Ground Zero is an in-depth, post-apocalyptic RPG inspired strongly by the Fallout series. Leveraging Doom 3's scripting engine and real-time graphic capabilities, we are creating a highly generative and dynamic game framework by placing the RPG within the context of a simple high-level strategy game. Factions, cities, and organizations, are networked with each other and the player such that the world evolves over time with or without the player's intervention. By creatively applying a range of skills and abilities, the player carves a niche for him or herself that may help shape the world after the bomb!

Report content RSS feed Ground Zero: Terrain and vegetation tech

Just a little peak at some tech we've been working on in support of our next public demonstration, incorporating heightmapped terrain and procedural foliage into Doom 3.

Posted by jlambvo on Feb 29th, 2008

We've been very neglectful of our moddb profile throughout 2007, but we'd like everyone to know that this project is still very much alive. Many of our team members have moved on to positions in the commercial world, but a few of us are maintaining progress on Ground Zero with the little free time we have. Please know how much we appreciate the supportive comments from all of you; we would not keep going without them!

Desert range with shrubbery!

This spring we will be releasing a new public demo that will show the very rough underpinnings of inter-faction warfare and how the player character will be able to influence it.

Satellite elevation data

The player will traverse cross-country (via 2D map) between a number of urban centers, divided between three rival factions. He is not alone however, as each city generates raiding parties that seek out and destroy rival armies and lay siege to enemy cities. Established cities grow in population over time, becoming more powerful, and NPCs in every party will be persistent and gain experience in a simple form. For now, factions will always remain neutral toward the player character, but the user can choose to have his/her character intervene in ongoing battles on behalf of either side. The game will "end" when one faction dominates the wasteland.

debug heightmap

(stress-test map applied as a heightmap, then as a water map)

crazy terrain

Because a large portion of the game world will consist of natural environments, and is far too large for a small group to meticulously hand craft, we have spent a significant amount of time developing methods for procedural generation of terrain and vegetation.

crazy foliage

The world is divided into a grid of "sectors". For each sector, the terrain is generated from heightmaps taken from real world satellite imagery, which is then populated with a mix of interactive and non-interactive vegetation based on "water maps", elevation, and slope angle. Finally, a "population map" can be referenced to determine where structures and roads should appear. The random seed for any generated content is saved for that character's campaign, so each sector will appear to be persistent. This process is as random or controlled as we want... eventually, as we gain the content bandwidth, we can specifiy where unique buildings and landmarks will appear to break up the repetitive appearance of procedural environments.

Desert range 2

desert range 3

More details on the terrain + foliage can be found here:

Post comment Comments
Sebbeman Feb 29 2008 says:

Very impressive, I'm looking forward to playing this.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Arxae Feb 29 2008 says:

:o procedurals ftw =D
is there allso a possibility to remove the turn based combat and replace it with real time (maybe some randomly placed weapons)
could be a good framework for a larger scale fps/rpg ^^

0 votes     reply to comment
Koroshiya_Ichi Feb 29 2008 says:

awesome as always

+1 vote     reply to comment
Archimonde88 Feb 29 2008 says:

Damn! this looks really good, you guys inspired by the fallout series? :D

+1 vote     reply to comment
vfn4i83 Feb 29 2008 says:


Almost reinstalling my D3 to wait and see this

+1 vote     reply to comment
sbnewsom Mar 1 2008 says:

Thats truly impressive. Especially in Doom 3! Good work!

+1 vote     reply to comment
RogerRamjet Mar 1 2008 says:

Nice work guys. Reading through you have managed to do a great deal with the engine which should allow a more dynamic and realistic game world evolution.

+1 vote     reply to comment
vladoone_ Mar 1 2008 says:

Please do not change the turn based combat with realtime.
For the holy granade :)

+2 votes     reply to comment
Kingston Mar 1 2008 says:

Fantastic stuff. Now just make sure you keep the rpg mechanics intact. And TB combat ftw.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Arxae Mar 1 2008 replied:

haha i have nothing against TBS (i like it verry much in fact)
but action rpg is much more fun tough imo :)

+1 vote     reply to comment
Kingston Mar 1 2008 replied:

Turn-based is naturally the more fitting for rpgs. It emphasises the skills of your character and not your own twitching skills. It requires tactical thinking, frees up resources for AI and is really damn fun (the last part is ofcourse subjective, but man Jagged Alliance or X-COM kick ***).

+1 vote     reply to comment
jlambvo Author
jlambvo Mar 2 2008 replied:

We love both TB and RT combat, we just feel that they emphasize different aspects of the game and have decided to go with the former. We can expose a lot more intricacies this way, and keep things much deadlier, without it becoming an eye-mouse coordination test. (Jagged Alliance and X-Com are huge influences on our approach). We'd like to think that taking turns for each action will close some loopholes common to traditional TB games, and keep the pacing a little bit faster.

+1 vote   reply to comment
Otreum Mar 1 2008 says:

And here I was wondering what on earth this mod was a few months back. I admit I was skeptical for some reason, but this mod truely shows off what modders can do when they really get stuck in and DO something.

Great mod from what I've seen, even though it's in a prototype stage of development, this mod is going the distance, and I wouldnt blame you guys for doing a partnership deal with ID software and making this a commercial game.

Large scale projects like this deserve a bit of cash flow IMO, although most would disagree since they don't like paying for anything.

Keep it up team, you guys are doing fantastic, it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling when I see such a successful mod.

+1 vote     reply to comment
jlambvo Author
jlambvo Mar 2 2008 replied:

Thanks man! I think we were pretty skeptical at first too, but it's exciting to see the possibilities unfold once some momentum gets going. The important thing is to be comfortable going slow and steady (not burning yourselves out), and keeping that core vision in mind--that moment of gameplay that got you excited enough to start making something in the first place. Certainly wouldn't turn down any charitable souls or organizations from making that job easier though ;)

+1 vote   reply to comment
angry_bot Mar 6 2008 says:

I absolutely adore this mod and am relieved to see that it is still active. Thanks go to the devs for all their hard work so far as well as all the hard work that lies ahead. It's folks like you that keep gaming alive for me!

+1 vote     reply to comment
udm Mar 7 2008 says:

Hi guys, bad marine *** here, just popping by to say hello and keep up the good work

+1 vote     reply to comment
Vault-Tec Apr 28 2008 says:

This will be probably the best Doom 3 mod ever.

+1 vote     reply to comment
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