Fresh out of school, with a few projects to show, I was fortunate enough to acquire a software engineering position at a London-based start-up. Hired for my experience in Unity, I worked within a small team. We spent the summer developing a realistic, real-time, urban environment simulation. The simulation was designed for use by an automated transport planning system.
I implemented access to OpenStreetMap's data via the Mapbox Software Development Kit for Unity. The data provided by OpenStreetMap's for the simulation granted instant access to the open-source data required to build urban environments from across the globe. I then used meta-data from OpenStreetMap's to facilitate decorating the world with parks and pavements. Finally, I created a day-and-night weather cycle. Having established the core framework for future developments, I left the project to begin my BSc in Theoretical Physics at Lund University.
Procedural mesh pavements
The buildings and roads provided by OpenStreetMap's alone are insufficient to truly re-create an urban environment – without some impressionism. For example, how could we create procedural pavements for people to walk on? Since the metadata for roads was limited to just the carriageway type, some general assumptions were needed, such as motorways not having pavements. The problem then became how to create the pavements themselves. Initial naive attempts to take each segment of road, make two raised copies, and shift them to either side of the road appeared successful, until curved roads were encountered.
I had hope of a better solution involving procedural mesh creation – something which I didn't have any experience in at the time. After doing some research and prototyping, I was ready to give it all a try. I made a new game object for the pavements, and generated its mesh from a fixed cross-section consisting of pavements separated by the width of the road. I'm glad I tried, because this alternative approach worked great!