Today brings a new version of Worldbuilder! The primary focus has been on the presentation of the planets. Much work has gone into getting away from being limited by a low-resolution triangle mesh during rendering, and instead doing far more on a per-pixel level. It has also made it significantly easier to add lighting and to handle a wider variety of map projections.
A demo is available for download, and the full product can be purchased from the store page. (Once purchased, you’ll continue to have free access to future updates.) If you have already purchased Worldbuilder, the downloads can be found here.
For now, Worldbuilder remains Windows-only, and requires OpenGL 3.0 as a minimum.
Major Feature Improvements
Below are highlights of the improvements. You may also read through the full change log, but it doesn’t have any pretty pictures. (Note that this version is regrettably incompatible with saved *.wgen files from earlier versions. Too much changed to make compatibility feasible. Such is the nature of software during it’s early life cycle.)
The same set of globe visualization layers are still available, but are all updated to include pixel-level detail and optional lighting.
All of the visualization layers can now be applied to any of the map projections just as easily. Here are the five currently available layers, plus a tiled version of the biomes layer with a grid overlaid, using the vertically oriented Cassini projection which is distortion free along a longitudinal ring through the planet’s poles.
The lighting model can be enabled for maps too, enabling you to easily see, given a star position at any latitude/longitude, what parts of the planet are in daylight and what parts are night.
The old tiled view is still available if you want it, and the thickness of the grid lines can be adjusted.
If you still want the per-pixel detail, but wish to keep the grid lines, you can do that too.
The roughness of the land features can be controlled as well. The significance of both high-frequency and mid-frequency details can be adjusted. In the following three images, high-frequency details are emphasized in the left image, mid-frequency details are emphasized in the right image, and both frequencies are emphasized in the middle image.
And as before, parameters exist to get a variety of planet types. Below we have a lush world, a dry world, and wet island world.
And lest I forget, I added a Randomize button to the random engine seed parameter. Now it takes just a single click to generate a new planet with the current parameter set. Thanks to Michael Jones for the suggestion!
Many of the changes have yet to reveal their full potential, since a lot of the work was to the framework underlying the Worldbuilder generation system. The changes to rendering will make it easier to add text and illustration support. The ability to place labels on the map or globe and style them will be an immensely critical addition for turning Worldbuilder into the product I imagine it could be.
I’m also now in a good position to start using the graphics card not just for rendering, but also for generating planetary details, again at a high resolution rather than the basic triangle mesh currently being used. Besides, the models I use for tectonics and weather are lacking anyway, so it would make sense to substantially rework them at the same time. The goals would be across the board: higher quality, variety, detail, and speed. Also, I’d really love to take this opportunity to add rivers an other inland bodies of water.
But before I tackle those two major feature sets, I think I’ll spend a few weeks adding smaller usability improvements, such as persistent preferences, better data export methods, and a nicer screenshot saving interface. Work on version 0.2.0 took longer that I would have liked, and it would be nice to get a few small quick updates out before I take on the risk of another large feature.