Actually, reticulating splines is the process of combining a series of short lines and curves into a longer spline or network of splines. It's a process used in the landscape generator in many computer games. Basically, the engine generates a few small patches of terrain and then interpolates between these.

However, because of the female voice enunciating the phrase at the beginning of SimCity 2000, the phrase has entered the lore of the Sim games. Since then, it's been seen in SimCopter and The Sims, and possibly several others.

Might I also suggest that Reticulating Splines, can also have the real world meaning, "building a lattice".

As it turns out, the primary definition of a spline is a thin wood or metal strip used for building (to paraphrase modern Webster's Dictionary) and that reticulating is to make a web or network.

So, next time you need to assist a climbing plant or provide some shade in your back yard, might I suggest you Reticulate Splines and form a lattice.

According to dictionary.com, reticulating means:
  1. To make a net or network of.
  2. To mark with lines resembling a network.
See also, Webster 1913's definition. Therefore, reticulating splines would imply making a network of splines, not a single longer spline.

However Will Wright, the creator of Sim City 2000, has explicitly stated in an interview (unfortunately, so long ago I can't remember the source) that SC2000 does not actually reticulate any splines--the female voiceover was inserted because it sounds cool. If I had to guess, I'd say the landscapes are probably created using plasma cloud fractals, as most pov-ray landscapes are (see http://spanky.triumf.ca/www/fractint/plasma_type.html).

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