Author Topic: Blender City Generator "SceneCity"  (Read 679 times)

Offline cyphyr

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Blender City Generator "SceneCity"
« on: January 30, 2019, 12:36:12 PM »
Has anyone had any experience with the SceneCity extension for Blender.
Check it out here.
It's $79 on Gumroad. I guess there will be taxes relevant to your country on top of that. (just checked in the UK it's US$116.40 including VAT)
It looks pretty good and almost worth learning a bit of Blender to use. Certainly good enough for distant and mid distance objects. Near camera "hero" objects would probably be individual models anyway.
Thoughts?
Worth the price?
« Last Edit: January 30, 2019, 12:38:32 PM by cyphyr »
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Offline jaf

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Re: Blender City Generator "SceneCity"
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2019, 03:42:50 PM »
That looks neat!.  I wrote to the developer and asked if it would be available for Blender 2.8 (beta).  I also mentioned this thread and maybe he/she would like to comment on using it in Terragen (lot's of mentions for Unity, but I haven't found out if it exports obj, though I would guess one could import fbx into a modeling program and export obj from there.)
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Offline cyphyr

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Re: Blender City Generator "SceneCity"
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2019, 04:19:28 PM »
I'm fairly sure export is handled natively by Blender.
The way it works with Unity is you have to pre-export all your individual elements as FBX's and load them into Unity and turn them into Prefabs (a simple but tedious process). Once that is done a descriptive text file made in Blender/SceneCity is loaded into Unity that precisely arranges all the elements to re-create a city.
Unfortunately to render in Terragen it would have to be loaded in as complete city meshes. It could be broken down into sections of course but there would be no way to take advantage of any instancing.

I wrote to the dev too asking him about availability for Blender 2.8 and if pricing was fixed or we will have to pay for upgrades.
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Offline Oshyan

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Re: Blender City Generator "SceneCity"
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2019, 08:47:20 PM »
Unless I'm crazy, A: some of those images you posted *are* in Terragen, including the textured versions, and B: the author also uses Terragen to create other products, which would help explain A.
https://www.cgchan.com/sceneskies

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Offline Arnold

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Re: Blender City Generator "SceneCity"
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2019, 10:21:46 PM »
I'm Arnold the author of SceneCity. I'll answer the questions above

>It looks pretty good and almost worth learning a bit of Blender to use.
A basic knowledge of Blender is necessary yes.

>Certainly good enough for distant and mid distance objects. Near camera "hero" objects would probably be individual models anyway.
Exactly.

>I wrote to the developer and asked if it would be available for Blender 2.8 (beta)
Yes I'm working on Blender 2.8 compatibility. It'll be released this month (February 2019).

>I also mentioned this thread and maybe he/she would like to comment on using it in Terragen (lot's of mentions for Unity, but I haven't found out if it exports obj, though I would guess one could import fbx into a modeling program and export obj from there.)
The example images with the mountains have been rendered in Terragen. The process was very easy. I simply exported the generated city as obj (including the roads) from Blender and loaded in Terragen. The material are simple: diffuse textures only.
About my experience with Terragen and cities: I'm a big fan (been a user since version 1 and a paid user since version 2) but the workflow for importing and using objects/populations is clunky compared to other software. Terragen definitely needs work on its UI to be more user-friendly. And no native FBX import is a pity because usually obj exporters and importers are too slow for massive scenes. What I would like is to be able to generate complex cities with tens of thousands of objects and props, with dozens of materials. But given Terragen's UI this is not doable. So only simple cities can be rendered. An API to control it somehow and write addons would be a big plus so I could write a custom importer, just like I did with Unity and later UE4. I'd like it to be more "standard" on the material side, and join the PBR trend, with support for the standard maps (metallic workflow). Something like the principled shader in Blender.

>Unless I'm crazy, A: some of those images you posted *are* in Terragen, including the textured versions, and B: the author also uses Terragen to create other products, which would help explain A.
You're not crazy Oshyan :)

Offline cyphyr

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Re: Blender City Generator "SceneCity"
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2019, 10:58:34 PM »
Thanks for the detailed response Arnold.

It would be great if TG could use an scripted instancing system like Unity to be able to place specific objects in multiple specific places.
Maybe Matt could look at this at some time. In the meantime if one has sufficient Ram that large cities can be imported (maybe in sections) I had some success with CityEngine but the interface on CiteEngine's side was so clunky I never got that far ...

One further question are there plans for more arbitrary street plans to be used as a layout? A simple grid is great but real cities have complex grids, radial lines and curved roads all intersecting. It would be so awesome if something of that nature could be created.

Also are there plans for cities to follow terrain heights?
« Last Edit: February 01, 2019, 11:14:56 PM by cyphyr »
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Offline Oshyan

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Re: Blender City Generator "SceneCity"
« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2019, 07:51:46 PM »
Terragen has an SDK available. It *may* be able to do what you are describing, though it is currently limited to only creating new custom node types, you can't create new menu options for example. If you're interested in working with the SDK let us know.

As for PBR materials workflow, yes we are working toward that as we move toward path tracing for rendering.

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Offline Arnold

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Re: Blender City Generator "SceneCity"
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2019, 11:20:03 PM »
>One further question are there plans for more arbitrary street plans to be used as a layout?
Yes, absolutely. This will be more complex to add properly, but definitely in the plans.

>Also are there plans for cities to follow terrain heights?
Yes. It's important that the cities follow the underlying terrains.

>Terragen has an SDK available. It *may* be able to do what you are describing, though it is currently limited to only creating new custom node types, you can't create new menu options for example. If you're interested in working with the SDK let us know.
I only know the existence of the SDK, but I don't know how it works, how to use it, what language and tools to use etc... The way I see how to import cities is: user adds a city importer node, loads a file from the node, node reads it and creates objects instances / populations and places the instances itself, not via Terragen's population nodes. The "problem" is those new populations would need meshes, materials and textures. And there would potentially be lots of them. Those would be the buildings, the roads portions, the props etc... each of them can be complex entities made of several parts, objects hierarchies, and use several materials. That would be ideal. A more realistic and intermediate option could be used instead... what do you think?

>As for PBR materials workflow, yes we are working toward that as we move toward path tracing for rendering.
Excellent!

Offline Oshyan

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Re: Blender City Generator "SceneCity"
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2019, 12:01:40 AM »
The SDK is C++ (and only available on Windows at present) and allows you to create nodes and hook in to any external processing, etc. that you want to run. So if you want your node to call a geometry generation function and then insert that into the Terragen scene, that should work. I don't know if there is any access in the SDK to the instancing (population) system so you may have to code that yourself for whatever instancing functionality you need.

If you're interested in learning more and potentially using the SDK, let us know and we can discuss your specific needs further.

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Offline Arnold

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Re: Blender City Generator "SceneCity"
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2019, 11:24:36 PM »
Thank you Oshyan, I'll let you know when I feel ready to dig into a closer integration with Terragen  :)

Offline N-drju

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Re: Blender City Generator "SceneCity"
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2019, 06:44:12 AM »
That looks wonderful. But there's no way I can afford it with my current spending trends.
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Offline Oshyan

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Re: Blender City Generator "SceneCity"
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2019, 01:03:40 AM »
Sounds great Arnold!

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