Here you can find Assets, Tools, and Software that we recommend for Game Devs.
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Real Terrain to Heightmap
What I have for you guys on the first Recommendation Monday is a couple online tools that can be used to extract data to be converted to a height map!
The height map can then be plopped straight into Unity, Unreal, to quickly generate you a realistic terrain.
#1 Terrain Party
Terrain Party is by far the easiest to use, you select an area, and export it! No need to convert the DEM data into a height map like with our later tools, it comes in a folder with a few different types of height maps. I suggest using the one labeled Merged as it seems to be the most useful one.
Now with terrain party being the easiest, you also have the least options. You cannot select the resolution, and you can only select an area from 8 square kilometers up to 60. A big plus though is that you can get terrain data from pretty much anywhere in the world! You may only be able to view the relief data in places like USA though. When I go and view areas in Canada the relief map is completely blank, but I assure you once you download it you will get a perfectly fine height map. This is not always the case though, if you try to get data from a place like Africa, there is a good chance you will get a very very low res map, which I would deem unusable.
Here is what I use most of the time, I can select the resolution as well as cut out a custom area of my choice, with almost no size restrictions. I actually just visited the link today for the first time in a while and noticed that they have a link to a new version, so I'm not exactly sure what this new one will be like. Since I haven't tried the new one, I will just leave the links.
What I will mention though is this way you will need to convert the DEM data to a height map with software like Virtual Terrain Project. I believe you can get terrain data with Virtual Terrain Project, but for just converting you can use Virtual Terrain Builder. Both made by the same person, and open source.
There is also tools for the USA somewhere on the USGS websites, I had them bookmarked before but lost them when reinstalling windows. I have tried to find them with no luck, they were a bitch to find then and they are a bitch to find now! These were much like the Canadian counterpart where you need to convert the DEM data to a height map.
#2 Google Earth!
Yes google earth can also be used for this, now why did I not mention this first, certainly many of you already have this? Well, its probably because I was never able to actually get it working. It requires a certain plugin which always gave me an error when trying to start, so I don't really know too much about how it works.
Well that about wraps up our first Recommendation Monday, Addios!
Xmind - A Mind Mapper/Project Organizer
I would like to introduce you all to Xmind. I honestly do not know what I would do with out these. Out of all the expensive software I own, this free version is right on up there on the level of helpfulness.
I actually haven't tried another one, so I don't know how it compares to others, so If you want to try it out for yourself, they have a free version. I just downloaded Trello, but haven't got to try it out yet, but from what I can tell its kind of crap compared to this. I'm not sure If Xminds free version allows a personal cloud from your phone to PC, but Trello does, so if Xmind doesn't, that's probably the only thing holding it back. Little update here, Xmind does feature the Cloud on the free version, use Xmind on PC and Mobile and send your graphs back and forth to each other.
I use the free version and I really don't see any thing in the full packages that make it necessary. I'm going to post some screen shots bellow, and you can see how they have little icons that you can place on each Node. Now the paid version comes with more of them, but with the free version you can still make and add your own, that's what I did.
You can have as many different Formats/Structures per graph as you want. It has a bunch of features that you really will have to see for yourself. Here's some screen shots to get you half way there.
Vertex Painter Pro - A FREE Vertex/FlowMap Painter and PBR Shaders
Well this just blew me away, this morning while watching my daily dose of YouTube before I getup and get to work I stumbled across a video. I really didn't expect too much from it, just seemed like a regular asset store showcase/tutorial video, but then I read the first comment...
The first comment was from the creator, and it had a link to a GitHub page. Holy fuck, its fucking free! I had purchased Vertex Tools Pro a while ago and I know realize I should have waited because this seems on the same level as a $45 asset from the store. I actually haven't really used Vertex Tools Pro yet. I just haven't gotten to the point where I'm ready to polish my game and make it looks all pretty just quite yet, but after fiddling around with it for a minute, I can honestly say that this asset could be making this guy some hard earned cash.
After reading some more comments bellow, I then realized that this is the same guy who made Mega Splat, which then goes on to explain he just didn't want to go through the hassle of having to frequently update it on the store to keep it up to date. I haven't released anything on the store yet, so maybe I will understand soon. I actually had planned to make a Flow Map Painter since ones on the store are well over a hundred bucks, but I guess it wouldn't make sense now. Another thing is I couldn't sell an asset, especially on this site, when I know there is a free version that you guys could be using.
Anyways, if you want to look at Mega Splat, its on Page 1, I will also leave a link to a stand alone flow map painter, which I think is made by same guy, not 100% sure though, and lastly I will leave a link to the GitHub page.