Hello! This page is about discussing NDunes, its past, present and hopefully future releases with a lot of thoughts and guesses. It's more of a blog article rather than a formal planning that we'll discuss here. We all hope at NDunes that you'll fancy the product and will want it to grow with many more features and capabilities!

So let's start discussing about it...and feel free to send us your feedback and thoughts on the product and where it should go for your needs. We'll do our best to enhance NDunes.

Why NDunes?

At first, because we thought we could do it and bring something hopefully new to creative people. The idea came first that way.

Back in 2015 we had the feeling that 3D graphics would continue to evolve a lot and that the size of 3D worlds would continue to grow a lot for video games, for movies and for entertainment in general. At this point we were already involved in the 3D business for years, having funded Redway3D ( 15 years ago, developing a 3D graphics middleware, mostly for the industry and architectural & design markets.

And indeed the size of 3D worlds continued to grow and we believe that this will not end. In 2020, gamers, viewers, streamers, anyone interacting with digital assets seem to want more and more virtual open spaces to dwell in, adding virtual over real. More open worlds. Yeah!

An open world. Ok. In 3D. Ok. But, how do you create it? How do you display it? It's not something easy or it would have been done for long...All existing solutions for design or interaction only focus on one part of the problem: 3D flight simulators are not good at the ground level; satellite data are not good either (and you can only do Earth); 1st or 3rd person games are generally staying close to the ground. Movies makers have to create different shots depending on their needs. Industry people have large models (for example a factory) but nothing to display around for a review. So we started working on this unification and creation problem: How to bring a solution both for designing and displaying 3D worlds at multiple scales at the same time? How to bring a solution that would not look like an ugly procedural stuff? How to keep an artistic control over it even if it has to be partly automatic given the incredible size of the environments to design?

5 years after, we are introducing NDunes to you.

What is NDunes doing today?

Today, the current version of NDunes does the landscape design at a planetary scale; it handles all the vegetation covering it and adds atmospheric layers over it. It handles your own geometric models that can be inserted in terrains and planets. It can also export its data to other formats for reusing them elsewhere.

What will NDunes do in the future?

NDunes is here to unleash the creativity of artists: all the tools provided balance between automatization of tasks and also human control over all tiny aspects of the creation. So this is a first axis of development that we'll work on.

Second, NDunes is aimed at bringing 3D worlds to life. Many incoming features will be about animating, simulating and interacting. This will be our second axis of development.

And also something very important for us is to bring to non artistic people the capability to create their own worlds too. Not by doing the same creation job as artists do, but by gathering assets and working at a higher level by re-assembling 3D worlds. This is our last development axis.

We believe that NDunes must be a tool for anyone to use for its community to grow and to share assets. So we hope you'll enjoy it!

Some features to come...

These are some of the topics we have in mind for now and that we want to deliver in future releases.

Landscape edition brushes
Add direct landscape edition brushes to modify first level soils (elevation, densities, reflectance, masks...). This will avoid having to get outside of NDunes to modify a map and then to get back into NDunes to update the map.
Atlas retouching tools
Again, we've been short in time for this one. Basically this adds the capability to edit choices made by NDunes during the atlas compilation on the placement of terrains and biomes.
Screen space reflections
Clearly a must have in any real-time solution. We were just short in time to develop it for the initial release, so this should come soon.
Water is coming! We expect this development to be complex, but we also soon expect to add different water systems to NDunes. First there'll be still water in oceans. We'll probably add a river carving system to the landscape design with an automatic flow calculation, to generate river trails, lakes and all water bodies from a flowing source. Then waves on the ocean. Water ripples with flow maps in rivers. Lots of topics for a small word with only 5 letters ;)
Planetary environment
Moon rendering, stars rendering, sun rendering (better than a poor disk...with lens effects).
Yeah. Having still trees and grass is a shame. Atmospheric layers will probably define a planetary level wind and turbulence system that'll be leveraged to animate vegetals. We do already support animation of meshes (there's an internal simulation engine and LUA scripting in NDunes already, but it's not finalized yet). We have to work on skinning too and on all topics related to animating. This does not include physics yet.
Urban environments
We have in mind to add the capability to extract features directly out of satellite data to automatically reconstruct towns, fields, forests, and other urban environment features.
This topic covers adding camera path definition tools; Render settings for direct movie production; Non temporal AA; Large image rendering.
Light creation tools
For now lights have to be imported in geometry files and can't be freely created. Let's fix that.
Geometry and plants composition tools
Geometries and plants are single files. Let's remove this constraint and add the capability to merge and place several files together. Edit sub parts too.
Improved rendering performances
We did not have a single minute to work on rendering performances yet...hopefully, we can save a bit of time to speed up the display of all that stuff :)
Small features
We have a list of 150 minor features to add to the system too...! It would be too long to list them all here. Just some entries in the list: atmospheric coefficients customization, spline tools for mesh placement, auto tonemapping, measurement tool, glossiness and IOR maps into materials, improved VR support.