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Terrain Sculpting Eraser

Several weeks ago I had a discussion with a friend regarding some of the terrain tools limitations within Unreal Engine comparing to other tools we used to use, and that discussion made me interested into checking and digging more into that part of Epic’s source-code, and see if it can be juicy enough to drive me into an adventure of adding stuff.

While the first thing we had in mind, was the layers system, both of us used to deal with some in-house engines that support layers sculpting, something similar to what you can see in Mudbox or ZBrush, but for terrain. You can’t imaging the amount of productivity and creativity that can be reached with such a system. And with that as a driving force, I started to write some code for a layers based terrains sculpting. It didn’t take much time, couple of days I guess, until I started to find some code that seems familiar and make sense, and by keep tracking it, I found out that Epic is actually doing the same feature at the same time, but it is experimental, and require to be activated from within the editor preferences. So I stopped working on that feature, and decided to just share that finding!

With that kida dead end, I decided to kill that feature branch, and start on the second thing we have in the list of “How to make terrain workflow in UE4 much robust“, which was the eraser.

Erasing brush is not something exist within Unreal (yet!) and it can be super super useful in many scenarios. So I decided to put one in to UE4, and after couple of weeks to making and replacing to find the best use case, I ended up on a decent erasing brush, but on day while merging the latest master into my feature branch, i got some conflicts and errors due to some matching naming conventions for a new tool called “Erase Brush” !!!! I did build the master to check it, and found out it is something very recent been made by one of Epic’s team, but fortunately it is totally different than what I’ve been building, while epics eraser is basically a Flatten brush that is hard-coded to zero, which means it always erase the terrain values to a flat surface, the eraser I’m working on in more of erasing what you been sculpted, and leave you with a previous iteration of your work!

And with that in mind, I decided to clean up my branch, rename all my new functions and data, and give the tool a proper name that more describing it’s usage, and do a pull request in order to have it within UE4.

What been added?

There are couple of new options within the context menu of the sculpting layer, the first one is “Fetch a restore point” which is the core step of using the erase brush, this option will keep a snapshot of the current terrain data as it is. The reason this feature is added, is to make the erase sculpted brush more robust in terms of erasing any part of the terrain to a previous sculpted value, not erasing to a flat surface with a high of zero.

The second new item within the context menu is “Reset to restore point”, as the name implies, this will revert the entire terrain layer to the saved restore point. At anytime while sculpting, can just revert to the base restore point without doing a hundred Ctrl+Z.

The third addition is the brush itself, which is located within the drop-down list of the sculpting brushes. This brush works as any other brush, just press and drag across the terrain, the result will be cleaning the brushed areas to reset them to the restore point. So this eraser is not cleaning to the default flat terrain, but to something the user already have sculpted.

Test Case

What about a test case to explain more?
This is a terrain with some sculpted areas, hills and valleys. The artist like it, so just did “Fetch a restore point” to be able to return to it or to any part of it in the future.

Then the artist kept sculpting up, down, smoothing and flatten some areas

But want to bring back the two simple hills that was at screen left and screen right, so simply can use the erase brush, and brush the needed areas. And the final result will be containing what been liked in the new sculpt mixed with what been liked from the old sculpt.

Finally, you can get all the code for that feature into your own Unreal fork from this pull request!

-m

Breaking down The Rats of “A Plague Tale”

Will try to not speak too much, and leave it to the content to handle the talk. With the most recent gameplay video of the amazing anticipated game (at least for me) A Plague Tale, I was fascinated by the rats in that demo, and I’ve seen some people speaking about the possibilities of having this in the final game, and others saying the game would fail to include that amount or would launch with less rats as a downgrade. So I wanted to put a proof of concept that this amount of rats and even 10x times more is still doable (speaking from Unreal + Niagara point of view). And at the same time, knock a new tiny closed door for the Unreal Engine users, to show that the huge world and possibilities relying beyond that door.

I’ve done many similar things in the past with Unreal and Cascade , some was experimental and others really saw some light. So I wanted this time to go ahead, do it with Niagara, Unreal and Epic’s tool-set. I used to have some 3DsMax and Maya custom built scripts, that give kinda similar results, but I wanted this time to use official unreal (4.22) not my own fork, and use any & every thing available to everyone (same max script, same rigging methods,…etc.) so I show some light in a direction that most of the users might not see. So, I hope I did good job with this one.

The full project source (will be updated with new tips as soon as I allocate more time to that project) is free and open for anyone on github:
https://github.com/mamoniem/APlagueTaleRats

And the tutorial, already uploaded (FINALLY!!!) to you tube in two different versions, as defined below:

  • Short Tutorial, ~10 minutes, which including the main steps, guidelines, the breakdown of the method and highlighting the core tips of the process.
  • Full Tutorial, ~37 minutes, which including every single detail about the process starting from getting the mesh, ending up with the entire map full of 50k reactive rats!
Watch it to get an idea, or if you want to not follow a step-by-step in detail guide

Watch it if you want to follow a step-by-step in super tiny detailed guide

-m

Free “Video Comparator”

Today I decided to clean up, update the code, update to the most recent vs2017 version, and release for free one of my most beloved personal tools that I’ve developed to help me personally and commercially. It have been a good friend over the years, helping me in comparing animation shots, pre-rendered renderfarm shots in cartoons industry, games vfx and cinematic shots.

Now you kinda got a clue, why I did put similar feature in my Mirage Engine ^_^ It’s something I love during work, comparing changes!!

The app used to be only supporting AVI files (back then mp4 weren’t fun anyways), but there were many improvements that been added over the years, in the way it work, the performance, the file formats, etc. . Currently it supports AVI, mp4 & MKV. There are also few other options I’ve added during 2019, but not included with this liver version, as I’m not sure yet about those options usability, but for sure will push those updates to the executable as soon as they work in the way i hope for.

You can just grab it from itch.io

-m

nGUI to uUi is FREE now!

without further ado, I kept getting many requests of re-publishing that kinda old AssetStore project or someone want to buy a single license of it. But because I took the decision long time ago to not support it anymore
due to my time barriers. And with those messages increasing, I decided to put it online fully for free, and anyone can use it as is, improve it or share it for any purpose. So Enjoy it

Github

-m

Unreal Python[S]

I have created a public repo where i’ll be cleaning up most of my personal unreal Python scripts that I’ve made (and keep making) to help me in processing many things faster while working with UE4 pipelines.
You can access the public repository on GitHub here. I’ve another larger private repo on gitlab full of the entire library of my scripts, but i would not love to share it right away, as there are many many outdated scripts or chunks of scripts, things need updates, things are replaced or removed from the main Py api of UE4, so I found it more safe to pick them one by one, make sure it works without any errors, and then push it to the public repo.

And to warm up, here is the first one in this series, make sure to follow the channel or the twitter account to get the latest news regarding the new scripts, i won’t be posting here per script.

-m



____________________________________________________________________________
#Update:
I’ve created a public playlist, so things get easier to follow while scripts getting added frequently

-m

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