Genetica Viewer – A useful tool for Bryce
Trawling the Internet for textures has never been my favorite pastime. Just too much time is spent on avoiding malware sites or commercial sites forcing you to pay exorbitant fees for access to their databases, or public domain sites filled with poor quality textures that have been used, reused and abused ad nauseum. Nothing yells "loser" more than an image that look like a showcase of Quake 2 textures!
If I hate looking for textures, then trying to get a workable texture using Bryce's Deep Texture Editor must rate up there with having root canal treatment without Novacaine – pure agony!
However I have discovered a remarkable tool called the Genetica Viewer product from Spiral Graphics. The blab on the Spiral Graphics website describes Genetica Viewer as "your doorway to a world of textures that have been created with Genetica. Specifically, Genetica Viewer is a free application for rendering seamless textures that are saved in the Genetica texture format (GTX)"
Insofar as this claim, Genetica Viewer delivers on its promises. I downloaded this 8.5Mb installer (it needs the .NET framework installed to work) and it ran with no problem on my home machine. (running Windows XP SP2)
The Genetica Viewer can only use and display the predefined .GTX files and the installer comes with a full set of over 1000 built in texture files so you have quite a bit of textures to play around with. The .GTX files are resolution independent and allow resolutions of up to 6000 x 6000 (however the free Genetica Viewer will only go as high as 2048 x 2048)
The .NET framework might be the bottleneck in the the program as I found the rendering to be very slow, even on my 3.4Ghz Core Duo 3Gb RAM machine, but even though a single 2048 X 2048 resolution texture took almost 9 minutes to render, the end results were very impressive. I made a point of rendering the effects maps as well as the bump maps and noise maps proved very useful for alpha-masking and getting the effects to jump out at you.
As a test I rendered a built-in .GTX texture file called Herculaneum.gtx and saved the files on my old work machine, a 1.97Ghz P4 with 512Mb of RAM. This old machine is running (would you believe it) the Debian Linux operating system and managing it very nicely. Then running the Windows "emulator" WINE, I ran Bryce 5.5 on it and pulled in the textures and wrapped them on a cube. I rendered the scene in Bryce 5.5 and I admit that I was impressed with the results. Here are some screen shots.
I found the program very easy to use and barring the slow render times and the need for the .NET framework I found little else to criticize. I would recommend it to anybody looking for a basic texture creation tool.
A word of caution though. The full Genetica 3.0 Program is incredibly powerful and allow you to create textures from the ground up, but costs anything from $110 to $300! Not for the cash-strapped hobbyist like myself! Stick for now with the Genetica Viewer. It does enough for now!