Procedural tree generator tool - we'd love some feedback from you!

EdKeeens
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EdKeeens null
Hi guys!
 
We're three students from Europe, and we're at the moment seriously considering creating 3D tree modeling tool. 
But instead of modeling, all the tree models are already there, generated procedurally. 
Since what you need are trees and not a process of modeling trees why waste time modeling them. 
 
Let's say you need a tree model for your neat game or your animated film or anything. 
Imagine starting up our program and instead of being met with a complicated UI foretelling hours of laborious tree modeling, you're in a forest. 
You look around and every tree around you is unique, every tree is there for you to export as a 3D model. Very simple. You walk around and you soon find out that 
this is no ordinary forest, but forest where vast amount of different trees grows in one place. 
 
If you have some particular tree in mind, you can zoom out and browse through large amount of trees fast, filtering the ones you may want. 
Obvious limitation is you wouldn't be able to get very specific and unique tree you have in mind. 
But other than that, it's possible to generate pretty wide spectrum of tree types.
 
We have finished the first prototype, here is a screenshot and album that show how it looks so far:
 
 

There are many more screeenshots on an imgur album:

 
What this all means is:
  • you can get good looking 3D tree models without any modelling skill whatsoever in a few minutes
  • you can select from basically infinite amount of trees
  • you can export basically infinite amount of trees
  • if you don't need trees, you can just go for a walk in a tranquil and pleasant environment

What we'd like to know is from you, potential users, if this is a worthwhile endeavor. 
How does it sound? Would this kind of program make your job easier and more pleasant? 
What would you expect feature-wise of such program? Any suggestion is welcome. 
 
Thanks!

Replies

  • blankslatejoe
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    blankslatejoe polycounter lvl 14
    ...I guess the big question would be...how is this different than speedtree, which does everything you just said, plus a whole lot more, and you CAN get a specific tree tailored exactly how you want and is available at a fairly reasonable subscription price?  That's not to sound negative toward the quality of your work or your vision, mind you...but it's a genuine question you guys should really think hard about before you invest too much time in this.
  • EdKeeens
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    EdKeeens null
    ...I guess the big question would be...how is this different than speedtree, which does everything you just said, plus a whole lot more, and you CAN get a specific tree tailored exactly how you want and is available at a fairly reasonable subscription price?  That's not to sound negative toward the quality of your work or your vision, mind you...but it's a genuine question you guys should really think hard about before you invest too much time in this.
    That's a good question to ask. We've talked about it yesterday and we're going to focus on our original vision - the tool should be much easier to use than existing solutions. This of course means limited control for the user, that meaning it's probably not the best choice for professional tree artists, but it will be a good choice for hobbyists and indie game developers. Anyways, thanks for your response!
  • blankslatejoe
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    blankslatejoe polycounter lvl 14
    EdKeeens said:
    ...I guess the big question would be...how is this different than speedtree, which does everything you just said, plus a whole lot more, and you CAN get a specific tree tailored exactly how you want and is available at a fairly reasonable subscription price?  That's not to sound negative toward the quality of your work or your vision, mind you...but it's a genuine question you guys should really think hard about before you invest too much time in this.
    That's a good question to ask. We've talked about it yesterday and we're going to focus on our original vision - the tool should be much easier to use than existing solutions. This of course means limited control for the user, that meaning it's probably not the best choice for professional tree artists, but it will be a good choice for hobbyists and indie game developers. Anyways, thanks for your response!
    That's a good attitude to have- recognizing what you need to do to serve an audience better in SOME way (be that being easier to use, or cheaper to buy, or simply aiming for an underserved portion of the audience). Be sure you try out Speedtree so you can be aware of what they do well or not so well. It's a mature tool, but there's still a lot of room for improvement in it (or for a competitor product). Best of luck to you guys!. 
  • EdKeeens
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    EdKeeens null
    EdKeeens said:
    ...I guess the big question would be...how is this different than speedtree, which does everything you just said, plus a whole lot more, and you CAN get a specific tree tailored exactly how you want and is available at a fairly reasonable subscription price?  That's not to sound negative toward the quality of your work or your vision, mind you...but it's a genuine question you guys should really think hard about before you invest too much time in this.
    That's a good question to ask. We've talked about it yesterday and we're going to focus on our original vision - the tool should be much easier to use than existing solutions. This of course means limited control for the user, that meaning it's probably not the best choice for professional tree artists, but it will be a good choice for hobbyists and indie game developers. Anyways, thanks for your response!
    That's a good attitude to have- recognizing what you need to do to serve an audience better in SOME way (be that being easier to use, or cheaper to buy, or simply aiming for an underserved portion of the audience). Be sure you try out Speedtree so you can be aware of what they do well or not so well. It's a mature tool, but there's still a lot of room for improvement in it (or for a competitor product). Best of luck to you guys!. 
    Thanks, we appreciate your support :) We'll do our best.
  • ExcessiveZero
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    ExcessiveZero polycounter lvl 6
    sounds like Tree[d] an older app little hard to find, but is totally free, and you can proceduraly generate trees, though its looking a bit dated I must say.
  • EdKeeens
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    EdKeeens null
    sounds like Tree[d] an older app little hard to find, but is totally free, and you can proceduraly generate trees, though its looking a bit dated I must say.
    We haven't seen Tree[d] yet, thanks for mentioning it. From what we've seen this looks most like what we want, yet it still doesn't look that comfortable. And I agree, it looks dated.
  • Bluestemos
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    Bluestemos polycounter lvl 4
    This is really interesting. I'm not that great at organic modeling so this tool would be a great help. Have you thought about the price yet?
  • Kwramm
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    Kwramm interpolator
    As an artist the problem is that many tree generators produce "nice" trees. The trees that look good in architectural settings, because they're neat and perfect and don't draw attention.

    What I would like to see if a tree generator that makes it easy to generate unusual trees, but following nature's rules. Such as twisted trees, crippled trees, trees with exposed roots, etc. As soon as trees need some personality - while still looking realistic - tree generators are becoming difficult to use.
  • Chris Krüger
  • Bluestemos
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    Bluestemos polycounter lvl 4
    Kwramm said:
    As an artist the problem is that many tree generators produce "nice" trees. The trees that look good in architectural settings, because they're neat and perfect and don't draw attention.

    What I would like to see if a tree generator that makes it easy to generate unusual trees, but following nature's rules. Such as twisted trees, crippled trees, trees with exposed roots, etc. As soon as trees need some personality - while still looking realistic - tree generators are becoming difficult to use.
    This.
  • Eric Chadwick
    So I guess this exports high-resolution trees for rendering. But not low-resolution trees for in-game use? That's the market for the majority of artists on this forum, creating assets for real-time games.

    The screenshots are small and far away, so it's impossible to judge the tree detail level. How well do the branches join the trunk, and each other? How well are the leaves anchored to the branches? Are the trees generated with animation in mind (pivots, hierarchy, vertex colors, etc.)?
  • EdKeeens
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    EdKeeens null
    This is really interesting. I'm not that great at organic modeling so this tool would be a great help. Have you thought about the price yet?
    Yeah, we're thinking that selling paid tool might be tough considering SpeedTree, PlantFactory and others are used pretty widely. This leaves us going free, which has obvious advantages for the end user, from a business perspective less so. We're not sure right now.Kwramm said:
    As an artist the problem is that many tree generators produce "nice" trees. The trees that look good in architectural settings, because they're neat and perfect and don't draw attention.

    What I would like to see if a tree generator that makes it easy to generate unusual trees, but following nature's rules. Such as twisted trees, crippled trees, trees with exposed roots, etc. As soon as trees need some personality - while still looking realistic - tree generators are becoming difficult to use.
    That's actually something we've been thinking about and from what we can tell, it can be done to some extent. Since the system we have is very much dependent on environmental factors, we can already make somewhat weird trees that still look natural when we set some environmental condition to an extreme value.  I don't want to imply we have what you're describing, but it is something we're working on. Right now we cannot tell what will and what won't be possible. Thanks for your feedback though, this kind of discussion is needed :)

    So I guess this exports high-resolution trees for rendering. But not low-resolution trees for in-game use? That's the market for the majority of artists on this forum, creating assets for real-time games.

    The screenshots are small and far away, so it's impossible to judge the tree detail level. How well do the branches join the trunk, and each other? How well are the leaves anchored to the branches? Are the trees generated with animation in mind (pivots, hierarchy, vertex colors, etc.)?
    When we started we were thinking the best way to do this would be to have a system that is able to generate high resolution trees, and if needed we'll simplify the model for real-time rendering. I see no problem with that, but you're right in that our target market is probably realtime rendering, we're starting to realize that too. 
    The whole mesh creation system, including branches to trunk connection and leaves to branches connection is just at its first iteration, so this is in no way representative of what the final result will be. This is just a prototype. But to answer your question, there are no significant artifacts in the model. 
    We haven't started with the support for animations yet. Thanks for the feedback :)
  • Panupat
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    Panupat polycounter lvl 12
    EdKeeens said:
    ...I guess the big question would be...how is this different than speedtree, which does everything you just said, plus a whole lot more, and you CAN get a specific tree tailored exactly how you want and is available at a fairly reasonable subscription price?  That's not to sound negative toward the quality of your work or your vision, mind you...but it's a genuine question you guys should really think hard about before you invest too much time in this.
    That's a good question to ask. We've talked about it yesterday and we're going to focus on our original vision - the tool should be much easier to use than existing solutions. This of course means limited control for the user, that meaning it's probably not the best choice for professional tree artists, but it will be a good choice for hobbyists and indie game developers. Anyways, thanks for your response!
    Sounds great. Limited control is actually a good thing according to recent discussion over at CG Talk. Check out EverLite's replies, I think you'll find it useful.

    http://forums.cgsociety.org/showthread.php?f=2&t=1325420

  • EdKeeens
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    EdKeeens null
    Panupat said:
    EdKeeens said:
    ...I guess the big question would be...how is this different than speedtree, which does everything you just said, plus a whole lot more, and you CAN get a specific tree tailored exactly how you want and is available at a fairly reasonable subscription price?  That's not to sound negative toward the quality of your work or your vision, mind you...but it's a genuine question you guys should really think hard about before you invest too much time in this.
    That's a good question to ask. We've talked about it yesterday and we're going to focus on our original vision - the tool should be much easier to use than existing solutions. This of course means limited control for the user, that meaning it's probably not the best choice for professional tree artists, but it will be a good choice for hobbyists and indie game developers. Anyways, thanks for your response!
    Sounds great. Limited control is actually a good thing according to recent discussion over at CG Talk. Check out EverLite's replies, I think you'll find it useful.

    http://forums.cgsociety.org/showthread.php?f=2&t=1325420

    That's very cool. It's great to know that (at least some) artists feel that way. Thanks for sharing that discussion!
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