(note: this is an evaluation of a product that is no longer available as
Evaluation of Blueberry3D Realtime Viewer 2.02
Ben Discoe, 2001.05.20
Test machine: P3-800, 512 MB, Win2000, GeForce 2 GTS w/64MB RAM, drivers
The Blueberry3D tools for
construction and viewing terrain are an exciting new development in terrain
visualization software. No demo of the construction software is
currently available, but i downloaded the viewer demo (27MB, no
longer online) and evaluated it.
The demo installs and runs very easily. There is one supplied scene,
a large island with numerous features and a great deal of vegetation.
You do not interact with or change the scene, other than by navigating or
driving a vehicle over the terrain. It does not appear to be a
real-world location, but a well-designed artificial scene. Performance
is controlled by setting a framerate target (default 20 fps), with the LOD
of the culture and ground textures adjusted continuously to meet the target.
- The vegetation. A very large number of plants are rendered, greater than
in any other title to date. There are around 4-6 different species, and
they are drawn either as billboards at a distance, or low-poly models when
- Shadows. The culture (buildings, walls, streetlights, vehicle) cast
shadows onto the terrain and onto each other. Although seen in current
commercial game titles, it is nonetheless well implemented.
- The roads are very smoothly modelled with cut-and-fill operations embedded
into the terrain.
- The water surfaces (ocean and small lake) are independently modelled and
textured with a reasonable appearance of water
Notice how the alpha-morphing tree LODs are
making the building behind them vanish.
- The LOD popping and morphing was extremely visually distracting.
- For vegetation, especially at ground level, large patches of bushes
would suddenly flicker into existing from nothing. In most cases, the
billboard representation was so different from the polygonal model for
each plant, that it appeared the entire plant was gradually disappearing
and being replaced by an entirely different plant. The alpha-morphing
technique used also caused problem with other objects in the scene.
- For the ground texture, the process of successive levels of detail was
obvious and involved lots of flashing, flickering and color shifting.
At some times, the ground mesh even exhibited cracks.
- The heightfield LOD caused the edges of water surfaces to move
- LOD problems with both the vegetation and ground were much less
noticeable when the viewpoint was at a higher elevation, e.g. > 100m.
- Lighting of the terrain was highly discontinuous around the road "skirts",
looking quite artificial.
- Attempting to sacrifice framerate for reduced LOD popping (e.g. setting
framerate target to 15 fps) did not result in any discernable improvement
Weird lighting artifacts around the road skirts
The Blueberry3D viewer represents some important steps forward, but is
currently held back by the highly visually distracting nature of the LOD
while the viewpoint is moving. It might be appropriate for some
applications in which the viewpoint seldom moves or remains at a relatively
An important test would be to next evaluate the Blueberry3D creation
software, since in many ways creation is a more challenging task than
rendering, and a viewer is only as useful as the worlds than can be created
for it. The excellent distribution of vegetation in the demo scene
indicates an exciting degree of sophistication in the scene creation