Over the last few months, Olly has been working hard on the new world map – a whole world, 4x bigger to completely replace the current one. This will have a great variety of different biomes: Swamp Lands, Savannas and Tar Sands… just to name a few. To all the fans of the current look though: don’t worry, there will still be a desert biome as well. Check out some of Olly’s experimental work-in-progress landscapes…
The process involves selecting a small area of heightmap (a huge greyscale texture) from the main world map, and loading it into ZBrush. Here, Olly sculpts it into it’s basic shape, for example cliffs, hillocks, dunes, bluffs, gulleys, cracked planet skin, arid features or swampy bogs. He then uses another editor, World Machine, to play around with features like erosion and terraces, before tweaking a bit more in ZBrush again. Eventually during these process, he’ll need to render out a heightmap and various textures – colourmaps, convexity maps, maybe angle, splatmaps or other information from macro’s in that program. Then, this new heightmap would essentially be ‘sewn’ back into the original super-huge world greyscale heightmap. The textures are added after developing the overlay map – this gives the land surface it’s basic colour. Loose stones, sand, mud, dried lava flows, cliff beds etc, can all be then be added as textures for the surface of each individual region.
Early stages of a volcanic crater
These and the normal maps that go with them then get applied to the world surface super easily thanks to the mapping systems of the Kenshi coders, Sam and Chris. Olly will then rebuild the world and load the game to check the results. Often excitement then turns to a huge list of fixes…
Remember – all of the above images represent an unfinished, experimental state; they are not a final representation of the finished world map.