A Landscape Generation Wizard for Terragen
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A Landscape Generation Wizard for Terragen Tao Lu Supervisor: Prof Ken Turner September 2008 Dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment for the degree of Master of Science in Advanced Computing Department of Computing Science and Mathematics University of Stirling Abstract Problem Terragen is a widely used tool for creating stunning landscapes and even planetscapes. It is the fourth iteration of the Terragen rendering technology. With each new version, it becomes more powerful and more flexible. However, one disadvantage also appears. With so many checkboxes, buttons and options, the tool is very complex to use. It is easy to make a small mistake in a setting, resulting in a meaningless image. Objectives The objective of this project was to build a higher-level, human-oriented way of describing landscapes (Landscape Generation Wizard). For example, the user can choose the depth of lake to be shallow, rather than set the value to 100, which is too detailed and unhelpful. A Java based application was created to provide users a clear and easy-to-use interface without complicated landscape terminology or settings. Methodology The first step was to learn how to use the complicated Terragen tool with the help of an online tutorial and the help contents of Terragen itself. During the learning process, some key requirements were gathered. According to these requirements, a simple GUI was designed. Then, research was carried out to try to manipulate Terragen-readable project files. The format of Terragen project file (with the extension of TGD) is XML-based. Therefore, Xerces2 (a common XML Java Parser) was introduced into the project in order to modify and create the TGD file. Constant unit testing was performed to assure every part of the application functioned accurately. In addition, usability and functionality testing were performed at the end of the implementation stage. An iterative method was behaved throughout the whole project. Achievements A simple and easy-to-use Java application has been successfully achieved, which meets all the initial requirements. Users can manipulate a great landscape project with only several clicks quickly. Another file format - Terragen Wizard (TGW) - was created later, dedicated to the Terragen Wizard (TerraWiz) itself. Moreover, other features were added such as language and mode switching.