phoenix64

Real Time Simulation Of A Carboniferous Forest (Wip)

112 posts in this topic

This is literally one of the coolest projects I have seen in a long time. When you finish, I definitely would try to show it to some museums and also may be get some professional paleontologists who know the carboniferous period very well to look at it and verify it for accuracy.

Once again, awesome work. I am a programmer myself, so I really like to see stuff like this.

@aplomado, if you are, then I am too...

This could be easily set up on a computer as a museum exhibit...

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Thank you very much, TNCollector and aplomado :)

Indeed it's the plan to also display it in museums, beside of the personal usage.

Currently, a professional paleontogist is reviewing it; I hope we will get some feedback about the accuracy.

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This is awesome! Very very cool for an alpha, and I think you should definitely try a VR version. Did you make this in Unreal engine or something? Because I've heard VR is relatively painless in that, although I haven't tried it myself.

I actually have a very similar project which is why this excited me so much when I saw this. I have an ongoing evolution simulation/art project where I get people (mostly children) to 'evolve' lifeforms through artwork generation after generation. I intially animated their drawings, but I since have been using them for other projects because I have thousands of drawings at this point.

One of these projects was an Oculus Rift demo that I made in Unity, where I took a cross section sampling of all the plants and animal drawings I had and considered that a 'time period', then built a world for them all to inhabit. I use the actual drawings in some cases, and others I translate to 3-d, but everything 'behaves' somewhat realistically, although it looks like a crayon hand-drawn world.

Just like your demo its first person, day and night (dynamic in my case) water, etc. I do have animals and insects doing their thing, although they don't really have AI, they just wander. My 'time period' is basically the Carboniferous, so its interesting seeing your version of a 'realistic' Carboniferous forest and my 'alternate reality' version. All of the plants in my demo are derived from a moss-like ancestor and are 'more evolved' that the animals, which have only just started evolving from their salamander like ancestor. You can still get a general sense for everythings inter-relatedness just by looking at things, which is all you can do in my demo (theres no goal or info etc. you just explore at the moment).

This video explains my overall project pretty well, and shows off some of my demo. This link explains everything in more detail https://evolutionanimation.wordpress.com/what-is-this/

In any case, I'd love to help you with your Carboniferous project in whatever way I can! And if you get into some VR stuff I can probably help out there as well. Keep up the good work!

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Hi,

living in one of the most famous coal-mining areas of the world - the Ruhrgebiet in Germany - I collected fossils as a 10-year old child. Which was very easy, because the next mining dump was only a few meters away. (There were many, many mining dumps at that time). And so of course I found a lot of fossils of the carboniferous age - lepidodendron, sigillaria trunk fragments, some leaf fossils and so on.

Now 40 years have passed since then, and the Ruhrgebiet is not what it used to be anymore. There are nearly no coal mines anymore here, and all of the mining dumps have been flattened. And unfortunately I didn't continue my hobby. But since then, I have been fascinated by the carboniferous age. And since I started my career in the gaming industry as a graphic designer (main profession) and programmer 15 years ago I have a dream: To bring the carboniferous age back to life in a realistic real time 3D simulation.

Some weeks ago I started to fulfill this dream.

By now, I have set up the game engine and worked on the material techniques. The whole thing is a real challenge, since I meet some tasks I never had before: High texture resolution (of course, when you walk through, you want to examine everything in detail), high realism, high details...

Currently, I'm working on my first tree, a lepidodendron. The work is difficult, because I haven't found good template images. Here is what I have got by now:

lepidodendron00.jpg

Please note, that the tree model is far away from being finished. The textures are still raw and will become much more detailed in the final state - especially the leaf texture is very preliminary.

Nevertheless, I think it is in a state ready enough to be criticized. Please excuse the unfinished state - but since creating 3d models is really much work, I'd like to detect mistakes before creating all details, because I want to avoid unnecessary work (I'm doing this in my spare time, which is always too less ;) )

As mentioned, it was very difficult to find good artwork as a template for creating the tree, and my knowledge of paleontology is poor. And so I'd be very happy, if I could get some feedback here.

My questions are in particular:

  • Is the overall shape, the trunk shape, the treetop shape, ... correct/reliable?
  • Is the texture scale correct? E.g. is the pattern of the bark and the root o.k, or too small/too big?
  • Is the distance between the stigmaria correct?
  • Is the texture transition between bark and root o.k.?
  • And of course everything else, which you notice

I'd be very happy about answers.

If this is interesting for you, I would keep on posting work-in-progress images in this thread, until the forest is done. How do you think about this?

Best regards

Heiko

I saw your simulator at work. Very impressive. I do have one problem with it. During most of the Carboniferous there were no organisms that could break down lignin, the molecule that gives wood its strength. As a result dead trees fell over but did not rot. This went on for 50 million years – new growth growing on top of dead trees and ferns, etc. That is where we get our coal from. Your simulator shows a clean forest floor.

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For me this is one of the best topic in this great forum :D

Amazing !!! :wub::wub::wub:

Edited by belemniten

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Hey phoenix64, I was wondering if you had any updates on this so far? I have finally been able to run this program (I recently got a new computer). I have to say, it's a wonderful program. May be TMI but sometimes when I'm depressed I go for a little virtual walk in your Carboniferous forest, and it calms me down. It's such a wonderful idea, and I hope this kicks off more projects of a similar nature.

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Thank you all for the praise :)

It makes us happy when people like it.

Unfortunately there are no visible updates yet.

But this does not mean, that the development has stopped.

In fact, a lot has and is happening:

  • We have a new member who does wonderful concept and 2D art.
  • We have another new member who did a translation to Spanish, is a biologist and creates wonderful documentation.
  • A Meganeura has been implemented (WIP)
  • Cordaites are being implemented
  • Javascript worker threads. So the AI of the upcoming animals can be calculated in a separate thread. Working on the AI itself has not begun yet.
  • HTML display of the User interface. So nicer display of documentation and a mix of images and text in the documentation is possible.
  • Improved detail view window. Now turning in all angles and switching between multiple animations are possible.
  • Cordaites are in work.
  • A new, larger sized level with better distribution of the plants has been planned, and is at a very early stage.
So a lot of the work being done now is not visually pretty and I can't show it here, but it's necessary for upcoming versions.

As a little preview, here an image of the Meganeura:

20151219192525.jpg

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Fauna!!! Whooo hooo!!! Can't wait.

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Your reconstructed environment is truly inspirational!

 

I have been adding watercolours to original line drawings by Chris Proctor.   I attach a reconstruction based on fossil finds from Writhlington colliery tip, Bath and NE Somerset, UK, where cockroaches and spiders are far more common than giant dragonflies.

WGNR fauna.jpg

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Incredible! You have a great eye for detail. What other critters are you planning to put into it?

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The previous illustration is of the dry forest floor with cockroaches and their nymphs, phalangiotarbids and Eophrynus (ambush predators).  I have just finished painting a small eurypterid in a shallow watery environment.

eurypterid.jpg

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This idea for a simulation of the Carboniferous has sooooooo much potential! :popcorn:

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