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AI Aircraft and Frame Rates

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A big misconception among many flight simmers is that if an airplane is designed with GMAX, then it is suitable for an AI aircraft. It may work as AI Traffic, but just because it is made in GMAX doesn't make it suitable for AI use. What matters most is the polygon count and its impact on frame rates. One goal for AI plane design should be to improve frame rates over that found in default aircraft so that more AI planes can be present at an airport without deeply affecting frame rates. This would increase realism dramatically, allowing real flight schedules to be implemented at large airports without killing frame rates. To me, the benefit of more AI planes is offset completely if low frame rates cause a stuttering visual experience. There are very few GMAX planes suitable for AI use. Based on my experience (and I have a fast 2.4 Ghz P4 computer), model design for an AI aircraft should really limit the polygon count to no more than 3000, if we are ever to be able to enjoy a practical real world flying experience when it comes to airline timetables. The average FS2002 default aircraft have between 5000 and 6000 polygons and a large number of default aircraft at an airport can kill frame rates. Many GMAX aircraft have polygon counts of 15,000, 20,000 and even 30,000. Project AI develops AI aircraft, but many are not all that frame rate friendly. For example, most project AI Airbus aircraft have polygon counts between 7000 and 8000. The A340 has over 9000. The polygon count for the Project AI B747 is not much better than the default B747 and the default looks better. I have tried AI planes developed be Ed Rawlins. His planes look good with moving parts for flaps, landing gear and rolling wheels. His aircraft really improve frame rates and have polygon counts between 1600 and 2000. I have had as many as 55 of his planes at the phoenix airport all at once and frames rates on my P4 never fell below 20 fps. However, all it took was one or two default MD80's to land in the scene and my frame rate fell by 3 to 4 fps. It would be very helpful to publish the polygon counts where GMAX aircraft are listed for download. From this we could tell how suitable the plane would be for AI traffic from the standpoint of frame rates. It would be even better, if some sort of standard could be established to rate what the impact on frame rates would be for a particular AI aircraft, before we download it and try it.

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