We get to take a look at a brief teaser demonstrating how the engine builds the game’s open world, and then a few clips of the terrain and foliage system in action.
You can watch them below. At the bottom of the post you can also find the relevant slides of the presentation, showcasing more images.
We learn that the engine is geared toward production efficiency, enabling the efficient creation and editing of terrain on a vast scale, both for close-up views and for distant vistas, the same goes for foliage.
It also includes tools that let developers quickly update the terrain directly in the game, alongside the placement of foliage.
The terrain is made of layers and both procedural painting and manual editing are available to the artists. When the terrain is sculpted, the collision map is automatically updated and reflected on the foliage placement on the ground.
There are tools to place roads and rivers and they operate on terrain materials and height, on to of the placement of decals.
A “Mesh Stamp” system is available, letting artists place any mesh shape on the terrain from the size of a mountain to much smaller. Various shapes are available. They can be stacked and blended.
Developers can also combine rules in order to achieve complex results, for instance adding a cavity and a slope layer to the base terrain. Rulesets can also be defined for each ecotope.
The Terrain Quadtree system also determines the LOD and frustum culling depending on distance and camera direction.
The engine’s material blending system avoids stretching in highly sloped surfaces via triplanar and biplanar mapping.
The foliage system includes procedural foliage placement, point cloud generation and culling, vertex absorption, foliage layer dependencies, a system for distant foliage, and one to provide information to other game systems.
It’s designed to place foliage in a vast world efficiently while making it look natural, doing so automatically in most areas, or manually in places where the artists want to do so. It can automatically reflect edits made to terrain, and can be changed dynamically during gameplay.
It includes a density map, an ecotope map that determines which kind of foliage the developers want for an area, a sub-ecotope map that determines variations, and a material ID map that determines the material used for the terrain.
Foliage can also be copied and moved in a group, allowing artists to “paint” large areas quickly. It even adapts dynamically to the terrain mesh.
Vegetation can be displayed outside of the active terrain sector using 1/4 the resolution. The point cloud data of the foliage can communicate with other systems including physics, sounds, and gameplay. For instance, it can work with the physics system for collision detection, letting the game know that the character is in a bush.
It’s worth mentioning that Project Awakening was originally announced for PS4, but we should likely not assume that the platform will remain the same when it releases. Cygames semi-recently changed Granblue Fantasy Relink into a cross-generation project for PS4 and PS5 with a 2022 target window and we have no idea of what’ll happen for Awakening considering that it doesn’t even have a release year just yet.