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How will next update affect map editor?

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I hope I'm not being overly anxious or even unfair here, but in regards to the next update that could be available in a couple of years, how will its new engine affect terrain? Aside from improved graphics and efficiency, will there be fundamental changes to how things are created with the map editor? For instance, is there anything that would suggest I don't bother trying too hard to do in the map editor currently because the next update will have a new feature that goes about what I'm trying to do so much more efficiently and easily?

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While it is too early to make specific statements, let me just say that one of the supreme tenets of our software development is to protect our customers' (time) investment in scenario and map design. We always try (hard, if necessary) to implement a migration path. Until today you can still load scenario files and at least convert map files from the 1999...2000 days of Steel Beasts with the latest version.

There were a handful of experimental versions where we had to abandon a certain branch of the various file formats (none however that applied to the Personal Edition). But even in that one case we created a custom file converter for the affected customers.

So, rest assured that we will not needlessly give up backwards compatibility with your content. The new engine will be able to handle old terrain. In fact, it will even make it look and behave better without changing a single byte of the original source data. For example, the new engine will remove certain artifacts that are currently a negative effect around buildings on more or less steep hill slopes (which can force very steep gradients on the surrounding terrain).

Of course we have a number of "convenience features" in mind for the user interface where it might appear as a waste of your time if you went off to create certain features by hand, e.g. the placement of certain road signs. We think that these are better placed (semi-)automatically. To which extent we can make it work however remains to be seen. It's a plan and not yet a reality.

In any case, none of your work shall be "lost". It's just that some of the effort that you put into map building might be done much faster and easier with the coming version. But that's always a risk, and certainly no reason for us to withhold such a productivity improvement feature.

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Thanks Ssnake. We've previously discussed backwards compatibility elsewhere and your explanation then has not been lost on me :bigsmile:. You recently hinted at adjusting the effects of buildings and roads that are placed on a slope, and this is what prompted my OP.

As we know, roads can become severely deformed around buildings when they are on a slope. This can be avoided by leaving ample breathing space between roads and buildings. This dictates how I recreate RL cities in the map editor and have the following side-effects: 1) Small buildings become isolated from roads, and 2) Roads have to be spaced out at greater intervals. This can require significant abstraction from a real world map. The abstraction itself is not my concern here. Rather, it's how I approach map editing as a whole just to avoid the issue of buildings and roads on a slope.

For instance, if the aforementioned side-effect is eliminated in a future update, that would mean I no longer have to isolate buildings and spread out the roads. But for consistency's sake, I would probably be inclined to edit areas of my map where I've already implemented my workaround. So I suppose my concern is with "future proofing" my map. I realize this may be going beyond the scope of our beloved simulator so I will end my curiosity about the matter here. I will continue to edit my map as I have been and look forward to any "convenience features" SB will have to offer in the future.

I think I'll share a WIP shot here:

attachment.php?attachmentid=13580&stc=1&d=1424380376

Aschenberg.jpg.d805ff17f0a5d1b9127cf322f

Aschenberg.jpg.d805ff17f0a5d1b9127cf322f

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It is our intent to eliminate pretty much all of the currnt issues that arie from close proximity of roads and buildings on hill slopes. So, to that extent there is no "future-proofing" necessary; rather the opposite. What doesn't work well now will in the future.

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Wow. That's a huge improvement for the editor! I do need to factor this in to how I lay out buildings and roads now. This is what I was implying by "future proofing", so thanks again for the added info. Very exciting news and I'm really looking forward to the update!

:thumbup:

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I'm also eager to see how this improvement will impact/improve current terrain maps (stock and downloaded). Not only that, but I think it will help speed up the editing process too (certainly in my case)!

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This occurred to me while inspecting a stock map than I'm looking to tackle, will there be improvement on zig-zagging rivers when they are drawn diagonally in the editor?

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Any chance we can get true highway overpasses with elevated on and off ramps? Right now bridges work as an alternative but can't be curved and have no options for elevated connecting roadways...

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That's the ultimate goal for the new terrain engine, and why we need to have the higher resolution. Whether it'll all be ready by the end of the year, I don't know. "Engine capability" is one thing, developing suitable algorithms for the procedural generation of on, off, and connecting ramps is another if the original terrain database doesn't contain this information (which is probably the case most of the time). The same goes for railway lines and highway embankments, or mountain roads. On top of that you'll need a suitable UI to let the user adjust the construction. And before we can modify the UI, we need to replace the UI middleware code, and rewrite the entire 50...100 dialogs and alert box messages and whatnot.

Fun, fun, fun...

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why we need to have the higher resolution

Does that mean the base resolution of the terrain (or the height map at least) is going to be higher, or rather some form of automatic subdivision? "You'll have to wait and see" is an acceptable answer, I don't want to sound needy or anything. :D

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Any improvement will be welcome. :) Just found out the county I live in is finally going to get lidar mapped this year, which was what I was waiting for before trying to work on a map for SB as the current elevation data for this area is antique and not very good quality at all.

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That can be a plus. DTED-0 for example isn't as detailed, but it tends to have a better result in making the terrain compared to DTED-2 because then you start getting structures/etc giving you false elevation values.

I had some DTED-2 data and though it was great until I tried making it into a map. There was a large hangar at an airfield, so when that data went into SB, there was this very small, prominant "hill" at the airfield, so I just used the DTED-0 data.

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Yeah, that's the problem with unprocessed LIDAR data. The terrain coarseness goes really wild in places, particularly where there are forests, or buildings.

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