In my quest to model a believable glacial environment, I’ve resorted to using real-world terrain data. It used to be that I would sculpt terrain by hand and rely on perlin noise generators to produce something from which I could use as a base. The video below shows some of the things I’ve been working on and offers a bit more of an explanation.
The difficulty comes with having to make the scene explorable form a first person perspective. By and large, terrain data doesn’t allow for high enough detail to make this achievable. There is still a lot of work to be done by way of manually adding erosion and creating some textures for close-up viewing of the scene. With a high detail scene like this, you can rely on tesselation to ensure it’s fully optimized but another way is to generate the distant scenery (anything which won’t be explored on foot) as a low detail height map. It’s still quite early on in the development process and this is a continuation of a previous project which has recently regained interest.