(Project completed: 1994)

I've had a long-running fascination with various forms of mathematical recreations, especially as applied to computers. I enjoy tinkering together programs to draw fractals, generate landscapes, simulate lifeforms, and so on.

Some time ago, there was a sudden surge of requests in the FidoNet C_ECHO for information on how to generate realistic landscapes. That prompted me to gather up what information I had into a neat package. At the same time, I had just finished translating a Pascal voxel-based landscape rendering routine into C, and needed an application for it. Presto.

Included in 3D-LAND.ZIP are three MS-DOS programs.

Screen shot from BURNT

The first one, BURNT, generates landscapes using a random walk method commonly known as the "burnt paper" algorithm. Circles of random size are piled up at random locations. Depending on the parameters you give and the length of time you run it, the results can look like the screen shot above.

Screen shot from PLASMA

The second program, PLASMA, generates landscapes with a slightly different look & feel using the commonly known recursive plasma algorithm. Both BURNT and PLASMA have options you can fiddle with and can save their output to PCX files.

Screen shot from WALKON

The third program, WALKON, is a program that takes the output PCX files from the first two programs and allows you to "walk" on them. It uses the color indices of the pictures as height information and draws them as a 3D landscape from a first-person perspective. This is a very primitive but also relatively easy to understand example of voxel rendering.

All three programs include full source code, in Borland C for MS-DOS.

I had hopes of some day using these landscape algorithms in some sort of computer game, but never got around to it. And now we have Minecraft anyway.

3d-land.zip (156K)

Download the executable. It was made for MS-DOS so you'll probably need an emulator or virtual machine to run it.