Designer Worlds: Procedural Generation of Infinite Terrain from Real-World Elevation Data

Authors: Ian Parberry
University of North Texas

Editor: Paul Strauss
Editor-in-Chief: Morgan McGuire
Williams College &


The standard way to procedurally generate random terrain for video games and other applications is to post-process the output of a fast noise generator such as Perlin noise. Tuning the post-processing to achieve particular types of terrain requires game designers to be reasonably well-trained in mathematics. A well-known variant of Perlin noise called value noise is used in a process accessible to designers trained in geography to generate geotypical terrain based on elevation statistics drawn from widely available sources such as the United States Geographical Service. A step-by-step process for downloading and creating terrain from real-world USGS elevation data is described, and an implementation in C++ is given.

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Citation: Ian Parberry, Designer Worlds: Procedural Generation of Infinite Terrain, Journal of Computer Graphics Techniques (JCGT), vol. 3, no. 1, 74-85, 2014
Available online

Copyright: © 2014 Parberry

Received: 2013-11-14; Recommended: 2013-12-20; Published: 2014-03-11