Outerra gives us Mother Earth!

Jorge at Airsim.net, aka simFlight Portugal, reports about an interesting development named outerra, a planetary engine. Sounds like a lot doesn’t it? apparently the developer Brano Kemen is creating an engine that can generate our planet so to speak, Can it be used in a future  flight simulator? See this video and feel free to tell us what you think by using the comments form below:

In his blog the developer explains:


  • Planetary engine that can be used with an elevation dataset, enhancing its resolution using fractal algorithms. Resolution of the elevation data is arbitrary, fractal algorithms further refine the detail down to under-foot resolution. It’s possible to have a completely random fractal terrain too, or to sketch the terrain in rough resolution and have the fractal to generate the details.
  • Level of detail ranging from thousands of kilometers down to centimeters.
  • Currently working with earth elevation data (3arc sec dataset remapped to cube faces with roughly 150m resolution).
  • Elevation data are packed using a modifed wavelet compression, the required level of detail can be extracted effectively on the fly. Decompression done on GPU.
  • Finer resolution tiles are generated by fractal algorithm entirely on the GPU.
  • Textures are generated on the GPU from the fractal data using per-pixel computed elevation, slope and terrain curvature; later a material mapper would also utilize climatic data, bedrock maps etc. to more accurately texture the world.
  • Fully asynchronous engine using OpenGL, majority of the algorithms running on the GPU”

Read all here http://outerra.blogspot.com/

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Friday, July 10, 2009 08:42

I disagree with that last comment. It’s true that for me it’s more important to have fine details that a perfect copy of real world. But notice that what outerra does is ADD fine details to rough (or detailed, if available) real world data. It could be used with current FSX or X-plane scenery data, for example, and enhance it to something yet unseen and a lot more rewarding to look at and explore. You can have under the foot resolution with this! What a difference!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009 20:52

Well, sorry to bring you all down to Earth (pun intended), but you should note that this is a PROCEDURAL engine, most liely based on fractals etc. and as such in its current form it is not suitable for any kind of GIS (real-world) application. As the other engines which fall in this category (the Infinity and Earth 2 for example), it targets fantasy applications like RPG with Science Fiction or D&D subjects – NOT serious flight simulators. I truly hope that one day, we’ll have a flight sim with access to online hi-res photoreal scenery (Google?) covering the entire… Read more »

Wednesday, June 10, 2009 19:14

This is the kind of stuff I have been cryin out for. Obviously a few bugs to iron out still – the view radius is still rather small, but the tree density is almost on a par with RW, while the trees themselves really look, sort of, tree-like.

This is the right way to go I think. It is probably a good thing that MS axed ACES – now the brains are all in overdrive at last…

A definite “must watch”

Wednesday, June 10, 2009 15:34

Very interesting, Xplane people should also consider such an engine for future versions

Wednesday, June 10, 2009 11:59

Maybe Aerosoft should get with these guys on the development of their new sim?