Digital nature

If you want to create a totally artificial world, there are multiple tools at your fingertips. The leading terrain generation software used to be Bryce, but it hasn’t been updated for many years. Bryce was launched in 1994 and used fractal geometry to create realistic-looking worlds, the likes of which had never been seen before, especially on humble desktops. Today the alternatives include World Machine, Planetside and VUE, the latter forming the digital-organic building blocks for a whole host of movies (it is deeply disappointing that no-one has created planet-building software suite called Magrathea). Drilling down to individual pieces of vegetation is the next logical step. Packages like SpeedTree and Plant Factory allow you to create intricate planting schemes, from flowerbeds to forests, with ‘precise wind and breeze algorithms’, seasons and growth animations. We were set off on this silicon sylvan path by this RPS feature on the landscape building of Firewatch, the wilderness-roaming adventure set in the pine forests of Wyoming. From the comments, the concept of Prospect-Refuge Theory, or the idea that we interpret a landscape through our innate desire for both’opportunity (prospect) and safety (refuge)’ and how this impacts on our aesthetic appreciation of landscape / related, buy specialist Lego vegetation at Alt Bricks / also sort of related, this concept art for Zootopia (bizarrely renamed Zootropolis in the UK) shows inclusive world-building at its finest.

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