Terrain making with EasyGen by Hubas

This tutorials aim will be to explain how to use the very handy little program called EasyGen.

Creating good terrain for Quake 3 or one of its mods used to be a big hassle. First you had to draw a height map (which is fairly easy to visualize IMO), then you had to write, or at least edit, a number of shaders, which control how the textures blend on your terrain. Before you were finished you would also have to draw something called an alpha map, which controls how the terrain is texturized in quake.

Alpha maps are, for me at least, very complicated to visualize. It would also be fairly easy to make mistakes with the alpha map which produces ugly seams in the end result. I think EasyGen’s greatest feature is that it allows you to paint your alpha map directly on your terrain mesh. You can even choose to view the terrain in texturized mode (blended exactly like the end result). When you are done the program will export your terrain complete with shader scripts into the appropriate folders. After that it’s just a matter of bringing it up in Radiant and continue to add other structures such as houses etc.

. Setup

Be sure of using EasyGenRC1 with at least the ‘fixed_exe_b’ (if it’s not the case check the files section) or EasyGen v1.0.

. Creating the mesh

There are several ways to go about creating the terrain mesh.

1. Begin from a height map created in Photoshop or another image editing program. If you aim to create a terrain with 32 * 32 subdivisions you will need a height map with dimensions 33*33 pixels. Every pixel corresponds to a vertex in your height map. Dark pixels generate low areas, and bright pixels generate more elevated areas.

When you have saved your height map in Photoshop, alter the size of your terrain to the desired one, click file -> Import -> Bitmap. You will be questioned about grid height, which is preset to 256 units high, I usually alter this to 1024 to make my terrain more alternating.

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Voila! We have some terrain.

2. In grid mode you can move vertexes up and down by holding down Ctrl+Shift+Lmouse over the vertex you want to manipulate. Or you can enter modifier mode and apply modifiers like hill or smooth etc. Hold down Ctrl to move your modifier around, press apply when you are happy with the position. For more information about the modifiers shortcuts look under the help dialog box.

. Creating the Alpamap

 Now we want to select some textures and paint our alpha map. Select Textures -> Add folder to add the folder where you’ve stored your terrain textures. After that select “Alphamap” on the window on the left. Your screen should now look something like this.

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Notice the Palette in the upper left corner. Click the upper left square and a colour select tool should pop right up. After you have selected a colour for the index, select a texture from the texture window below to assign it to the colour. This is what my alpha map looks like now.

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After that you can assign other textures to other colours. When you paint the mesh hold down Ctrl+Shift+Lmouse and paint the colour directly on your mesh. After a while it might look something like this.

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If a black triangle shows up anywhere in the height map while in texture render mode, it means that you have tried to blend more than two textures together over the same polygon, which q3 can’t handle.

If you like you can select the texture view mode in the view menu to get some kind of idea of how it will look in game. If you think your textures looks too stretched or too cramped you can alter their scale with Keypad + and Keypad -.

. Exporting

Pressing File -> Export -> Map will bring up a new dialog box which looks like this.

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The most important part of this dialog is the “Metashader options”, and the “Alphamap options”. Filename is what your .shader file will be called. Name is what your actual shader will be called (they can be different). Alphamap filename is pretty self explanatory.

If you wish you can set EasyGen to export your map complete with a skybox and an info_player_start entity. You can also select some of the other cool effects which can be seen in the Team Arena levels, such as Dust, Breath, and clouds.

We might not have changed our map since our last export. We might just be interested in exporting the shaders, and the alpha map in these cases. If that’s the case just deselect the appropriate boxes up in the left corner.

Press continue and select a name for your map. And you are ready to fire up radiant and compile. It’s not harder than that.

Good luck