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[1.12.x] Parallax - PBR Terrain and Surface Objects [2.0.2]


Gameslinx
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Parallax

Parallax completely recreates the surfaces of the planets, from the environment all the way down to the terrain detail. It combines a tessellation and displacement terrain shader as well as a completely new scatter system to vastly improve the planet surfaces. Parallax uses GPU instancing for surface objects in order to render massive amounts of geometry at amazing performance.

See Installation Instructions below. Also see the Troubleshooting section below, and direct users here if things are not working!

Watch the new trailer here:

Features Overview

Parallax completely replaces the terrain shader used in the normal game as well as its scatter system for placing thousands of objects over great distances. Here are some of the key features of this mod:

  • High quality terrain tessellation shader, like in No Man's Sky
  • Trees, grass and many other types of foliage
  • Procedural rocks and objects
  • Collisions with surface objects
  • Self shadowing
  • Completely new planetary surface textures

Improvements

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The shader that Squad uses for Kerbal Space Program's terrain is extremely limited. Parallax's original feature was a brand new terrain shader, but the scope has expanded to surface objects as well.

Parallax improves upon the stock shader in a number of ways, for example:

  • Normal mapped lighting is accurate and faces the right way on a surface at any angle
  • Tessellation allows surfaces to have much more complexity, allowing for the creation of lifelike planet surfaces
  • No lines/artifacts, unlike the stock shader

The scatter system is also a massive improvement over Squad's implementation:

  • Millions of objects can be generated almost instantly using compute shaders
  • Each object is drawn using GPU instancing, meaning there are significantly less draw calls. This improves rendering performance massively
  • Frustum culling for each object
  • Objects are collideable
  • On-demand loading

Availability

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System Requirements:

Minimum - Scatters disabled:

  • CPU: Parallax does not have much of a CPU impact, so this isn't really a concern
  • GPU: Must support shader model 3.0,
  • RAM: 4GB (With scatter objects disabled)

Minimum - Scatters enabled

  • GPU: Must support shader model 5.0
  • Renderer: Recommended to use DX11, but OpenGL is supported. Due to limitations, Mac OSX is not supported since Apple dropped support for OpenGL. Linux works running OpenGL.
    • Must support Async GPU Readback (if you do not know what this is, do not worry)
  • RAM: 6GB

Recommended:

  • GPU: DirectX 11, Shader Model 5.0
  • RAM: 8GB

You can follow Parallax's development here: https://github.com/Gameslinx/Tessellation/

Installation

Instructions for installing Parallax and its scatters:

  1. Download Parallax, Parallax_StockTextures and Parallax_ScatterTextures from the GitHub release page.
  2. Download and install Kopernicus. Minimum version release 139 or later.
  3. Open the Parallax zip and move the Parallax Folder to GameData.
  4. Open the Parallax_StockTextures zip and move the Parallax_StockTextures folder to GameData.
  5. Open the Parallax_ScatterTextures.zip and move the Parallax_StockTextures folder to GameData, merging it with the existing folder. Yes, they are named the same. This is intentional. Do not miss this step.
  6. Launch the game, and set your terrain quality to High. Set your terrain shader quality to High or Ultra. Ultra will enable tessellation.

Optional: This patch will disable the bubbles / life on Eve: https://drive.google.com/file/d/16-nTUbRgQescq4ajQtka1cJnaOzPcgPy/view

Need a video? Check below

Spoiler

 

Troubleshooting

Did installation not go as planned? Expand this spoiler to see common errors when installing and how to resolve them.

Spoiler

I'm getting a Kopernicus error on the main menu!

Spoiler

You have likely failed to install the two textures folders correctly. You must merge the two Parallax_StockTextures folders from both zip files into GameData. Once you've done this, the Parallax_StockTextures folder in GameData should look like this:

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I'm getting an infinite loading screen - the planets in the bottom right corner are moving freely and nothing is happening!

Spoiler

This is usually due to a bad Kopernicus install, but in some cases can be due to a bad KSP install.

  • First, try reinstalling Kopernicus. You need version 139 or later, and must also have the Harmony folder in GameData.
  • If that doesn't work, reinstall KSP 1.12.3. Some files may have become corrupted or changed over time after previous mods. This is the best way to ensure the mod runs.

There are no trees or grass in the Space Center view!

Spoiler

This is intentional. Right now, scatters don't work in the space center view, and I've not yet figured out how to get them to show.

You will see trees and grass in Flight.

Performance is really bad, my FPS has tanked!

Spoiler

This has been reported to help massively boost framerates, and I advise you share these steps with anyone suffering from the same problem. These are the settings I use to ensure the game runs smoothly:

Step 1 - Update your NVIDIA graphics drivers

Step 2 - Replace the settings.cfg in your Kerbal Space Program folder with this: https://mega.nz/file/JEEgTZ5a#BDhp8Vm8WvcbYd3lO2VCIg_3_8xr1I4ns8-He8pQ_PY

Step 3 - Use these NVIDIA settings:

  • Right click on your desktop
  • If on Windows 11, choose "show more options", otherwise see next step
  • Click "NVIDIA Control Panel",
  • Click "Manage 3D Settings".
  • Click on the "Program Settings" tab
  • Find, or add, the KSP_x64.exe in your Kerbal Space Program folder
  • Use the following settings. Not all of these settings will appear for you, but that is fine

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I'm seeing weird flashing artifacts that look like Z-fighting on the ground, how do I fix that?

Spoiler

There are two things that cause this.

  1. City lights are not compatible with Parallax at the moment. Delete the city lights config from the visual pack that provides them.
  2. If city lights are not causing this, Scatterer might. In the scatterer config, make sure "merge depth pre pass" is set to false. If this does not fix it, a reinstall of Scatterer will.

I have a planet mod installed, but Parallax isn't working and/or I'm getting a Kopernicus error on the main menu!

Spoiler

If this planet mod supports Parallax 1.3.1, it will not support Parallax 2.0.0.

You will need to remove the Parallax configs for those planet mods until they are updated.

 

FAQ

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Right now, there are a few frequently asked questions. I hope I can answer some of them here:

  1. What is the performance impact?
    • You can expect to run Parallax fairly well on a GT 960M or better.
  2. Is this for stock?
    • Yes! This also works on planet mods that support it.
  3. Why are lots of lights laggy?
    • For some reason, KSP uses Unity's "Forward Rendering" path instead of the "Deferred Rendering" path. This means that for every pixel light in the scene, the tessellation is re-calculated. With lots of lights, this can add up very quickly. Until KSP moves to the Deferred rendering path, there is nothing I can do about this.
  4. Do I need a NASA Supercomputer?
    • No
  5. Does this work with EVE and Scatterer?
    • Yes. Parallax was developed alongside Scatterer, so I recommend for the best results you use them both together.
  6. Can I change the settings?
    • There is a config within the GameData/Parallax folder. This controls the quality of the terrain shader as well as options for the scatter system
  7. Will you release documentation for modders?
    • Yes, documentation is in the works and will be updated frequently on the github wiki.
  8. Does this work with Rescale / Sigma Dimensions?
    • Yes, but check for configs as some values must be adjusted for things to look correct.
  9. Can I use textures from Parallax_StockTextures in my own configs?
    • While the license does allow you to use them, I would much prefer if you don't. The stock textures are to improve the stock game. I don't want to see loads of config packs using those textures because it takes away the uniqueness of the ones I created for the stock planets. Please - Don't be lazy, make your own.

Download

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You can download Parallax for KSP 1.12.x here:

If you are reporting a bug, if applicable, please let me know the steps to reproduce the error. This is extremely useful.

Donations

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If you would like to donate to show thanks for the mod or to support its development, there is a link to my Patreon below. You unlock some cool perks by donating too!

Donations are by no means asked for, but are greatly appreciated. Thank you for downloading the mod or if you're a long time supporter, thank you for sticking with it throughout its development :)

 Patreon Logo by laprasking on DeviantArt

Licensing

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Parallax is licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

This means that you are free to share, copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format under the following conditions:

  1. Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
  2. NonCommercial — You may not use the material for commercial purposes.
  3. NoDerivatives — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you may not distribute the modified material.

From: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0

Edited by Gameslinx
Update version number
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3 hours ago, Gameslinx said:
  • Intel i9 9900k, 5.0Ghz
  • RTX 2080 Super
  • 32GB DDR4

Hey lookie we have nearly identical systems.

Anyhow, I am a huge fan of this.  So much so the Kopernicus option to disable Ultra shaders basically only exists because I wanted this to work.

I'd subscribe/Donate, but that mobo/GPU replacement left me pretty broke for the month.  I fully endorse this though and would love to see it more widely used.

Edited by R-T-B
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you did such a great job @Gameslinx

I can see what I can do about donations

On 9/20/2020 at 11:22 AM, Gameslinx said:

snip

I'm confuse does this mean that we won't be able to use it in our KSP videos or is it we aren't allowed to allow downloads anywhere else.

Edited by Guest
calmed down tone
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1 hour ago, Gameslinx said:

Parallax is licensed under All Rights Reserved.

This means:

  • You cannot redistribute my work
  • You cannot use my work in another project
  • You cannot create derivatives of my work
  • I reserve all the rights to my work
15 minutes ago, The Doodling Astronaut said:

I'm confuse does this mean that we won't be able to use it in our KSP videos or is it we aren't allowed to allow downloads anywhere else.

It means you're not allowed to put this up for downloading elsewhere (if you're gonna share it, only link to where Linx put it), not allowed to make another mod out of it, make it a feature or dependency of another mod (this may count as derivatives), or release any edits you make to its files. Once it is released with Beyond Home, you'll get to use it in cinematics. Simply using Parallax and playing the game is okay. That's the typical situation with ARR licensed mods.

Edited by JadeOfMaar
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14 minutes ago, The Doodling Astronaut said:

I'm confuse does this mean that we won't be able to use it in our KSP videos or is it we aren't allowed to allow downloads anywhere else.

Feel free to use it in videos!

What the license means is you can't share something (like a file) from inside the mod elsewhere.

It only really concerns other modders - You can't modify it and release it somewhere else. It's basically "this is mine". Videos, screenshots, and whatever else is perfectly fine!

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Looks absolutely fantastic, @Gameslinx!  I very much look forward to melting my computer when this releases.  (7700K @ 4.8ghz, 64GB RAM, 1070Ti, but I only play at 1080).

I've moved this to Add-on development for now.  Ping me or report/post in the "move my thread...thread" when it officially releases!

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I'm not sure how I feel about this having an ARR license. It makes sense in the case of Beyond Home, but for an API/framework mod like this that's just code without any assets, it seems excessive and will only cause problems. And if @Gameslinx vanishes without a trace like so many mod authors often do and the links die, then the planet packs that use it will be in a terrible situation.

Edited by coyotesfrontier
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4 minutes ago, coyotesfrontier said:

I'm not sure how I feel about this having an ARR license. It makes sense in the case of Beyond Home, but for an API/framework mod like this that's just code without any assets, it seems excessive and will only cause problems. And if @Gameslinx vanishes without a trace like so many mod authors often do and the links die, then the planet packs that use it will be in a terrible situation.

For now, the license will remain ARR, but when I separate the assets into the Beyond Home github it may change - it will be revised on release.

The ARR license is mainly for people outside of the KSP community who take a liking to the shader because the shader works for any unity game and I don't want people taking it for themselves.

Edited by Gameslinx
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I refuse to believe that is KSP.    Gorgeous.

5 minutes ago, coyotesfrontier said:

I'm not sure how I feel about this having an ARR license. It makes sense in the case of Beyond Home, but for an API/framework mod like this that's just code without any assets, it seems excessive and will only cause problems. And if @Gameslinx vanishes without a trace like so many mod authors often do and the links die, then the planet packs that use it will be in a terrible situation.

Them's the breaks.   It's up to the mod author's discretion how they want to license their work. 

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6 minutes ago, Gargamel said:

I refuse to believe that is KSP.    Gorgeous.

Them's the breaks.   It's up to the mod author's discretion how they want to license their work. 

It is indeed hard to comprehend we are talking about the same game here. Apperently there was a lot of hidden potential after the KSP 1.8 release that wasn't fully used by Squad for what ever reason. Good to see someone with talent saw an opportunity to explore how far he could push it.

I have one question, will ksp kerbals actualy be able to walk it or will it just be eye candy illusion which disapears the moment you try to travel it?

Edited by FreeThinker
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2 minutes ago, FreeThinker said:

It is indeed hard to comprehend we are talking the same game here. Apperently there was a lot of hidden potential after the KSP 1.8 release that wasn't fully used by Squad for what ever reason. Good to see someone with talent saw an opportunity to explore how far he could push it.

I had to hook into the existing terrain system and subdivide the nearby terrain tiles (quads) to get more vertices to play with because tessellation is limited to a factor of 64 and it still wasn't enough!

That took a very long time to do because I wasn't able to contact Mu who wrote it, so I had to figure a lot of that out for myself! 

I had to work around a lot of limitations in the game I didn't even knew existed! I never knew I'd even get it working!

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