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Submitted by Joshua Anderson, posted on November 11, 2000

Image Description, by Joshua Anderson

= Flyby Version 0.8
= Written by Joshua Anderson

This is the latest (read first) release of Flyby! A little demo I wrote that shows off my terrain engine with one of the best views of a terrain one can get; a flyby.

Hopefully the lines below will answer some people's questions before they ask (but don't hesitate to ask any questions you do have)

The terrain was pre-generated by a program that I wrote (based on Musgrave's algorithm)

The shading and shadows were generated by a simple raytracer (one specifically designed for height fields, it is quite simple).

The placement of "grass" and "snow" were also generated from the terrain dataset. (although the algorithm allows for more than two types of terrain).

The actual grass texture was tiled into the texture by Paint Shop Pro (I'm hoping I can make this automatic too (if I find the time))

The terrain rendering system is a based on the paper on quadtree terrain rendering by Rottger, Heidrich, et all.
Oh, and credit for the model goes to some unamed person who submitted it to the free section at

What the next version may or may not hold:
  • If you pay attention, you will notice terrain "popping". Writing geomorphing code is the next thing on my list.
  • It really needs a sky
  • BIGGER areas (memory is the current limitation, I'm working on a caching system)
  • more/better textures
  • memory consumption (I'm currently using 3 or 4 bytes a vertex that I don't need to be).
  • maybe a cockpit view? hmmmmmmmm....... I'll have to write it and see what it looks like to fly between mountain peaks that fast

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    November 11, 2000, 04:27 PM

    Pretty cool. I have always liked landscape engines. Maybe ill make one, one day. :)


    David Olsson

    November 11, 2000, 04:30 PM

    I was just wondering how big the landscape is and how the lightning is done ?
    One more thing, are you using any kind of LOD ?


    November 11, 2000, 08:40 PM

    The Terrain popping problems hint towards the use of a LOD algorithm. Suddenly more information is available, so the computer uses a few more polys to draw an area, and the user can sometimes see this jump if it's a large change.


    November 11, 2000, 10:16 PM

    Hi, looks pretty good, although I'm not a great fan of terrains, they're getting a bit too overused these days, without a lot of ingenuity to be seen.. but that's just my opinion. :)
    I dunno if it'd worry you, but I know of a demo also called Flyby, so that might not be a good choice for a name. :) The other's url is:



    November 12, 2000, 12:29 AM

    That reminds me of the demo with the flying plane that looks exactly like that. The one that came with the DirectX SDK.


    November 12, 2000, 12:22 PM

    Man, don't you read the text under the picture :) It says:

    "The shading and shadows were generated by a simple raytracer (one specifically designed for height fields, it is quite simple)."

    "The terrain rendering system is a based on the paper on quadtree terrain rendering by Rottger, Heidrich, et all."

    (Ok, it didnt answer the size question, but anyway..)


    Joshua Anderson

    November 12, 2000, 04:44 PM

    About the lighting, I guess I could be more specific and say that they simple raytracer generates a greyscale image that is used as a lightmap.

    As for the size, it's 1025x1025 in this demo. This might be too much or to little, I haven't really played with different grid resolutions yet to see what gives a good performance/quality balence.

    The engine will actually load any terrain size that has dimentsions of N**2 + 1 x M**2 + 1, but if it gets too big, memory starts running low. Thats why I'm working on a caching algo.

    RE: "Terrains being overused..." I agree with you. It seems that everyone wants the next "big feature" of commercial games to be hybrid indoor/outdoor engines.

    Although, I'm just a hobby programmer who wants to see what I can come up with for a terrain engine. I'm mainly interested in the learning experience.

    And I was unaware of an existing program with the name flyby, thank you for pointing it out to me. I'll change the name.

    About the DirectX demo: Which SDK has a demo like that? I've never seen it.

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