Elvas Tower: Build A Better Skydome - Terragen 2 ? - Elvas Tower

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Build A Better Skydome - Terragen 2 ? Rate Topic: -----

#1 User is offline   scottb613 

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Posted 19 March 2021 - 03:50 AM

Hi Folks,

Just curious - while there's been little work on our ORTS environment for years - has any thought been given or plans been made on where we're going with it ?

Skydomes as we have them now are difficult to make - mainly due to the lack of good source material/images. In order to look good in ORTS - we need very high resolution images with a wide focal width - ideally without the sun being visible in the shot to avoid the two suns issue.

In my travels - I came across a video where a model railroader used a terrain generation program to create computer generated backdrops for his model railroad. The backdrops are absolutely stunning and caught my attention. He used "Terragen 2 from Planetside" which appears to be a very powerful tool that may help us generate Skydomes for ORTS. The software generates terrain and renders ray traced images from it. From what I gather - Hollywood uses it to generate backdrops in movies it's so good. The software is free but the output resolution is limited - however - you can subscribe for a reasonable fee around $15.00 a month for high resolution output. I've played with the software a bit and in a brief time - I've loaded in DEM for terrain (not needed for Skydomes) and added a fully rendered sky/atmosphere. It seems to have great potential for creating all kinds of Skydomes that we could use to add some variety to ORTS. You can generate extremely wide high resolution screenshots of the sky and you don't have to include an actual sun. If wider images are needed - we can stich together panoramic shots - to build them as wide as needed. Finally - since this is our own work we could upgrade the pretty plain Skydome included with the default ORTS download - greatly enhancing the visuals for the novice user new to ORTS.


Link To Terragen 2 Software:
https://planetside.co.uk/


Image Gallery Showing The True Potential Of Terragen 2:
https://planetside.c...-image-gallery/


Computer Generated Model Railroad Backdrops:
https://youtu.be/Q27xcKyM50A


My Meager Attempt Just Playing Around For A Few Minutes:
Attached Image: terragen.jpg


Someone Who Knows What He Is Doing:
Attached Image: doug-campbell_Scripture-Bluff_new-sky_edited3-1920x1080.jpg


Has anyone used this software before and familiar with its operation ?


Thanks.

Regards,
Scott

#2 User is offline   Genma Saotome 

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Posted 19 March 2021 - 12:10 PM

It doesn't tile so when the opposite ends come together somewhere in the sky it will be painfully obvious there is a problem. Other than that fatal flaw it looks good.

#3 User is offline   scottb613 

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Posted 19 March 2021 - 12:25 PM

View PostGenma Saotome, on 19 March 2021 - 12:10 PM, said:

It doesn't tile so when the opposite ends come together somewhere in the sky it will be painfully obvious there is a problem. Other than that fatal flaw it looks good.


Hi Dave,

That's pretty easily solved - both PS and PSP can make just about any texture tileable/seamless in the horizontal, vertical, or bidirectional with a couple mouse clicks. I do it all the time. For Skydomes only horizontal tiling is needed. Granted there will be some obvious mirroring on the seam but you can fix that with the "Clone Stamp". The final step is to then take the seamless texture and use what's called a Polar Distortion Effect in PSP to shape the image appropriate for use texturing a Skydome hemisphere. I did both these step on my Skydome in the FL.

That said - some of the ideas from our previous environment thread would be a better way of doing things - like removing clouds from the dome and making them sprites in the "air" independent from the Skydome.

If we're going to stick with the current Skydome technology - one thing that REALLY needs to be changed in ORTS is the resolution of the shape used to hold the Skydome image. The resolution of the shape is way too rough and causes bad distortion on images making clouds wavy. I don't think there is any real "shape" in ORTS as I've looked - I'm assuming the sphere used for the Skydome is mathematically computed by the program. The resolution (number of faces) needs to be tripled or quadrupled for a better Skydome.

Regards,
Scott

#4 User is offline   Genma Saotome 

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Posted 19 March 2021 - 03:26 PM

View Postscottb613, on 19 March 2021 - 12:25 PM, said:

Hi Dave,

If we're going to stick with the current Skydome technology - one thing that REALLY needs to be changed in ORTS is the resolution of the shape used to hold the Skydome image. The resolution of the shape is way too rough and causes bad distortion on images making clouds wavy. I don't think there is any real "shape" in ORTS as I've looked - I'm assuming the sphere used for the Skydome is mathematically computed by the program. The resolution (number of faces) needs to be tripled or quadrupled for a better Skydome.

Regards,
Scott


I never thought about the number of faces... what about greatly increasing the size of the texture? Or would that make the low face count more obvious?

#5 User is offline   scottb613 

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Posted 20 March 2021 - 04:34 AM

View PostGenma Saotome, on 19 March 2021 - 03:26 PM, said:

I never thought about the number of faces... what about greatly increasing the size of the texture? Or would that make the low face count more obvious?


Hi Dave,

Yeah - I’ve played with Skydomes for years - off and on - the texture resolution won’t help with the distortion. I believe my uploaded Skydome is around 8000 pixels which is pretty large. My guess is with the current Skydome - each face covers around 10 to 15 degrees in the horizontal and if you have clouds that span two faces the distortion becomes painfully obvious. I would think adding more faces would reduce the distortion as you span the seam.

Thanks for the interest - I was hoping a developer familiar with the code might take a gander and possibly shed some more light on this - after blowing off the dust and cobwebs - of course.
:p

Attached Image: cobwebs.jpg

Regards,
Scott

#6 User is offline   Genma Saotome 

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Posted 20 March 2021 - 10:26 AM

Luv the image Scott!

#7 User is offline   scottb613 

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Posted 20 March 2021 - 11:49 AM

View PostGenma Saotome, on 20 March 2021 - 10:26 AM, said:

Luv the image Scott!


Hi Dave,

Thanks - I try to bring in a little levity where I can...
:)

Regards,
Scott

#8 User is offline   scottb613 

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Posted 20 March 2021 - 01:42 PM

Hi Folks,

I was using the wrong version previously as Terragen 2 is very old.

Terragen 4 is current.

Even better - they have a "Fisheye Camera" and I was able to produce a full Skydome inside the Terragen software without additional editing in PSP - so no seams and the sky looks flawless.

The free version only can produce 900x900 - for $15.00 a month I can produce 5,000x5,000 - and for $30.00 a month I can do 10,000x10,000 which is what I think we need. I'll think about it and decide if I'm willing to pay the fee.


Terragen4 Skydome (900x900)
Attached Image: Skydome.jpg


Regards,
Scott

#9 User is offline   Genma Saotome 

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Posted 20 March 2021 - 02:41 PM

There is a need for many skydomes and the pointer to them should be in the route's .trk file. What looks right in Arizona won't look right in West Virginia and what's right there won't look right in Nebraska and so on and none of the above are correct for Berlin.

#10 User is offline   R H Steele 

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Posted 20 March 2021 - 02:58 PM

View PostGenma Saotome, on 20 March 2021 - 02:41 PM, said:

There is a need for many skydomes and the pointer to them should be in the route's .trk file. What looks right in Arizona won't look right in West Virginia and what's right there won't look right in Nebraska and so on and none of the above are correct for Berlin.
my emphasis
My understanding: an include file path string to perhaps the Common.inc folder - subfolder "SkyDomes" would serve? That way the trk file of say a desert route would point to an appropriate skydome, while a moutainous route would point to another skydome.-- etc. depending upon geography of route. Is OR currently coded for that?
That would be an improvement over what we have now --- until the day arrives when Dynamic skydomes with cloud sprites is coded into the environment.


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