Grand Designer


I just started to review Grand Designer (beta 1.01) and I must say its the coolest program I’ve ever seen for the creation of planets. If your project needs planets, do yourself a favor and check it out here: Grand designer | Ignishot


Thanks for sharing the info, looks really cool indeed :wink:

Where is the ability to zoom-in and land on these planets?

Not to take away from the pack as it seems decent (although there are some free options in community tools).
I just feel strongly that this is one area that UE4 does not deliver at, and its a real limiter to space game dev.
Where is the ability to zoom-in and land on these planets? Its like offering delicious desert and then taking it away.
Even Unity offers more options. With so many games in the pipeline that can do this too its a real shortcoming imo…


I think it looks great, keep it coming


You build it… I’m using a solar system creation tool in BP based up some marketplace assets… While you can’t land on the planets, you can determine how many planets are in the system, what type of planet, etc. It needs to be cleaned up because its BP messy (the nature of the code with this type, could be in C++ for it to be cleaner).

What tools does Unity have that allows landing on planets? Some sort of marketplace tool? Please link, I would like to check out.


PS: The link you posted above sure does look like this: Planet Former in Blueprints - UE Marketplace

However, the grand designer is even more complete in terms of types of planets that you can do. For example, rings is allowed… Asteroids, etc.

Hi there Franktech,

I can talk into this topic, real time / real size planetary rendering has been somewhat of an obsession for me for nearly ten years now.

The TL;DR version is this, creating a life sized planet is an almost infinitely more complex task than simply generating a nice looking planet texture and whacking it on a sphere.

You could think of it as being like trying to collect a bunch of icebergs. To an outside observer it seems like a simple case of just scooping up a couple of chunks of ice floating on the surface of the water, but as you get more and more into it, you realise how much each little pointy bit of ice is just the tip of a mountainous amount of work hidden out of sight.

There are a couple of teams who have been able to achieve remarkable results in spite of this, check out the following guys:

And of course,

My humble efforts (so far) are recorded here: The Eden Project - Work in Progress - Unreal Engine Forums

The other thing to realise is that overcoming the gargantuan technical challenge of rendering a life sized planet mesh is really just the first of many steps required to make an interesting game world:

  • How are you going to do foliage? How many trees/bushes/clumps of grass will you need to stop your virtual universe looking like it’s populated with a bunch of barren moons?
  • What about natural variation? Are you going to cover your entire planet with the same type of trees and grass (and terrain textures for that matter)?
  • How about planet to planet variation? Maybe you split your first planet up into interesting variations of mountains, forests, deserts and oceans, but now what are you going to do for your second planet to make it different?
  • How about hydrology? How do you do rivers, lakes and beaches?

Keep in mind all of this is at a scale infinitely larger than just painting a landscape in the editor (earths surface area is 5.10 million square km for example).

Let’s say you’ve figure out how to do ALL of that (stop taking NZT it’s bad for you) you still don’t have an interesting game world. It might look pretty, but there’s nothing to actually DO :frowning:

So now you have to populate your planet with all sorts of civilisational artifacts like cities and buildings and people and doritos. And roads. Roads are their own special kind of PITA (in more ways than one) to deal with, especially when trying to generate them randomly and procedurally.

Basically it’s the game development version of a Pandoras box. Right now what we mostly have is a bunch of people who can make a bunch of barren planets with small clusters of buildings plopped randomly around the surface.



@ioFlow Studios

Cheers for the reply. Kudos for working in this area. As they say ‘nothing good ever comes easy’ :slight_smile:
But it is doable, and this guy did it. Take a closer look at his work. Any ideas how this was done in Unity](Planetary Terrain - Tree system work-in-progress - YouTube)?
There’s no source access for Unity, correct? Yet this was all possible in a sub-par-engine compared to UE4.
Even if the planets are barren, that’s ok as there is work being done on procedural tools to help fill them in…

Hi Franktech,

I have that project for unity, like any of these pioneering projects it’s got some stuff that’s great and some stuff that’s not great:

Great stuff

  • Good Spherical LOD implementation
  • Has (very) basic tree placement
  • Runs in editor (sort of)

Not so great stuff

  • Very demanding, makes Unity quite unstable
  • Planetoid still only a fraction of the size of an earth sized planet
  • Very basic terrain shaders and very low res terrain mesh (looks like terrain from ten years ago)
  • Project appears to be abandoned (check out the last posts in the unity thread for it)

Re procedural tools to help fill them in, it’s not that simple unfortunately :frowning:

Because it’s such a complex and unorthodox terrain and LOD model, you can’t just buy normal terrain tools and plaster stuff everywhere on it. Any features you want to add to it you’re pretty much going to have to custom build yourself, that’d be hard enough at planet sized scales even without having to figure out the deep integration necessary to build it into the planet terrain. If anything, it’s a perfect demonstration of how much harder it is to simulate a planet that it feels like it should be, and how glaringly short of satisfying a partial solution feels.

None of this is to say that it can’t be done of course, I’m just trying to help you understand as gently as possible that it’s much much much harder and time consuming that it seems from the outside looking in.

Also, I forgot to mention one other significant contribution to the field (ahem, also in Unity): Loading...

Scrawks work is much further along than the planet project discussed above and is a unity port based on a released library called Proland :

All very cool stuff, all very rocket sciencey to try and get your head around :slight_smile:

After watching Outerra, I want procedural planets even more, **** you to hell ioFlow Studios :stuck_out_tongue:
I hereby petition Epic to redeploy the grant money and buy-out the IP of these procedural-planet studios :slight_smile:
There’s so many to choose from too, including those above but also Rodina & Limit-Theory and a dozen more…

mwuhahahaha :slight_smile:

Grand Designer is Excellent ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ . It’s Great for Unity and Unreal Engine. Perfect. I loved the flexibility in importing the planets into Unreal. The result is very beautiful and realistic. Using the various dials is possible create any celestial orb. And I swear, the result is similar to those images idealized by NASA, conceptualizing aliens planets like Gas giant, Super-Earth, Earth-Like planet, Stars, nebulas and ring. Exports a multitude of maps for Unreal Engine (Albedo, Cavity, AO, Displacement, Normal map, Ocean, Clouds layers, Glowing lava masks, Climate, Slope, Heat…)

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