A Real-Time Procedural Universe, Part 1: Generating Planetary Bodies
March 2, 2001 - Sean O'Neil
This article takes a look at how to procedurally generate planets that look realistic. It discusses different procedural algorithms and tries to find one that looks good. Included are plasma, perlin noise, and fractal brownian motion. What the author wants is an algorithm that can be used to quickly generate the planet at any level of detail so that no data has to be precalculated and stored. From the included demo it seems that he succeeded fairly well.
This tutorial explains how to load TGA files to use as heightmaps. It also explains several different algorithms for randomly generating heightmaps. Some explanations for rendering is included as well, such as normal calculation for lighting purposes.
Terrain Generation Tutorial
October 2001 - Bob Nystrom
This is a well written tutorial on how to generate smooth hilly terrain. Rather simple, but none the less a worthy read.
Modelling of ecosystems as a data source for real-time terrain rendering
2001 - Johan Hammes
This article describes how vegetation can be placed in the terrain automatically by algorithms based on elevation, slope, etc. This is a great way to get realistic ecosystems without the need to store the position of every plant in the world.