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3 Amazing Uses of Smooth Terrain: Water!

October 19, 2017

by OrcaSparkles

Community Creators

As many of you know, Roblox helps power the imaginations of millions of players around the globe. We help creators build any kind of world they could possibly imagine. To accomplish this, Roblox has many powerful features that aid users in their quest to create the perfect game or experience. One of these features is Smooth Terrain. Smooth Terrain, for those who may not know, is the amazing Roblox terrain system that allows builders to create more dynamic types of natural formations, such rocky mountains, textured grass, and reflective water. We’ve seen users utilize this amazing feature to create a diverse range of realistic-looking games for us to enjoy! Stickmasterluke, one of the masterminds behind smooth terrain, told us how this feature has changed his view on terrain in games in general: “Smooth Terrain showed me that there are shapes, volumes, and voids,” he said. “You can’t just raise or lower it; you mold the Smooth Terrain like you would clay or play-dough.”

Water is one of the many great uses of Smooth Terrain and has vastly improved building on Roblox. zeuxcg, one of the engineers behind Smooth Terrain explained, “A lot of the algorithms we use are shared between solid materials and water. In a way, while water definitely has special rendering and physics support, it’s a part of the whole, not a standalone feature.”

While water isn’t the only feature of Smooth Terrain, it is a large part of it. Smooth Terrain gives the water its movement, dimension, and flow. It shines against the sky and adds a glimmer effect, which makes the water look more realistic than it ever has before. When we spoke to zeuxcg, he also gave great insight on how tricky it was to make water look as realistic as it does now: “For water specifically, while parts of the prototype shader are still there as is, we had to spend a lot of time improving the shading model, making sure performance was reasonable everywhere, fixing reflection and refraction artifacts as much as we could.”

Today, we’re going to share three different showcases and discuss how water can be used in a variety of ways to make your game shine!

The Forgotten Island – solyclaw

The Forgotten Island is a showcase created by solyclaw. When you enter it, you spawn on a dock facing out into the water. Immediately we can see how solyclaw used Smooth Terrain to set the atmosphere for his lonely island.

Stickmasterluke agreed that solyclaw was “cleverly using a layer of water to complete the edgy and mysterious ambiance to the level.” The water stretches out as far as the eye can see.

The water also floats calmly around the island, creating the illusion that your character is trapped. Even with the other pillars sticking out of the water, it feels impossible to swim back to shore. The water reflects a dark turquoise and blue, adding to the atmosphere. Though the water is technically flat in this game, it adds to the mood and dimension of this game.

Waitomo Glowworm Caves – iamsogoingtopwnyou

Based on the real Waitomo Glowworm Caves located in New Zealand, iamsogoingtopwnyou used Smooth Terrain to create a realistic Roblox replica! One of the most interesting things about this third-place Smooth Terrain contest winner is how it uses shallow water to line the bottom of the cave. As you walk through the water, you can marvel at the ceiling filled with glowworms.

When I shared this experience with Stickmasterluke, he mentioned how iamsogoingtopwnyou “takes advantage of Smooth Terrain to bring a realistic and exotic touch to Roblox.”

In this game, the water is almost used as a texture to make the bottom of the cave seem more realistic. Instead of swimming through the water, like you can in most games, you simply walk through it. On top of this, the lights from the glowworms reflect off the water, giving it a beautiful turquoise look. This game is gorgeous, and the use of the water adds to its serene beauty.

Iguazu Falls – nicole51

Completely separate from the other two games, Iguazu Falls illustrates a different way of using water. As the second place winner in the 15 & Up Smooth Terrain contest in 2015, Iguazu Falls is based on the real falls located in Argentina. nicole51 uses Smooth Terrain to create realistic waterfalls, and this showcase illustrates how effective movement can be. As your character swims through the water, he or she moves about up and down, creating the image of rapid river moving towards the waterfall.

Stickmasterluke commented on how nicole51 “made very good use of water-related terrain properties to make it look like the waterfalls are really flowing.”

The reflective style of the water makes it seem as though the water is moving very fast, even though your character can swim through it quite easily. The game also shows the vertical movement capabilities of the water using Smooth Terrain. It’s incredible how realistic the waterfalls look in this game; the water flow seems to be ever moving. It’s also pretty fun to let your character swim up the many different waterfalls.

These are just three uses of water and Smooth Terrain: the flat water you can gaze out at from the dock in The Forgotten Island, the lined walls of the cavern in Waitomo Glowworm Caves, and the towering waterfalls in Iguazu Falls. There are many ways to utilize this amazing feature to create realistic water, both in look and in movement. If you haven’t used it yet, give it a try today, and see what sort of water structures you can build from your own imagination!