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January 28, 2005
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Hostility towards the program terragen has always been present, and most likely, always will be.  But let's get down to brass tacks.  What is terragen?  It's a 3d scenery generator.  Right.  There's no real Modelling process involved per se, and it looks and works completely different (to all means and purposes of the majority) to a 3d modelling application such as 3d studio max or Maya.  It is comprised of a series of mostly numerical controls, and a few random generators based on numerical/slider inputs.  

...this means, it's an easy program, and requires little or no effort to pull off good results.  

Here's my favourite word of this article.  WRONG.

The program is as deep as you want it to be, just as many other art orientated programs are.  The quality of the results produced from it are proportional to the artists skill in using it.  Just because a large amount of people don't use the program too well, doesn't mean the program itself is poor.  It's the same with photoshop for example.  A newbie to photoshop would fill the canvas with black and use the lens flare filter, and would no doubt be stunned by the ease at which they can make this rather sexy looking source of light.  But then they attempt to take it further, and see it as a far more complex piece of software than that.  

All evidence you need can be found in the following galleries.

stotty.deviantart.com
johnwarren.deviantart.com
hypnotic.deviantart.com
duris.deviantart.com
magann.deviantart.com
and any of the bolded names over at terrawatch.deviantart.com

----------------

Anybody who takes a look at some of the fine examples of rendering in those galleries, and passes them off as poor simply because they're created with a program that is often used poorly, is somewhat blinded as far as I feel.  I've used terragen for a year and a half, and there are still scenes I have difficulty creating, aspects of the program I groan at when I have to tackle because of the level of difficulty about them.  So how people can label the program and more specifically, the more technically impressive pieces that emerge from it as "easy" is somewhat beyond my understanding, and more than a little irritating.  From a personal standpoint, I still see a lot of potential in the program, whether it be solely the program, or coupling it with a program like photoshop to enhance the product further.  Without that sight, terraspace wouldn't have been born.

So, next it's worth taking a look as to why these people so liberally deplore the program at every whim.  What reasons could they have for taking that sort of stance on the program?

Firstly, on the most half they'll have little or no experience in terragen.  I can safely say that I've never seen any person who criticises terragen EVER have an impressive gallery of renders.  Now how you can make an informed opinion on a program without being able to grasp it by the reigns effectively is something of a mystery.  You can't really say "Paris sucks and the streets smell" without going to Paris and smelling the streets.  Same idea applies.

Secondly, they've most likely taken a glance at the scenery galleries on deviantArt, seen one or two of the point and click style renders (you know, the kind of ones where you just begin in the program, hit generate terrain, change one or two numbers if you really want to go in depth, and then render at 640*480 and upload in .bmp format), and made a rather sweeping generalisation on the quality of the images produced by the program based on those.  I won't lie, general terragen quality on deviantart is low, there are a lot of people learning the program, but that's precisely the point, people are learning the program.

Thirdly - they resent the fact that there's no real modelling process visible in the program, and because of this all renders are simply point and click, including the impressive ones.  Why must a program that renders in 3d have a modelling process? it's simply a different way of tackling the problem.  A lot of the really devoted terragen users paint their own terrains, or create them in a third party program, a process that often involves as much work as creating the render itself.  

Those are the reasons that sprung to mind instantly, there could be plenty others, but I believe the first two are the strongest.  I see threads in the forums that bash terragen, I see other artists of other genres flaming terragen users on their own pieces of art, and at the same time, through my devwatch, I see the talent of many terragen users coming to fruition through their submissions.  I know what I hold to be more convincing.  


The conclusion is, I'll admit, in the most case on deviantArt.com, terragen art is fairly abysmal.  A lot of people simply do see it as a point and click program much as they would take a snapshot of their dog. But to make a judgement on the potential of the program and the people who do use it effectively is a generalisation that's quite simply ignorant and unfair.  I'm most certainely not saying that other programs aren't harder, or perhaps more sophisticated, but that doesn't make terragen any less of an effective tool for doing what it does.  If terragen is so easy, how come deviantart isn't littered with stotty's?  That's simply what it boils down to.
First of a series of articles I'm writing. This one is moderately brief so to get the point across. It's aimed at the rather brutal criticism terragen receives on this website. I've seen so many forum threads dedicated towards bashing the program, so many misinformed deviants who simply don't understand where this program can go, I just felt spurred.

This is entirely my opinion, I respect yours as you reply, but do not expect me to agree if you disagree. I don't intend on getting into a flame war through this.
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