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Submitted by Stefano Lanza, posted on February 13, 2002

Image Description, by Stefano Lanza

These are some screenshots from TYPHOON, a landscape engine by Stefano Lanza.

  • Quadtree area mapping
  • CLOD geometry reduction
  • Unique terrain texturing
  • Illumination based on horizons mapping
  • Bump mapped water reflections
  • Trees
  • Realistic skydome
  • Sky fx (lens flares and sun burnout)
  • D3D 8.x hardware acceleration
  • Top screenshots show CLOD technique in action. Typhoon uses Peter Lindstrom's CLOD algorithm "Real-Time, Continuos Level of Detail Rendering of Height Fields" to reduce geometry in realtime, the results being high detail and long-distance views at interactive fps.

    Next are some sky images: the skydome is smoothly coloured according to day time. Scrolling clouds, lens flares and sun burnout are the sky effects that add to its visual impact.

    Terrain illumination is based on horizons mapping. Horizons are calculated for each point, then used to get the sun and sky contribution to the terrain lighting. The first image was taken in a dark valley, an other image shows a mountain peak casting its shadow on the terrain below. Note that also water and trees are properly lit. The terrain is mapped with unique textures, these are generated in realtime blending a set of base textures according to the slope and altitude of each point of the terrain, then cached. Near terrain is rendered a second pass with detail-mapping.

    Last images show lakes reflecting the surrounding scene. Latest Typhoon version supports bump-mapped reflections. The terrain is pre-compiled by an utility. Huge terrain size are supported (up to 8193x8193 grid size), catmull-rom interpolation is used to interpolate the original heightmap.

    Visit Typhoon homepage at (soon to download the latest demo.

    Image of the Day Gallery


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    Archive Notice: This thread is old and no longer active.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 Please keep that in mind as you view this thread, as many of the topics and opinions may be outdated.

    February 13, 2002, 10:28 AM

    The shots look amazing! The generator crashes on XP though... Would love to try this one out.


    February 13, 2002, 10:37 AM

    Screenshots look nice! Just tested it on my system.
    Unfortunately your algorithm implementation seems to be buggy. I get holes in the landscape and some other odd artifacts like texture misaligns and strangely displaced tris.
    Also, are you streaming in the landscape? Sometimes the system hangs and waits for like a second, as if it is waiting for some more data.
    It might also be my system, I don't know... Somebody else having those problems?
    But keep up the good work! It looks really promising. And contact me in case you need more info about those problems.

    Oh, my system:

    P4-1.4 GHz, NVidia Quadro 2 MXR, 256 MB RAM, Win2000 Pro, DX8.1



    February 13, 2002, 10:42 AM

    Phantom, crashed for me too till I also downloaded the Typhoon_GFX package.


    February 13, 2002, 10:44 AM

    Just tested it on my office PC .. Unfortunately it crashes at "compile time" :) I would also love to see this one in action.

    My System is a P4 1.8, 1 GB Ram, ATI Radeon 7500, Win2k Pro



    February 13, 2002, 10:46 AM

    On my XP machine the generator runs fine then typhoon.exe crashes when I try to load the .typ file (I have all the graphics in the same directory).

    Looks fantastic from the shots though.


    February 13, 2002, 10:53 AM

    hehe, stupid me!! I haven't downloaded the GFX pack :)

    When running the engine i noticed the following things:

    - Framerate is around 30fps for static camera
    - When moving the engine locks from time to time (around 0.5 seconds) i think this is because you're generating the terrain textures at runtime. When creating textures in higher resolution it locks the engine for a short time ?!?!?
    - The water looks goood :) But underwater looks bad

    Other than that, its cool!!

    Keep up the good work


    Pieter Anemaet

    February 13, 2002, 10:55 AM

    The generator prob is easy -- just create a t.tga file in the dir where you unpacked the thing.

    However, I can't get the terrain program itselves working :/ (It crashes after I have selected a .typ file :()


    February 13, 2002, 10:58 AM

    The textures are pretty blurry,
    the FPS isn't very steady,
    the LOD-popping is a bit disturbing,
    and the FOV is huge!

    Other than that it's great! :-)

    Btw, do you stream the landscape from harddisk or something? It's quite sluggish that way...

    Pieter Anemaet

    February 13, 2002, 11:01 AM

    Humm, I *also* forgot the gfx pack :P

    Anyway, I think my low end laptop card isnt supported :) Not all textures get loaded correctly (I'm seeing this huge rect, which I presume is the sun (I do get to see the lens flare))

    However, thumbs up! This is pretty impressive!


    February 13, 2002, 11:03 AM

    Great screen shots! Really fabulous! You're providing a much needed boost in inspiration for me. Thanks!


    February 13, 2002, 11:08 AM

    looks really great, incredible detail. but even rotating around will make the framerate drop down to less than 10 frames, when moving fast sometimes its even worse. maybe you should reduce this data-recalc times with reducing some details, or calc more data in advandge (so that at least rotating is fluid!).

    great iotd btw :)


    February 13, 2002, 11:57 AM

    Wow...that looks damn nice. Why does everybody have to submit IOTDs that make my projects look like crap just as I'm happy with them? :)

    Downloading now, I really want to see your trees up close.

    Could you explain Horizon Mapping? I'm very curious...


    February 13, 2002, 11:59 AM

    Very nice pics. The bottom left one looks very lush like its been taken from a Disney cartoon or similar. Perhaps if you made the reflection of the water less bright (water is not *that* good a reflector :o) ), I think that would look pretty damn realistic.



    February 13, 2002, 12:11 PM

    Well, I just ran the demo, heres my 2 cents:

    -Very sluggish, every half second or so I get a pause of another half second.

    -Detail mapping didnt work on my machine, when enabled I just got black terrain instead of detail maps.

    -The movement rate is much too fast. it destroys the sense of scale your engine can convey. Maybe make the default movement rate a normal walking pace. If your engine does stream from disk, slower movement will make the streaming less noticeable.

    -Trees are a bit cheesy, but its very difficult to make realistic trees in a realtime scene. Check out L-Systems, and this page:

    -Very beautiful still shots. The sky is wonderful, and when you stopped moving and just looked at a still scene, you really got this grand sense of being high in the mountains somewhere.

    My machine specs: P3-600MHz, GF2-MX400, 256MB, WinXP Pro.


    February 13, 2002, 01:20 PM

    Very nice! I'm still curious as to how you people manage to get the look and feel of landscapes to look so nice. I can load heightmaps and such, but I find they don't ever look as good as what I sample.

    As for information, the demo runs @ 20fps on my 800 /w GeForce 2MX and XP. Haven't had any of the crashes listed above though, so I guess I should count my lucky stars =) There's quite a bit of lag when I get near your billboard trees though.

    The only thing I'd say you need to do is get the landscape to smooth out where the position camera lies. It's a bit jagged. Other than that, cool stuff.


    February 13, 2002, 02:11 PM

    PIII 1GHz, GF2MX. It looks ok, but the lod popping causes huge lag, there are a ton on artifacts in the land seams. IMHO the screen shots look so much better then the demo, quite dissapointing, you must have a better machine or gfx card. Keep up the good work though, I know from exp that getting something to run well on every machine is a difficult task.


    February 13, 2002, 03:15 PM

    Ok an answer for everybody.
    I'm sorry the engine crashes on many systems but I could only test directly the code on my system,Win2k 256mb ram and an Ati Radeon 64Mb DDR. The generator crash is strange, note that you must unzip both typhoon12_exe and typhoon12_gfx in the same directory with the original path. Cause I have only Radeon to test Typhoon code on, I'll release a debug safe demo with the log of all operations performed, this will help.
    The engine: terrain blocks are loaded from disk in realtime, but it's not an expensive task. Textures are the problem: they're generated in realtime when needed, then cached, one 256x256x32 texture with 5 mipmaps for visible block. Calculator in hand,this can easily exceed your video ram and cause continuos fps-killer swaps.
    Typhoon has no LOD cracks. Only when moving fast cracks appear cause LOD-refresh is not as fast as camera movement.I'll fix. The FOV is 90 degrees, maybe too much..
    Ok I've appreciated your comments. Please check for the debug exe next week. Thanks!

    Stefano Lanza


    February 13, 2002, 04:11 PM

    looks good on my p4 1.7ghz 512mb geforce3 64mb. average 50 fps.

    no smooth control though. chocked every 3 secs.

    I tried multisampling x2,x3 and x4, but the reflections fucked out. and was still fucked out when I returned to the original setting.


    February 13, 2002, 04:27 PM

    Similar configuration as drZool, but an Athlon XP 1900+ instead.
    Same problems, though.


    February 13, 2002, 05:02 PM

    Realy cewl.

    Ran it on a P2 450 with a GF3 on WinXP with no problem what so ever, just very very slow :)

    The shadows on the mountains of the sun is my absolute favorite, it realy creates atmosphere.


    February 13, 2002, 05:16 PM

    I haven't tried it yet, but I'm surely will tommorrow..

    And I really like the atmosphere on some of those screenshots.


    February 13, 2002, 05:17 PM

    Yike, darn typos!

    I won't ask for an edit feature..


    February 13, 2002, 06:27 PM

    Ahh... figured out why typhoon.exe was crashing! I did my usual lazy dragging the files from winzip straight into the directory - didn't notice they where supposed to be in sub-directories... doh!

    Runs pretty good on my Celery 1.1 / 384 / GF2 GTS as long as you don't do the fast forward thing. Chugs slightly when I turn, but not too bad. The water screwed up a bit when I looked at them from a certain direction though - shades of blue flickerering across when I turned (even with no reflections).

    Very impressive though!


    February 13, 2002, 06:33 PM

    wow, great lighting!
    but there are some zbuffer problems with your water - no correct clipping :( config: Athlon XP 1900+, Geforce DCC


    February 13, 2002, 07:23 PM

    Yeah, it seems to just crash if you don't extract the file into the correct place in the directory hierarchy.



    February 13, 2002, 08:34 PM

    Pretty cool. Goes pretty fast, except for the occasional burp from using the controls.

    When I turn on multisampling it screws the water reflections. All it shows is corruption in the water with it on.

    Athlon 1.333GHz
    Win2K Pro
    GF2 MX-400 64MB

    CGI Joe

    February 13, 2002, 08:34 PM

    Super badass. Ran fine on my Athlon XP 1600+ DDR, Win2000, GeForce 2 DDR.
    A bit chokey though..


    February 14, 2002, 03:04 AM

    i've download your demo a couple time ago.
    so maybe it's not the latest.
    And i got holes in the landscape too, and some odd artifacts,
    crazy vertices.

    i ran it on PIV 1.5G, 256MB, GF3Ti200, WinMe.

    well, i'm going to get the newest now.


    February 14, 2002, 03:49 AM

    the latest version run well on my system now
    btw what ecosystems means in the menu?

    Brebion flavien

    February 14, 2002, 04:00 AM

    Ran pretty well on a PIII-500 + Radeon 8500, but one of the textures was buggy. It's a rock texture you applied with environment mapping over the ground. It was displayed using the clamp mode instead of tiling. That was really ugly.

    F. Brebion

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