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Submitted by Johan Hammes, posted on February 07, 2002

Image Description, by Johan Hammes

These are a couple of screenshots from a paper that I presented last year.

What sets this apart is that most of what you see is generated in real-time as you roam the landscape. This includes all the plants (well there positions), as well as all the ground cover textures. Even with the current amount of plants, frame rate is still above 25 on a PIII 500 with a geforce 256 card.

This is done by ecotope modelling ( Ecotope : A particular habitat within a region with relative uniform climatological and soil conditions. Typically, specific ecotopes will be associated with specific ecosystems.) As you move around, the ecotope simulation is done for each new area that appears on screen, and an appropriate ground cover and set of plants is generated. Details of this, and the paper can be found on my website.

Johan Hammes

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Archive Notice: This thread is old and no longer active. It is here for reference purposes. This thread was created on an older version of the flipcode forums, before the site closed in 2005. Please keep that in mind as you view this thread, as many of the topics and opinions may be outdated.
Ben Everett

February 07, 2002, 02:54 PM

Now that is sweet and very realistic. The mountains in the background, is that a sky box or actual terrain?


February 07, 2002, 02:56 PM

Shocking good!


February 07, 2002, 03:04 PM

Now this looks very alive
Great work!


February 07, 2002, 03:10 PM

Looks amazing: Good work :)

Will there be a binary out, or even source?

Everything what you see is terrain, except for the sky:) right?
Can't wait to test this on my own machine!


February 07, 2002, 03:13 PM

Yipe. That looks great indeed. If you had used higher resolution textures for the ground, this would have looked almost completely photorealistic.


February 07, 2002, 03:16 PM

great idea! my opinion the only way to make it realistic.
and with gfx-cards like the gf3/4 we're getting closer to reality..
i mean with trees and grass waving in the wind, real poly- trees in the foreground, animals with his own behaviour, day-night cycle,.. etc. etc. .. ( sure most of these things are always possible, but not reality-close enough)

it's very nice of you to share your thoughts (docu) with us - thanks!

zed zeek

February 07, 2002, 03:29 PM

bloody hell what a variety of plants, were they modelled or ptrocedurally generated?

El Wolf

February 07, 2002, 03:34 PM

Wow -- very good work!! does your terrain have LOD capability? is the sky a regular non-animated dome? or are the clouds also generated?


February 07, 2002, 03:51 PM

Phew - that beats everything I've seen so far!
Go on with that!

Have fun


February 07, 2002, 03:58 PM

really impressive stuff! and i don't generally say this about landscape engines ;)

it's nice to see some south african programmers (maties nogal ;) on flipCode ;)


February 07, 2002, 04:08 PM

That is really cool... the paper was a good read. I would really like to see what it looks like moving. Since I've never seen real time graphics that looked like that it's difficult to imagine what it would look like moving. It's difficult to say whether it looks better or worse. It think it is a step in the right direction, though. Probability and life-imitating algorithms seem like a better aproach to realism.


February 07, 2002, 04:15 PM



February 07, 2002, 05:13 PM

omg...damn good!


February 07, 2002, 05:14 PM

jesus.. that's the first iotd in a long, long time that has really impressed me.. very nice.


February 07, 2002, 05:36 PM

WOW! Im really impressed! I cant believe those are made on realtime!
Are the flowers and the grass pictures or they are highpoly models or what?

You really, really, really have impressed me.
You could fool almost anyone passing those as real.

I can notice that you are using a theory by mentioned by Perlin mentioning that real/white/light should be whiter than anything else in the picture. (by looking at that flower) that makes it look more realistic.

Arne Rosenfeldt

February 07, 2002, 05:49 PM

>the ecotope simulation is done for each new area that appears on >screen
CLOD, VSD, procedual geometrie and memory managers unite in frame to frame coherence!

I wonder what the fps does, when you turn around, or walk over
a hill. Do you lower the detail level then?

Jo Meder

February 07, 2002, 05:55 PM

The clouds, and sky, looks to have been rendered in Terragen and is used as a skybox or similar. You can check out Terragen at :

Disclaimer - I'm involved with Terragen.

Jo Meder

Arne Rosenfeldt

February 07, 2002, 05:58 PM

>I wonder what the fps does, when you turn around, or walk over
>a hill. Do you lower the detail level then?

OK, read your Paper, Sorry


February 07, 2002, 06:29 PM

very nice work, and the paper is an interesting read.

Am I correct in assuming that the plants/trees in the screenshots are billboarded? They look like very high-resoltion textures, but in some of the screenshots on your web page the pixelation shows during extreme close ups.


February 07, 2002, 06:35 PM

good work you did what you set out to do.

I still don't get it though with all this "It looks so realistic"
The hills don't look great - all bubbley, the plants don't sit well in the images I could go on and on. The textures look warped and splodgey wrapping errors too.It looks realistic compared to what? Not reality that is for sure.

Don't get me wrong I am not dissing the guy, becuase he did what he
set out to do And it is reasonalble looking at that.

The Sky is nice, a Terragen skybox of course, it is the only software that does a decent sky - such a shame the guy stopped developing it, it could of be amazing with more complex different cloud types and layers.


Was just on the Nvidia geforce4 site looking at some screenshots,
They are ugly, it's almost like we are going back in time to the late
80's pre-rendered computer animation - it looks ugly

Sorry I have a chip on my shoulder from working on PS2, limited RAM
and using mostly 4bit textures!

PC game developers produce some ugly crap for having so much power
and ram



February 07, 2002, 06:40 PM

Also.. I notice people asking are those plants textures....
You must know they are, they have alpha test artifacts all over them..


February 07, 2002, 07:34 PM

hmm, where do you see the artifacts ?
I don't see them anywhere, not even in the screenshots the dude has on his webpage..,
anyways, impressive shots



February 07, 2002, 07:57 PM

What wrecked the illusion of reality for me was the Arum Lillies* in the middle left picture. Since when do they grow in arid areas!? =]

* I presume they are because they look a lot like the ones in my garden.


February 07, 2002, 08:14 PM

all the vegetation is done NOT by procedural means, nor models. They are simply textures - most likely rendered using simple billboarding.

I believe the interesting thing about the paper and screenshots (and potentially the terrain engine - I havent seen a demo of the engine) is the "placement" of the vegetation.

ecotope modelling was johan's goal, and that involves where vegetation is placed within the terrain.


Lion V

February 07, 2002, 11:41 PM

Your mountain terrain is totally sweet. Looks like near where i live.
You live in the Rockies man ?
Placement of vegetation is really hot too !
actual plant models/textures are quite passable, but dont blend in to the terrain as wel as they could.
You ned to post a demo.


February 08, 2002, 01:43 AM

Damn that's impressive. A whole new level of realism.


February 08, 2002, 01:57 AM

Does anyone else think 'Provence' (France) when they see the screenshots?

Just not sure if you'd find lillies there.......

(sorry for being OT here)

Johan Hammes

February 08, 2002, 02:08 AM

All terrain, only sky in skybox

Johan Hammes

February 08, 2002, 02:31 AM


easier to post one big reply to everyone.

First binary and source, I do not think we will have either soon, there is some data in there that requires NDA's to be signed. Sorry.

All plants are bilboards, from photos that I have taken in the Jonkershoek nature reserve. That includes the lilies, I guess we have a slightly different species here. The base of the ground cover tetxures is also photographs that gets blended into each other.

CLOD, similar to Lindstrom.

Yes, the sky is Terragen. I am working on a dynamic sky (see eye adaptation modeling on my website), but hell, the paper had a deadline, and Terragen sky's are the best (well static).

lycium: I am a fake matie, only been here for 8 months now, I studied in Pretoria.

framerate: yes, thats why all of you want to see the demo. (well hopefully I will have a new one out in a few months). Framerate is guaranteed at the loss of resolution, so if you turn around very fast, framerate stays up there at 25fps, but some of the foreground resolution disappears. Having said that, we are talking about 200-300 degrees per second turns here. Everything is so blurry that it does not matter. By the time that the camera has settled resolution is back up...... yes I know you will need a demo to be convinced of this (makes me wonder if I can ask someone who has a demo to comment on this ...)

mikie: most of your comments are quite valid. However, as someone after that said, the aim was ecotope modeling, and the paper had a deadline.
- The plants cast no shadows (I am working on that)
- You are over emphisizing the alpha blend problems, but yes they are not always 100% sorted

anyway, enough said, for the future, first things are to get the framerate up, then add more plants to get it back down again, and add dynamic shadows. Hope I have another post for you in the not too distant future



February 08, 2002, 03:05 AM

>I would really like to see what it looks like moving. Since I've never seen real time graphics that looked like that it's difficult to imagine what it would look like moving.

What about a TV? :-)

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