I am trying to develop a RTS game that has:

  • Various planets

  • Each planet topology could vary between chock full of craters, to smooth hills and mountains planets

  • In sum each "biome" should be unique-ish (try to reusable textures/objects)

I'd like to achieve an appearance similar to Mars Battle, with its usual terrain with craters and rocks, smoothly transitioning to giant features like this detailed crater:


What I've already know/tried in my tests of terrain:

  • Unity terrain - it does the job for the small gravel and rocks but for example the finest detail of ridges on the crater edges is not achievable. The amount of mesh detail is not enough, makes blurry.

  • 2D tilesets - I have experimented in the past with 2D tilesets and read some articles about how Starcraft II uses some hacks to give the impression of relief while only being a 2D image, but still this is so seamless!

  • 2D tilesets for terrain, meshes for crater - could be a mix? In that case my doubts are the seamlessless between terrain and crater mesh. And also how can there be constructable buildings inside the crater if is a mesh?

How can I achieve something like this?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Taking a look at screenshots and videos of this reference game, they all seem to be of the same region. Repeating patterns in the small craters makes it look like the surrounding area is just a big tiling texture. The larger features are likely 2D images too, possibly sculpted in 3D in a program like Z-Brush or WorldMachine, then rendered to a raster and hand-painted to fit seamlessly with the background. I don't think there's any "terrain" in this game at all. \$\endgroup\$ – DMGregory Nov 19 '19 at 17:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can get such results in 3D by baking detailed textures and rendering rather simple terrain using these. Blender for example can be used for that. That game however is probably 2D, where you can use prerendered tiles for the most part and throw in some special big-crater-tiles to mix it up. If the maps aren't generated on the fly you can just prerender a big image - which would be easiest. \$\endgroup\$ – Jonas Beck Nov 19 '19 at 17:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah I see, so the simplest tricks are the better. In this case they could be using WorldMachine to draw whole Mars terrain (including crater) and paint it to the screen at player visibility rectangle. The fact that the units are moving inside the crater is just "smoke and mirrors" regarding where they can actually walk and maybe some layer images to account for being "behind" the crater walls. \$\endgroup\$ – Sir Cort Nov 19 '19 at 21:27

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