Quadspinner's new procedural landscape generator works alongside the most common 3D packages, and remarkably is available in a free version that you can still use for commercial work.
Quadspinner has released Gaea, a new Windows based procedural landscape design package. It's based on a nodal interface much like Fusion and Substance Designer, using nodes that are designed around world building.
Like most node based tools, Gaea's toolset starts with a set of primitives. These primitives however are building blocks for worlds, like mountains, dunes, slopes, and faults. It has operators for modifying and combining primitives that include various geographical effects like erosion, terraces, and sediment.
Gaea includes tools for modeling the flow of water, and depending on which node you select to export, can generate maps for features like water flow and snow in addition to height maps. To control where those effects are applied, Gaea provide a masking tool which can use either a painted mask or the output from another shape or node.
Gaea also has a layers based workflow for those who prefer to work in layers. The nodes are the same, just the UI is different. Quadspinner describes this as being great for rapid prototyping and experimentation.
Quadspinner also includes a set of quickstart scenes to help new users get acquainted with the software and how it works.
One area where Gaea differs from software like Terragen and Vue D'Esprit is that it doesn't have a rendering engine. Instead, it has a slick toolset for exporting nodes as maps for use in 3D applications like Blender, Houdini, and Cinema4D.
Very unusually, even the community edition allows for commercial use; most companies provide a free version as learning editions and don't provide commercial licenses for them. The license model is very artist friendly; licenses are perpetual, and only major version updates will require payment. Upgrading from a license to a bigger one, for example to unlock a higher resolution render limit, requires only paying the difference in the license price.
Quadspinner's artist-friendly pricing is sure to attract some attention, and this first release is already providing a powerful toolset for creating landscapes based on geological processes, and making it easy for independent and startup production companies to add to their toolkits.