You can get Voxel Farm now. For more information click here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Get Voxel Farm!

Almost a week ago we announced new licensing plans for Voxel Farm. We have gone a long way since I asked you the readers what would you like to come out of this project. It is hard to believe three years have passed.

So you have three different Voxel Farm flavors to pick from: Creator, Indie and Pro. But before adding anything else, a word of caution: There are rough edges. The documentation lacks coverage for many of the things you can already do with the engine.

We are committed to this project for the long run, and we will be providing constant updates. We want to deliver rather than make promises or hype new features. I do not see this release as early access, or as request for the community to crowd-fund us. This software is released as-is.

In the proper hands there is a lot that can be achieved. There is no question you can use Voxel Farm today to make your next-gen killer game or app. Also, if you run into trouble you can always contact us and we will do our best to get you back on track.

The INDIE license gets you access to our SDK and the Voxel Studio creation tool. Here the engine core remains in binary form. These are C++ libs you can link into your project. The SDK contains a dozen of different examples, including full source code for a Unity plugin. Very important: the Unity plugin uses a DLL, so your game will be Windows only. Also you will need to develop on a Windows machine. There is a one time fee of $295 USD, and a recurring fee of $19 USD per month. When your project has grossed more than $100,000 USD, a 5% royalty fee is applied. While your subscription is active, you will get free updates perpetually to the SDK, example code and tools.

The PRO license gets you full source code, plus the SDK, plus Voxel Studio. There is a one time fee of $995 USD and then a recurring monthly fee of $95 USD. If your project makes more than $100,000 USD, a 2% royalty fee applies. There is an important twist here: The PRO license is organization-wide. It means your company only needs to purchase one license and it can be re-used by many different individuals within the organization. This also applies to the Voxel Studio tool. The INDIE license, on the other hand, is for just one individual.

And there is the CREATOR license. Here you get the Voxel Studio tool for $19 USD a year. Voxel Studio allows creating new worlds from scratch, including the different materials available for procedural generation and voxel editing. It also has fully functional L-System and grammar editing. The current version has limited exporting capabilities, so at the time your creations may be locked inside Voxel Studio, or you may be limited to collaborating with people and groups who have licensed INDIE or PRO. Whatever you create using this tool belongs to you. This is pretty much a content creation tool like Photoshop or Maya.

You can check out the license agreements in our online documentation.

As usual let me know what you think. There is a lot of hard work into this project, the team has done great. I also want to thank all of you who stopped by at our booth at GDC. It was great meeting you all and sharing our vision of the future with you.


(Photo: Michael and Rados at our booth at GDC 2015)

52 comments:

  1. Awesome! I bet a lot of people will be happy with this!
    Now, Im a poor sod, so I wont even be able to get the Creative one, but I love the idea of having the three different licenses, allows people a lot of choice, which is always great!

    A question about the subscriptions. If you stop your subscription, can you still use the product legally, just without getting any updates, or is it completely off limits then? Or something inbetween? (You can still use it, just not publish anything with it)

    Also, there is a spelling error in the documentation here: http://docs.voxelfarm.com/get-voxel-farm

    In the Triple-A column, Includes row, item 3, it says Develipment, should be Development =).

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    1. I am not sure, but I think it works like most other licensed software. If you stop the annual fees, you lose access to updates.

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    2. That is correct. You will need a valid subscription to get the updates. At this point in time I really recommend getting them. We will be pushing a lot of fixes and new features for the next year or so.

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    3. Cool, sounds like a really reasonable license =). Ill wait until I have money though XD.

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  2. Excellent. Very excited to try this out. Is there no possibility of cross-platform unity plugins for any license?

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    1. I suspect the problems with that, is that other platforms (possibly) dont allow for library files like dll, as such, they would have to give you source-code for it to work with Unity, which is a completely different license =P.

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    2. Likewise, the only way to ensure royalties are paid out is with lawyers.

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  3. We could really use some tutorials and examples of how to start a project from scratch, generate a world, and add some textures and stuff!

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    1. Didnt they say documentation was still a bit lacking, and that it will be improved with time? Patience anonymous, patience =).

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  4. The creator licence seems nice and I'll definitely get it once i free some time just to tinker with the L-system but I see nothing in the docs that explains what can be exported back to a mesh file or if there is a real time explorer like in the past videos on your blog. Not being able to export any of the 3D generated content back to a proper 3D file format is a bit underwhelming. Even a way to make nice renders of some created content could be okay.
    I'm sorry but these are important questions for artists who are the real content creators as most won't bother with the scripting parts like I do.

    I say this because I noticed that everything written in the docs website is quite technical and mostly aimed at programmers or people with programming knowledge so 19$/year could be okay for them but a nope for the real artists who won't bother. I could even guess that most of them will simply go for that Everquest editor thing which is sad.

    Right now it feels like you're saying "hey artists, wanna make some cool stuff but not be able to share it or see the results in a nice engine or rendered image (unless you join a big team) ? Then buy this until you get bored and go elsewhere."

    Please, tell me I'm wrong and missed or didn't understand something.

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    1. There is no export to mesh feature for LSystem ATM. You can use any LSystem grammar you create to build in the world/render view. You get to design your own materials so you will be be able to experience your creations to a good extent. The rendering inside Voxel Studio is decent at the moment, it is not much different than what you would get from Unity.

      Today you can share what you create by sending project files or screenshots. This is similar to working on Landmark, although you won't be limited to claims.

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    2. I believe the documentation will be improved with time, I suspect they basically just made the engine worthy of release, and got the licenses sorted, because people were asking for a way to access the thing, and then figured they could write and finish the documentation later (which is a BIG task for any software).

      If they would only release it after their documentation was complete, I wouldn't be surprised we would have to wait another year or so.

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  5. ok , i dont want to bitch i *hyper* respect this project and i get that you guys have to make money.

    but the creative license seems to essentially be : get the tools , make something , pay us $228 a year ? this engine has really innovative tech. but when you take into account unreal engine being practically free, unity5 having a free version, source 2 being free, and i know this is pushing it but minecraft being like $15 for forever. the fact that we cant even get the engine and learn it and get excited about it without paying essentiallyi $228 is going to put most artists off of using this.

    also at this price range you should at the very least have better cross platform support , better export tools etc.

    i actually really want to spread the word of this engine but no artist will go for this ecpecially with the other options.

    i hope that this is just to initially cover your costs, i am sure that you have a lot of costs and mouths to feed. and even if i dont really get to play with this i still think this is easily the coolest and most innovative engine around. wishing you and your team all the luck, you guys do indeed deserve it (despite whatever comments i have regarding your licensing).

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    1. How I understand it to work, is you pay 19$ a year (not a month), then you can cancel your subscription if you want, which will prevent you from getting updates, but you can still use the program.

      That is under the Creative License.

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    2. What other options?

      Voxel Farm is not an alternative to Unreal, Unity or Source 2. Not sure why you would make such a comparison. Following that logic your groceries should be free too :)

      Even then, these engines just became free. They have been around for a long time, for the most part they have been quite expensive. Recently it has been a race to the bottom between Unity and Unreal, but that is just an indication of how mature the field is.

      An engine like Voxel Farm is a very different product, in a new field.

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  6. Would love to know a few things:
    Are there plans to release the sdk for the osx, android, ios, and console platforms?

    Would I be able to port this myself with Indie, Pro, or AAA license?

    Will you guys release the header files (API documentation) or a trial version? I would like to know what I would be working with before buying a license so I can determine whether it is the right solution for me.

    Do you guys have a refund policy?

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    1. Pro and AAA will give you full source code access. The code is standard C++ so you should be able to port it to other platforms that use C++. We know of people and groups who have made successful ports. The Indie license however is only good for Windows.

      All headers and documentation will be public next week. We do not have plans for a trial version at the moment. We will grant refunds if it is clear you cannot use the product. Please note counting on a refund is not a substitute for a trial.

      You can leave your questions here and I will do my best to answer them. You can also write to support at voxelfarm.com

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    2. >All headers and documentation will be public next week.

      ^.^

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    3. http://docs.voxelfarm.com/reference

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  7. Congratulations on the release Miguel. It is well deserved and ever since I first stumbled across this blog some 2 years ago I knew the technology you were building even back then was going to make its way into being a core part of almost any open world game.

    Some initial feedback I have:
    1. It would be good to see support for OS X and Linux for your binary releases ASAP, as it is a pretty major pitfall already. Unity supports plugins on all 3 platforms - You simply need to provide 64bit .so (Linux) and bundle (OS X) libraries. I wouldn't think your binaries require many if any third party dependencies?
    2. Your licensing is a bit of a mouthful - One-off fee, on-going fee AND royalties. I have no problems at all with what you're asking as I think the technology is worth it, but you might want to consider making the barrier of entry smaller at least for indie.
    3. I would suggest fostering a community ASAP if you want to grow your INDIE licensee base - Forums, an answers portal, etc. I would be a bit worried integrating this product right now with so little community to help me out when needed.

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    1. I second the community notion, I got it up an running today, and as much as documentation would help, talking with other people about what they are learnig would be equally beneficial.

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    2. This is great feedback. I fully agree with your points. One thing though: for a creative tool $20 is quite affordable. Similar tools (maya, zbrush, etc) are orders of magnitude more expensive.

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  8. That's awesome. I see many new indie games using voxel world. Maybe someone will make a Minecraft 2.0? Would love to play it, I didn't like Minecraft blocky world.

    It would be nice to have free educational version also - to try this engine and learn, how it works.

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    1. If I am not mistaken, what makes educational versions free for the students, is that the school pays for it (At a reduced cost often). I suggest you have your school contact VoxelFarm.

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  9. [jokey jibe mode on]
    Sometimes I get the feeling that artists win the arguments over procedural creativity ALL the time. They always want more and more control, until they finally get the tool they want. And then everything goes back to being built by hand!
    I didn't think that was the original point of 'procworld?' Perhaps it should be called 'artistworld'
    Sorry :)

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    1. I fully agree. If you take a look at how worlds are defined inside our Voxel Studio tool you will see artists get fine control of where features are placed, or how structures are built. The procedural aspect is there to empower the really creative artists, never to replace them.

      There is also the question of how creative some of the art work really is. This is the low hanging fruit for automation.

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    2. aaagh those pesky artists, they get their grubby mitts on everything! :D

      In all seriousness I find it a shame that procedural stuff cannot really push through more, As many artists follow trends and styles in CG rather then some of the truly amazing alien things procedural works can make.

      Is there a way to quickly scroll though fractal landscapes to find nice locations, like in the real world of film making?

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  10. Miguel, Grats!
    I did not hesitate to grab the creative license. i am a gamer and also own landmark, and starforge, and a huge fan of voxel farm but i have been waiting to get a bit more freedom when it came to building in a Voxelfarm world. which *yay* voxel studio is finaly here \o/
    so far loading up a test scene is helpful as it shows you the structure of things.

    i have questions and suggestions, mainly, how does voxel studio work?

    1st question, generating the terrain, where is that magical button that will generate me some infinite procedural terrain based on some numbers? or do i need world machine to generate a custom.r16 format heightmap?

    2nd question, procedural Texturing? why not incorporated already?!! something like neotextureedit but within the studio. could handle the texture creation and generate the displacement and mask simultaneously.

    suggestions-
    strafing in flight mode!!
    spline tool for roads, could lay down all kinds of roads with some grammar that could be easy to play around with for users

    when looking at the distant textures of the leaves in one of the test scenes it doesn't look right. it would be giant leaves. there should be something we can do to improve this, mainly what David Hoskins is working on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-L_C3VMt4wM i would like to know if we could get better looking distant structures/terrain by some form of this. if we could translate a voxel structure into a fractal and use it as the distant lod so its always visually correct

    more procedural generation!! it could be maths generating all these things could it not? from the texture to the displacement to prefabs, how everything is built and how everything populates the "terra" and the terra itself, could all be very much generated on the fly and only start instancing voxel deformations when and where its needed
    as of now it seems ill need to do a bunch of work in other programs and then voxel farm translates that into voxels which takes alot of data and some time which is good in some cases for sure but i feel the other side is missing there by being able to substitute those things for procedural maths, more automation vs the manual input of it. ill link this video of a Houdini procedurally generated bridge
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuvXylVS6HM, we need more sliders and generation tools like this incorporated in the studio x)!

    i would love to start up voxel studio and hit "generate world" have a bunch of settings i can tinker with that change how it all looks, procedural terrain, procedural textures, procedural vegetation, procedural weather and biomes, procedural cities, buildings and roads. easily able to tweak things here and there once its generated all within the studio, as right now if i want to make anything of my own really i will need other programs really utilize voxel studio

    currently a voxel map exists as a flat plane,i want to take that plane and create round worlds which i think would be fairly easy looking at this picture.
    http://acko.net/files/making-worlds/planets-1-cubemap.png
    i guess the current map size would be a small quadtree on that planet unless we could just generate most of it present it as fractals and deform and edit it as voxels

    one last thing is a bug http://i.imgur.com/DUIkFHC.png (caution it hurts the eyes) not sure what i did, but it locked up my system, and i have another lock up yesterday, also any Hotkey documentation or ability to customize hotkeys?




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    1. This shows your voxels.

      You can run grammars inside curved scopes using your selection box as a FFD. You can do a curved bridge or a bent tower.

      Your suggestions are spot on. Thanks, I hope you are having fun.

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  11. I share the points stated above, specially the wish for a random-world-generator button. I think you showed something like that in an earlier video already. But I am not able to find it, so maybe am wrong.

    Until that have the three example projects, but they are quite blank. Maybe you could release an example file with more trees, bushes, water, procedural towers and maybe different biomes like shown in your videos. Not to forget standard materials for building like wood, cobblestone, glass etc and if possible even prefabs for walls, windows, doors. I know, Voxel Studio is supposed to be a tool, not a game. But I think it would be the best advertising for your product, if non-programmers like myself could start to build fancy stuff or just make pretty screenshots of the landscapes and show them online.

    That in mind I also emphazise the need for a community platform even if it is a plain forum for the beginning.

    BTW: Sometime ago you stated, that you are also working on an own game. Is this still on the table or do you concentrate on the engine and Voxel Studio as a tool at the moment?

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    1. No plan for a game at the moment. Our goal is to develop the platform as quickly as possible.

      More examples, textures and prefabs are coming.

      Our plan is to expose in the UI most of what you have seen in videos and blog posts. We have a lot to cover, we are also working on new features at the same time.

      Again I do not like making promises so I won't be going into details.

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  12. Miguel,
    I am so happy about this. I grabbed the indie license as soon as I could. I have been doing some work getting things integrated into UE4. I am having some small issues with that and the Unity plugin. The example plugin (voxelfarm.dll) is built as a 32bit dll. Sadly 32bit Unity is about as stable as a canoe with a drunk on board. When I build the plugin from visual studio I get a dll with a different name. Is it safe to just rename it (are they actually the same)?

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    1. You should be able to build 64 bits out of the box. It is ok to change the DLL name. Please write to support at voxelfarm.com about your issues with UE4.

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  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  14. Something else that would be good to know:
    Can you cancel/pause/resume your plan or update from a lower tier plan to a higher tier plan?

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    1. * Upgrade to a higher tier plan without paying the entire fee? (such as from indie to pro)

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    2. You can cancel at any time. Indie and Creator can be upgraded. You pay the base price difference and then move into the new monthly charge. Not sure about "pausing".

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    3. It would be somewhat unfortunate if you purchase the thing (with the one time cost) then pay for the subscription, then cant pay for the sub for a while, so you have to cancel it, then to get back again, you would have to pay the one-off fee again to get back with the subscription =/.

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  15. Speaking of community, I think one of the first steps should be to host a forum for users. Then things can build from there. Especially in these early days, it'd be great to have a central place for people to ask questions, experiment, throw up screenshots and grammar or code-snippets, and start documenting things.

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  16. I'm a hobbyist in 3d modeling and game creation. I stumbled across Voxel Farm this evening and it looks very interesting. I was ready to get out the credit card.

    Then I read: "at the time your creations may be locked inside Voxel Studio."

    Sorry, but this is a complete showstopper. I might even spring for the Indie version later, but I need to experiment with exporting into Unity, Unreal, and other 3d apps to decide.

    I also think it's unprofessional to use misleading terms like "limited exporting" when I think you mean "no exporting at all."

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    1. Not misleading at all. This is very accurate.

      With creator you can export bundles you can load in Unity for instance. Unity does not have a standard format that allows to express a dynamic scene like the ones you have in Voxel Farm. So if you want to test (play) in the scene using Unity, you will need the Voxel Farm runtime code running in Unity as well. Once you have that nothing prevents you from creating a full blown game. That is what the Indie license is for.

      With creator you can export to FBX, but this is a static format. You could load this into Unity but the scene will not adapt its resolution to camera movements. We are improving the quality of the FBX export, but the exported scene will remain static because that is the nature of the format. The same applies to every format out there, for all applications and engines.

      We will be including the 3ds max plugin (and maya plugin when it is ready) into creator. They allow to have scenes that change resolution depending on the camera position.

      Game engines, however, will continue to require you to have Indie or Pro in order to load the content you have exported using a creator license.

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  17. Thank you very much for the additional details, and I’m pleased to hear it can export to FBX. I will be working mainly in Unreal which should dynamically adjust resolutions. I understand a mesh is static and the implications of that.

    It’s up to you, but I recommend you add some of those details in the descriptions of your products. I think it's highly relevant so anyone making a decision to purchase.

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  18. I'm sorely tempted to get this at the start of the financial year, I'm just curious of one thing which will strongly influence my decision to get this.
    If I am late with a monthly payment, do I have to repurchase the product for the initial amount - and when I say late - I mean within 14 days of the due date...
    I've been a keen fan of this project for ~1.5 years, and I really am looking forward to having some fun with it - thanks for any insight into this, as I need it clarified before I am willing to purchase (sorry - I've been burnt from the more unscrupulous kinds before)

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    1. There is a grace period of 7 days. If you miss that window and your subscription is cancelled you can contact us about it, we will re-instate it.

      There is no DRM in the software. The updater will check the status of your subscription only to download the next update.

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  19. I got the creator license and have two questions:

    1. Is it possible to edit the terrain in the editor or do I have to use an image editor to paint the new terrain in the heightmap?

    2. How to get the spline selection to work? I add more points in the selection mode and hold ctrl to select several points but when I move them they don't adhere to a spline.

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    1. It is not possible to edit the source images in the editor.

      Not sure what you mean by "they don't adhere to a spline".

      Please write to support at voxelfarm.com, they will help you.

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    2. About the spline selection, sorry, it was my stupidity - I didn't use it properly (instead of selecting an actual block I selected a flat plane and extruded it).

      I don't want to edit the source image in the editor. I was asking if it's possible to sculpt (raise, lower, flatten, etc.) the terrain in the editor, just like the terrain tools in other engines.

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    3. The terrain is made out of voxels, you can modify it using regular edits: https://youtu.be/Ce5oEbYknb8

      For large scale modification you would be effectively changing the input. This is how heightmap based terrain editors do it. You are actually painting on the source images for the terrain, you are not working on the actual terrain geometry.

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    4. Thanks for your reply. I know that everything is made out of voxels, I was just looking for a more convenient way for large scale modifications of the terrain.

      One last question: Is there an ETA on the integration for UE4?

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  20. Just wondering if you might ever release something like a demo or limited version, or if you want that you'll have to pay $20 for the creator license? I only ask because this one of the only such voxel creation engines out there, the other I found GeoVox doesn't have a demo and has a cost way too high for someone who just wants to dip their toes in the water before fully committing. As I never had any experience with programs like this before.

    But it looks incredible and already I know it is superior to Minecraft or really any voxel based engine out there in terms of sheer building and worldbuilding capability and it would be fun to try out some sort of very basic version or something to see if one might not quickly latch onto it and then decide on the Creator version. If not then that's alright as paying $20 for the full thing to demo all year is fair but I'm just wondering, if the year is up and you don't renew the license right away, maybe for another year but then get that creative bug again and want another go and purchase another Creator license - will all your previous settings and worlds and stuff be saved, I assume that they already are saved locally on the PC and it's just the access to the program proper you lose but I would be grateful for clarification on that. Thank you.

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  21. If there's no demo version available, at least a basic overview on Voxel Studio and its modules would be nice. How big a world can be? Do we start by giving dimensions, and how is the cube size in relation to the engines it exports to? I'm also wondering, will you support drawing trees by hand like in Plant Factory or SpeedTree, and Substance Designer textures natively in the near future?

    Cheers.

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