[jhb_airlines] Re: FSX and Horizon Scenery

  • From: Gerry Winskill <gwinsk@xxxxxxx>
  • To: jhb_airlines@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 18 Nov 2006 21:46:02 +0000

Flying over the basic IOW landscape, with no VFR Addons autogen or other addons in, I'm surprised to see a boatyard building at Cowes and, just further East, what must be Osborne. Switching off autogen doesn't move them. Are they part of the FSX base scenery?


Gerry Winskill


Gerry Winskill wrote:

One area, and there are others, where the Horizon scenery represents a big forward leap is the "blur height", to which you allude. It's still possible to discern sharp roads when down to 1000'.

I agree, too, on the temptation some designers can't resist, to use the potential of Gmax to the full, even though that takes them beyond the context of FS. The objects produced by the group specialising in the oil industry are a classic example. The detail is brilliant. Some rigs look as though they's just emerged from a CADCAM package; which, in effect, they have. The only FS users likely to be able to appreciate their workmanship are those flying choppers onto their rigs. For the rest of us, they are works of art wasted.

I'm posting this whilst doing an FSX run from Gloucestershire to the IOW. Looking across at the Needles I see what appears to be a giant version of the old TV H aerial, perched atop the adjacent rocky islet. There's no substitute for the sort of Beta testing that we did before Mally release his first photoscenery. Looking at the latest offering, though technically much more advanced, its Beta testers couldn't have put in the hours that our group did; and it shows. On reflection, the time between the launch of FSX was so short as to make our testing impossible to accomodate. Pity!

Gerry Winskill


Bones wrote:

A good point about the old FS2002 to FS2004 headaches with the SCASM macros. It took me a long time to isolate the specific bit of code which FS2004 took so much objection to (a single MIF call) but it was generic in a huge number of macros. My temporary tweak at the time was to remove the code, look at
the scenery and see which macros failed (very few) and rebuild these in
Gmax. Oddly enough all the original buildings worked - it was things like
aerials and masts that fell over - most being default ASD objects.

In the end all I made in GMax were the aerials, the lighting gantry and a
few oddments. The rest are still macros from SCASM and I doubt they will
work in FSX. This is why I suggested no-one port the IoM scenery to FSX
because I am sure nothing will show on the airfield. Having said that I
think the bits around the island will appear - the follies, towers, trams, Laxey Wheel and the like - maybe the lighthouses too but I'll bet the light
won't work. I may separate these out and release them as separate IoM
scenery and put Jurby, Andreas and Ronaldsway into separate categories with their own installation. I should have done this with the original scenery.

As I don't know the new FSX file structure I will guess that my revised
coastline for the IoM will not work. The HYP, LWM and VTP data was not part of VFR Terrain so it was a painful but necessary process to do this - which
reaped some praise from Mally. Horrible job that.

Funnily enough in real life you don't notice ground traffic all that much.
Maybe more so when on final but once aloft it becomes somewhat
insignificant. I'll agree that when you fly over a motorway you are aware of general movement but not at individual car level - just a vague ant trail of
activity.

My worry is that any move to animate ground objects at a grander level is again loading the sim with fps reducing complexity. The macro's in the UK
Autogen Library (as shown in the IoW demo) are stunning - operating hay
bailers and all sorts of stuff but, 95% of the time you will fly from A to B
and never even look at the things. It reminds me of the guy in FS4 who
designed a beautiful church, complete with stained glass windows and a (for the time) superb interior. Everyone was astounded but I wanted to shout out
IT'S AN AIRCRAFT SIMULATOR!

We have the capability in FSX to design a house right down to full interior
detail - and I bet someone will do it too - but people lose sight of the
difference between capability and objectivity. I built a crude but fully
working six cylinder engine in GMax - pistons, crankshaft and a few bits
more - but it would be daft to add this detail into any aircraft design.
Most aircraft designers realise this but some scenery designers don't see
there should be a limit in their brief and will continue to aim for full
real world representation. We ain't got the computing power for this yet so
such detail comes at a price.

The other point Gerry mentions is that of the level of detail in the new
photo scenery. As this is photographic it already contains shadows and this is very effective in giving the illusion that the landscape beneath is 3D.
This becomes interesting because at what point does it replace autogen?
Certainly from 10,000ft or up the autogen is not going to be missed if the textures still give the illusion of 3D objects. The test comes as you get
lower and you expect to see objects stand out from the surrounding
countryside. At what height does photo scenery fail and autogen become more appropriate? My feeling is that as texture quality increases this nominal
height lowers - it maybe even be as low as 2000ft in FSX.

Going to the other end of the spectrum accurate 3D detail is critical in the take off and landing phase of flight. This means very high 3D detail on all approach and landing funnels into each FSX runway. Very few designers have twigged to this - except for Ian Gallagher with his Prestwick and Glasgow scenery. Every pilot landing on 31 at Prestwick knows the farmhouse about 1.5nm out on final. It's quaint and very distinctive - I can visualise it
now. Ian modelled this together with other approach objects and it makes
landing on that runway one of the most realistic experiences you can have in
FS. I wish other designers would take note.

bones


-----Original Message-----
From: jhb_airlines-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:jhb_airlines-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Gerry Winskill
Sent: 18 November 2006 17:26
To: jhb_airlines@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [jhb_airlines] FSX and Horizon Scenery


The Vol 3 of the new scenery is, until they correct it, a bit of a
farce. I'm surprised that the negative feedback to their forum is, up
'til now, good natured. Apart from the fact that much of the Lake
District is below sea level, the approach to a large part of West
Lancashire involves crossing what appears to be the largest known
rectangular swimming pool!
Worse,as I entered the zone FSX did yet another of its disappearing tricks.
I'm having a look at the Southern area, hoping for better things.

One thing that, already, has struck me is that it's safest, at present,
to regard FSX as a clean sheet, not to be contaminated with anything
designed for FS9 and below. It's not that the FS9 stuff reduces
performance; I haven't noticed that. It's more that I suspect it
promotes instabillity. Those of you whose grey cells permit will recall
we had the same problem when FS9 hit the streets. It wasn't long before
we discovered that the FS2002 scenic addons that relied on Macros
prompted lockups, phone homes and all sorts of havoc. I'll be removing
my own stuff as well, to play safe. It's then a waiting game until
scenery starts to appear that's been designed especially for FSX.
Meanwhile there's always FS9 to rely on.

The quality of the other two vols of Horizon scenery is such that the
absence of  VFR Addons Autogen isn't noticed. Horizon are committed to
producing bespoke AG and stickyups so thats something to anticipate.

Its nice to have to eat ones words and that is certainly the case when I
recall a lack of enthusiasm for FSX's future use of moving road traffic.
In fact I find it adds enormous realism and is of a far higher quality
than anticipated. Takeoffs from the like of Gloucestershire see me
holding the aircraft down, after takeoff, to incrtease speed. In fact
it's because I can't resist the temptation to take a closer look at the
Motorway traffic.

Gerry Winskill









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