Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Geography is Destiny

Here are some images from the output of a new land mass generator we wrote for the Voxel Farm suite:

While the images are symbolic, they contain very detailed information about biome placement. Each pixel is approximately 2Km wide. You can imagine each biome type/pixel in this map replaced by a rich biome manifestation, which will provide elevation, erosion and other layers of detail. Rivers and lakes do not appear at this point because they need the final elevation. What you see here is more like a blueprint for where the next generation phase starts.

The challenge in this case was to make biomes appear in the right location. The method behind the images uses tectonic plate simulation for mountain ranges and a pretty cool humidity transfer system. I believe there is no other way if you want plausible maps. Just in case you want to see if the deserts and jungles make sense, note the wind in the three maps above comes from the south-west corner.

I will be covering how this works in my next post.


  1. THe next step to your personal Dwarf Fortress game

  2. I'm eager to see the next step on this I mean, the final elevation with lakes and rivers. Awesome big step, Miguel, loving it.

  3. ooo procedural landmass generation

  4. So 2400ish Km wide for that last picture? Incredible, would love to see a gameworld this huge to explore. Even crossing the desert at it's thinnest neck is a 16Km crossing, making sense why you'd want to port/travel the long route, or at least stock up on provisions for a fantasy type game.

    How high are the mountains likely to be? 2 minutes pressing jump to pogo up, or more 6 hours of grueling exploration to get another 200m higher up the mountain, with maps showing this to be the easiest route.

    It's what I'd like to see in a fantasy style game using this tech, with mountains truly next to impossible to pass unless you've got a map showing the safe routes/careful climbs.

    Does the tectonic simulations form the bedrock (*ahem*) for the later cave generation? Still looking forward to seeing;
    type stuff.

    1. Yes the scale is about that. Designing for large gameworlds is also a challenge, but even if action is limited to a smaller area I believe having such massive backdrops makes a physiological difference.

      The mountains are real scale too, often higher than what we have here on Earth. We have seen mountain ranges larger than the Himalayas. And yes, they can rise slowly for hundreds of kilometers. Some other times they are very abrupt, typically in places where the ocean crust goes under the continental plate so you have these huge peaks only 20 km from the shore.

      We have not plugged this yet to cave systems, but yes the idea is the geological genesis and the water flow should drive the occurrence of caves.

  5. Wow, that is an impressive amount of simulation to generate your landmasses and biomes.

  6. Awesome! Now the challenge to the game designer is, how to make a realistic biome placement useful as a game feature. Besides increasing realism, you have any application in mind?

  7. It's looking great! Can't wait to see what's up next.