The terrain in LU (the .raw files) is a custom format. Some progress was made a while back on reverse engineering it:
Those are the height and color maps for Avant Gardens Survival. Here's all of them: http://www.mediafire.com/download/3s38doih6003ngf/LU_terrain.zip
Some things to note:
- The images in that zip are mirrored horizontally. I fixed it for the two examples posted but you'll have to fix them yourself if you want to do anything with them.
- This is not all the data the .raw files contain. There's also splat maps (which are used to determine which textures to apply where) and flair (very small flowers, grass, rocks, etc) that are specified. It's possible there's other data too.
- Flair is specified as x/y/z positions of the flair and an ID, if I remember correctly. Looking up that ID in the FlairTable in the game's database will tell you the model used. (For example, flair 26 is mesh/flair/Gnarled_Forest/flair_won_gnar_grass_light.nif)
- The color and splat maps are saved as many smaller DDS textures inside the .raw files, and can be easily ripped by any program capable of detecting and ripping DDS files. However, the individual tiles of the splat maps come in varying resolutions (apparently depending on how much detail is needed for that exact area of terrain), so putting them together into a single image like the color maps isn't as straightforward. Here's some examples of Gnarled Forest splat map tiles:
- The darkest parts of the height maps are the lowest parts of the terrain, and the lightest parts are the highest parts. However, the actual height of the terrain varies. For example, the height map for Nexus Tower is a patch of solid black surrounded by solid white. That's both the lowest and highest possible heights to represent, but in-game it looks like this. Compare that to Forbidden Valley, which also contains both solid white and black, but in-game those highest points are much, much higher than in Nexus Tower. In other words, if you import these height maps into anything and want to line them up with the NIF models that form everything else in the worlds, you'll have to figure out the proper vertical scale per each individual height map.
- Yes, absolutely every map in the game has terrain, whether it needs it or not (Venture Explorer, racetracks, etc)
- Yes, there's several unreleased/cut maps in there (Duck Shooting Gallery, Gnarled Forest Survival, Earth Gauntlet, Forbidden Valley Siege, etc). Who knows why NetDevil/Play Well Studios left them in the game, but I'm not complaining.