VMI Blog IX: Weather & Penguins!

Good Days and Bad Days on VMI

A quick demo on work-in-progress on VMI, demonstrating progress on weather simulations and few other features.

I’m using the fantastic UDS rather than the inbuilt UE volumetrics and particle systems, as this provides an off-the-shelf weather solution with a ton of customizable features via blueprints. This is working in conjunction with the Oceanology ocean – something I had looked at ages ago but felt that it was too ‘cartoony’ – well, no more – it has progressed in leaps and bounds and at this point presents to me the most viable large-scale ocean sim suitable for our large open-world model. We are achieving fantastic frame rates using run-time virtual texturing, meaning we can budget for other more compute-intensive tasks. Other solutions I’ve explored simply don’t scale in a satisfactory way. There are a ton of things I’d like to add in myself, but this will take some time, so for now, this is optimal.

This quick movie starts off with our drone aerial photogrammetric model (to be improved in future iterations once we get some good data), flies past a small flock of birds (great for sense of scale) before immediately plunging underwater. Gina and I are both excited about our underwater adventures here as so much foraging and fighting takes place in this domain. In future we will swim amongst giant kelp, seals, fish and whales as we can explore the water column and the benthic topography of whole Macquarie Ridge complex – I’m especially keen to draw in a whole lot more geophysical data as well.

After this brief dip we encounter a rainy day (common on MI), with wetness and puddles distributed across the landscape, before a variety other heavy-rain, snow and blizzard scenarios. A key thing I’ll be working on here is a kind of universal wind controller, as it is such a feature of the island – and the sub-antarctic in general – the incessant wind. Future work can build upon our prototype computational fluid dynamics and erosion simulations, with streams and waterfalls flowing into the many lakes and tarns of MI.

And last but not least – our giant Royal Penguin colony in wind, rain and snow. Having participated in a few expeditions to Antarctica myself, I can attest that these creatures are superbly adapted to incredibly harsh and unpredictable weather conditions – they will be there through thick and thin. Of course, the presence and size of colonies is seasonal, and we will reflect this during the course of the year. In VMI we get a chance to stand amidst them and get a sense of what it would really be like to be there. Amazing.

Our objective is to create a scientifically accurate simulation that is also a beautiful to look at and experience.

Here’s some more Penguins, if you can’t get enough of them 🙂

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