The second alien world I wanted to explore in SineSpace is the Tirana Rainbow Forest. It features multiple bases, adjustable lighting and materials and dramatic color changes in the rainbow forest. This would make anything from a great home space to backdrop for a shooter game or even a setting for real-time cinema projects.
Smaller Yet Bigger
Let’s start by talking size. At 2048 meters x 2048 meters, the Tirana Rainbow Forest is smaller than the Erial Wastelands. That is still more than 4 square kilometers! For those coming from Second Life, this is bigger than 64 SL regions in one continuous chunk. No sim crossings, and none of the headaches those users have come to expect when traveling such great distances.
I have been working on the concept for this alien landscape in MapMagic for several months. I have been experimenting with the procedural tool to come up with a particular look for the mountains. Once I got that looking right, I spent some time weathering and eroding the terrain.
For the terrain materials, I already had some ideas in mind. I had been working on an experimental set of terrain materials and this was the project to use them. In very little time I turned that into 8 different materials in that family. They have similar yet distinctly different properties for everything from color to cracks, erosion, and even emissiveness. The result is something that doesn’t quite glow, but has elements that catch the light in pretty spectacular ways throughout the day and night.
Once I had my set of materials finished, it was on to MicroSplat (which I’ve talked about here). Using MapMagic and MicroSplat in concert I was able to get great results. This isn’t a beaten-down rocky wasteland, this alien rocky planet is alive.
Tirana Rainbow Forest Tree Designs
Speedtree has been a favorite tool of mine for a few years, and I absolutely love using the tree modeler program. I use the tool to create the trees in my Fairfield Home, Italian Courtyard and my Dark Forest Regions. Why not put Speedtree to use to create something a rainbow forest on an alien world? As a result of that experience, I was able to quickly come up with a number of designs that I liked. From there it was a matter of creating some unusual materials.
I wanted something that looked like it could grow out of the terrain I’d made, but also gave me the rainbow forest look I was after. Eventually it all came together and I’ve got something that seems to change through the course of day and night.
Rich In Features
Just like with the Erial Wastelands I wanted to have a completely custom lighting and day/night setup for the Tirana Rainbow Forest. It not only needed to be different from what a location on Earth would look like, it needed to be different than the other planet. I got a combination of settings that perfectly complements the terrain and trees and consequently think I’ve nailed it.
Using the SineSpace components, I went a little further with options for the Room Editor. This time around I have an additional fixed time of day (fine-tuned for this planet, of course), as well as options for 3, 6, 12 and 24 hour day/night cycles. Check out this video to see how adjusting daytime lighting.
The Tirana Rainbow Forest features four 50 meter x 50 meter bases protected by force field walls and ceiling. I wired each of the four up for swappable materials on the flooring, and completely adjustable interior lighting. Users can set things up the way they like, and even color code them if they’re creating some kind of team-based first person shooter game.
Advanced Post Processing
I have been a huge fan of post processing effects in SineSpace (you can read more about post processing here). I did not stop with fine-tuning the visual look. I went further with the Tirana Rainbow Forest than any previous project. After adding specialized effects like lens flares and sun shafts, I also created dozens of localized areas with even more atmospheric effects.
Taking a deeper look, I made careful use of reflection and light probes in Unity. Region lighting, metallic objects and other materials should look amazing at any time of day or night. For SineSpace users who buy the Tirana Rainbow Forest template, it just works and looks great.
Hooray For Advanced Materials
Take a look at the screen shot below. Everything from the way the metallic surfaces and silicon in the solar panels looks technically accurate. Using emissive lighting I was able to add some great visual effects to the Tirana Base towers without hurting rendering performance.
Previous generation worlds like Second Life made an effort to support advanced materials, but fell short of a truly PBR (physically based rendering) model. It was pretty good at the time, but largely revolved around tricks (like baked lighting) that content creators would pull to force an item to look like it was in a particular environment. The results looked great in certain places, but not so great everywhere else.
I used Substance by Adobe‘s Designer and Alchemist, as well as the Substance plugin for Unity to work up a few custom materials, and am very pleased with the results. They look great at any time of day or night. And the force field barrier protecting each base station… yeah, that’s a custom shader.
Tirana Rainbow Forest is Available Now
You can find the Tirana Rainbow Forest now in the SineSpace shop. Click here to check it out in the web shop, but you can find it now in the in-world shop. Look in Regions –> Sci-Fi. I have a tutorial on how you can create a region and apply a region template – click here to check that out.
This region was designed with SineSpace premium subscription users in mind. Since it is over 128MB in size, it’s too big for a user on a free account to use. Premium users, on the other hand, will be able to place over 300MB of stuff in the Tirana Rainbow Forest. The region template also offers the ability to sub-lease. Users can add their friends and allocate some of that space to them to build and decorate.
The ExoGenesis Project
Back in September, SineSpace announced the Out Of This World Creator Challenge. I knew immediately that I wanted to participate. With a 20 December deadline that gave me nearly 2 months to plan and build. The challenge motivated me to start working on my ExoGenesis Project – you can read more about that here. The The Tirana Rainbow Forest region is part of that series. Note: SineSpace has recently extended the deadline to 15 January 2020.
The name Tirana is derived from the Sumerian word for rainbow forest, and this planet is certainly that. I drew inspiration for this build from everything ranging from prisms to soap bubbles and even cotton candy. I wanted something that was equal parts alien and quirky, and that would change rather dramatically over the course of day and night.