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Trainz Dev Diary - Height-Mapped Ground Textures and Geometry (sneak peek)

By Tony_Hilliam, September 29 2017

The new height-mapped ground textures and PBR height-map shaders are able to intersect with other height-maps and geometry such as the flat plane of water in the video below.

There are two obvious benefits here: 
* Individual mounds poke through the water surface, and
* The overall border between the water and the ground is no longer a hard edge, but appears much more natural.

Intersecting Geometry

The following screenshots show how height-mapped terrain can work with other height-mapped geometry; in this case the ballast on our track. 

The blend between the two meshes is a lot more natural than it would be without height mapping, avoiding the track "floating" on top of the terrain.

Seasonal Support

Of course, it's possible to use other effects such as seasonal variation alongside height-mapping and PBR. In the shots below we're looking at a different height-map structured around the snow / winter season for this same track asset. 

The ground texture has taken on a snowy appearance and intersects with the track geometry at a greater depth than the summer texture.

For more information on future Trainz development be sure to keep up-to-date at http://trainzportal.com or see all the articles and have your say forums

All content creators wanting to start to look into the technique will find some initial information on the Trainz wiki