Price: Around £166
Pandromeda's MojoWorld is a virtual planet/terrain generator developed largely by Dr Kenton Musgrave, whose involvement in fractal-geometry landscape generation goes back to pioneering work he did with fractal mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot in the late 1980s. Instead of producing a localized landscape from objects grouped close to a virtual camera, MojoWorld generates a complete virtual planet that can be explored from any viewing position - from orbit down to sea level. Even if you need only a limited landscape area, Musgrave argues that a round planet is needed for realistic skies and distance effects - Bryce worlds are flat. Planets can also be given rings and any number of moons. The main world-creating program is called Generator 2.0. A navigation module called Transporter lets you move the camera to any point on a globe (with 'GPS' co-ordinates). It can fine-tune the position for rendering stills, or set up animated flyarounds and record them as QuickTime movies. Transporter Pro 2.0 can be bought without Generator for £33 if you only want to explore other people?s worlds downloaded from the Web. The user interface has been revamped with new icons and options. Despite two comprehensive manuals, it's dauntingly complex to learn, with multi-level menus for every setting, especially the all-important texture generators for land, seas, and skies. A new Simplify setting helps while you're learning. New features include a hybrid raytrace/scanline renderer; true reflections and refractions in water; a 'planet wizard' for quickly defining the main features of worlds, suns, moons and rings; and randomizing buttons for textures, materials, and gradients. There's a healthy set of preset libraries for suns, stars, moons, planets, seas, waves, clouds, skies, and terrain materials, which now include thumbnail previews. It accepts plug-ins - the most significant being a river generator. Unlike Bryce, MojoWorld can't yet do volumetric (3D) clouds and water, realistic vegetation, rain, rainbows, or sophisticated multi-path animations and timelines. The 'geology' can be varied according to the latitude of the planet (such as deserts at the equators and ice at the poles). If you move down to surface views, MojoWorld becomes Bryce-like in that you can manipulate local environments to add or carve away features using primitive shapes (called Parameter Bombs) or import 3D models (in 3DS, OBJ, LWO and DXF format). Despite the infinite fractal complexity, MojoWorld files are extremely small - around 160k. Views are calculated on-the-fly, and show appropriately fine detail at any scale from a planet down to a close-up of a rock. Final rendering has a choice of five levels of detail plus size and custom settings, but anything greater than the 'Normal' level is very slow. You can also export height-maps of terrains for use in other 3D programs. MojoWorld 2.0 can be used seriously, but it's also intended to be fun in the sense of exploring strange new worlds. If you like Bryce, Terragen, or Vue d'Esprit, you'll love MojoWorld 2.0.