Tuesday, February 18th, 2020 Posted by Jim Thacker

QuadSpinner ships Gaea 1.0.29 and previews Gaea 1.2

QuadSpinner has released Gaea, the latest update to its next-gen terrain design tool.

The update is a bugfix and performance release, but it seemed like a good opportunity to report on the new tools in Gaea 1.0.29 itself, including the new 2.5D viewport and light baking node.

QuadSpinner has also previewed some of the features due in the major QuadSpinner 1.2 update next month, including its ‘Infinity Graph’ system, new ice and snow nodes, and new flow map and cartography map types.

Powerful procedural terrain generation plus artist-friendly direct sculpting
First released last year, Gaea is intended to provide an artist-centric approach to terrain generation for games, combining powerful procedural controls with a range of direct input methods.

As well as by creating and editing a conventional scene graph, users can control terrain forms through a Photoshop-style layer system or by direct sculpting.

The software includes a procedural erosion system capable of mimicking snow, scree and sediment deposition, which can even be used to ‘sculpt’ fine details into a terrain.

Once generated, terrains can be exported as meshes, point clouds or height maps, with the option to generate LODs or variants via a built-in terrain mutation system.

New in Gaea 1.0.29: new unified renderering system powers a new 2.5D viewport
Major features in the 1.0.29.x release cycle – the original release was in January – include a complete new rendering system, used for both 2D and 3D rendering, and powering the new 2.5D viewport.

According to QuadSpinner, the new viewport, shown in the image above, features “accurate real world lighting … with controllable soft shadows, ambient occlusion, and more”.

Workflow improvements in the release cycle include a unified popup for atmosphere, water, and terrain settings; support for height and mask gradients for terrains in the viewport; and redesigned colour editors.

Other new features since we last wrote about Gaea include full 32-bit EXR support, and the option to save and revert the states of nodes within the node graph.

Due in Gaea 1.2: new Infinity Graph system streamlines the process of creating complex terrains
Gaea 1.0.29’s new unified rendering system, which also powers a new Light Baking node, is officially still a preview: the full release will come in Gaea 1.2, the next major update to the software.

Other features due in the 1.2 release include the new Infinity Graph system, shown above, intended to streamline the process of creating complex terrains by enabling users to link multiple scene graphs.

The software’s updated Portals system – previously used to connect subsections of an individual graph – can now be used to link nodes between separate graphs.

The changes should make it possible to create terrains from a set of modular, reusable components, rather than having to do everything in a single very complex graph.

Due in Gaea 1.2: new ice and snow nodes, new Flow Data and Cartograph map types
Other new features due in Gaea 1.2 include a “new category of nodes for ice and snow”: one tweet mentions being able to plug them directly into water nodes to generate procedural ice coverage.

The update will also introduce a new Flow Data Map, shown above, which can be use “to determine primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary flows on existing terrain data”.

A separate Cartography Map type generates contour lines from a terrain.

Pricing and system requirements
Gaea 1.0.29 is available for Windows 7+ only. The free Community Edition, which is licensed for commercial use, provides access to most of the key tools, but caps export resolution at 1K.

The Indie edition, which caps export resolution at 4K, costs $99; the Professional and Enterprise editions, which provide unlimited resolution plus a range of advanced features, cost $199 and $299 respectively.

According to QuadSpinner, the first beta build of Gaea 1.2 should be available in “less than two weeks”, with a stable production-ready release “a week or two after that”.

Read more about the latest features in Gaea on the product download page

Read an overview of Gaea on QuadSpinner’s website