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The One Man MMO Project
The story of a lone developer's quest to build an online world :: MMO programming, design, and industry commentary
Deformable Terrain
By Robert Basler on 2015-08-31 00:32:20
Homepage: onemanmmo.com email:one at onemanmmo dot com

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One thing that always bothered me about this otherwise quite nice shot of Miranda is that all the buildings are buried in the terrain to varying extents. Until today it was the ugly but unsurprising consequence of flat-bottomed buildings and non-flat terrain.

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This screenshot shows Miranda's new deformable terrain. Wherever a building is placed, a patch is placed on the terrain to flatten it out. There are still places where even this can't provide a perfect presentation (like when two buildings are very close together,) but overall it is a considerable aesthetic improvement.

As soon as I saw the deformable terrain working I thought, "this would be cool for explosion craters!" But allowing players to change the terrain has a lot of consequences for pathfinding and gameplay, so for now, that's only a cool possibility, not a feature.

Unlike older RTS games with their flat maps, the realistic terrain in Miranda has always made for problems laying out bases. Previously a building's position was legal as long as every point under the building was within 2m vertically from the height at the centre of the building. That meant that small buildings could be laid out nearly anywhere, but larger buildings like the construction yard and refinery often were problematic if the terrain wasn't nearly flat.

I've changed the building layout rules now so that each building has a "Foundation Height" statistic. A building's position is now legal if the difference between the highest and lowest points under a building is less than the foundation height. The default foundation height for buildings is 4m. This minor semantic change does two things, it makes more of the terrain accessible to the existing buildings, and it means that players will be able to buy buildings with large foundation heights that will be able to be placed on very steep terrain like Blofeld's lair.

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