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  3. 2. Devices and the Device Workspace

2. Devices and the Device Workspace


A Device represents an action. In World Machine, devices are visualized as small, colored boxes:

A device has Ports. A port is simply a place where terrain data can move in or out of a device. These can be divided into two main categories: inputs and outputs. Inputs are on the left side of the device, and bring data into a device to be acted on. After the action of the device takes place, the data is then taken out of the device via an output, on the right side. Lastly, some devices have a mask input port, which allows you to control the device’s area of influence.

There is one other type of port in World Machine, called a parameter port. These are located along the top edge of the device, and allow advanced users to adjust the settings of a device from a different one. Use of Parameter Ports is covered later in the manual.

You can separate devices into three broad categories: In the World Machine system, terrains are:

  • Created by Generator devices;
  • Modified by Filter & Combiner devices
  • Saved by Output devices.

Each type of device has a different responsibility. Generators are devices that produce the basic terrain. The output of a generator can be either used directly, OR routed into the input of a Filter device to shape, change, and otherwise influence the terrain. Finally, Outputs are used to save the created terrain to disk.

Working with Devices

The Device Workview is the primary means of interacting with World Machine. It contains all of the devices in the current world, and the connections between them.

The Device Workview can be selected from the Command Bar, or by pressing F5

Device Build Status:
Devices in World Machine always have a build status; this tells you if the device is connected properly and if it has been built yet.

Pictured above are three devices in various build states. The build state is shown by the colored rectangle just to the left of the device name.

Green Status: The device is properly connected and Build results exist for the device.

Yellow Status: The device is properly connected, however it has not yet been built.

Red Status: The device is unconnected, or its inputs are otherwise not sending data.

You can make a device go from red to yellow status by connecting any required inputs. You can make a device go from yellow to green by building the world with the Build World Command.

Adding Devices:

To add a device to the world, you can select one from either the menu bar, or the parts toolbar. To select a device from the menu, simply go to Devices, select the category of device you wish to add, and then a device from that Category.

Alternatively, and more conveniently, you can select any device from the parts toolbar.

Once a device is ready to be placed into the world, the mouse cursor will have a + sign next to it in the workview. Clicking the left mouse button anywhere in the workview will place that device there. You may place multiple devices of the same type simply by clicking multiple times in an empty region of the workview. You may stop placing devices by either right clicking, or clicking on any device present in the world.

Connecting Devices:

To connect two devices together, you must wire an output port on one device to an input port on another, or vice versa. To do this, click on one of the ports. A wire will become attached to that port on one end, and the mouse cursor on the other. All ports will disappear except the ports that you are allowed to wire that device to.

Once you have clicked on both ports there should now be a wire connecting the two devices, if there is not then either you attempted to wire an incorrect combination or you missed the port you were trying to connect to.

Connecting an output multiple times

You can connect a single output port to many different devices, eliminating the need for a Splitter device. Simply click on the port again and begin wiring.

Editing a Device’s Properties:

To change the properties of a device, simply double click it in the workview. A dialog will appear that allows you to change the parameters and settings of the device. The Leftside preview will show you the results of any adjustments you make.

Deleting Devices:

To delete a device, simply select it and then choose Delete Device from the Edit menu, or simply hit the Delete key. By default, you will be prompted to confirm the decision to delete the device – if you wish to avoid this prompt, hold the shift key while you hit Delete.

Selecting & Moving Devices:

• You may select a single device by simply clicking it.

• You may add another device to the selection by holding SHIFT and clicking on that device. Clicking a selected device with shift held will toggle it out of the selection.

• You may select multiple devices at once by first selecting one device and then drag-selecting a group of devices, by holding down the mouse button and drawing a box around the devices you wish to select.

• Holding down shift while drag-selecting will add the drag-selected group to the currently selected devices.

You may move any selected device(s) by simply clicking and dragging on the device.

Device Context Menu:

Right clicking on any device will bring up the device menu:

View output: Swaps the main view to the last-used view (2D or 3D view) to view the build results at this device.

Lock Preview on Device: Freezes the preview on the currently selected device.

Set device display hint: Control how WM displays the terrain. See the section below for more detail.

Set Name: Renames the device.

Set Properties: Sets the properties of the device (same as double-clicking).

Disconnect Device: Remove all wires from this device so that it is isolated from the rest of the network.

Disable Device: Disables the device. A disabled device is grayed out, and will not be activated when the world is build. Any devices depending on its output will also fail to build. Selecting this again will re-enable the device.

Bypass Device: Bypassing a device temporarily makes the device perform no action. This can be very useful for judging the effects of a device on a network by toggling bypass mode on and off for that device.

Delete Device: Deletes the device.

Convert Devices into Macro: Converts the selected device(s) to a macro. Any links leading into or out of the collection of selected devices are converted to macro ports. See Chapter 8: Macros for more information.

Group Devices: Create a new group around the currently selected device(s). See Chapter 2.3 below for more information on groups.

Copy & Paste:

You may cut, copy, and paste any set of devices you wish with the standard Windows keyboard shortcuts (Ctrl-X, Ctrl-C, and Ctrl-V respectively).

Terrain Hints:

World Machine allows you to provide a hint as to how the heightfield should be displayed. The two options are to display the output as a terrain or a mask; you should choose whichever option makes the most sense for the device in question. Many devices will automatically flag their output appropriately.

Wires and Routing

World Machine has a wire routing feature. By clicking and dragging on a wire, you can change where in the device workview it is located, allowing you to organize your network for a clearer understanding of its operation.

The mouse cursor is highlighted when you are atop a wire that can be dragged to create a routing point. Left-dragging the mouse will position a new routing point.

Adjacent routing points can be merged together into a single point by dragging one atop the other. In addition, you may start wiring by left-clicking on a routing point, or attach a wire by ending a wire operation on one.

Right-clicking on a wire will bring up the wire context menu:

Clear route points: This wire is removed from any routing points it runs through. Routing points are deleted unless they are shared.

Delete wire: The wire is removed from the device world, disconnecting the associated devices.

Whereas right-clicking on a routing point will bring up the route point menu:

Remove route point: The routing point is removed. Connected wires are not deleted.

Disconnect wires: All wires through this routing point are deleted.

Release from routing <xyz>: The selected wire is removed from the routing point but not deleted.


Groups are a way to logically organize your device network. Groups are named, and you can add a description to annotate a particular set of operations.

Group Creation

To create a group, you have two options:

● Select a number of devices, then right click on them and choose “Group Selected Devices” from the context menu.

● Use the Grouping Tool to draw a group in the device workview (described below)

Group Manipulation

When you move a group, all the devices inside of it are moved as well. Moving a solid group will push all other solid groups encountered out of the way.

Solid vs Floating Groups

Floating groups, on the other hand, will not interact with other groups in any way, and so are very useful for text annotations. A solid group has a solid border. A floating group has a dashed border.

Editing a Group

To edit a group’s properties, double click on the group to open the Group Settings dialog:

This dialog allows you to set a group’s name, text, color, and floating status. You can also set the transparency of the group color with the spin button to the right of the color.

The Device Toolbar

The device toolbar consists of the Tools section, the Macro and Favorites section, and an additional set of tabs organizing all of the available devices by a number of different schemes.

Sort by Data Type: Creates several tabs based upon the data type; For example, Heightfield versus Bitmap.

Sort by Device Type: Creates tabs based upon the device type; For example, Generators, and Filters.

Set Favorites: Enter the Define Favorites dialog, described below.

Grouping Tool: The grouping tool allows you to create groups by visually drawing their extents into the workspace. To use, simply select it then drag a selection around the area you wish to group in the workspace.

Favorites List

You can define a “Favorites” section of the toolbar to contain a custom toolbar of your most frequently used devices. To define the favorite devices, click on “Define Favorites List” button from the Tools section of the toolbar, bringing up the menu below:

To add a device to the toolbar, find it in the list of all devices on the left side, then click the right- transfer button (>>) to add it to the favorites.

Similarly, to remove a device from the favorites, select it and push the left-transfer button.

The selected devices will appear under the “Favorites” section of the toolbar.

Updated on February 27, 2019

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