book review terrain

Book Review: Focus on 3D Terrain Programming

Short and to the point,Focus on 3D Terrain Programming by Trent Polack is a good introduction to some of the algorithms used for 3D terrains. The book works well in introducing the simplest forms and growing more and more complex. Starting with a simple brute force algorithm, it covers terrain generation of fractal terrain, geo-mipmapping and culling, creating a quadtree terrain engine, ROAM (Realtime Optimally Adapting Meshes) with some optimizations as well.

Along with the terrain it also covers loading and creating texture files associated with terrain including texture map generation, using detail maps, and light maps.

There are also a few lighting techniques: height based lighting, slope lighting and some simple graphics fx for water, skyboxes and skydomes, particles etc.

This is more of a focused primer, but really the source code is what makes this book really standout. The code is very well commented, and easy to understand, which works handily with the descriptions in the book.

All in all, if you haven’t worked with terrains before this is a good starting point, with lots of C++ examples to learn from.

Best of luck building,
Michael Hubbard

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