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International Journal of Computer Games Technology
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 7057141, 17 pages
Research Article

Ecologically Sound Procedural Generation of Natural Environments

1Computer Graphics and Visualization Group, Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands
2Department of Spatial Ecology, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Yerseke, Netherlands

Correspondence should be addressed to Rafael Bidarra

Received 11 February 2017; Accepted 23 April 2017; Published 18 May 2017

Academic Editor: Michael J. Katchabaw

Copyright © 2017 Benny Onrust et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Current techniques for the creation and exploration of virtual worlds are largely unable to generate sound natural environments from ecological data and to provide interactive web-based visualizations of such detailed environments. We tackle this challenge and propose a novel framework that (i) explores the advantages of landscape maps and ecological statistical data, translating them to an ecologically sound plant distribution, and (ii) creates a visually convincing 3D representation of the natural environment suitable for its interactive visualization over the web. Our vegetation model improves techniques from procedural ecosystem generation and neutral landscape modeling. It is able to generate diverse ecological sound plant distributions directly from landscape maps with statistical ecological data. Our visualization model integrates existing level of detail and illumination techniques to achieve interactive frame rates and improve realism. We validated with ecology experts the outcome of our framework using two case studies and concluded that it provides convincing interactive visualizations of large natural environments.