As usual, the conditions are very different from the last set of screenshots. The atmosphere doesn't look the same and it's not the same location. But if you look closely at the ground, you'll notice it's now textured. I'm using a set of texture layers and a technique called texture splatting. However, instead of assigning weights per vertex ( the standard way of doing splatting ), i'm assigning them.. per pixel.
This isn't much visible in that screenshot, for a simple reason: as i'm early in my tests, i'm only using.. 4 layers. That's right, only 4: water, grass, forest and snow. Of course i plan to add more layers for more variety.. i think i'll go up to 12 layers. In addition, in this screenshot, i've disabled the per-slope texturing. It's only altitude based. Taking into account the slope, i think the variety and realism of the terrain will be increased a lot. Finally, i still have to tweak the lighting to match the terrain sharpness better.
The best thing ? Per-pixel texture splatting comes out to be free as far as performance is concerned, since i'm only using it at texture generation time (ie. once every N frames), and the textures are then cached for the "normal" rendering.
The addition of detail textures immediately gives a better understanding of the scales of the "features". For example, in the "above" screenshot, the two mountains look more like hills. In fact, they are many kilometers high! The new screenshot with detail textures shows mountains which are pretty much the same size, but now you really feel high in the sky, instead of being a few meters above the ground only..
With vegetation and clouds casting shadows, i think the terrain engine will be pretty close to what you could find in a flight simulator.
In a few days, i'll test a non Earth-like planet with the textures Betelgeuze made.