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I think v2.4 beta3 is code-complete. Release in two days.
I was wondering if anyone skilled in the art of Terragen was willing to take a crack at rendering roughly the same spot as in these images from L3DTVi2? I'd like to see how L3DT's dodgy tricks stack up against a proper ray-tracing photorealistic renderer, but alas the mysteries of surface maps are somewhat beyond me. Using the default 'desert and grass' I came up with these:
If you want to try your hand, the heightfield is here:
The water-level is 82.5m, and the camera conditions are approximately:
Best of luck,
Due to popular demand, I've taken a few more screenshots of the cliffs from a few days ago with the lighting adjusted to remove shadows:
As you can see, the bump-mapping effect is diminished when the lighting is face-on to the surfaces. Sadly, this is how Lambertian reflectance is supposed to work, so it's not something I can really 'fix'.
Oh, by the way, the map itself was a little 256×256 heightfield with an 4096×4096 mosaic texture. Both the light-map and texture-map were 16x high-res, with bump-mapping and per-pixel land types enabled. The texture calculation took about 6 minutes on my 2Ghz AMD (it's ~2.5 minutes with 'per pixel land types' disabled).
Edit: Oops, I forgot to mention that when rendering the above scenes, L3DTVi2 was pushing 144 frames per second on an ancient nVidia FX5700 card.
The development plan for v2.4 beta3 has lurched away from what I had previously planned (i.e. scripting). Instead, most of the changes in this next beta-release are improvements to the climate/texturing system, plus a number of bug-fixes.
I've been busy improving high-resolution texture output from L3DT. In previous versions each land type could have only two textures/bump-maps - one for 'low-res' and one for 'high-res'. In Beta3 each land type may have an arbitrary number of textures and bump-maps, each with arbitrary horizontal scaling. The texture-layer-combiner also supports textures in modulation-mode, so you can bake greyscale (or colour) detail-maps onto ultra-high res textures.
As for bump-mapping, previous versions of L3DT used a cheap-n-nasty vector combiner that produced imperfect results on sloped terrain. I've re-written this using a proper matrix transformation1) so that the bump-mapping works properly in all cases. Here is a pretty screenshot:
Another change is the introduction of strata mapping, of which this is a quick (and less pretty) example:
Beta1 and beta2 used my generic 'tree-edit dialog' as the land type editor interface. In beta3 there will be a dedicated dialog, which should hopefully be a little more usable and a little less daunting. Screenshots will follow at a later date.
The clean-up continues for the bugs introduced in the first two betas of v2.4 due to changes in file formats, script-handling and data structures. These are mostly user-interface and file input/output problems (listed here).
Beta3 is at least a week away. The changes in texture-handing caused quite a bit of splash-damage on other parts of the code that now need to be upgraded. I also need to update the textures/bump-maps in the 'standard' climates (temperate, arctic, desert).
At the moment I don't plan to make a beta4, so the next update after beta3 will be the release-version of L3DT v2.4. Finally!
The purpose of this weblog is to:
As with the old hand-crafted PHP/XHTML news pages, summaries of important items will be splashed on the main page with appropriate links to the full items here.
The style and presentation is still a little, eh, rustic, but I can tinker with that later. The RSS feeds are also quite wonky, so I don't recommend anyone subscribe just yet.
The second beta-release of L3DT v2.4 is now available for download. This update fixes a few bugs from beta1, and also significantly re-works the script-handling internals. The change-log may be read here.
The following bugs have been fixed:
All users of the evaluation-version of L3DT Professional are recommended to re-enter their activation key codes ('Settings→Activation code'), which will reset the expiry date to the correct value. Otherwise your key will expire long before it should.
One of the main features intended for L3DT v2.4 is a scripting-interface to allow users to write their own algorithms, file importers/exporters, and otherwise customise L3DT's behaviour. Just how much of this will be actually be possible in v2.4 is yet to be determined, but this beta-release includes a lot of low-level changes required to make it happen (upgraded run-time environment, script compiler, etc). If you don't notice any difference in behaviour or performance between beta1 and beta2, these changes have been successful.
In the next release, which will either be beta3 or the final v2.4, I'll finally let you play with the scripting system. There are also a few other features on the to-do list for v2.4, but they are of lesser importance, so they may be deferred to v2.4a. Whichever way it goes, the next release will be around about the end of May.
Not yet, but soon. I'll let you know.
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