Adventures in Planet Making

Since I haven’t put out anything on this site since my first tutorial (Procedural Planets 1: Something to Work With), I thought I might take a step back and document my journey thus far. It seems like a fine idea to lay out how I got started down the path I’m on now, how I got here and where I (might) be going.

I haven’t exactly been publicly detailing this project at all so far, so I suppose a fair start is to say that I’m deep into the experimental/prototype phase of the project. It’s hard to define a starting point, as I have long been interested in procedural content, especially mesh creation.

Some time in early 2018, over the course of a few days, I spun out a rough planet generator in Unity akin to what I posted as a first tutorial. This stage was basically an IcoSphere, subdivided a number of times, then using 3D noise to map height values at each vertex. Simple, nice enough looking, and a fun little project.

Earliest iteration of my planet generator.

Obvious to anyone who’s seen procedural content in any fashion is the basic Perlin Noise. It looks boring and thoroughly unrealistic, but it served as a great starting point and was encouraging for such short work. I quickly put together a 2D UI to control several elements of the generator, and had a nice start.

2D Planet Generator

My next instinct was to take this project and throw it in a basic interactable VR environment. The planets I generated were pretty cool and I wanted to see how it would feel to manipulate planets in real time/VR.

With a few weeks of side work, I had scrapped up a basic prototype VR environment (with some asset store assets and rudimentary models by myself). Along the way, I reworked the planet generator to render in parallel with Unity Jobs (which sped everything up massively).

Having proven the general concept (and feeling a bit awestruck even), I liked the direction, so admittedly… I started dreaming big.

I began to think about what I might actually want to do with the project. Where I could go, the avenues I could explore. The very most basic concept is that you play as a world builder, a digital office worker artistically building Otherworld, a futuristic VRMMO universe. I must say that I am near equally interested in the creation aspect and the Otherworld. I am interested in creating planets that can be played on, and a universe that I could potentially populate.

In truth, I can see a long path stretch out before me: biomes and continents, plants, procedural cities, procedural creatures, people, alphabets and language, history. It is easy to get out of hand, and obviously a concept like this is really quite open ended. It’s nice to dream big, but ultimately, it’s best to focus on next steps.

The next step, for me at least, was to look at creating a more realistic planet, which frankly led down a rabbit hole that is not fully resolved.

Next: Building a Better Continent


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s