This weekend I implemented a lighting system like the one I talked about in my last two blog posts. I'm calling it deferred lighting because it doesn't do any lighting calculation until I have render targets for the scene. I have one render pass that has two targets: one containing the diffuse color of the scene, and the other containing the world position of each pixel. In a second render pass, I calculate the normal of each pixel by sampling it's neighboring pixel world positions. I then simply do a standard lighting calculation using the normal and the diffuse color of the scene.
It also has much better performance compared to the brute force 32 noise calculations method. At low altitudes I was getting 16fps with the noise method and 33fps with the deferred method. At high altitudes I was getting 12fps and 30fps, respectively. As you can see, I was getting at least double the framerate all the time.
Now for some pretty pictures. They are not much different from my previous lighting pictures, the important thing is that they are being rendered much faster now. I also fixed a slight bug I had in the previous lighting that made the light direction the same for every side of the planet (there was no dark side). There are some strange vertical lines that are appearing which you can see in some of the screenshots below. I'm not sure why they are there, but I will continue to investigate them.
In the last picture you can see the detailed designs that are being generated for the terrain itself. Just to show a difference between the lit vs diffuse renderings, here is the diffuse texture alone for the last picture.