Importing Heightmaps

I give you, ladies and gentleman, the second installment in echoalfa’s possibly moronic questions about the editor, heightmaps, do they still work, and if so, how do they work? I tried it out as an experiment today and the result was the map not loading, the bar went up a bit, and then stopped. I have four theories:

A.) I didn’t resize the .png properly, when I was resizing it in MS Paint, I set it to pixels, and when I set one axis to 513 (the size the guide said to do 513x513 for a large map), the other axis went to 514, and when I set that back to 513, the other axis went to 511. Not sure how that’s supposed to work as this also happened to be my first time using paint or resizing an image in general.

B.) I didn’t have a heightmap in the first place, I literally just looked up “island Heightmap” and saved an image that looked like a heightmap as a .png. Considering I don’t know shit about heightmaps, this might not be how the process works.

C.) The methods of importing a heightmap have changed, the guide I was following was like five or six years old.

D.) Importing heightmaps isn’t even possible anymore and I just wasted 3 hours of my life.

The guide I used

What am I doing wrong? Do map makers even use heightmaps?

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A. turn off maintain aspect ratio, this lets you resize the image in any way you want


B. if the image has low areas as black and high areas as white, it’ll work just fine

for example, this big island heightmap - the black area is the ocean, and the whiter it gets the more mountainous it is

C (and D). it’s still possible, in your map’s folder delete Heights.dat then replace Heightmap.png with your png (make sure to rename your png to Heightmap.png as well)


the heightmaps have been obfuscated since at least 2016, but removing heights.dat seems to allow for the game to register a black and white heightmap and convert it into the wacky obfuscated format the game uses


Thanks man, almost everything I was looking for, my last question still stands, are height maps of very much use in mapmaking? I was drawn to them cuz’ I’ve been having trouble making terrain I feel looks good, I figured I could find a program to generate some nice high-fidelity mountains, complete with alluvial fans, to help distinguish my maps from the thousands of others.

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heightmaps make for good looking terrain, but nothing beats the ease of doing it by hand imo

with heightmaps you have to spend X amount of time searching for the right one, and then having to deal with various problems like ‘where is this location going to go’ and ‘jesus christ how am i going to wind a road through THAT without it looking like shit’

handmade terrain lets you just plop down locations wherever you want, then build the terrain around them (unless you’re a psychopath like me who makes terrain first then puts locations and roads down)

plus you don’t have to waste a lot of time trying to find that Perfect heightmap to use - you can just make it yourself and check it out from every angle in the editor as you progress

once you get good at handmade terrain you can create stuff that rivals heightmaps like the germany terrain while still making for a fun map to play on without weird roughness that screws up offroading

on the topic of programs, check out worldpainter - it’s a minecraft terrain creation tool but it supports black and white heightmap export

it won’t generate erosion for you, but you can make it yourself using custom brushes off of sites like planetminecraft


Height maps work fine as long as you combine it with hand made terrain. My map used a heightmap for the rough outline of the UK, then I flattened the terrain in the center and made my own terrain from there. I’d only suggest using it for coastlines since those are the hardest part to get looking natural. You’ll need to smooth it out though. I’m not sure if the jagged terrain issue would be fixed with a really high quality heightmap, but i guess it’s worth a shot. Keep in mind that you’ll still need to manipulate terrain that you got with a heightmap 9 times out of 10


Got it, I guess my main plan was to use something like world machine for mountains and coastlines and have flatter areas for towns and roads.

I’ve actually heard of it, had no idea you could export heightmaps with it. Weirdly enough, when I first learned unturned had a map editor, I imagined it was something 2d like world painter.

I figured I would have to, my big concern is a natural-looking transition from high-fidelity mountains to flatter valleys for towns. I figure the smooth tool combined with covering it with trees might do the trick.

I use heightmaps, it’s a little less time-consuming than forming the terrain yourself but you’ll still need to tweak it a lot to make it look right.


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