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John_Cillis

Interesting clouds findings

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Hi,I'm still using a GeForce 3 graphics card and heavy cloud cover affect my frame rates. I decided to make an experiment, writing file names on each cloud texture to see which are most widely used. Much to my surprise, FS2004 seems to use only one file (except cirrus)!! That would be Cumulus01.bmp. See for yourself:http://forums.avsim.net/user_files/50682.jpgSo what are all the other cloud texture files actually doing? Not much, as it seems...I tried all sorts of different clouds, cumulus, stratus, cumulonimbus; varying density, altitude; checking weather themes... always the same result, Cumulus01.bmp and no other textures are used. Except high alt cirrus clouds. Regards,Jurehttp://www.reality-xp.com/community/nr/rsc/rxp-higher.jpg

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Hey? who graffitied those clouds? Damn sprayers :-hahWell, this means reducing the size of the cumulous texture (which Bart Dylkiewicz has done) will give you the largest performance boost.-Daniel

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Hi Jure, "Much to my surprise, FS2004 seems to use only one file (except cirrus)!! That would be Cumulus01.bmp. See for yourself:"Yes and this was released in my files resized clouds to improve FPS and preserving some quality.http://fsw.simflight.com/FSWFs2k4fix.html (1.33mb to 65 Kb), I find this is the best way without scrapping the clouds visual quality to a ridiculous visual quality.I am working in fs sky world which will give you much more realistic clouds and others stuff mode etc The resized clouds, are not realistic, they only boost some performance but not a standard at all, I don't waist time on these, not worthed.The weather graphics slider still the best option for better FPSThanksChris Willis[link:fsw.simflight.com/FSWMenuFsSim.html]Clouds And Addons For MsFs

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>Hi Jure,> "Much to my surprise, FS2004 seems to use only one file>(except cirrus)!! That would be Cumulus01.bmp. See for>yourself:>">>>Yes and this was released in my files resized clouds to>improve FPS and preserving some quality.>>http://fsw.simflight.com/FSWFs2k4fix.html (1.33mb to 65 Kb), I>find this is the best way without scrapping the clouds visual>quality to a ridiculous visual quality.>>>>I am working in fs sky world which will give you much more>realistic clouds and others stuff mode etc The resized clouds,>are not realistic, they only boost some performance but not a>standard at all, I don't waist time on these, not worthed.>>The weather graphics slider still the best option for better>FPS>>>>Thanks>Chris Willis>>[link:fsw.simflight.com/FSWMenuFsSim.html]Clouds And Addons>For MsFsI don't know which clouds you are talking about, but the resized clouds gave me a huge performance boost while still looking surprizingly good. Before I didn't get satisfactory performance in ANY setting using 3d clouds, Now I can set clouds to high or max and get playable performance.Maybe you should waste some more time with these, unless you have a top notch computer! Or get to work and finish yours ;)-Daniel

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Hi Daniel, My FPS fix include the clouds fps boost. the files is here http://fsw.simflight.com/FSWFs2k4fix.htmlI have check his files but from v1 to v2, his files still larger than my files 1.33mb to 85 Kb (mine 65kb full 32 bits and preserving the quality.)His version 4 the files is 22kb but in dtx3 pixels near the clouds, and there is no such difference with fps than my files in full 32 bits 1.33MB to 65KB and preserving the quality and compatible with all system and 3d cards. The cirrus clouds will not affect your fps, even if I have reduced little bits.FPS increase with the amount of Kb/Mb, not with the files resolution 256x256, 128x128 etcThanksChris Willis[link:fsw.simflight.com/FSWMenuFsSim.html]Clouds And Addons For MsFs

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Hi Chris,I've had your files installed but while I appreciate your work, it didn't give me the performance I have now...I guess every "bit" counts. I only have 64mb graphics memory, so maybe thats the reason. (Yours are still 3x as large).I've also noticed some uglies in Bart's clouds, but I guess editing the alpha channel would help. Especially in the latest version, which features completely white textures with just the alpha channel to shape the appearance, you don't otherwise notice that they are dxt3.-Daniel

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HI Daniel, if you are using the last one from Bart's in dtx3 128x128 22kb you will see the difference in fps since they are smaller than my files was 256x256 65kb. And your 3d cards will handle these better. But when you will be near them and fly through them, you will see the pixel.More you reduce the files resolution, more the Pixel will appears, (blocky dots) even in 32 bits in alpha channel, (the files resolution is simply too small) but because of the DTX3 files format limitation and color, the pixel will appears more, this is why clouds are important to be in 32 bits.But it's depend on what's you prefers, 100% performance or some quality and peformance or total quality and default performance.Ps: I recommend to use the clouds draw distant 60 and use the clouds percentage to 100%, sight distant to 60.ThanksChris

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Chris,yes, of course the larger ones look better but I'd rather have 20 frames with slightly pixelated clouds than like 7fps and constant loading with high res, 32 bit ones...After all, we are talking about clouds here - of course I like the small whisks and smooth 32 bit color - but clouds are soft and transparent in real life, so I can live with filtered, low res clouds.And as I said, you hardly notice that they are dxt compressed - because Bart's newest textures are plain white. Plus, I'd rather have lots of clouds than just a few that look good in the close up.There seem to be two problems with clouds on my machine: 1. limited bandwidth (I'm using a mobile ATI9000M) 2. limited memory (64mb).So even when I set cloud distance and percentage to very low levels I still get bad performance (at least with real weather), because the texture data needs to be loaded anyhow.Processing power is really no problem - without clouds and most other sliders to the right, I easily get >20fps in populated areas, and >30 in unpopulated ones.It's really up to oneself, as you said it depends on what you prefer. But "default" performance is simply unacceptable for me.-Daniel

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Hi Jure,the new cloud engine only uses Cumulus01.bmp. It seems there is a Cumulus02.bmp but only 01 is used. The texture is defined in the cloud file, which is (on a US FS2K4) in the WeatherClouds folder. These files (like _altocumulus68-11s.cld) are what looks like a 3D model for each cloud type in FS. At the beginning of the file (use a hex editor) the texture is referenced. I suspect, and Chris if you take some time playing with this, that changing the texture name within the cloud file would load another texture. Of course, the more textures loaded, the worst the performance. Note that the cumulus01.bmp texture is in fact a patchwork of 16 cloud textures. In these, there are some for the fluffy type of clouds, the others are for the stratus type of clouds (note that all this is explained in a video from Niniane Wang, the developper of the new cloud engine).http://www.ofb.net/~eggplant/clouds/(you will see the correlation between my text above about the files and the explanations in the video).What does impair the performances with the clouds, is most likely the multipass texturing (in fact the drawing, several time, of the same texture - cumulus01.bmp - in the 3D scene with transparency, one drawing pass over the other, etc...) since when a cloud is rendered, it is in fact done with bilboarding (transparent sprites always facing the virtual camera) of fragments of the cumulus01.bmp along a 3D shape defined in the cloud file. With some 3D card, drawing a pixel with a texture with alpha channel over a drawn pixel, and doing this hundreds of times impairs the performances. I wonder with an alpha set to full opaque if the performances would be better?!Also, note that the way FS2004 selects a cloud file from the available stock, is based on: type of cloud (cumulus, cumulonimbus, stratus and cirrus) then your density setting, factored to the actual height and altitude of the cloud. It leads the selection to a cloud set, and then in the cloud set, it picks one randomly. So a verticaly elongated cumulus at high altitude may select a cloud file which is different than the same verticaly elongated cumulus at a lower altitude. What is interesting in this process is that the cloud density setting in your options menu actuall tells FS to select a probably less dense (from the 3D definition of the cloud in the stock) cloud to draw instead of another. It does not changes the actual density and number of clouds drawn on screen around you. It has then less influence on the FPS than the cloud draw distance (with which the number of drawn clouds raises exponentially).Hope this helps! :-)

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Hi Jean-Luc, Cumulus02.bmp but only 01 is used.Cumulus02.bmp It is used for the simple cloudsClouds system is explaned in the fs2004 Learning Center,weather user defined (weather manual setting) a clouds charts is available with the type of the clouds for fs2004,type depend on actual height and altitude of the cloud. like the real life. and they are very well explaned with the clouds chartsYou can not add other bmp than these are available in fs2004.The fs2004 clouds video was available here before the relaese of fs2004 http://www.microsoft.com/games/flightsimulator/downloads.aspThe performance hit will appears with the amount of the 3d sprite for a single clouds models but will be less realistic if there is not enought to model the clouds like the simple cloudsThis is why simple clouds have better FPS then the detailed clouds in fs2004, simple clouds are still 3d but have less 3d sprite for each models and looks not really realistic.Fs2004 clouds is one of the most well created to date.ThanksChris Willis[link:fsw.simflight.com/FSWMenuFsSim.html]Clouds And Addons For MsFs

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Hi JeanLuc and Chris,thanks for your thorough explanation! :) In a way, it makes a lot of sense and I agree with Chris, that these are the best clouds in FS yet. I thought I might be able to reduce the load on my gfx card by altering some textures - like in previous FS versions. I guess I was pretty much on spot on how clouds in FS9 work, But I wasn't aware that only one file ever gets used to draw the real, 3D clouds (except cirus).I've been playing with the texture files (of course :) ) and since it didn't make one bit of a difference when I kept on changing other cloud textures, I made the above experiment. While Chris is saying that the Cumulus01.bmp can be made of high quality, it's an awfully limited possibility with images as small as the reduced file I am forced to use. I guess changing the type of the .bmp file wouldn't do much good, because the alpha channel must always be used. DXT3, 32-bit, 8 bit with color-alpha... it's still there. It's the 3D model, of course. Can they be changed? As you point out, JeanLuc, some type of clouds are larger 3D models using less resources (stratus are the best performers on my machine). So, apart from buying a new gfx card, the next best solution would be to create a new low-res set of 3D cloud models, I guess. Can it be done without the SDK? Knowing Chris, he'll come up with something... :)But my question remains: why are there so many cloud files present? It makes me wonder how much other "junk" was left behind in different folders?Just for kicks, I'll make an opaque Cumulus01.bmp. Thanks guys! :)Regards,Jurehttp://www.reality-xp.com/community/nr/rsc/rxp-higher.jpg

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Interesting post Chris...After reading it, I took your 65K cloud bitmap, resampled it to DXT3 w/DXTBMP, and then used Imagetool to remove the mips, reducing the size to 16K... Notable increase in performance...a good 20-30 pct in a 3/8th's deck of towering cumulus. Although the clouds are only 16 bit, I simply can't see any loss in visual quality vs. your unmodified bitmaps... If anything, the DXT3's with the mips removed look closer to the originals than the 32-bit textures...-John

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