Sharing My Heightmaps

HeatherG

Volunteer Moderator
Hi everyone!

First of all, please excuse any grammatical or orthographic mistakes I make – I'm not a native speaker, unfortunately. Furthermore, I'm a long-time lurker and first-time poster on these forums, so I sincerely hope I'm doing everything right.

With that out of the way, I'd like to get to the point: I read about some people having problems with the new heightmap feature and so I thought: 'Hey, maybe I should share my heightmaps for other people to use!' I prepared five different heightmaps and will add more in the next few days / weeks / months if people would like me to. So, please let me know what you think!

The following link will take you to a google drive folder with my current heightmaps: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1rl_-WaDVd9AeC5OoGjC8qeo9FwSRKS0A?usp=sharing

Within the folder, you'll find the .tif files along with some screenshots that I added as a preview for the respective heightmap.

If you need any tips on how to make your own heightmap, let me know. I'll try to help as best as I can!
These look fantastic! Thanks for sharing these with us :)
 
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Hello,
I would like to thank you very much.

I was provided with an altitude map, personally tailored to my needs.
Acala has really put a lot of effort and even test set my kite itself, just so that everything fits.

I am currently tinkering with it and am happy because before there were such height maps, I spent hours trying to set mountains and other things myself.
That was really on top of the other bugs a frustration moment that made me dislike playing PZ anymore.

Maybe Frontier will eventually give us the ability to set self-designed maps, including caves and buildings, as a starting zoo and let off steam in them.

My dragon now has a home and I have muse to build and design again.

Thank you so much again for the time and patience you spent. I really like the card very much.

20211015143126_1.jpg
 
Hello folks! First of all, I'd like to thank everybody for the positive feedback :)

Secondly, I'd like to let you know that I tinkered with heightmaps some more and have provided new ones in the google drive folder (https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1rl_-WaDVd9AeC5OoGjC8qeo9FwSRKS0A?usp=sharing). Please feel free to check them out! The old ones are still available in the respective sub-folder.

So, what has changed?
  • I refined some methods to render the heightmaps, thus getting more details.
  • I discarded my previously used random naming convention for heightmaps.
  • I named the new heightmaps after what is on them, making it easier to find what you're looking for. I formed the following categories, with 8 heightmaps for each one:
    • Big Mountains,
    • Gorges,
    • Islands,
    • Mountain Rows,
    • Mountains and Lakes,
    • Plateaus.
For the time being, I'll take a small break from the creation of heightmaps. I should really play the actual game already :) However, I am of course still available in case anyone has questions or needs help!

Lastly, I'll attach an overview image of the new heightmaps.

Have a good day, everyone!
New Heightmaps Overview.jpg
 
So, for anyone interested in the long-winded (and I mean it!) technical details: As far as I can tell the 'terracing' is due to minimal differences in elevation. This happens if you choose only slight differences in color values, for instance a change from RGB 129 to RGB 130. It seems to work better with more abrupt changes in color. Let me give you some examples (beware: long post incoming).
I have no idea of the actual technical background, but I remember from one of the pre-update livestreams, one of the PZ devs mentioned that one slight difference in the color value leads to one in-game meter of height difference, and there seems to be no way to work around that other than the flattening tool in the game itself (iirc).

But anyone, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
 
I have no idea of the actual technical background, but I remember from one of the pre-update livestreams, one of the PZ devs mentioned that one slight difference in the color value leads to one in-game meter of height difference, and there seems to be no way to work around that other than the flattening tool in the game itself (iirc).

But anyone, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

Yep, that's exactly what's happening, from what I observed.

The only way around this would be an even more subtle 'translation' from color value to elevation, I presume. If 1 increment in RGB would hypothetically translate to 0.1 meter of height difference, I guess you wouldn't get the aforementioned miniature terraces but instead softer transitions in elevation. But that's just not how it works, so I'd wager we have to deal with the mini terraces.
 
Thoughts on “terracing”:
In principle, this issue should be mitigated by using higher bit densites.

  • With an “ordinary” 8 bit picture, the range between black and white is 265 steps. This is not very much and terracing a likely outcome when using such an image
  • A 16 bit range supports 65.535 grey scale steps. Using such a TIFF should lead to way smoother maps.
  • Apparently, PZ’s picture importer even supports 32 bit pictures. This would mean 4.294.967.296 steps from completely black to completely white - more than enough for a butter smooth surface.

This is the theory, though.

In my own testing, terracing was still quite visible even with a 16 bit picture.
I didn’t try 32 bit so far due to “transporting issues” (too big for an e-mail, USB stick is broken and Dropbox not installed any more.)

Anyway, if you want to experiment yourself, remember to blur your input picture after changing from a lower bit range to a higher one. Just adding more potential grading steps will not actually create them, when saving a previously 8 bit TIFF as 16 or 32 bit.


——

EDIT: Screw all this! I had to rethink all of it (due to my above observation that using 16 bit didn’t help.)
While everything I wrote is technically correct, it will not solve the terracing issue!

The real issue is:
We have 1024x1024 pixel to work with.
Let’s assume, one pixel represents 1 meter (it probably doesn’t, but let’s just assume for the ease of it,)
If we have a very subtle slope of 10%, the hight from one edge of our square meter (you remember: our pixel!) to its other side will change by 10 cm.
The bit density described above doesn’t influence this in the slightest!
True, with more bits, we could have even more subtle slopes, like 1% incline or even 0,1%.

But nothing of this will change the terracing!
The terracing is simply caused by PZ’s map importer using the picture on a mere pixel basis and crating a little piece of flat terrain based on its color.
Apparently, the importer does not calculate tangents between different heights (respectively doesn’t interpolate properly between adjacent pixels) and therefore can’t create fluent elevation changes.
Weirdly, this seems less pronounced at lager altitude changes. But obviously, gentle slopes seem to be an issue for the importer’s algorithm and I am afraid, there is nothing that we, as players, could do to mitigate the issue.
 
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[snip]

I didn’t try 32 bit so far due to “transporting issues” (too big for an e-mail, USB stick is broken and Dropbox not installed any more.)

Anyway, if you want to experiment yourself, remember to blur your input picture after changing from a lower bit range to a higher one. Just adding more potential grading steps will not actually create them, when saving a previously 8 bit TIFF as 16 or 32 bit.

——

EDIT: Screw all this! I had to rethink all of this (due to my above observation that using 16 bit didn’t help.)
While everything I wrote is technically correct, it will not solve the terracing issue!

[snip]
Thank you very much for your insights and this incredibly helpful post!

Using higher bit densities was the first thing I tried – but, as you explained in the latter part of your post – it's apparently no use. Just a note on 32 bit: Whenever I tried to import a 32 bit heightmap, I got an error message, saying: 'The heightmap file failed to be read. Please ensure the image is a standard .tif file at 1024x1024 pixels.' I made absolutely sure that the image has the right size and that it is saved in the .tif format. However, no luck.
 
Ok. I've been trying to create height maps as well for the game and am having the same issue with the "steps" or as I see them, "terraces" for each difference in an actual grayscale image there seems to be an entire meter difference in height. So I pulled one of the sample grayscale images given to us by Frontier and found they are not actually grayscale images. There are subtle colors in the template, not just shades of gray.

Without having the exact color template they are using or parameters on how to fill in the gaps there would not be a way to have smooth terrain without importing a map then running over the entire thing with the in game smoothing tool. This is as time consuming as using the actual terrain tools to push and pull the environment around in game.

If anyone has already found a solution to this?
 
Acala, thank you so much for creating these awesome heightmaps! Want to share this here so you know some people out there use and enjoy your creations :) This is a screencap of my WIP franchise zoo that used your "Vria" heightmap. (Still a lot of work needs to be done, but I have really enjoyed the new possibilities and inspirations that come with the terrains you created.)
Fir lake zoo WIP.jpg
 
Acala, thank you so much for creating these awesome heightmaps! Want to share this here so you know some people out there use and enjoy your creations :) This is a screencap of my WIP franchise zoo that used your "Vria" heightmap. (Still a lot of work needs to be done, but I have really enjoyed the new possibilities and inspirations that come with the terrains you created.)
You're welcome! I'm happy to hear that you could put one of my heightmaps to good use :) Your franchise zoo looks awesome, by the way! I especially like the area right next to the lake – your use of foliage makes it look really natural. If you don't mind sharing, I'd be excited to see what the zoo looks like once it is finished.

Wishing you all the best and of course continuous inspiration as well as creativity for expanding your franchise zoo!
 
Hi everyone!

Just wanted to let you know that I have yet again added some new heightmaps to my google drive folder (https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1rl_-WaDVd9AeC5OoGjC8qeo9FwSRKS0A?usp=sharing).

Context: A friend of mine gifted me his spare license for World Creator since he only needs the program on one device, not two. Basically, that program is a terrain and landscape generator with a ton of filters for e.g. erosion, wind, sediment, ridges, etc. Applying those filters allows me to create heightmaps that look a bit more realistic than before. So, I have been experimenting with that and had tons of fun!

I'll attach some in-game screenshots as examples.

Oh, and of course I wish you and your loved ones a healthy start into the new year!

Heightmap Previews.jpg
 
Hi everyone!

Just wanted to let you know that I have yet again added some new heightmaps to my google drive folder (https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1rl_-WaDVd9AeC5OoGjC8qeo9FwSRKS0A?usp=sharing).

Context: A friend of mine gifted me his spare license for World Creator since he only needs the program on one device, not two. Basically, that program is a terrain and landscape generator with a ton of filters for e.g. erosion, wind, sediment, ridges, etc. Applying those filters allows me to create heightmaps that look a bit more realistic than before. So, I have been experimenting with that and had tons of fun!

I'll attach some in-game screenshots as examples.

Oh, and of course I wish you and your loved ones a healthy start into the new year!

View attachment 283765
There are so many possibilities with your collection of heightmaps! Thank you @Acala for your work! I am such a slow builder and won't get to use many of these, but I can't wait to see what others do with them :)
 
I don't really have the patience or wherewithal to make my own height maps for the game, but I absolutely loathe starting on a completely flat map and I play franchise mode most of the time....so these maps you have shared have brought me hundred and hundreds of hours of happiness. Just wanted to say thank you.
 
I don't really have the patience or wherewithal to make my own height maps for the game, but I absolutely loathe starting on a completely flat map and I play franchise mode most of the time....so these maps you have shared have brought me hundred and hundreds of hours of happiness. Just wanted to say thank you.
Oh man, I forgot to answer – I'm very sorry! :eek:

It makes me very happy to hear that someone enjoys the results of my 'weird obsession with the heightmap feature' (to quote my husband). I completely get where you are coming from! I get demotivated easily when I have this flat open space because somehow my mind draws a blank when I stare at it. Ideas and inspiration come easier for me when I have terrain features to work with. Plus, I'm incredibly lazy when it comes to using the in-game terraforming tools. Creating a heightmap that has mountains on it is so much faster than doing it manually with the pull terrain tool.
 
Hi everyone (and sorry for double posting)!

After quite some experimenting and fiddling I finally figured out how to create heightmaps for mesa-like mountains (as opposed to simple plateaus) 😁 Subjectively speaking, I find them very fun to play on, because the mountains have these relatively flat platforms in different elevations where you can put habitats and buildings. Makes for an interestingly distributed zoo.

I created two types of these heightmaps: 10 with just a mesa in the middle of the map and 10 with a mesa plus a lake. Here are a few close-ups:
Mesa Sneak Peak.jpg


New zoo, here I come! 🤗
 
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