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Mountains and Molehills

Look at Figure 6.15 again. Notice that although the terrain is colorful, it’s also quite flat. Flat isn’t always bad, though. Sometimes a game needs to exist on a flat surface; the rules of the game or maybe how you’ve programmed the objects in it might not be suitable for a world of hills and mountains and lakes. But if you want them, it’s really easy to add them to your new world.

The tool to the right of the Ground Brush is called the Up/Down tool, and it lets you add hills and valleys. As with the Ground Brush, you can increase or decrease the size of the tool with the Left Arrow and Right Arrow keys on the keyboard (or by pressing Left or Right on the D-Pad).

Now it’s easy to create hills or mountains, as follows:

  1. Select the Up/Down tool and its brush size.
  2. Move your cursor over an existing bit of terrain and hold down the left mouse button.
  3. Maintain your left mouse button press until you achieve your desired hill or mountain height.
  4. Move the cursor, as desired, to widen or narrow your hill/mountain.
  5. Release the left mouse button press when you’re happy with the look of your terrain.

Figure 6.16 shows that I’ve added a small hill right in the center of my terrain. Notice that the hill/mountain gets its coloration from the terrain that it affects.

Figure 6.16

FIGURE 6.16. A small hill in the center of my new world.

If you don’t like a hill/mountain you have created, just get rid of it by pressing and holding down the right mouse button and moving the cursor over the hill until the hill is reduced in size (or completely gone), as shown in Figure 6.17.

Figure 6.17

FIGURE 6.17. Reverse the direction of a hill with the right mouse button.

Brush Shape Options

You can change the shape of the Up/Down tool just as you did with the Ground Brush, but this tool has some different options, as shown in Figure 6.18.

Figure 6.18

FIGURE 6.18. The tool has its own options for adding and removing hills.

  • round.jpg Square and Round Brushes: The Square and Round brushes apply the raising and lowering effect equally across the entire area of the brush shape. With the Medium Round Brush or Soft Round Brush, however, the raising or lowering effect is subtle on the outer edges of the tool. Figure 6.19 shows that I’ve added another hill, but this time the brown terrain (surrounding the inner green terrain) is smoother and less “blocky” looking.
    Figure 6.19

    FIGURE 6.19. You can obtain softer terrain with the Medium or Soft Round Brushes.

  • round.jpg The Mottled Brush: The Mottled Brush (second selection from the right, just next to the Magic Brush) enables you to raise the terrain in a more random fashion. Think about a hill or lake or other natural terrain; there’s a randomness to it, with no straight edges or 90 degree bends. The Mottled Brush allows you to give your terrain that same natural look and making it more realistic looking.
  • round.jpg The Magic Brush: With the Magic Brush, you can pick one type of terrain (such as the dotted patch of terrain surrounding the inner green patch) and then raise or lower only the selected terrain.
  • Figure 6.20 shows that I’ve used the Magic Brush to raise the terrain only on the yellow dotted terrain going around the inner green and brown terrain. Notice that unlike the randomness of a growing hill or mountain, the terrain is grown up at a consistent rate, enabling me to make a fence around the inner area.
    Figure 6.20

    FIGURE 6.20. Use the Magic Brush to raise and lower terrain at a constant rate.

    Right-clicking with the Magic Brush enables me to lower the fence or completely remove it. Figure 6.21 shows that I’ve used the Magic Brush to create a “birthday cake” effect with the three terrain types on my world.

    Figure 6.21

    FIGURE 6.21. Three levels of playing field are created (four if you count the surrounding terrain).

Smoothing or Roughing Terrain

If you are using a mouse with a scroll wheel in the center, press and hold the scroll wheel while moving it over terrain to apply a smoothing effect to any raised terrain. It’s subtle and sometimes difficult to see with some terrain, but I’ve applied the smoothing effect to the top of the rough mountain back in Figure 6.19. Figure 6.22 shows a smoother mountaintop thanks to my use of the center scroll wheel.

Figure 6.22

FIGURE 6.22. Use the center scroll wheel to smooth terrain.

If you don’t have a center scroll wheel, you can select the Flatten tool to the right of the Up/Down tool to get the same results. The only difference with using the Flatten tool is that you can select the shape of the brush: Square, Round, or Magic Brush. Once again, Square and Round apply the flattening effect somewhat equally across the size of the brush, whereas the Magic Brush enables you to select an entire terrain type (that’s also connected) and then apply a consistent flattening effect all at once.

To give hills and valleys a smoother and more natural look, use the Flatten tool slowly and methodically. Figure 6.23 shows how I’ve used it to give my center hill a rounded and more gradual incline.

Figure 6.23

FIGURE 6.23. The Flatten tool is more of a polishing tool for rough terrain.

Finally, the Roughen tool (to the right of the Flatten tool) is used to grow terrain in faster and spikier manner. It grows the terrain faster and gives a random forest or urban look (depending on the terrain you’ve selected). Figure 6.24 shows how I’ve added a wild forest area to the outer ring surrounding my hill.

Figure 6.24

FIGURE 6.24. Give your world a rougher and spikier look with the Roughen tool.

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