Game developers, 3D artists, cartographers, and anyone who needs a free 3D terrain modeling tool should check out Visual Terrain Maker from UNGSoft Developers Group. Using it, you can create three-dimensional terrain profiles that can be exported as DirectX files or used to create games, interactive maps, landscape views, digital artworks, and more. It's particularly suitable for DarkBasic game programming.
Visual Terrain Maker is a standalone tool that requires no installation, so it's totally portable, too. It opens with a black full-screen interface with a rotating 3D grid display. There are two initial commands: Typing 1 loads a map, and typing 2 creates a new map. Pressing Esc exits the program. We pressed 2, then Enter, and a series of wizardlike steps walked us through the basic parameters of our new map: vertices, width, texture, and so on. When we'd finished, we saved the new map. Typing 1 and pressing Enter called up a standard Windows file-browsing dialog. We clicked on our newly created map, and it opened in Visual Terrain Maker, ready for the fun part, the shaping. We used the tab button to select the shaper tool, which opened with its numerical data displayed in the upper left-hand corner. The right and left mouse buttons control the tool's shape, size, contour, and so on, while the space bar changes between sphere, cone, and other shapes. We were able to drag our map into a smooth 3D hill with a few simple tugs. Pressing F3 saved the map as a DirectX file in a folder of our choice. We were able to return to our map to refine the terrain. As a DirectX file, it was ready to be exported into a wide range of applications. The download includes an HTML-based Help file and some sample images that can help you get the most out of its tools as well as use the maps it creates.
This is a cool tool; no doubt about it. It's extremely easy to use yet also powerful and flexible enough for experienced coders, and the maps it creates are good enough for highly realistic simulations and games. It's free, too. Highly recommended.