World Machine Tutorial #1

World Machine: Starting Up

Fig. 1 World Machine Basic default layout

World Machine: The GUI

The remainder of the GUI requires a little bit of explanation and you should familiarize yourself with some of the basic options available to you; there are tons of options and you can get a sense by briefly looking through the main menu at the very top; I mean the typical Windows menu bar. Go ahead and briefly look through these now. Pay close attention to the Devices sub-menu. We don't need to use this main menu, since many of these options are hidden under a variety of tabs and buttons just below the main menu. 

The ribbon below the main menu has a range of the main features you will need for this tutorial (Fig. 2). We will not use the first five icons, but we will use most of those following, in particular World Extents and Resolution and the different views - the five little squares following those with the dice - and the build buttons (the big round green and yellow buttons).

Fig. 2 Ribbon with main functions

On the left, below this ribbon, you will find a little preview box with a variety of settings that manipulate the preview of your world. The preview of your world updates per device you have selected. Go ahead and select the 'Advanced Perlin'; note how this updates your preview. Selecting other devices, such as 'Curves' or 'Erosion' in the Modify box, will yet again update the preview: you can immediately see the effects of how that particular device affects your terrain.

Some things to keep in mind:

Two final things to note in relation to devices. There are different sockets/channels on each device and a little box underneath each device indicates their current status, whether they have been built or need rebuilding:

You will often need to rebuilt separate parts of your chain, particularly when you've changed something in the middle. Pressing the green button will rebuild the entire chain. The sockets have specific functions and allow plugging in different devices to modify your terrain.

Fig. 3 Preview pane

The last thing you need to know is the Toolbar, which has all the cool gadgets that are otherwise hidden in the main menu at the very top. In Figure 4 you see the Toolbar with the Generator tab open. Other tabs we will be using in this tutorial are the Macros tab, the Output tab, the Filter tab, and the Natural tab.

Fig. 4 Toolbar with Generator tab open

Getting Started: Project Settings

Ok, so let's start a new project, from scratch :)

Getting Started: Advanced Perlins

Now, let's start building a basic landscape. Confirm the Project Settings dialog box and make sure you are in Device View (press F5). We'll be starting from scratch, so if there is anything on the workspace, just select it (left-mouse click once) and delete it (del).  Also delete the container boxes.


Now, if you select baseTerrain you'll see the preview box in the left corner has updated its view. You'll be wanting to keep an eye on this box, since in the free version of World Machine it's the only way that you can monitor real-time changes of your modifications (the pro version has an external window you can send out to another display). This landscape looks good, but a bit boring (I assume). So, we're going to add some cool stuff to it, and in fact, most of World Machine is tweaking and adding features to your Devices. Effectively, your baseTerrain generated basis landscape elements that you can tweak. You can tweak Perlins to a great extend, but to keep some control over the procedural modeling that you are doing, you will want to try and do most tweaking in other devices. 

Getting Started: Layout Generators

To add a little more excitement to our landscape we'll add a river; after all, rivers are exciting. So, we'll first add a Layout Generator device to tweak our baseTerrain. Under the Generator tab, click on the Layout Generator icon (a grid thing with blob thingies on it). 

Getting Started: Terracing

Ok, so far so good, but our landscape looks a little bumpy and lumpy with just a big gully in the middle. We'll add some terracing to make it a little more landscape-y. 

Getting Started: Erosion

Ok! Looking good, but not there yet: terrace still doesn't look great. Generally, we'd want to easy the slopes of our terrace and so we're going to need to 'erode' it somewhat, just to make it look a little bit more 'natural'.

Getting Started: Coastal Overlay

Canyon, check! River, check! Hills, check! Erosion, check… But wait, this is a landscape with some sort of coastal character to it, or at least, that's what we (read: I) want. We can use the Coastal Overlay macro, a very powerful macro that will add texture to our landscape and particularly to our riverine setting. 

Finishing Up: Outputting

If all went well, you should have generated something cool like the terrain in Fig. 5! Note that each of your terrains will be different because of the randomness in the Advanced Perlins and the various (randomizing) operations applied to them.

Fig. 5 Example of completely built world

Finishing Up: Exporting

Alright! We've got a cool-looking landscape, or sort of should have, which we would like to use in Unity, or other kinds of software. Fun-fact, you can even use the data generated from this software in other tools that are widely used in for example the Social Sciences: why would you not want to do a spatial GIS analysis on a fantasy landscape that looks like the Amazons? Also note that you can do tiled exports from the pro version of World Machine, which will give you much higher resolution terrains and allow more in-depth experience of whatever world you can imagine!

Anyway, outputting our data is as simple as pressing the big green button! Note that if you've set everything up correctly, and you have been rendering in between, this final render will not take very long. Generally, it's good practice to build your scene in a low resolution for rendering purposes and export a high-resolution final product for use in other types of software.