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Thread: [WIP] HQ 3D Map Mesh Project - Progress Pics in OP

  1. #1
    Biggus Splenus's Avatar Primicerius
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    Default [WIP] HQ 3D Map Mesh Project - Progress Pics in OP


    I've been working on my own overhaul mod for a while (mostly just concepts atm), and while exploring the new stuff we can play with on the Remastered version, I ran down a deep rabbit hole... to create the greatest campaign map 3D mesh of all time. I just want to share the journey of my attempt here with you guys.

    Process:
    Generated from Natural Earth's 1:10m vector shapefiles and NASA's Visible Earth heightmap raster information, reprojected to the Van der Grinten projection in QGIS (as this map projection distorts our area of interest the least, much less than the common WGS84), imported into Blender with the BlenderGIS add-on, and then finally exported and converted into game files with Feral's set of tools (all of which are free to use and hyperlinked, fyi anyone interested). I hope to document this all soon and put a tutorial together in the future, and upload a bunch of helpful stuff for anyone that wants to attempt something similar. The amount of work it took to get this data usable is incredible.

    Map Design Choices:
    We can simulate accurate and detailed height with a combination of assets; albedo and material texture, and the mesh model. Coastlines can only be defined accurately via mesh model in the Rome engine, and so this is what I'll be focusing most of my detail/polys on. I don't want the height detail to suffer to any noticeable extent, but I'm not expecting to create mountain ranges super detailed and wrinkly. Also I'm unsure how awkward the difference in interactible stratmap and visual map mesh will be, but the detailed coast line is something I'm keen on keeping, and keen to try make work.

    Continue - Techy stuff:
    Furthermore, this project is also an attempt at really pushing the limits of the engine, while also (hopefully) maintaining 100% Stability™. The maximum amount of map mesh tiles we can have in an array is 22 on either x or y axis (1 tile = 1 2048x2048 texture). Try to create 23 on either axis and the game will fail to generate a functional heightmap.bin. But having 22x22 tiles (484) causes other problems on occasion, as it seems the game has a limit to the amount of memory it'll dedicate to the campaign map mesh, and will start to cull assets until it meets this threshold (seemingly, I actually have no idea, just done a whole lot of testing). I've had to cut down the amount of total tiles on one axis to accommodate for this, which atm is 22x18 (394 total) tiles. This also helped me define my mod's actual stratmap dimensions (Feral say having even sized tiles is good), which of course being in theme with all the above, is the max width of 510.

    Map Dimensions:

    I'll have to briefly describe my other overhaul mod's setting. It will be focused on the Celtic peoples, their various kingdoms, and their world's fight for survival against Rome, while also maintaining a map and faction scope similar to vanilla, so as to not take away from the feeling of the grand campaign and it's familiar diversity. So that's exactly what this map is going to cater for (while also adding a bit extra where I can). I hope to release this map as its own standalone mod from my overhaul, designed more in-line with vanilla gameplay.

    And so how to define the map borders? The extent of the north and south borders were balanced with each other, not necessarily meeting any restrictions apart from maintaining my 22x10 ratio. These lands from the far stretches of the known world were relatively irrelevant to the factions within the scope of the mod. Originally Orkney defined the north, but having a comfy 22x18 ratio allowed for a land-traversable southern norway, location of modern Stockholm, and the Estonian coast; north defined ezpz. The southern border ends just south of Arabia and Socotra, excluding the Horn of Africa (all of Arabia was maintained as a potential arena for Ptolemaic and Seleukid affairs, also for a potential Nabataea faction); south defined.

    Ireland and Hispania needed to be included for the Celts of course, with enough traversable water to sail around both; west defined. The eastern border is currently defined by Arabia, Parthia and western Ariana. This excludes Baktria, Sogdia, Gedrosia, Arachosia, majority of Ariana, the Northeastern Saka of the Silk Road, and all of the Maurya Kingdom and the lands they would compete for. I feel, historically speaking, this was a fairly well defined kinda geopolitical sphere, and the area isn't in the scope of vanilla's map, and I needed to make a big cut to make room for faction slots and a higher detailed map. It seemed to make sense. Also, given that I definitely didn't have the faction slots for Baktria, an Indian Kingdom, or a Saka people to threaten the Baktrians, it didn't seem right to include all these lands without having anything to threaten the Seleukids from their position. As stated above, the eastern border is extended from vanilla, but just not to the extent of which you're probably use to seeing in mods.

    I also wanted to have a larger scale map, to make use of our new (essentially unlimited) region limit, without everything getting cramped.

    (I'm currently thinking about changing this to extend into the Indus valley).

    First Prototype Images:
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    All textures are placeholder duplicates of a single vanilla tile, all seams you see are simply a result of this. This is essentially the earliest in-game look at the project I could give.

    Completed: Map edge border model, Coastline and lake geometry (modern, though I aim to remedy this slowly over time, there's a lot to change, and it's not exactly top priority right now).
    Not completed: bathmetry, heightmap, coast waves model, rivers, albedo textures, material textures, all stratmap tga stuff.














    Dunzo:
    Let me know what you think I guess, or if there's a specific area you wanna see. I'm happy to answer any questions too
    Last edited by Biggus Splenus; July 31, 2021 at 03:36 AM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: [WIP] HQ 3D Map Mesh Project - Progress Pics in OP

    woow, this looks amazing, would it be possible to make whole world map with such a detail, now when limits are removed?

  3. #3
    Biggus Splenus's Avatar Primicerius
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    Default Re: [WIP] HQ 3D Map Mesh Project - Progress Pics in OP

    We still have the limits of a 510*510 pixel stratmap, and so the functional level of the campaign map would still be the same as original Rome. Also the Rome engine can't project the entire globe in a realistic manner (flat 2D model, no capability to create a looped model that can be circumvented). And the amount of vertices required to create a global map of this quality would be absolutely ridiculous.

    I think this would be possible, and it could potentially look nice, but probably not to the level of detail that I'm achieving here, and you'd still be working with a 510*510 max pixel stratmap model. I believe it wouldn't be worth it, and a more focused scope would allow for greater quality in general, across all aspects of the campaign.
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    Default Re: [WIP] HQ 3D Map Mesh Project - Progress Pics in OP

    ohh, i see now that they didnt change pixel limit i confused it with settlement limit, maybe theyll do smth about it in future, it would be great to have whole world.

  5. #5
    Biggus Splenus's Avatar Primicerius
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    Default Re: [WIP] HQ 3D Map Mesh Project - Progress Pics in OP

    Maybe if they somehow miraculously removed/drastically increased the faction limit as well as the stratmap dimension limit, a global map would be feasible. Otherwise idk how we would be able to create enjoyable, immersive campaign gameplay on a literal global scale. Also all the additional assets that would need to be created for these cultures would be insane, overhauling the vanilla setting is already a monumental task.
    Last edited by Biggus Splenus; July 31, 2021 at 02:23 PM.
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    Biggus Splenus's Avatar Primicerius
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    Default Re: [WIP] HQ 3D Map Mesh Project - Progress Pics in OP



    The possible alternative map dimensions, currently tossing up between this and the one in the op. This would be a 22x15 (330) tile mesh, 510x347 stratmap. The only downside to these dimension is I'm unsure if I'd have enough stratmap space to do what I'd like to. However these dimensions are more inline with the various popular mods already out, and would allow for many mods to use this map, or modify it to their liking (much easier to cut the mesh down to your desired scope, rather than trying to add additional geometry). I do aim to make this project completely open, and I'd love to see what other mods can do with this mesh, and see how they improve upon it.
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    Morrowgan's Avatar Centenarius
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    Default Re: [WIP] HQ 3D Map Mesh Project - Progress Pics in OP

    I like this one because I'd love to see that part of India included. It's certainly a personal bias lol.
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    Biggus Splenus's Avatar Primicerius
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    Default Re: [WIP] HQ 3D Map Mesh Project - Progress Pics in OP

    Recently restarted the project so I could add a grid of vertices to the model, and begin adding heightmap and bathymetric data. Took the opportunity to switch to those map dimensions, and the Indus Valley/Gujarat region is now added Ended up being 510x361 proportions. Shouldn't be too long til I'm back with some progress to show off.
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    Default Re: [WIP] HQ 3D Map Mesh Project - Progress Pics in OP

    just wanna ask in what folder you found textures, from what i can see thats desert texture from rome remastered?

  10. #10
    Biggus Splenus's Avatar Primicerius
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    Default Re: [WIP] HQ 3D Map Mesh Project - Progress Pics in OP

    data\terrain\campaign\base\, then there's the textures and textures_winter folders. Each tile has its own specific albedo and material texture file for winter and summer. edit: i think my placeholder is #16 or something
    Last edited by Biggus Splenus; August 03, 2021 at 04:02 AM.
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    Default Re: [WIP] HQ 3D Map Mesh Project - Progress Pics in OP

    yeah, i know about that, but thats like already textured larege pieces of map, thank you anyways

  12. #12
    Biggus Splenus's Avatar Primicerius
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    Default Re: [WIP] HQ 3D Map Mesh Project - Progress Pics in OP

    oh ok... what textures are you referring to then? I dont think there are any others used on the campaign map apart from those 104 tiles.

    edit: the night ended before I could finish a few stages on the model. hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to post a 2nd look.
    Last edited by Biggus Splenus; August 03, 2021 at 01:58 PM.
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    Default Re: [WIP] HQ 3D Map Mesh Project - Progress Pics in OP

    somethink like base textures that they used to paint that peices, like smth that is located in C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Total War ROME REMASTERED\Contents\Resources\Data\data\feral_textures\far_mountain_textures

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    Biggus Splenus's Avatar Primicerius
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    Default Re: [WIP] HQ 3D Map Mesh Project - Progress Pics in OP

    Sorry I've been away for a bit longer than a day lol, it's been a bit busy. Anyways, I'll update everyone with random stuff.

    I'm currently making my maps with a 1m grid land plane, a 10m grid hydro plane, and a 0.3m deep coastal shelf to hold the two separate layers together. The hydro plane was placed 0.29m below 0 on the Z axis, so that the land raises only 0.01m above sea ingame (original preview pics of the map were higher above sea level, making the coasts look more like cliffs). This all ends up looking like this in the model:
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    I then apply a displacement modifier attached to a high-res heightmap, applying map height data to a verticy group (all vertices minus coastal and adjacent, to maintain a level coastline) :
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    And a smooth modifier underneath that, half the strength of the displacement:
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    I haven't started playing around with the numbers on these modifiers yet, but for anyone interested it looks like this atm. I'll begin playing around with this after a few problems are solved:
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    The biggest problem I've ran into with this process is highland lakes, in for example Anatolia (like you may notice above), Greece, Scotland, Iran, and idk plenty others. The game with only render water below 0 on the Z axis, and so the mesh has to go from 2000+ metres, straight down to sea level. It causes problems and looks ugly as hell, and am starting to think that I'll have to represent them with textures rather than mesh model. I will be able to retain the lowland lakes in the mesh though. Here's a look at the problem, same area, blender and in game:
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Here are two other pics just to tag along. It does look very good in most areas, though obviously I have to tune the height numbers a lot, and it's pretty hard to show well in a 2D image lol
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Next I guess I'll be adding bathymetry, and fixing the highland lakes issue. I'll be looking for a way to texture this fat sucka too.

    edit: different variables were used for most of these images, I've exported so many different maps, just trying random stuff and seeing what works atm.
    Last edited by Biggus Splenus; August 07, 2021 at 07:17 AM.
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    Default Re: [WIP] HQ 3D Map Mesh Project - Progress Pics in OP

    The biggest problem I've ran into with this process is highland lakes, in for example Anatolia (like you may notice above), Greece, Scotland, Iran, and idk plenty others. The game with only render water below 0 on the Z axis, and so the mesh has to go from 2000+ metres, straight down to sea level. It causes problems and looks ugly as hell, and am starting to think that I'll have to represent them with textures rather than mesh model. I will be able to retain the lowland lakes in the mesh though. Here's a look at the problem, same area, blender and in game:
    If you're happy manually modelling things (which you obviously are) you can use the river_mesh.cas to make proper looking water for your highland lakes. You'd need to have two different versions of the map in effect though. One where your lakes are actually at below sea level and adjoining hills lower, to use in the world/maps/stuff, so you get battlemaps that have water there and don't have extreme cliff edges around the water! But with the mesh you can have the higher areas and just add the river_mesh over the lake parts.

    We're doing a big map of the British Isles and plan to do that for Scottish Lochs.

  16. #16
    Biggus Splenus's Avatar Primicerius
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    Default Re: [WIP] HQ 3D Map Mesh Project - Progress Pics in OP

    Oh my, that's genius. Thank you so much, and for helping me on discord earlier
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    Metaluis90's Avatar Ordinarius
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    Default Re: [WIP] HQ 3D Map Mesh Project - Progress Pics in OP

    Bumping this incredible WiP
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  18. #18
    Metaluis90's Avatar Ordinarius
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    Default Re: [WIP] HQ 3D Map Mesh Project - Progress Pics in OP

    Hey Biggus! Just checking out you and your incredible idea. Hope you are doing great!
    "Rules without exceptions last eternally; Roman Law is the only law"
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