High Resolution Worlds

Yes, that featured image is being rendered in real-time, in Dominion 🙂

So far, I’ve been using 2048×1024 (or lower) images for the planet surfaces. For populated worlds I’ve been sticking with the Blue Marble surface maps for day and night kindly provided by NASA, but in the image captures used for the first Dominion Pitch, I wasn’t entirely happy with the image quality.

A recent link (from somewhere) led me to new high resolution maps from NASA with far superior image processing to their previous published images of Earth – 21600px across! So I grabbed them sharpish, and generated the surface maps for our Earth-like world at 4096 x 2048 – the results in-game speak for themselves! This will be the new standard size for the high quality setting, but it does mean we now have 4 x 4096 x 2048 textures for one earth-like world! (Surface, specular-cloud-illumination combined, then the surface normal map, and then the cloud normal map.)

Fortunately, these won’t be needed every frame when the planetoid imposter rendering goes in, as we’ll render the planet to texture when the player is not moving about in planetary space.

Enough words – time for piccies!


Before - Polar view of Earth

Before - Earth at Night















After - Polar view of Earth


After - Earth at Night














It’s worth noting – Earth won’t be making an appearance in Dominion 😉 It’s just being used as the visual “bar” gold standard for an inhabited world for the time being!

There are two rendering artifacts I need to address before I’d be happy to ship the planetary rendering shader – see if you can spot them! (No prizes, sadly… yet!)






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Author: Mak View all posts by

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