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SnowRunner™ Editor Guide. Part #2

Part #2 of this guide describes how to create a map (Chapter 5, from 5.1 to 5.11). It covers such aspects as: Terrain, “Geometry” Brushes, PBR Materials, Snow and Ice, Models, Plants, Distributions, Overlays, Rivers and Water Objects, References, Trucks.

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UPD: ===============================================================

Unfortunately, we have issues with updating the web version of this guide due to the large size of our guides (we have reached the max limit for pictures for an account, etc). Sorry for that.

However, you can find up-to-date versions of guides in PDF format here:

On the PC platform, the same guides are available at the folder of the *installed game* within the "...\en_us\Sources\BinEditor\Guides" directory.

Or, you can open the folder with the documentation package directly from SnowRunner™ Editor, by selecting Help > Guides in its main menu.


Quick links to parts of this guide:

  • Part #1 - Introduction to SnowRunner™ Editor: First Launch, UI, File Paths (Chapters 1 to 4)
  • Part #2 - Creation of a Map, beginning (Chapter 5, from 5.1 to 5.11) that covers:
    • Terrain
    • “Geometry” Brushes
    • PBR Materials
    • Snow and Ice
    • Models
    • Plants
    • Distributions
    • Overlays
    • Rivers and Water Objects
    • References
    • Trucks
  • Part #3 - Creation of a Map, continuation (Chapter 5, from 5.12 to 5.15) that covers:
    • Sounds
    • Sound Domains
    • Zones
    • Objectives
  • Part #4 - Post-production operations: Packing a Map, Testing a Map, Publishing a Map, Playing on a Map (Chapters 6 to 10)
  • Part #5 - Viewing Trucks (Chapter 11)

If you want an offline copy, you can download the full guide in the PDF format here.

5. Creation of a Map

In general, the process of creating a map is the following:

  1. Create a new terrain.
  2. Modify the terrain:
    1. Create the necessary height differences on it, smooth it in the right places, and so on.
    2. Assign the necessary PBR materials and use their layers to paint the terrain.
    3. Add mud and/or snow areas.
    4. Add rivers and other water objects.
    5. Add plants, either as single standalone plants or massively via Distributions.
    6. Add various overlays: roads, wires, etc.
    7. Add various models: buildings, light poles, etc.
    8. Add zones: Garage, fuel stations, zones for loading cargo, zones that will be used for delivery of goods/trucks, etc.
    9. Add objectives related to some zones: Tasks, Contracts, and Contests.
    10. If necessary, add some external maps as references.
    11. Add trucks and select one truck as Active.
    12. Add sounds and sound domains.
  3. Pack your map to .pak and .zip files.
  4. Test your map locally in the game.
  5. Publish your map to

The sections that follow describe some of these operations in more detail.

5.1. Creation of a Terrain

To create a terrain:

1. In the File View panel, right-click the prebuild folder and select New Terrain in the list.

create terrain

2. In the appearing window, specify the main parameters of the new map:

create terrain 2

The parameters are the following:

  • Name - the name of the map. Names of levels must start with the level_ prefix, references must start with the ref_ prefix.
  • U Blocks and V Blocks - allow you to specify the dimensions of the map (the width and length), in blocks. Each block is equal to 24 meters.
    • U Blocks - the number of blocks along the X-axis.
    • V Blocks - the number of blocks along the Z-axis.
  • Max height (m) - the maximum height of the level.

When creating a new terrain, the system creates a new data.stg file and prompts about that. Answer Yes.

data stg file creation

If the creation of the initial terrain was performed successfully, you will see that the Scene View panel now contains the following hierarchy:

scene view

The Terrain section there contains subsections that correspond to both tools (brushes) that you will use during editing terrain and all objects that you will add to the terrain.

However, the main window of the editor will display only the grid and the initial terrain will be not visible.
To display the terrain, double-click the terrain preview in the Terrain panel on the left (A on the picture below). After doing this, the terrain will be displayed in the main window (B on the picture below).

create terrain 5

5.1.1. Terrain Properties

If the Terrain section is selected in the Scene View, you can see the parameters of the terrain in the lower part of the Scene View panel:

terrain properties

In this panel, you can view the information about the size of the map in blocks (which is not editable) and specify such parameters as daytime presets, the sky preset, the sound preset (Ambient Preset), and so on.

The parameters are the following:

  • Blocks section:
    • Number X - the number of blocks along the X-axis. Maximum value: 84
    • Number Z - the number of blocks along the Z-axis. Maximum value: 84
    • Max Height - the maximum height of the level.
  • Mud Type - currently not used.
  • Mutator - allows you to specify the ID of the mutator that will be applied to all references imported to this map (to meet its settings). For more details, see "5.10.3. Usage of Mutators" below.
  • Sun Static Direction - sets the direction of the static sun. The word “static” is important here, since the light from this static sun will be baked into the lightmap (shadows from it will not change during the day). Static lightmap shadows are rendered at the distance greater than 50 meters from the camera. At the distance that is less than 50 meters - more sincere dynamic shadows are used. These dynamic shadows change simultaneously with the change of the daytime presets in the game, according to the direction of the “dynamic” sun (the SunDir parameter in the daytime preset). For info on daytime presets, see below.
  • Sky Preset - the preset for the sky on the level. The existing sky presets can be found in the [media]\classes\skies\ folder of the initial.pak archive.
    Possible values:
    • sky_ru_02 - the sky of Taymyr
    • sky_us_01 - the sky of Michigan
    • sky_us_02 - the sky of Alaska.
  • Ambient Preset - the name of the file with sound presets for the environment of the map (“ambient sounds”). In particular, there are presets of sounds for specific weather and terrain, including river sounds. Files with presets are stored in the initial.pak archive, inside the [media]\classes\ambients\ directory. Since we cannot edit the .pak file by standard means, in this field we simply specify the name of the preset that is most suitable for our map. Therefore, the available values for this field are as follows:
    • snd_amb_us_autumn - autumn preset
    • snd_amb_us_winter - winter preset
    • snd_amb_ru_summer - summer preset
  • Daytime Presets section - specifies presets for lighting and time of day:

      • Night - night

      • Night to Day - dawn

      • Day Early Variants - morning

      • DayMidVariants - midday

      • DayLateVariants - after midday

      • DayToNight - sunset

    • The existing daytime presets can be found at the [media]\classes\daytimes\ folder of the initial.pak archive. Presets with the “a” suffix (e.g. “day__1a_ru_02” for “day__1_ru_02”) correspond to the “cloudy weather” variant of the preset.
      For example, the following presets are used for levels (the same IDs are the possible values for these fields):

      • Taymyr:

        Night night_ru_02
        NightToDay night_to_day_ru_02
        DayEarlyVariants day__1_ru_02;day__1a_ru_02
        DayMidVariants day__2_ru_02;day__2a_ru_02
        DayLateVariants day__3_ru_02;day__3a_ru_02
        DayToNight day_to_night_ru_02
      • Alaska:

        Night night_us_02
        NightToDay night_to_day_us_02
        DayEarlyVariants day__1_us_02;day__1a_us_02
        DayMidVariants day__2_us_02;day__2a_us_02
        DayLateVariants day__3_us_02;day__3a_us_02
        DayToNight day_to_night_us_02
      • Michigan:

        Night night_us_01
        NightToDay night_to_day_us_01
        DayEarlyVariants day__1_us_01;day__1a_us_01
        DayMidVariants day__2_us_01;day__2a_us_01
        DayLateVariants day__3_us_01;day__3a_us_01
        DayToNight day_to_night_us_01
    • NOTE: Mixing presets from different levels can lead to an unpredicted result.

    • NOTE: Please be accurate while entering IDs of the Daytime Presets. Entered values must not contain spaces (spaces in these values may result in a crash).

  • Daytime Presets > Force section - allows you to set one particular daytime preset for the level. This preset will not change with the game time. The section contains the following fields:
    • Name - the name (ID) of the daytime preset, see above.
    • Night Factor - the lighting condition in the specified preset: “Day”, “Night”, or “Night to Day”. This setting is necessary for the game logic that is related to the daytime. Using this value, it will be able to identify what time of the day should be used for the specified preset.
  • Description level section:
    • Id - the name of the level for UI.
    • Description - the description of the level for UI.
  • Extrudes To Wetness - sets the humidity of the hidden mud (the more it is, the more liquid the dirt will be and the harder it will be to drive).
  • -threshold - the parameter for cutting minor mud. Recommended values are in the [0.05-0.2] interval:
    • For winter: 0.2
    • For warm seasons: below 0.15 (the best variant is 0.05).

5.1.2. Scene Properties

After selecting the Scene section in the Scene View panel, in the lower part of the panel, you can set the speed of the in-game time that will be used for the scene . This parameter is not used outside the Editor (i.e. it is not used inside the game itself). However, in the Editor, it affects the playback speed of the animations of objects and allows you to make them faster or slower.

scene properties

Along with this setting, you can also enable “Fog of War” for your map. However, it is specified along with the zone settings, see "5.15.4" for details.

5.2. “Geometry” Brushes for Terrain

Geometry is the subsection of the Terrain section in the Scene View panel.

27 geometry section

When you select the Geometry node (or any of its sub-nodes) in the Scene View, the terrain editing menu (brush panel) of a certain kind will appear in the main panel of the Editor.

The Geometry section includes tools for working with the terrain surface.
Roughly speaking, by choosing the Geometry node or its sub-nodes - we select a brush with which we will work with the terrain surface.

Painting, using the selected brush, is performed by pressing and holding the right mouse button while moving the mouse. By pressing the left mouse button, you can apply the changes. For details on typical Brush dialog, see "3.3. Typical Brush dialog" above.

28 geometry brush

When working with the Geometry brush itself (when the Geometry node itself is selected in the Scene View panel), you can edit heights and the geometry of the terrain. In the drop-down list, you can select one of the three operating modes:

  • Height - Lowering or raising the surface. If the brush value is negative, recesses will be created on the terrain. If positive, bulges will be created.
  • Flatten - Flattening of the surface. I.e., the brush allows you to create flat surfaces when you hold the right mouse button. The height in the center of the brush is used as the height of flattening when you click the right mouse button.
  • Smooth - Smoothing of height differences. Smoothing occurs when the right mouse button is pressed. We recommended you to set the Falloff value close to 0 for this brush.

After setup of the brush, you can change the terrain surface by moving the brush and holding the right mouse button.

NOTE: Along with manual creation of the terrain, you can create a terrain in the third-party tool. For details, see " Copy Source Heightmap: Creation of Terrain by Third-Party Tool" below.

The remaining brushes (sub-nodes of the Geometry node) are controlled in the same way. They are briefly described in the subsections below, starting with "5.2.1. Colorization" below. The "5.2.0" section below describes the context menu of the Geometry section.

5.2.0. Context menu of the “Geometry” section

The context menu of the Geometry section contains a set of commands that can be helpful in some cases. To open this menu, right-click the Geometry section in the Scene View.

29 geometry context menu

For the description of these commands, see "5.2.0.N"subsections below. Copy Source Heightmap: Creation of Terrain by Third-Party Tool

The Copy Source Heightmap command is useful if you want to use the heightmap from some third-party tool and want to generate terrain for your map based on it.
When you create a new terrain in the Editor, it creates the _height_source.png texture in the source folder of the level (Media\prebuild\<level_name>). This texture has 1 channel and it must be 16-bit. If necessary, you can generate the heightmap for your map using a third-party tool and save the resulting heightmap to this texture. To add heightmap from this texture to your map in the Editor, you can use the Copy Source Heightmap command. Create Water Heightmap: Useful Map of Water Surfaces

The Create Water Heightmap command creates the texture with a heightmap of water surfaces that were created as River objects on the map (see "5.9. Adding Rivers and Water Objects" below). This texture is called _water_height.png, it has one channel, 16 bit. This texture is not used by the Editor for the generation of the level. However, this texture can be used, if masks for layers and distributions are generated in third-party applications (e.g. Substance Designer or Houdini). Using this texture and a heightmap of the level, one can easily see where the map contains water and what is its depth.
For example, according to the data on this mask, one can generate the distribution of canes on the banks of water objects and a wetness mask near them. Create Default Flowmap: Default Map of the Flow for River Objects

The Create Default Flowmap command creates the default map of the flow of water for River objects on the map (see "5.9. Adding Rivers and Water Objects" below). This texture is called _default_water_flow.tga, it has 3 channels (RGB), 8 bit for each channel.
The R and G channels contain components of the speed vector (for U and V axes of the terrain correspondingly).
The default direction of the flow of the water is automatically calculated by the Editor based on the height differences along the river spline and its curvature.
The _default_water_flow.tga texture is not used by the Editor for the generation of the level. However, it could be used to generate a more accurate flow map in third-party applications, using it together with the terrain heightmap and the water heightmap textures.
After tuning, this water flow texture can be renamed to the water flow texture used for the generation of the level - _water_flow.tga. If you enable the UseFlowMap option (set UseFlowMap = True) in the properties of the River object after doing this, the Editor will use the created _water_flow.tga texture when generating the level. Or, you can manually paint the River object with the Water brush in the Editor to specify the flow (see "5.9. Adding Rivers and Water Objects" below). Restore version "mud" from "data.stg": Restoring Mud Data

The Restore version "mud" from "data.stg" command restores the mud data if it has become corrupted. This command overwrites the mud file (where the mud data is stored) with the data from the data.stg file, which contains all level data (including mud) in the binary format. The data.stg file is updated each time you save the level. Create Ref Merge Map: Creation of a Mask for Merging a Reference

The Create Ref Merge Map command creates the _ref_merge.tga texture and enables the RefMergeMask brush that can be used to create a mask for merging a reference with your map. For more details, see "5.10.2. “RefMergeMask” brush" below.

5.2.1. Colorization

30 colorization brush

The Geometry > Colorization brush allows you to paint the surface with a specified color.
In the Color parameter, you can specify the necessary color tint, and use the slider to specify how much this color will affect the surface.
If the slider pointer is located to the right from the middle of the slider, you will paint the terrain with the selected color. If the slider pointer is on the left - the brush will erase the color from the terrain. If the slider pointer is exactly in the middle of the slider, the brush will do nothing.
The Set button shows a color palette for selecting color.

To paint with this brush hold the right mouse button.

5.2.2. Wetness

31 wetness brush

The Geometry > Wetness brush allows you to adjust the wetness of the surface. The higher the Value parameter is, the wetter the painted surface will be. The wetter the surface, the stronger the vehicle will get stuck in it even if the mud is not painted in this area. On winter maps, hard surfaces (e.g. winter asphalt, winter stone, ice) will become icy when painted with the wetness brush.

5.2.3. Mud

32 mud brush

The Geometry > Mud brush allows you to add and edit mud on the terrain surface.

33 mud surface

Mud is displayed on the surface as vertical lines with horizontal marks. The more marks the line has, the deeper the mud is at this point.
For example:

  • The first horizontal mark is the boundary of the mud, which is passable by light and poorly prepared vehicles.
  • The second mark is the boundary of mud passable by four-wheel-drive regular trucks with offroad tires.
  • Below the second mark - almost everything will bog, except for heavy vehicles, upgraded to the maximum limit.

The higher the Value parameter of the brush is, the faster the brush will add depth to the mud. When the Value parameter has a negative value, the mud is reduced or erased.

In the drop-down menu, you can select two operating modes of the brush:

  • Automatic - this mode adds mud and automatically paints the texture of the mud on the surface. This mud will be sufficiently hard and dried out if wetness or hidden mud is not painted on it (see below). To create mud traces, we recommend you to paint with a brush size of 0.5 - 0.8 meters. For light mud, the Value should be 0.54 - 0.56. For deep traces - 0.6 - 0.7.
  • Extrudes - this mode adds depth to the mud on the terrain. In this case, the texture of the surface will not change. This is the “hidden mud” that the player will only see when the earth is wet in this place (automatic wetting is defined by the Extrudes To Wetness parameter in the Terrain section). This mud affects passability most of all.

5.2.4. Quick Mud

34 quick mud brush

The Geometry > QuickMud brush allows you to paint mud with added ruts. This brush will paint the ruts, the friability of the soil, and its wetness at the same time.
It is used for quick painting of the mud on the badly broken roads.

35 quick mud surface

5.2.5. Water

36 water brush

The Geometry > Water brush does not create water objects. It allows you to change the properties for already created River objects. The water flows themselves are created by the River tool (see "5.9. Adding Rivers and Water Objects" below).

Properties that can be changed with this brush:

  • Foam - adds foam to the water surface.
  • Speed - sets the speed of the water, separately from its direction (flow). By default, the flow direction goes from the 0 point of the River object to the next points (1, 2, etc.).
  • Flow - Overrides the direction of the water flow, when the River object has the UseFlowMap parameter set to True. See "5.9. Adding Rivers and Water Objects" for details.

    WARNING: When painting the direction of the water flow using the Flow mode, the Autofade option of the brush should be disabled. The enabled Autofade option will result in the automatic correction of brushstrokes, which may result in the incorrect map of flow directions.

    TIP: Firstly, set the main direction of the flow for the whole river using a brush with a huge Size. Then, using the brush of a smaller size, add the details of the river flow in the necessary areas: the water flow near obstacles and reflection of water from the banks of the river (at 45 degrees from the direction of the main flow). Finally, to achieve the best result and to avoid sharp borders between parts of the flow, you can open the map of flow (the _water_flow.tga texture) and blur the necessary parts of it in the image editor of your choice.

The mask for the foam is stored in the green channel of the _water.tga texture (in the map mod folder). The mask for the speed of water is stored in the blue channel of the same texture. The result of painting the flow of the river is stored in the _water_flow.tga texture. Along with manual painting of the flow of the river, you can generate a default flow map and then tune it with a third-party tool (see "" above for details).

5.2.6. Water Mud

37 water mud brush

The Geometry > WaterMud brush allows you to paint dirty or muddy areas of water (it allows you to repaint water objects). The color and properties of muddy water are set in the River object (see "5.9. Adding Rivers and Water Objects" below).

As opposed to the regular mud, the water mud simply affects the color of the river. I.e., according to the painted areas, the game will perform blending of the two river colors. These colors are set for the river in its properties: Clean Type (for clear water) and Muddy Type (for muddy water).

5.2.7. Snow

38 snow brush

The Geometry > Snow brush allows you to control the depth of snow.
This brush can only be used on the snow terrain layer, after painting it with the snow_layer layer of the corresponding PBR material (see "5.3. Assigning PBR Materials to Terrain" below). You can paint using this brush if there is at least a little layer of snow terrain in the painted area. For example, if 0 amount of the snow is painted on the layer, then there will be no deep snow; however, if the weight of the snow on the snow layer is 50%, then deep snow can be painted. This is done so to avoid sharp "steps" of the deep snow (since on the map of the deep snow 1 pixel equals to 50cm).

As with mud (see "5.2.3. Mud" above), after painting with the depth of the snow, a region with vertical lines with horizontal marks will appear on the terrain. The more horizontal marks are displayed on the vertical line, the deeper the snow is.

39 snow depth surface

IMPORTANT: If there is a solid ground under the snow and there is no mud, the car will not sink in the snow for more than a half of a wheel. If the snow is deeper than 1 horizontal mark (see screenshot above) and there is a hidden mud (mud of the “Extrudes” type) under the snow, the car will sink deeper in the snow and will bury itself in the snow below the level of the wheels.


  • Depth - sets the depth of snow (similarly to Mud).
  • Flatten - flattens snow depth.
  • Smooth - smooths transitions between sections of snow with different depths.

By enabling the Update material option in the Brush window, you can add both the depth of the snow and the snow_layer itself, simultaneously.

NOTE: If you are creating a large level and are working with snow (painting depth or working with a material with the snow_layer), then we recommend you to disable the auto rebuild of the terrain. Otherwise, the auto rebuild and/or any operation with the material will take a long time.

To view the final result of the performed changes, you need to rebuild the scene. To do this, right-click the scene window and select Rebuild Terrain or Rebuild Visible / Selection (to rebuild only visible or selected areas).

After painting with the depth of snow - the system will mark this level as snowy. And, only after that, the soft_snow and crust_snow layers can be applied (see "5.3.1. Material properties" for details). They will be available only after performing Rebuild Terrain also.

5.2.8. RefMergeMask (only for References)

The Geometry > RefMergeMask brush is used for references. It is hidden in the UI by default.
For details on it, see "5.10.2. “RefMergeMask” brush" and "5.10. Adding References" below.

5.3. Assigning PBR Materials to Terrain

The PbrMaterials section of the Scene View panel allows you to create PBR (Physically-Based Rendering) terrain materials with layers and paint the terrain with them.

To create a material:

  1. Right-click the


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