I'm working on a simple game / fun project that I want to be largely procedurally generated. At first I started by using boxels (Similar to Minecraft, but not textured) for the terrain and it came out looking decent but I realized something.
I don't need, or really want, destructible terrain. Sure it'd be a nice little bonus, but no part of my game design calls for it, and using boxels requires a fair amount of data to be sent to the GPU, so I'm looking for alternatives and that's where I'm stuck...
What are some alternatives to boxels that can be used to generate terrain quickly, that looks good (Smooth terrain or otherwise), and can be rendered with XNA (Shader Model 2.0)? At first I thought that marching cubes could work, however apparently since XNA still uses DX9 - most of the work is done on the CPU. Then I looked into dual contouring, but I can't find much data on it and I'm afraid it suffers the same issues.
Right now height maps are looking halfway decent, however I don't want to abandon the idea of overhangs and whatnot completely, so... What else is there? I'd love to keep using voxels since they make procedural generation easy (And fun), but, and correct me if I'm wrong, XNA doesn't handle non-boxel rendering of them very well.
(Even if I'm wrong re: marching cubes, I'd still be interested in seeing worth-while alternatives that can run on low end machines using SM2)
Note: My highlighting of words is to help anyone who, like me, finds this after searching for methods of procedural terrain generation, and wants a quick list of what's available.
Edit: Still looking for an answer regarding different methods.