilder hard to get implemented” features into Blender.

 

Let’s stop talking for now… check out my talk at BlenderConference2016 about the Blender Terrain Tools(Edit: just currently I changed the name to bLandscapeTools) so you guys can make an image of what I’ve been working on.

 

There are some features which will be really hard(almost impossible) to release because they are closely bound to BI dev content like raw(non-binarized) P3Ds, but on the positive note bLT has some handy features not even mentioned in the video(like quality assurance tools)

 

Why now?

After the conference I got contacted by individuals and even teams, asking me where they can download the addon as they would like to have their hands on it and give it a try. So I decided to start releasing the tool bits by bits to people so they, hopefully, can have a fun time play around with bLT.

 

Also, the fact that this year(2017) it's going to be 10 years at BI/BISim or in other words working with the RVengine, as well as, Paul Pelosi(bushlurker) suddenly passing away, made me to do this decision and release the tool.

 

It’s also going to be a challenge and something new to me, releasing my tool to other people, it needs a change of thinking about the tool, fix some parts of the pipeline..etc. and that may take some time.

 

How?

There’s plenty of how in the front of me.

 

I need to figure out a way how to share the tool with you guys. Github, Blender market I have in my mind right now.

 

As mentioned already, there are features hard to release(raw P3Ds). In this case I’ll have to ask someone here in BI, if company would be willing to release let’s say at least last LODs of assets so they could be imported into Blender and used within bLT.

 

I use Blender for over 10 years, so I’m pretty comfortable with its workflow, but this doesn’t have to apply to a newcomer. Therefore, I’ll have to take some steps to make bLT even more user friendly than it is right now. I plan to make quite some tutorials how to use Blender and bLT to user’s satisfaction.

 

Currently, Blender development is at the stage where quite a big major changes are being implemented and to be released with Blender 2.8. There’s going to be plenty of great new features such Viewport update(supporting PBR shaders), new Layers, Workflow system and much more.

 

This means that I’ll have to re-think some of the bLT features to support all these new improvements once they’re released. Therefore I don’t want to do any major touches into what exists in bLT now. I hope that the improvements done for 2.8 will take bLT a few steps further again, as it already happened with the transition from Blender 2.4 to 2.5+.

 

So once again, I’d like to ask you to have a look at my talk, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask. It will help me to move on with releasing the tool as well as to know how the features should be done to help you create a map for any RV engine related project.

 

When?

Release of the '0-th' or 'Introduction' version is planned on the end of summer holidays.

 

Progress will be tracked here.

Subscribe to bLT youtube's channel here.

Tools Github's here.

 

Cheers,

 

Miro

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keep up the great work ... {yes I'm following this development too}

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I had the opportunity to watch your conference, as well as read your article on the same subject in the blender magazine a few years ago and it's really a fantastic job you're doing.

Honestly, I did not believe in a public release, but I was wrong and I'm glad I made a mistake.

It is certain that the creation of world, via blender and your tool, will become more and more interesting and thank you for that.

The possibility of using libraries, under the sandbox, as is done with UE4 is a very good thing.
The automation that we see, too.

 

Quote

Blender is a 3D modeling tool(and much more), but you can’t expect fancy features which can handle big chunks of terrains with millions of objects on it, it has its own bottlenecks and limits, but even back then I could see, that the advantage of having possibility to import terrain mesh and its textures to Blender and start placing environment content much more easier way(comparing to Buldozer) or even modeling content over a terrain is a feature that will never come into Terrain Builder/Buldozer.

Fully agree and personally, it is this aspect that interests me the most, like the tunnel, for example, but also the possibility to modify a cut-out area and to personalize it to the extreme, with objects created for the Such as rock supports, waterfalls (with the currently available "Aliascartoons" modder) and many other assets, which will allow either a faithful reconstruction of a precise environment, such as some historical sites, or, Why not, a total extrapolation, like the creation of a part of the world invented.

I think a reduced map is more convenient than a huge map that we probably will not get everywhere.
As a result, blender bottlenecks will not be over-achieved. :)

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Nice to see you officially announce this Miro :)

 

Your tools have come far since I first caught eyes on it in Skype and for your dedication to it I applaud you!

 

6 minutes ago, lodu said:

Fully agree and personally, it is this aspect that interests me the most, like the tunnel, for example, but also the possibility to modify a cut-out area and to personalize it to the extreme, with objects created for the Such as rock supports, waterfalls (with the currently available "Aliascartoons" modem) and many other assets, which will allow either a faithful reconstruction of a precise environment, such as some historical sites, or, Why not, a total extrapolation, like the creation of a part of the world invented.

 

I couldn't agree more, having the terrain mesh available within a 3D Modeling program offers great benefits to those looking to create/recreate specific structures or to just be able to create a model first time without having to adjust either the model or terrain mesh once in-engine. 

 

On this front I too have been experimenting, albeit with L3DT for handling the initial raw heightfield with texture mask and (via a custom plugin) exporting the raw data into FBX file format.  The end result is a terrain node mesh that I can drop into 3dsMax and use to model structures onto, it's kinda neat and super useful from a modeling perspective.

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Looks like I will be learning blender! Nice work!

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3 hours ago, mir_o said:

I’m mostly active in Arma 3 Maps Terrains Skype’s group

 

You should join discord arma server and come to chat with us in #terrain_makers - that is the place to be for terrain chat nowadays, skype has been long dead.

 

In discord there is 24/7 chatting going on with very valuable information shared, newbies helped etc.

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1 hour ago, Snake Man said:

 

skype has been long dead.

 

Blasphemy :yikes:

Skype is fine and still active, it just has fewer members so it's more relaxed

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Hey guys,

 

first of all thank you for the kind words, really appreciated it.

 

The first feature I'll release with BlenderTerrainTools will be terrain editing and sculpting. I'd like to ask you what do you expect from such a feature, what's the typical problems(bottlenecks) you're struggling while editing elevation, what functionality you wish to have? I need to know this in advance so it can be implemented and then tested, ideally at once.  Let's discuss it here, Skype's Arma 3 Mape Terrains channel, or Discord's #terrain_makers channel ...Thank you in advance for any kind of input.

 

Edit: here's a video showing one of many use cases of terrain editing in BLT https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CgBaZc5o1Y ... what do you think could be done better?

 

Cheers,

 

Miro

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I've mostly been working with fictional terrain with lots of precisely placed structures embedded into the terrain and editing the heightmap to accommodate the structures is what takes the most time when I juggle the terrain between L3DT where I generate the base and TerrainBuilder where I can do the adjustments while seeing the objects. Then I may export the heightmap back L3DT for its more elaborate terrain sculpting features but having all that in one package would cut a lot of editing time.

My Fishlist for terrain sculpting tools from the top of my head:

  • raise, lower brushes
  • brush set elevation to x height
  • add/substract x elevation
  • smoothing and leveling brushes
  • erosion brush 

Ah well I seem to be listing pretty much what L3DT has for scultping tools..

 

Anyway what could be useful is if all tools could also be used with splines and/or projected areas/ selections. For example urban area leveling and roads would be easier.

 

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I've been woking with a high res heightmap for the last few months and BD is very limiting with that, but not only for high res, it just operates exponentially slower.

I think diffrent editing speed modes are a good thing:
- slowmo editing speed while holding alt for example
- fast editing speed while holding shift
- standard editing speed without any additional keys

then a free hand ring area selection in addition to your already shown freehand selection

and maybe even some nice hole filling feature utilising a plane or even complexer geometry in blender to adjust the heightmap to, maybe even come boolean functionality.

road smoothing based on the freehand or some vector line feature from blender

 

flatten hm under selected object

 

undo!

I will expand this list if something crosses my mind.

 

apart from heightmap editing there is one feature that is essential  for all terrain maker and relativly easy to implement (if it isn't already in). adjusting a object to the terrain normal in either hand placed objects or generation tools.

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The first thing that comes to mind is a tool to fill in the holes that can appear when placing objects, for example, when creating mountain flanks, to simulate rock, with More accurate than what the elevation related to the basic satellite map give.

 

In the same vein, a functionality related to the real sculpture tool integrated in blender; With a modification of type multiresolution, but not dyntopo because it destroys the uv; Which would make it possible to subdivide on specific places, without subdividing the whole map and which would therefore retain the uv coordinates.

 

This is to allow precise hollowing, filling, smoothing, mainly for the more precise and natural integration of imported objects such as houses, rocks, bridges, etc.

 

The Boolean tools are very consumers of polygons, so I do not talk about them, while not really knowing if the engine of arma3 supports this functionality without too much drop of resources.
I imagine, in fact, that we must also monitor the polycount and the gameplay that can result.

 

Of course the ideal would be to have access to your tool, to better realize the necessary things, but it is not a request, just a statement made at the end of my reflection.

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@HorribleGoat

 

Indeed, thank you for the information: I am so stuck in blender that I forget that a game engine is necessarily more limited.

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Great news! I was considering trying to contact you to ask if you would consider releasing it. I do have a certain affinity for Blender myself :)

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Hi guys,

 

I'd like to share my professional life jubilee with you guys... today I'm 10 years at Bohemia Interactive/Bohemia Interactive Simulations, 10 years of sweating blood while working with RVengine and its tools, as well as feeling proud when looking back and realizing what I helped to build.

 

The reason why I'm posting it here is that I've been doing my best(progress tracked here) to release '0th' version of bLandscapeTools exactly with this jubilee, but it still needs some love and I expect to have it ready for the release at the end of summer holidays. The '0-th' or 'Introduction' version won't be as features rich as the version I showcased at Blender Conference(only terrain sculpting will be packed in) because I'd like you guys to become familiar with Blender's Interface and bLT workflow, at the first place. This version should illustrate the basic idea and concept of bLT and open a discussion about what features should be implemented next.

 

So while waiting for the release and enjoying the summer, have a look at some Blender's tutorials I collected for you. If you guys will find any other useful tutorials on how to get familiar with Blender(mainly viewport, objects manipulation), please share it with me and I'll add it here and later to guidelines at bLT's github page. Thank you.

 

Blender Beginner Tutorial - Part 1: User Interface
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYj6e-72RDs

Blender Beginner Tutorial - Part 2: Moving, Rotating, Scaling
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s05DiCEDVGE

How to use Blender : Beginner Tutorial
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUhWdGcOHPw

 

 I also would like to thank you for the kind words and support I'm getting from the community. Appreciate it a lot :) ...

 

Cheers,

 

Miro

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Hi people,

 

while I'm still adding some info into bLT's documentation at https://github.com/paxetgloria/bLandscapeTools/wiki/bLandscapeTools-Tabs,  you're already free to give the bLandscapeTools a try... https://github.com/paxetgloria/bLandscapeTools
I made a short video how to install bLT, Blender and GDAL for you.

 

This is a testing build, a very first one so be patient!


Although this version is more for users who already knows Blender, especially viewport navigation, using the sculpting mode etc. anyone is more than welcome to just set your source data and get your first location loaded into Blender. Lappihuan was able to get his terrain into Blender even without any documentation so I hope the current workflow is pretty straightforward.

 

If you'll find a bug, report it here(hit New issue button) or if you just want to share your thoughts, please don't hesitate to contact me on Skype or Discord. Of course, you can leave a message here on forums.

 

Note, please don't try to import your 4096x4096 terrain into Blender at once, as that's not how bLT is supposed to work. You'll find info about Locations idea soon in the documentation.

 

Cheers and happy blending,

 

Miro

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YAY! Finally! Hope to test it on the weekend!

 

Is there already a way to import unfinished TB projects?

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On 27. 7. 2017 at 7:51 PM, NeoArmageddon said:

Is there already a way to import unfinished TB projects?

Well this first version will support terrain mesh editing, other features like surface painting, objects placement and possibly wrp export will come after it. So the current workflow still needs TB to import terrain tweaked in bLT and export it into wrp.

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Hi guys,

 

It’s been exactly two months since my last update and it’s time to write about the progress again. First of all I had to apologize for the delay(I promised to have another version to play with at the end summer holidays). For almost a month, me and my family, was struggling with some virus so most of my free time went to getting us well and relaxing. On a positive note, I had a break, zoomed out, from coding and just thought about what I’ve done so far and got a clearer view how to progress further.

 

Quite a lot has happened in the code, pipeline and workflow. Let’s have a look!!!

 

1 Terrain modification

 

1.1 Sculpting

The most useful sculpting brushes and their features were moved directly to bLT’s Terrain Editing tab for faster and easier work flow. User doesn’t have to switch between various modes(Object, Edit, Sculpt, Paint...) and then going to the right tab, now it’s all at one place.

 

https://imgur.com/f4SfXN5

 

1.2 Mesh based terrain editing

Sculpting in some cases may not be ideal, especially in cases when user needs to tweak terrain mesh in a very precise manner.

With mesh based terrain editing user basically models the shape of an area that needs to be tweaked and then uses Blender’s basic modelling tools to get a desired terrain shape.

Another advantage of this approach is the fact that, in terms of Blender, editing is done via so called modifiers, which means that changes are not applied to a terrain mesh until user is done editing(applying changes). In practice, if a user tweaked terrain in one location and later decides to have these terrain changes in other location he just basically drag terrain modifier over to a desired area.

 

There are currently two ways, the first one, Assign Mesh Terrain Modifier, assigns modifier to a selected map object(eg. house). When user moves an object with a terrain modifier assigned, the shape of terrain(defined by the mesh) goes with an object.

 

https://imgur.com/l75Uqe3

 

The second one, Add Mesh Terrain Modifier, just adds a simple plane modifier(not necessary to have an object selected) to terrain.

 

Both modifiers have, by default, a square shape, but it can be eventually modeled to a very complex shape.

 

https://imgur.com/0FL94GV

 

1.3 Spline based terrain editing

Similarly to the mesh based editing, spline based editing involves modifiers as well. The only difference is that the shape of a modifier is based on a spline. This comes handy when user needs to flatten terrain under a road on a steep hill, for example. User can now control width of a spline as a whole or at desired control points of a spline as well as the tilt.

 

https://imgur.com/jy16lM9

 

Another feature of spline based editing, which is still work in progress, is a possibility to paint weights of how much a terrain mesh is affected by a modifier(see picture below). In this case spline based terrain changes were filtered out by painting zero weights(blue color) in parts where a bridge will be placed.

 

https://imgur.com/UQBqYtR
 

2 Surface Painting

This feature is currently under heavy development. There were two major friction points:

 

1.

I thought I’ll be able to implement this feature without any 3rd party libraries necessary, but I eventually decided to use OpenCV, which is definitely a good decision as it opens new possibilities in raster processing. Unfortunately it took me some time to figure out how to make it easier for a user to install it. I’m still not satisfied, as user has to install Python 3.5, even though Blender comes with a slim version of Python 3.5 pre-installed. Anyway, I can promise that I’ll automate as much steps as possible so user won’t struggle with it.

 

2.

This one is still kind of an opened issue, but not a showstopper for the surface painting anymore. So what was the problem?

Since I decided to release bLT and have support for RV Engine within bLT, I always wanted users to have a possibility to load Arma’s map objects(binarized p3ds) into my tools so they can use all the handy features of bLT while all the map objects are loaded in the viewport.

 

So I went, with a little hope, to BI’s CEO Marek Spanel and Arma3’s Project Lead Petr Kolar and asked them if BI would be willing to release textured last LODs of all Arma models converted into blend files(Blender internal format)... and they said ‘NO PROBLEM, GO AHEAD’!!!

 

Although I was really happy for this ‘little’ success, I was realizing what kind of diversion from Surface painting development this is going to be. I had to write a tool to extract last LODs from p3ds and although I did my best, some p3ds are simple pile of mess. So I have list of like a hundreds of models which will have to be converted semi automatic way. Another time consuming part was to figure out how to load these objects into a project. For now I’m going to use a solution I also presented at the Blender conference, but I hope the ongoing Asset management project for Blender will bring in some advanced tools for assets management.

 

3 Minor features

The new Blender 2.79 brought in a cool feature called custom application templates which allows me to set up custom appearance, settings, key mapping of bLT in  a simple way. It also finally allows me to set up custom splash screen when bLandscapeTools template is picked.

 

https://imgur.com/GL7RKpj

 

So now, with all the above being said, I don’t want to set a solid dates when another version of bLT will be released. First of all, I need to finish Surface Painting feature and then make objects loading a bit more solid and stable and I expect this to take around a month.

 

That’s it for now.

 

Thank you for your support!

 

Miro

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Looks fantastic! I am really looking forward to working with this, thank you.

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