Soon after the JMonkeyEngine attempt we made the switch to the Unity engine. The JMonkeyEngine is a very powerful platform and had we access to more resources or a smaller scale in mind for our Project we would have likely stuck with it. However, there are only a few people on our team so far. Thus, the switch was made mainly because of Unity’s ease of porting to other platforms as well as the Unity Asset Store, which allows us to make use of other peoples’ work. These two main factors actually make such a large project feasible in an indie development context. It allows us to design as if we had a whole team of artists and programmers working under us.
These original Unity tests used public domain landscape data from HiRISE, a scientific endeavor to create a high-resolution 3D map of Mars. Height data from HiRISE’s scans was imported into Blender and consequently turned into a model for use in Unity. A quick overview of the process can be found here.