19 May WorldCreator: Pros & Cons Review
On a Personal Note
I decided to take a break from modeling furniture, and do something more… Adventurous.
Since I’m broke and I can’t afford to travel I thought What the heck! I’m going to model terrains and make cool aerial renders!
I jumped into ZBrush, ready to start modeling mountains, rivers and lakes. But it was easier said than done!
When I actually started sketching the shapes of the land I realized it was going to take me forever to get the shapes right.
One cannot just add bumps of digital clay and call it mountains. One cannot carve in the geometry river courses, and expect it to look like real rivers.
One can definetly not attempt to erode a landscape by using noise and textured alphas.Well, maybe someone can… But that someone is definitely NOT me.
Desperate to find an easier solution, I came across a software called WorldCreator.
WorldCreator has been around for quite some time under the name GeoControl2.
After some major upgrades—like the addition of the isoline system for land creation—it has been renamed, and it’s now being sold by the company Cloddy – BiteTheBites.
Before purchasing a license, I studied all the documentation on their website.
I was amazed by the power of the Isolines, that allow the user to create physically accurate mountains and valleys in a matter of seconds; and the good looks of the sample images truly captivated me.
WorldCreator has a wide offer of prices, from extremely cheap for hobbyists and people who just want to give it a quick try, to a reasonable price for enterprises and big studios.
In the image, you can see the features included in each version, with each versions approximate price (purchases must be in Euro only, with exception of the Steam version.)
WorldCreator allows the user to create landscapes in two different ways:
The first one—and the most advanced—uses the new Isoline tool to create the mountains and valleys almost on the fly.
It is as simple as to set the range of the highest and lowest height desired, and then draw the lines where we want the mountain to be formed.
You can see in the following video how easy it is to use, and what a wonderful result we can get thanks to this powerful tool.
The second method of creating a landscape is by making use of a random noise heightmap generator.
This method is the same as the one we can find in 3D packages like VUE, where we can choose from a wide variety of noise seeds to get random terrain shapes to work with.
This method also allows the user to import custom height maps and work with them.
This is very convenient, and was the main reason I decided to purchase a license.
Thanks to the import option, the user can draw a greyscale image of the desired mountain range, and generate it in WorldCreator.
By using smoothing filters and other erosion techniques, we can get beautiful results.
After purchasing the software’s license I found out that the “import option” has a bug.
Every time a map is imported, the program either crashes or the filters simply stop working.
The support team of BiteTheBytes did not reply to any of my inquiries, giving a very bad impression and making me extremely frustrated.
I even considered asking for a refund. I would have done it if it wasn’t for the fact that every other tool worked properly, and the isoline creation still offered me a great creative benefit.
After much struggle, I managed to find an alternative solution that could make the Imported Height Maps to work “properly”.
This solution was never provided by the support team, but by a user of the software named Vertexmill in the BiteTheBytes forum.
You can find a full explanation on this matter, and a “temporary fix” to this bug in this post.
After landscaping comes the real fun.
The user gets to decide the overall look of the terrain by applying a series of filters, that will realistically erode the land.
To do this part right one must know what the climate, soil composition and weather conditions of the desired land is going to be.
Using this information one can then choose accordingly between the huge selection of filters.
The filters available are divided into categories: General Forming, Shape filters, Sediment, Erosion systems and displacement filters.
The software documentation includes descriptions of many of this options, but a little geology knowledge is required to make good landscape designs.
The program also offers a big list of filter presets, that combine different filters in order to achieve a specific look.
It includes a preview image of the expected result, and an approximated computing time of the filter depending on the map resolution.
Materials and Selectors
Once the land creation is done all we have left to do is choose a material and apply it.
Unfortunately, this software does not offer realistic shaders like the ones we can find in a software such as VUE.
The materials avaliable are just colors gradients that are applied to the land, and vary their tone according to the height information of the land.
BiteTheBytes offers a ShaderTool software that is intended for shader creation, but it is not clear if it can be used in conjunction with WorldCreator (I think not) and it must be purchased separately.
I found a very positive point in the software, and it was the fact that every filter that is applied to the land generates a mask selector in the Selector tab. Because of this, one can easily add a different material to each filter, creating very interesting colors in the terrain.
In this video you can see how by simply applying a few color ramps to a land full of filters, we can obtain a very natural look: http://www.geocontrol2.com/Videos/Main/main.html
The option of post-processing works almost the same as the filters, but is non-destructive to the overall terrain—which means the terrain does not need to be recalculated every time, but it will calculate only the new filters applied to it.
This option is especially useful to add rivers and lakes.
The software calculates the physics of the terrain—the slope angles and the height variations—to generate the real-world course the water would follow. In this video we can see how easy it is to set up a few springs and see how the rivers form down our mountains to the sea.
With the post-process option “Vector” we can also add roads to the landscape, that will calculate the most efficient route and will carve the mountainside like we do in real life.
More than a real rendering, this feature gives us a neat pre-visualization of our land.
We can select among different lighting conditions, different background, etc.
The resulting image can be exported for pre-visualization, but the quality is not as professional as what we would get by using a different 3D Software.
Exporting to other Software
Here is where the true beauty of WorldCreator lies.
We can export the resulting terrain into many different formats.
We can, for example, export the actual geometry of the land as an .obj file.
Or we can just export the material map, height map and normal map, and set it up into any 3D package of our choice to take amazing ray-traced renderers.
PROS & CONS
- Affordable price.
- Terrain generation tools comparable to VUE’s.
- Isometric tools for easy terrain design.
- Filter gallery with estimations of the calculation’s time.
- Rivers and Lakes are generated physically accurately from custom springs.
- Road creation.
- Automatic mask selector’s with every filter for easy texturing and material setting.
- Easy export to other software.
- BiteTheBytes’s support is disastrous.
- Big BUG for imported custom height maps. DRAWBACK!
- Render and materials are very basic and unrealistic.
- Software crashes a lot. Looks like a beta version.
Despite the indignation I still have towards the lack of professionalism of the support team, and the bug for importing custom height maps, I would still recommend anyone to buy this software.
I find it has many of the features that makes VUE so desirable, but for a very reduced fee.
For someone that can use a 3D package like 3D StudioMax, Maya or Blender; purchasing a license of VUE can be expensive both economically and time-consuming (for having to learn all the shortcuts and software peculiarities…)
WorldCreator can be learnt in just a few hours, and it offers very good results.
So, if you are interested in landscaping, either be for video-game development, illustration, or just for fun… I would definitely recommend you to try it!
Join the discussion
Are you a user of terrain generators? Have you tried this particular one?
Have you ever had any bad experiences with customer support services, to the point of wanting to sue them? (Just kidding!)
hank you for reading this post! If you liked the contents, don’t keep it to yourself… Tell your friends! Thanks to your support I can create amazing projects. Check them out on my web/social media and tell me what you think!
See you there!