Friday, September 23rd, 2016 Posted by Jim Thacker

Planetside Software ships Terragen 4


A test image created with Terragen 4 alpha by Luc Bianco.

Originally posted on 17 December 2015. Scroll down for news of the commercial release.

Planetside Software has posted the first development images from Terragen 4, the forthcoming update to its landscape-generation software, showing close-ups of clouds and vegetation.

Nice renders, but no feature list yet
So far, those are the only real clues to the new features, since Planetside hasn’t released any further information or demo videos: something it says it intends to do in the run-up to Terragen 4’s release.

However, in the comments on the blog post, the firm notes that increased render speed is one focus of the release; and that Terragen 4 will ship with more presets to help new users get started from the library.

According to Planetside: “We’re raising the bar in terms of photorealism, while giving you new tools to create and explore your scenes more quickly and intuitively than ever before.”

Updated 23 December: Planetside has released the first demo video of the new features in Terragen 4: in this case, the new raytraced preview.

The preview refines progressively, and supports standard Terragen shaders, lighting, and atmospherics, including clouds with God rays. It’s purely CPU-based, and is shown in real time in the video above.

Interestingly, it can also be used to troubleshoot scene setups as well as for look development, with the option to assign separate colours to different populations of instanced objects.

Updated 5 January 2016: The second demo video is up, this time showing the new lighting model for clouds.

The system, which simulates multiple scattering of light by water droplets within a cloud, including illumination from the surrounding atmosphere, replaces the GI-based system from previous versions of the software.

According to Planetside: “Terragen 3 could approximate [atmospheric illumination] with GI, but the new model shows real detail and self-shadowing … in the areas that the sunlight doesn’t reach.”

Updated 18 January: Planetside has posted a new video of the new dynamic lens effects in Terragen 4.

According to Planetside, the effects, which include lens flare and bloom, “operate in high dynamic range, taking into account light source and specular reflection intensity, color, occlusion, and atmospheric scattering”.

Updated 1 February: The latest demo covers a subtler feature of Terragen 4: the new Ozone Factor setting.

The system controls the absorption strength of a planet’s simulated ozone layer, producing bluer skies at sunrise and sunset, and strongly affecting views from high altitude with a visible atmosphere.

Updated 15 February: Rather than showing more new features, Planetside’s latest demo focuses on workflow, showing Terragen 4’s real-time preview in combination with the cloud lighting model and ozone settings.

Although Planetside doesn’t give the specs of its demo machine, most parts are recorded in actual time, giving a fair idea of how fast the preview refines on real production scenes.

Updated 23 September: Terragen 4 now appears to be shipping.

At time of posting, Planetside’s website hasn’t been fully updated, so the Products section still shows Terragen 3, but Terragen 4 is available to purchase in the online store.

The product line-up has also been revamped, with the functionality of the old Animation module – previously a separate purchase – now included in the core software, making it possible to animate “nearly any setting”.

And whereas the Creative edition of the software used to be both resolution and feature-limited, the store page now lists it as being “without feature restrictions”.

Updated: Planetside has contacted us to say that the Creative edition is still resolution-restricted. More details in the comments to this story below.

Terragen 4 is available for Windows XP and above and Mac OS X 10.8 and above. Terragen 4 Creative costs $399; Terragen Pro costs $699. Both prices include one year’s maintenance.

Planetside has also announced that the Pro edition is now free for students and teachers.

Read more about the new features in Terragen 4 on the product website