Here’s a quick tutorial on how you can create very quick prototype maps in Lumberyard, using actual real-world satellite data.
There’s a lot you can do with this method, particularly if you don’t have access to expensive terrain generating software, and it’s a perfectly adequate method to use to create levels since Lumberyard’s terrain tools allow you to adjust the created map however much you need to once you have generated the terrain.
Firstly, you’ll need to find a website that allows you to download satellite data images. There are a number of websites which allow you to do this, but for my tutorial, I’m going to use a great website called ‘terrain.party’ (a website created for game devs). This website allows you to search for any place in the world and if the data exists for that particular place, it then allows you to download the satellite images in .png format.
For this tutorial, I downloaded images of Mount Everest as I wanted to create a mountainous map. Simply click on the search icon in terrain.party and type in the location you want the data of, or you can scroll the map if you just want to explore places by clicking and dragging the map itself. I find it’s easier to have Google Maps open during this process so I can see what the actual terrain is like in photographic form.
Once you have an area selected (you can enlarge or shrink this area using the plus and minus icons in the right-hand menu to grow and shrink the coverage grid), you need to click on the export icon on the right of the page. This will come up with a text box asking for you to name the files.
Insert the name you want to use and click OK. This will download a zip file with the images in. Unzip the files and take a look at them in a browser, select the one you wish to use, and open it in Photoshop.
Photoshop RAW files
In Photoshop, the file you use MUST be the same size in pixels as the terrain area in the map you are going to import it into in Lumberyard. For example, if your map size in Lumberyard is 512×512 meters, then your height map texture must be 512×512 pixels. For this tutorial, I saved the image out as 4096×4096. The map I will create in Lumberyard will have the same dimensions.
Save the image in the RAW image format in Photoshop, into a folder in your games directory, making sure you select IBM PC in the Photoshop RAW Options.
Creating a scene in Lumberyard
In Lumberyard, create a new scene with the dimensions 4096×4096 and name it something. Making the map this size will create a terrain area that is 4.096 kilometres in size. This is a big area and you may want to make your map smaller for performance reasons. It is fine to have a map that is 1024×1024 meters or smaller, just remember your height map will also need to be the same dimensions in pixels.
Lumberyard will then ask you to choose a terrain texture size. Just click 4096 and click ok.
Importing your Height Map into Lumberyard
Open the Terrain Editor and import your height map RAW image file (see 3 images below showing the steps in this section). At first, the terrain will probably look too spikey. To sort this you need to adjust the terrains maximum height in the Terrain Editors Modify menu. Try setting this to a lower number and experiment until you’re happy with the overall height.
Once your happy with the height of your terrain you can then sculpt into it to adapt it more to your design requirements.
The Final Map
So there it is, a satellite data height map Lumberyard level ready to go. Hope this tutorial helps. Watch out for more tips in the not too distant future from TKG! Cheers