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March 31, 2020
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Video: How Ensemble Studios crafted the terrain of Halo Wars

May 18, 2017 | By Staff

May 18, 2017 | By Staff
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More: Console/PC, Programming, Design, Video, Vault

"For most video games out there, first-person shooters included, terrain is not really a huge part of your visual space. But for RTSes, you have to understand that it's a massive part of your visual area -- up to 70, 98, even 100 percent."

With those words onetime Ensemble Studios dev Colt McAnlis opened his intriguing talk at GDC 2009 about how the studio designed and produced the terrain of its 2009 console RTS Halo Wars.

It was an intriguing technical session that dug into the nuts and bolts of how the studio took advantage of the Xbox 360's hardware, including how the studio moved from a standard height-field terrain to a full vector field terrain and increased vertex density exponentially.

It was a great presentation, one that provides some useful learnings and a bit of historical perspective on the creation of a standout game. If you missed it back then, good news: you can now watch entirely for free over on the official GDC YouTube channel!

About the GDC Vault

In addition to this presentation, the GDC Vault and its new YouTube channel offers numerous other free videos, audio recordings, and slides from many of the recent Game Developers Conference events, and the service offers even more members-only content for GDC Vault subscribers.

Those who purchased All Access passes to recent events like GDC, GDC Europe, and GDC Next already have full access to GDC Vault, and interested parties can apply for the individual subscription via a GDC Vault subscription page. Group subscriptions are also available: game-related schools and development studios who sign up for GDC Vault Studio Subscriptions can receive access for their entire office or company by contacting staff via the GDC Vault group subscription page. Finally, current subscribers with access issues can contact GDC Vault technical support.

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