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libmercator-0.2-dev - WorldForge terrain library - development files…  more info»

README

Mercator: a procedural terrain library
======================================

This is a development release. The API is currently not frozen. Stable
releases of other packages should not be made against this software.

Mercator is primarily aimed at terrain for multiplayer online games and
forms one of the WorldForge (http://www.worldforge.org) core libraries.
It is intended to be used as a terrain library on both the client, and the
server.

Mercator is designed in such a way that individual tiles can be
generated on-the-fly from a very small source data set.  Each tile uses
a fast deterministic random number generation to ensure that identical
results are produced "anytime, anywhere".  This enables transmission of
terrain across low bandwidth links as part of the standard data stream,
or server side collision detection with the same terrain that the
player sees. 

The use of tiles means that there is inherently a large degree of gross
control of the shape of the terrain.  Finer control is implemented by
allowing geometric modifications - for example, a polygonal area might
be flattened, or a crater could be applied.

Height generation
-----------------
* uses deterministic random number generation and seeds to
  generate detailed terrain from sparse control points.
* each tile is seeded using the four surrounding control points
* shape of each tile is influenced by height, roughness and
  falloff parameters

Height Modifications
--------------------
* geometric modifications can be applied for small features
* new types of modifications can be added quite easily

Shading
-------
* generate shading information based on height and gradient
* new types of shaders can be added quite easily
* used on the client side

Atlas Integration
-----------------
The aim is to pass all data between server and client using atlas.
Cyphesis and Stage provide a parameter to the world entity that defines
the global terrain (this is a bit of a hack). Shading and Modifiers are
only implemented on the client right now.

   TODO:
   properly define atlas messages between client and server for
   * terrain base points
   * geometric modifiers
   * shading controls

Collision
---------
basic terrain intersection/collision functions are implemented for
* bbox
* point
* ray

Vegetation
----------
Basic support for generation of forests in much the same way as terrain.
Forest shape (polygonal) is supported
Tree location, orientation and height are generated from a random seed.
Currently incomplete and has hardcoded parameters

Current Limitations
-------------------
* multiple resolutions in the one terrain are unsupported

Implementations
---------------
As of September 2003, Mercator is used in:
Equator - allows editing of base points
Apogee - implements shaders
Stage
Cyphesis

Screenshots 
-----------
(bear in mind that some of these shots may have terrain with somewhat
unrealistic parameters for more interesting demos)

* Equator showing part of a terrain
http://members.austarmetro.com.au/~mcginnes/snapshot8.png
* Apogee showing shaders in action
http://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/~ajr/WF/apogee_terrain_shaders.png
* Equator showing some modifiers applied
http://members.austarmetro.com.au/~mcginnes/snapshot8.png
http://members.austarmetro.com.au/~mcginnes/mercatorMesa.jpg

                   
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