View Full Version : 3d software for sandbox game?

2009-12-10, 11:39 PM
I've been looking at 3d software packages and I'm not that sure what to be looking for.

What I'd like is 3d software so that I could create a 3d terrain environment of the game world, over hundreds of square miles, and then zoom down to eye level and be able to take snap shots to show players what they can see.

It doesn't have to be photo realistic images, but being able to quickly zoom from full out zoom down to an individual level where trees, hills, rivers, etc would all be visible.

Ultimately, the idea is to have a sandbox game where player wander around in a fantasy world and I can just show them what they can see from any point in it while outside. Rather than having me have to figure out if they can see the castle in the distance through trees and hills, the computer would just show it plain and clear.

I'd think that there is plenty of software out there like that today that is either free or inexpensive after all of these years of 3d game modding.

2009-12-10, 11:44 PM
google earth and zoom into the amazon rain forest if the pcs are in the forest, or try to find addresses for old buildings/neighborhoods and try to focus on that building.

2009-12-11, 12:11 AM
One of the older versions of Bryce was released for free. That's pretty decent for terrains, especially islands with a really badass sunset in the background. Dunno how it would be for a large world. You'd have to plant trees and rocks yourself.

I'm partial to Terragen, which also has a free version. Instead of the usual grid with textures, you tell it where in the world certain colors appear. You can do this by height or slope, I think. It sounds primitive, but the results are stunning once you get good at it. Obviously the learning curve is high. This wouldn't do trees and such either FWIW.

2009-12-11, 10:28 AM
Blender (http://www.blender.org/) is a free 3d modeling application. The learning curve can be a bit high though. You will also need some artistic skill as for the most part you will be creating the models yourself.

2009-12-11, 10:35 AM
A bit high? Learning blender as your first 3d modeling app will make you want to stab your eyes out.

I'd suggest starting with something a bit simpler, and much easier, such as Milkshape.

2009-12-11, 01:11 PM
Thanks for all the tips and frank reality.

I've asked on a few RPG forums and it looks like what I'll start with first is the Elder Scrolls Construction Set (http://cs.elderscrolls.com/constwiki/index.php/Main_Page), as I have a copy of Oblivion. In many ways all I'm hoping for is basically to create a new Oblivion-like map that I can just take snap shots in to show players what they can see, so it might work.

My ideal program though would be to use something like Hexographer (http://www.inkwellideas.com/roleplaying_tools/hexographer/index.shtml) to map out and create the game world, defining terrain, general elevation and landmarks, all in an easy and intuitive way.

Then I'd be able to hit the "Make it 3D" button, let the computer do its thing, and then have an Oblivion level of 3D detail realized which I can zoom around in and adjust light and weather effects.

Sadly, my imagination is always ahead of the technology curve.

2009-12-11, 01:54 PM
I've never used Hexographer, but Bryce 3d can do some of what you mention. It lets you make a landscape based on fractals. You can edit it in 2d and then get a 3d map. It just won't handle any of the finer details.

Using a game engine is not a bad idea. I meant to mention that in my first post, but by the time I got through the other ideas forgot about it. I used to do some mapping for Savage (which is now free) and found it to be the easiest 3d mapper I'd ever used (although it wasn't without limitation. If Oblivion doesn't work out, maybe you could give that a try.

2009-12-11, 02:17 PM
I've done some work with the torque engine(for which I have a license. Pirating is bad, mkay), and it's a pretty decent mapping tool if full 3d is what you're after.

Mind you, the license costs a bit...round a hundred bucks IIRC, and you'll need a seperate modeling/skinning app if you want to add custom models, but the actual mapping is dead easy.

2009-12-11, 02:22 PM
A bit high? Learning blender as your first 3d modeling app will make you want to stab your eyes out.

I'd suggest starting with something a bit simpler, and much easier, such as Milkshape.

Lightwave is pretty simple too (like digital clay)


I found hexographer ages ago and used it to make some important maps in my homebrew campaign then I lost the program (it got corrupted) and could never find it!