Lodscape - LOD Tools

by hugobarreira in Scripts and Addons

Lodscape - LOD Tools

Lodscape is an Add-On for Blender that provides tools to slice and generate Levels of Detail (LOD) for landscapes or several objects in a short time, conveniently packed and ready for Game Engine. It will speedup  you real-time visualizations for Games, Architecture, Archaeology or Topography.

Features

Slice a landscape in smaller cells (aka:chunks). Rename automatically the newly created cells for a cleaner outline and convenience of use. Set vertices groups with safe margins for seamless LODs. Create several LODs with automatic distances and ratios of detail to any number of cells in one go. Not happy with the automatic settings? Easily fine tune to your liking all at once or in smaller groups.  


Why I did the Lodscape LOD TOOLS

I had a nice landscape of 1024 square meters with a resolution of 512 (approximately 256000 vertices), sculpted and textured, try it in Blender Game Engine and my framerate drops to 40 fps with only the landscape and a camera moving around. What can I do? I know, slice and lod it :) After a couple of hours slicing my 1st row of 8 cells just to test it and having to redo it again, rename, vertices groups, decimate, ratios, distances one by one, you start calculating the time you will take to finish the 64 cells and wonder if you will have to redo it again, this may take days. You just think, there should be a faster way to do this. That's when I decided to make Lodscape LOD Tools Add-On and reduced the time from possible 3 days to under 5 min.

Test case:

Slice a landscape to 8 column/rows results in 64 cells named A1 to H8: about 50 seconds. Setting vertices groups for safe margin and cells matching: 3 seconds Generating 3 LODs to each cell with default settings ready to use in Blender game engine: about 1 minute and 40 seconds. Now in 3 easy steps I have the same result in under 3 min, and I can undo and redo it how many times I need. Great. Results of the test made with a 5 years old Laptop: Using Blender regular tools: 3h minimum. Using Lanscape LOD Tools: under 3 minutes.  

My Commitment

This tool was made out of necessity to speed up my work and will be updated as needed. If you have any request for it  to work under a specific setting or need a new feature please let me know how it can be improved. Also, any current user will get free updates for life.


How it works

Lodscape LOD Tools provides a tab in the Tool Shelf in Blender with 2 separate panels. The Slice Panel In the Slice panel you will be able to create the number of cells you want for your landscape, you also have an option to rename the cells in a grid way. (A1, A2... Z1, Z2.) The Levels of Detail Panel Once you're happy with the number of cells created for you landscape, in this panel you can then set safe margins for the LOD creation. This will set margins groups for the LOD generator to work with and perfectly match each cell Level of Detail with the neighbor cells. After that, select all cells and set the number of LODs you want to generate, it will show you the distances automatically set for you based on the size of the cells, also the ratios (percentage of vertices to be reduced from the original cell) are set automatically has a base for you, if you're felling lucky, just press the button to generate the LODs, you can always undo to fine tune the ratios and redo it again quick and easy. The newly created LODs will be hidden and packed individually to each original cell. To see the results, change the render to Game Engine and move around, if the LODs were created with proper ratio setting you will have a hard time seeing the results (pat yourself on the back, good job) so you may want to change to wireframe mode to check if the LODs are really working. TIP: After the LODs are created if you need to fix just a few of them, instead of redoing all the LODs with different ratios, you may want to fine tune only those that are not perfectly matching. The renaming option becomes useful here has you can search the outliner for the name of the cells, unhide the correspondent lods, delete them, select the cells that need fixing, set new ratios in the LOD Tools Panel and generate new LODs only on those cells selected.

Limitations Version 0.2.0 , First Release

Slice Tool

  • Only works with square terrains
  • Landscape size limit: 8192 blender units
  • Number or rows/columns: 26
  • Number of rows/columns are conditioned to a modulus 0, so the renaming will work properly and to prevent crashes. This means Landscape 1000x1000 work well with 2,4,5,8,10,20,... rows/columns but not with 3,6,7,9,11,... rows/columns. In any case the slice tool will be grayed out and show a info tip in case this condition is not meet.

LOD Tool

  • Margin limited to 5 steps, usually 1 is enough.
  • Max number of Lods per object: 5

Known Issues

The landscape must be perfectly square and preferable in round Blender Units or the slice tool will be grayed out, even when the size shows a integer number sometimes that is not true for Blender internally. Usually after some scaling. Example: The dimensions panel of Blender shows x:1000, y:1000, but the slice tool is grayed out with a info saying that the terrain is not square. The probable cause is that internally the sizes may be something like x:1000.0213, y:999.109. To solve this, go to the dimensions panel and type 1000 on the X and Y axis.

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