Monday, June 23, 2014

Landscapes Unlimited goes Urban

Up to now, I've only created purely natural landscape items. The sheer beauty of nature inspired me. However, city sceneries can be very impressive too, and recently 'materials' in Second Life offer awesome possibilities to make the textures of buildings much richer than before. Besides, several people have been asking me about city surrounds. Two months ago I accepted the challenge, and this is what I came up with:
  • A full city sim surround (1,000 x 1,000 m), for single region islands,
  • A half city sim surround (1,000 x 500 m), for bigger islands,
  • A large city skybox surround (1,000 x 1,000 m), for large sky builds on island regions.
Modern City Full Sim Surround landscape

Modern City Half Sim Surround landscape

I have two more items on my to-do list: a medium-sized sky surround (250 x 250 m) and a sim edge environment (250 x 125 m), but they probably won't be ready before September.

The city landscapes come in three sets of metarials: one especially suitable for daytime settings, one for twilight settings and a third one for nighttime settings. You can pick the set that matches your build by using the HUD that you're no doubt already familiar with.

It is very important to switch on the Advanced Lighting Model in the Graphics settings (Preferences menu, CTRL-P). Otherwise the textures of the skyscrapers will look dull. Another tip: don't use default midday environment settings, the sun will shine from straight above your build, which is not very natural and will cause unwanted effects on the vertical highrises. However, several sunrise and sunset settings will give you spectacular colorful reflections in the windows, which is a lot more interesting to look at!

The city landscapes are only available in copyable form ("Gold edition").

Friday, March 28, 2014

Third and last Rolling Hills release: half sim surround and sim edge environments

One week after releasing the sky environment version of the Rolling Hills I'm now releasing tthe last two versions: a 250 m wide sim edge environment and a 1,000 m wide half sim surround environment. Both can be used on island regions, on connected regions and on bigger continents with an open side to the ocean.

Default textures on Rolling Hills sim edge environment

They are copyable and can be changed by using the HUD (8 themes and a few hundred textures to choose from). Like the previous versions, these landscape items also make use of the new materials: higher morphological detail on the hills (yes, I am a geographer), and cut-off alpha textures to make sure the trees do not interfere with alpha textures on your land (to prevent "texture bleeding"). Make sure to use one of the latest Second Life viewers and enable the Advanced Ligtling Model.

Surfacing bedrock on this Half Sim Surround edition. The red rectangle depicts the border of the region

The half sim surround and the edge environment will be discounted by 50% until Tuesday April 1. As always, free demos are available on my island and on the marketplace.

Desert theme available also

Friday, March 21, 2014

Rolling Hills now available for sky builds

The sky version of the Rolling Hills landscape is ready. It includes 16 setups (with or without reflective prim water in the middle, several texture combinations ranging from winter to desert scenes), all selectable by HUD.

The medium sized Rolling Hills sky environment

The Rolling Hills sky environment is available in three sizes: large (1,000x1,000m), medium (250x250m) and small (125x125m). The small one doesn't have any trees. They would look silly on such a small landscape, and it saves on your land impact.

Up to now, the small sky environments were 100x100 meters. The small version of this one though is 125x125 meters, which makes better use of the available space of square 1/4 sim parcels that measure 128x128 meters. Because of this, the flat, open area in the middle is more than 50% larger.

The small version is bigger than before: more space in the middle for your builds

For prim water and hills I've used the new Materials. The hills are more attractive that way, and the prim water has animated, reflective wave ripples. Be sure to use a compatible viewer and to activate the Advanced Lighting Model. The sky landscapes are excluded from the Physics system, which means they do not obstruct any sit animations and do not interfere with moving physical objects (like horses, cars etcetera) on your land.

A Wintery setup

Looks like a Martian landscape, doesn't it?
You can get a copy or a demo in my inworld store. You can see the sim surround version of the Rolling Hills at ground level on my sim.

The Rolling Hills sky environments will be discounted by 50% until Tuesday March 25.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

New: Rolling Hills, a peaceful landscape to surround your island

One type of landscape was still missing from my version 5 set: a peaceful, undulating landscape with gentle slopes and green pastures. This new release should fill that gap: the Rolling Hills sim surround.

Default configuration of the Rolling Hills sim-surround landscape

In its default configuration, you will see green pastures and pine trees. The HUD allows you to switch to other configurations, trees and textures, including winter scenes, flowery meadows and even some desert-like scenes.

With exposed, weathered rock faces

Desert with or without water in the middle

Winter scene

Rugged, coastal landscape with an extra-terrestrial feel

I've used materials on this surround to add the suggestion of valleys on te hillsides and to prevent conflicts of the tree textures with on-sim transparent textures. With the Advanced Lighting Model switched on you will see the undulations, especially when the sun is at a low angle above the horizon. This makes the landscape more interesting. Read this blog post for more information about how to see the materials.

In a few weeks time I will also release small, medium and large versions for sky builds (with animated reflective water), and I am also preparing a half sim surround version for use on connected regions.

The Rolling Hills can temporarily be seen here, surrounding the on-sim mesh landscape belonging to the Grand Canyon setup. They are available here at Landscapes Unlimited and here on the Marketplace. Of course, yo can pick up a free demo there too.

Friday, November 29, 2013

New release: Tropics and Grand Canyon sky environments

Over the last year I released two new environments: the Grand Canyon and Tropics environment. Up to now I only had versions to use at ground level, making use of Linden water. Today I release sky versions of both, to be used to surround any sky build.

The Topics sky landscape. The reflective waves are made of new animated materials. The beaches in front are made of the mesh beach system, ideal for use as a natural, solid & walkable surface on sky builds

The Grand Canyon sky landscape

The innovative part of these sky environments is the use of animated, reflective prim water. This water makes use of the new possibilities Materials have to offer. The water almost looks as good as Linden water, which is great news for people who want to have several natural environments stacked on top of each other above their land.

In order to see the reflective water, you have to enable the Advanced Lighting Model in the Graphics section of the Preferences of your viewer. Today, only the Linden Lab default viewer and the Beta Firestorm viewer are able to display materials. Soon other viewers will also be able to do so. What's good about the Advanced Lighting Model, is that it makes use of the latest technology modern graphics cards have to offer. Displaying them, even though they offer a much richer visual experience, does not slow down your graphics.

Activate the Advanced Lighting Model to see the reflective, animated water

Both environments will only be available in the Gold edition: they will be copyable, adjustable by HUD, won't obstruct sitting animations and allow removal of non-essential scripts after deploy. Both come in three sizes, ranging from 100x100m to 1000x1000m.

The new skybox environments are available in my in-world store and on the Marketplace. As usual, demos are available as well.