LTE World Machine Development News

LTE Feature #2

The third post in a series describing the changes afoot for the Long Term Evolution of World Machine.

Hi folks! This time around, let’s jump straight to one of the most impactful new features in LTE. From the very beginning of WM, the workflow has always gone something like this:

  1. Create/connect your devices, set the settings roughly where you want them.
  2. Build the world.
  3. Adjust the settings.
  4. Goto step 2 until satisfied.

Well, this changes in LTE.

For many purposes, step #2 is simply gone. How?

Progressive, asynchronous previews. This is perhaps the longest-awaited feature for me personally. In fact, if you look in the preferences dialog, there’s been a disabled “background previews” checkbox for at least 10 years!

I’ve heard from at least a couple folks concerned that spending time improving the World Machine GUI is a waste. This is a prime example of why I believe the opposite – LTE branch unlocks powerful new workflows that couldn’t be created before.

Fast, Detailed, and Responsive

There are two fundamental types of preview actions that now occur in World Machine: Interactive and Refining previews.

  • The interactive preview is what you get when you are actively changing a slider/control. This provides coarse feedback, but more importantly responds instantly to your changes. It is, however, too too low in resolution to give you a good look at your world.
  • The refining preview goes to work as soon as you release the mouse button for any action. It rapidly builds the current views (and then the world) in the background, progressively. Your view simply gets more refined as you wait, but you can keep working if you’d like with no hiccups, lag, or slowdowns.

The combination gives you something great: You can instantly see your changes as you manipulate a control (which doesn’t always happen with other applications’ background render schemes), and you also get new details rapidly, with no extra clicks or hoops to jump through.

A video is worth a thousand words, so…. Watch me create a simple 2K terrain in the LTE branch:

Creating a 2K resolution World in realtime. No builds required.

Features like this are exactly why I’m so excited about the LTE branch!

Some other benefits of the new background build model:

  • World Machine doesn’t block on previews, so your big, slow world will open right away without lag… even if it has to load lots of data from disk or preview a huge network.
  • This feature interacts extremely well with two other LTE features that will be discussed next: exposed edit history and granular edit tracking. Being able to pop back and forth in your history and see high-res final results of any settings change is amazing.

But we’ll talk about those next time 🙂

For now, Merry Christmas to all who celebrate that holiday, and I’ll see you in the new year!

By Stephen

Founder of World Machine

Notable Replies

  1. This is excellent news! Well done! Look forward to get my hands on this too! :partying_face:

  2. Nice update a few questions though.
    So has building/rendering changed or is this just the preview? Is there still a build world function?
    How does the interactive preview and refined preview act with resolution-dependence?
    What happens with supermassive (50, 100 devices and more) graphs?

  3. Here’s a bit more detail:

    1. World Machine previously had two build results it maintained. A preview and final. LTE builds maintain results starting at the interactive res and going all the way up to the smaller of the final resolution and a limit you specify. Depending on your machine, you would usually set this this limit between 1k and 4k - enough to get a good look at the world. However,

    2. There’s still a build world command for creating the final output (if that final output res is greater than the preview limit). High resolution builds are something you’ll definitely want to still command intentionally. The goal is to drastically reduce the number of builds you need during the development process of your world.

    3. Do you mean resolution dependence in terms of getting different results at different resolutions for a given device? This is unchanged from before. However, resolution dependence is much more rapidly exposed when you get to see the entire update progression from low to high res – you’ll quickly get a sense of what is changing and what might need to be done to fix it. (For example: erosion masks are not automatically normalized, so they will change in magnitude at different resolutions which becomes obvious)

    4. Very large graphs build just like any other, although it certainly takes longer! The background previews prioritize the currently-viewed devices, so if you’re working on devices that don’t have a ton of dependencies they will update rapidly. Making a change in the start of the network and viewing the final output will be slow, as you might expect - but it no longer blocks the UI so your actual interactions are still snappy.

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