Build 3015 has been released! Besides fixing some bugs, and a few smaller tweaks, the primary focus is improving a device I’ve never been completely happy with: the Thermal Weathering device.
The old version of Thermal Weathering had its uses, particularly in concert with the erosion device to help shape the sometimes over-steep slopes produced. However it never fully achieved its primary goal: to simulate the way freeze/thaw cycles break down rock faces and produce talus slopes.
I’m happy to say that the new version excels at that task!
Let’s take a quick look. This is one of the example files included with Build 3015. Here’s a canyon-type terrain:
Right off the bat, we can see that this is not a situation where WM’s erosion model traditionally excels. None of the natural forces that would dominate in this situation are being simulated, leading to a result that doesn’t look realistic. Among the problems are the lack of debris at the base of the cliffs, unrealistic streamlines down the cliff faces, and more.
So let’s try to fix it, using classic World Machine 2 Thermal Weathering:
In some ways this is an improvement, but in others, a step backwards. Talus and other debris have begun accumulating on the slopes, but not in a consistent way or in a location that is actually where you would expect. This is due to a variety of reasons I won’t go into here, but the short version is that we still don’t get our talus slopes.
What’s worse, all of the nice erosional detail in the rocks that we created in the first world has been smoothed away. Sometimes this is desirable… but typically not.
So. Let’s take a look at the new version:
Hopefully you can see why I’m quite excited and proud of the new device. 🙂
Convincing talus slopes have been generated under the cliff faces. These slopes have a consistent (and controllable) angle of repose, as much volume as you want, and best of all not only preserve but even enhance the original erosion detail present.
The new device works great with or without traditional erosion. It’s also much more controllable than the old device (which was often a bit tweaky), has controllable mask inputs for both talus generation and talus sinks (where things like rivers can remove the talus), and, by the way, scales dramatically better than the old device in high resolution worlds — you’ll find some huge build time improvements.
In short, for most general purpose work, this device represents a giant leap forward, and finally deserves to be used on an equal basis with the regular erosion model. I’m excited that it’s now available, and look forward to hearing if you find it useful!