User mods, screenshots & videos > Scenery

[Tutorial] Building sceneries for Outerra

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I will try to add new parts when I have time, so this post will be updated. I will add this to the wiki as soon as the tutorial is full.
Please note that I'm not a native English speaker.

Tutorial is paused until the new editor is released  :)

I. A few important notes

You have been amazed by the level of detail provided by the Outerra engine, you have spend hours looking at blades of grass, you have explored the Colorado Canyon, the Himalayan peaks, the Norwegian fjords, but it's not enough. Nature is always nice, but you want concrete, you want walls, you want cities!

Good news, you can have that. Bad news, depending of the size of your project, you may have to spend a lot of time on it. The engine only allow creation of roads and buildings placement, at this time. There is no terrain modification tool, no possibility to modify the vegetation distribution. No way to import roads datasets. Everything has to be hand made. You can create really accurate scenes with the current set of tools, but don't expect to do something big, you will hit a wall, and loose motivation.

I have started to create sceneries because I was under the impression that, without human made landmarks, it was really hard to get a true perspective of distances in Outerra.
When I started to work on real places, back in 2014, I wanted to work on a limited scale town with an airport, set in a nice location. I ended up choosing Talkeetna because it's a interesting scenery and because Alaska works well with the current limited biome state. Since that, I've started to work on other projects, but I thought it would be cool to share some tricks with other users, if some of you want to jump in and make your own scenes =)

Before we start, always remember this:

* The mandala paradox: Outerra is a work in progress engine, and everything you do with it can be broken in the future. It's not the dev's fault, it's not yours either, it's just what happens sometimes when a project evolve. 3D modelers can update their work, but hand made sceneries will be way more difficult to update. Luckily, the devs do their possible to maintain the compatibility. We already know that the next road system will not broke content created with the previous one and Cameni seems to already have a plan to keep current user content compatible with the next 30m elevation dataset. Still, please don't try to do too much complex stuff (I'm sometimes afraid by the time I spend on something that could be broken in a few month or years).
* Learn: Should be obvious, but even with this tutorial, you will need to experiment to master the tools, and be more efficient.
* Don't try to make New York: It's probably better to choose a simple location first, a small village, an isolate airfield, something which can help you to master the road tool without giving you the impression that you will never see the end of it.
* Be curious: Placing roads and buildings in a real location can be really boring if you do it without any interest for the area and it's history. Even if I don't really know what the village I'm working on is, I like to understand the reasons why people ended up building houses here, or the purpose of a very long road in the middle of nowhere.
* Don't make it a boring task: Don't always work on the same location or spend too much time adjusting the same roads. Spend a few minutes doing a long road after having worked an hour on an urban area, place a few buildings at a location to have a better idea of how it will look later, spawn a plane and look at the place from the sky. There are many ways to avoid being bored by your own creation =)
* Share: There is no bad scenery, so never hesitate to show what you've done. Users interest and positive reception is what keeps me working on this. There is nothing more cool than the moment where you see someone shoot a cool video of your scenery. If you have questions, ask. If you find a cool trick with the editor, share it =) Ready? Grab a good music playlist or an audiobook, launch Outerra and start destroying the nice landscapes of this pristine world with your bulldozer!
All the tools are only available in the full version of Anteworld

II. Tools and resources

1. Road editor
For this first presentation, I will talk about the road tool but you will soon understand that this element should be described as the Vector tool, since we are going to use it for a lot of stuff. The road tool is the most advanced element we have at the moment for scenery making. In this part, we will focus on simple road creation. The road tool can be open with the F6 key (or via the ESC menu bar). In Outerra, a tool work only when it's window is open, so don't try to select a road if this tool is not open.

A. Simple road manipulation
You will need to learn some keyboard shortcuts to use properly this tool. These are also listed in the "help" tab of the tool dialog window.

KeysFunctionctrl+LMBPlace a road way pointmmove the waypointvadjust way point heightqswitch to the next waypointshift+qswitch to the previous waypointinssplit the next segment, by adding a way pointdeldelete the current way point
Let's start! Open the road tool and create a first way point with ctrl+LMB. From now, we will call these nodes.

Each time you repeat this operation, you will create a new node exactly where the pointer of your mouse is. You can move around the location without quitting the editor using the movement keys and holding RMB to rotate the camera.
You can create several nodes, simply hold ctrl and click multiple times with your LMB to draw a simple road:

As you can see, your road is still a temporary mark on the ground, you can now validate your work by pressing the "Make" button in the tool window:

Any road can be edited and deleted after validation.
Each road you make is a series of nodes, coming from a initial point to the last one. You can move between the nodes by selecting them directly or cycling between nodes with q and shift+q. It's important to note that a road have a direction, from the first node you placed to the last. This detail will be important when we will start to talk about road parameters.

Moving a node or adjusting it's elevation is simple. You just need to select it and press m to move it (LMB click to validate) or v to adjust the height (LMB click to validate). Once you're happy with the result, press the "Make button" to validate you modifications If you quit the editor before doing this, your modifications won't be applied.
While selecting a road, you can press the "Trash" button to delete the road. If you accidentally press the delete button when selecting a road, you can still see the temporary road vector on the ground, and make it again. The "Clear the road markers" button (bottom left of the window) can be used to place a new road once you're done with the current one without having to exit/open the editor.

Train yourself with these simple manipulations, until you get used to the controls.

B. Profiles
Now, you can create a simple road. It's time to make different types of these! Road profiles are two first option on the road tool window, labeled "road types" and "markings". You can create several roads using different types, and you may notice than, by default, each of these comes with it's own settings in marking, width and transitional area:

It's important to understand that these parameters are also nodes based. If you don't change these parameters, each node you add will have the previous node properties. Let's create a asphalt road, select a node, and change it's type to gravel:

When you change a road type, notice that the other original parameters (width, markings, etc.) are conserved.
The markings option is a bit misleading, since it also include some specific road profiles. There are different types of roads markings, some of these specific to runways (labeled "Rwy"). The plain type will generate a road without markings.

You can also use "asphalt road, yellow marking" and "concrete road, yellow marking" to get US yellow markings.In the markings menu, you will also find two really important profiles : "Lead-in" and "Lead-out". By default, first and last nodes of a road create a visible and ugly break with the rest of the terrain. When set to lead-in, the first section of your road will be transformed into a smooth blending between your road profile and the terrain. The Lead-out property can be applied to the last but one node (to affect the last road section) for the same result.

No Lead-in profileLead-in profile on first node
C. Parameters
Under the Road type and Markings option, you can see several other parameters. The value of the properties can be modified with a slider. Like the previous parameters, these properties are applied to a node and each following node will inherit it's properties, unless you change these. Here is a detailed list of these values:

* Road width. Between 0.05m and 204.75m. Main width of the road.
* Border width. Between 0.00m and 12.75m. Defines the border width (border is either gravel, dirt or original material), wich will seamlessly blend with the terrain texture.
* Transitional area. Between 1.00m and 181.00m. Defines the area where the road elevation will blend with the original terrain. This area will also remove trees.
* Elevation. Between -2m and +2m. Alternate way to modify a node elevation("v" key), for more precise results.
* Slant. Between -45° and +45°. Modify a node slant.

D. Runways

Runways are normal roads with a dedicated tool to simplify their placement. You only need to specify four parameters:

* Width. Between 0.05m and 204.75m. Main width of the runway.
* Border width. Between 0.00m and 12.75m. Defines the border width (made of gravel for the runways), wich will seamlessly blend with the terrain texture.
* Transitional area. Between 1.00m and 181.00m. Defines the area around the runway where the road elevation will blend with the original terrain. This area will also remove trees.
* Length. Between 200m and 5000m. Length of the runway. This is the only parameter specific to this tool.

A runway with a large modification of the terrain (first and last nodes are at the same elevation).

The runway will be generated based on the heading and the altitude of the terrain right below the camera. The runway elevation is based on a smooth elevation transition with a limited angle between the first and the last node. Even if runways can adapt to the terrain slope, it should be noted that these have a lot more impact on the local terrain and should use a large transitional area if you want to avoid to create a gigantic trench. Once the runway created, you can manipulate it as a normal road.

A runway with a large difference of elevation between the first and last node position.

It should be noted that, even if the default runway are using a set of asphalt nodes + custom markings, it's possible to change these road types in the road tool, but you will have to update each node in order to change the entire runway.

If you want to place a runway using real world coordinates and data, you can use map tool (L or M) to set yourself at one end of the runway, and use the the Lat/Lon tab in the road tool to set a perfect heading for the runway ("set") Then, without quitting the tool, select the parameters for the runway and spawn it.

2. Object editor

The Outerra engine includes a custom .FBX importer, making possible the import of models, all available in-engine in the “Objects” viewer (F7). Models are important in scenery design and this chapter will present the basic functionalities of building placement and manipulation.
Note: The new editor (Alt + F1) being still a WIP, functionalities not available in it yet are described using the old object editor (F7) ones.

A. Place and manipulate objects

Open the editor (Alt + F1) and select the “Entity List” vertical tab in the left menu.

Objects are stored here, sometimes directly available when there is only a single version in the package. If the package includes several versions of the object (various models, various textures), all with their own objdef file description, these will be listed in a second layer level, opened when you click on the model entry.

When you select an object, it will be directly spawned where your mouse cursor is (in this case, right where the object list is. You don’t need to click on anything, just move your cursor and the object will follow it. Another click and the object will be placed, but will remain selected.

The point of origin of your camera (blue circle) will also be set to the object’s origin (coordinates 0,0,0 of the model). As a result, you can move around the object using right click and moving your mouse.

You will notice that the object properties are now displayed in the left panel of the editor, above the object list. From here, you can fine tune the object position (Transform) or pivot position (Pivot), and even inspect lod and collision properties (Mesh). These properties will be extremely useful to modify precisely the position of an object. For example, you can see in the next screenshot that I have set the object elevation (above the terrain) to -8 meters, to hide an unused part of the model.

To delete a model, simply select it and press ‘Delete’ on your keyboard.
You can move a model by selecting it (LMB) and dragging it with your mouse. You’ll notice that the interface will mark the previous building location while you are moving it, displaying useful information like the distance to this point. The yellow lines are representing the x and y axis of the model’s previous location. While you are moving it, you will notice that the model can be “stuck” a few frames on this lines when you move it. It’s extremely useful if you want to move your object in a straight line. If you press the ‘Shift’ key while moving an object, it will be stuck and these restricted axis.

You can modify the object elevation after selecting it and pressing the “Tab” key, you can then move it up and down. You can also rotate an object with the "R" key.

B. Select and clone objects

C. Terrain leveling option

3. Map overlays
A. Basic functions
B. Using overlays with the road and object editor

4. Finding new buildings
A. Ressources
B. A word on intellectual property and copyrights

III. First steps

IV. Advanced editing

Reserved for tutorial content

Reserved for tutorial content

Create a scenery package

* Make a backup of your cache folder in your Outerra user folder (C:/yourname/Outerra)
* Go to your Outerra user folder, open eng.cfg. Set the value for "debug_keys =" to "true"
* Open Outerra, go to the location where the roads and buildings you want to share are.
* Press Alt+i. Some informations will be displayed on the ground, you are looking at the coordinates, which will look like "+x/47/6F/E7/00". This is exactly where the location cache data is stored in your cache folder.
* Explore your scenery to see what cache files are needed. For a medium sized scenery (100/200 km²), you don't need to go deeper than "+x/47/6F" for example.
* Go to your cache folder and copy it somewhere else. Delete all the folders and files that are not a part of the data you are using (the logic path you identified above)Now you have isolated the cache data of your scenery. Don't forget to identify precisely where the scenery is if you share your data, because it will overwrite anything other users may have done in this area if they install it. It's currently not possible to merge two cache datasets.

To share it, simply create an .otx file:

* Make sure your data is organized in the same logic path than in your Outerra user folder: cache/earth/object/+x/etc.
* Use 7zip or any other compressing software to zip this package. Rename the pack to scenery_name.otx (default is before compressingYou have a ready to share single package of your scenery. Just remember to make a backup of your cache data before testing it.

You can also add campos using the same logic in the .otx (campos/...) to make access to your scenery more easy for users.
To test the package, simply move your personal cache folder to an other location, install the .otx and check if everything is here


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