Terrapin generates and displays random but reproducible planets. "Random" means that the designer hands terrapin a seed for a pseudo-random number generator and a set of parameters describing what sort of planet to make (earth-like, Mars-like, etc.) but doesn't need to provide a map. "Reproducible" means that the map of the planet generated by terrapin must be permanent and fixed, so for example if I fly in from deep space to land in Los Angeles and then traverse the planet's surface to Houston, I must see the same Houston that I would see if I had instead landed from space in Cancun and sailed across the Gulf of Mexico.
Terrapin must perform this generation in "real time", meaning quickly enough that it can maintain a frame rate of (say) 20 frames-per-second while doing both the necessary generation and the 3D rendering. Also, it must be able to generate terrain that looks reasonably realistic. That means mountain ranges, rivers, highway networks, etc.
Here is an example of a randomly-generated world (left), and also the underlying set of polygons (right). The rendered polygons are shown in red; the other colors shown on the right indicate levels of detail included as texture maps applied to the rendered polygons.
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