Lemons to Lemonade

First I must apologize for my lack of updates and almost complete absence fro the Internet the past two weeks. This has two reasons, first I have taken the plunge and upgraded to Windows 10 on my main desktop. This meant I had to back up all my data, reinstall practically everything and then restore the backups. Just copy a bit around 10TB of files back and forth and verify it, takes a couple of days. The second reason is more profound and serious.

For some time now I’ve had my doubts about the future of one of the tools I use the most, World Machine. When I started using it three years ago it was not only the software that best matched my needs, it was under intense development by its creator and improved regularly. The last 6 months have changed that picture and now it seems I have to face the fact that World Machine seems to have entered into the territory of unsupported software. I’ve heard the term Abandonware and now my beloved WM have become part of that lackluster environment. Reluctantly I’ve over time realized I have to face the music and look for alternatives, and before you fall into despair I can tell you there are alternatives!

The tools I’ve decided to go with along with Adobe Creative Suite and Vue, is Terragen from Planetside Software. Terragen have been on my radar for years and is a very capable software for creating and especially rendering virtual landscapes. The price (ten times higher than World Machine) and the fact that it lacked the sophisticated erosion features of World Machine made me hold off on Terragen. Thankfully Terragen now have added the erosion features I desired. They are still in beta but already doing the job, so I’m very hopeful and it has a much bigger developer behind it. Sometimes paying a higher price is the way to go.

So what does this means for my work?

The short answer is both good and bad, let me elaborate a bit on this. Just because World Machine isn’t developed doesn’t mean it has stopped working so ongoing projects can be continued. But some time you have to stop flogging a dead horse and move on, so I will start using Terragen as my main development platform from now on.

To learn new software takes time and complicated software even more time. Thankfully I’m going to do very much the same things and they work in similar ways which makes the task less daunting. But it will still take me a couple of months to get myself up and running with it, and new projects pushed into the future an bit. The first things to suffer from this are my Hommlet ToEE map, for this one I want to do it with a set of tools that will be around longer and let me integrate it with a wider area and the rest of the Flanaess.

Terragen gives me a huge benefit compared to World Machine, the ability to create and render using the same program, no export of conversion needed. This will speed things up and a whole range of new things possible. Terragen also supports planets, and the atmosphere around them so not even the sky is the limit. The price tag for this is steep but the investment are now made and I already have the hardware, now its just for me to spend the time and effort to get it up and running. Something I’m looking forward to, with the caveat that you will have to put up with waiting for results a bit longer. This is my way of trying to convert lemons into lemonade, thank you all for your patients.