3D GIS, terrain visualization, and world building applications

Why virtual terrains?

Possible one of the most comprehensive listings of uses for virtual terrains (and terrain generators) is to be found at the Virtual Terrain Project:
» http://www.vterrain.org/Misc/Why.html
reproduced below:

  • Virtual tourism & travel planning
  • Education: geographical & general reference
  • Planning: land planning / land usage, urban planning
  • Civil engineering, telecommunications, utilities, and other infrastructure
  • Visualization of weather and other environmental attributes
  • Real Estate
  • Diplomacy
  • Games and entertainment
  • Communications: radio/TV/cellular transmitter placement and signal analysis
  • Public participation in land management
  • The Israeli company Skyline has a good list of markets and applications for their Terra engine.
  • Another Israeli company, GeoSim specializes in cities, with its own list of Solutions: Urban Infrastructure, Tourism/Travel, Real Estate, Security/Defense, Entertainment, Media/Advertising
  • Small areas of virtual terrain are called "Digital Terrain Modeling" by professionals in the civil engineering, landscaping, surveying and construction industries
  • The Defense Industry has always recognized the importance of virtual terrain.
    • they use terms like "Automatic Population of Geospatial Databases"
    • the line between military and entertainment is blurring, e.g. the Open Skies system claims to "show great promise as an actual training system as well as a unique and exciting game."

Resources

TerraSource
an extensive listing of 3D landscape programs, Terragen plug-ins, DEMs, etc
» http://www.terrasource.net/#workwith
[Link verified and viewed 13 March 2007]

The Virtual Terrain Project is an excellent general resource for "tools for easily constructing any part of the real world in interactive, 3D digital form".
» http://www.vterrain.org
Their 'Artificial Terrain Tools & Software Packages' page offers a good listing of 3D terrain generators and tools
» http://www.vterrain.org/Packages/Artificial/index.html
[Link verified and viewed 13 March 2007]

Bakhter.com
another good listing of 3D terrain generators
» http://www.bakhter.com/html/3d/terrain_generators.html
[Link verified and viewed 13 March 2007]

Open Source Geospatial Foundation
"The Open Source Geospatial Foundation has been created to support and build the highest-quality open source geospatial software. The foundation's goal is to encourage the use and collaborative development of community-led projects. This website serves as a portal for users and developers to share their ideas and contribute to project development."
» https://www.osgeo.org
[Link verified and viewed 12 March 2007]

FreeGIS Database
a database of free software
» http://www.freegis.org/database/
[Link verified and viewed 12 March 2007]