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RealAir Duke Turbine - Bump Mapping?

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Reading the Flying Guide for the RealAir Turbine Duke mentioned that bump mapping may be turned off and suggested that you look out the wing to see if there is detail on the surface. Well, since I was about to moan about the exterior detail I looked at the wing and it indeed seemed to have little detail. Picture below.

 

My video card is a nVidia GTX 550 with igb memory. Driver version is 301.42

i52500K 8gb memory, Windows7 64bit

 

I have looked in nVidia Inspector and cannot see any specific "bump mapping" options. Nor are there any in the nVidia control panel. I turned on almost everything in Inspector but no change.

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I found that I could get textured wings, etc to appear through various sun angles (time of day). I was running at noon so most things were wiped out by a high reflection. A weird thing that in a totally cloudy day the reflections continue on the plane as if the sun was still very visible. Looks like there is no relationship to a clouded sun and reflections. The implementation of reflections certainly would not be a buying point for me.

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I think there is a misunderstanding here about what bump mapping can achieve and what it is. First, there is no option mentioned in the Duke Flying Guide about turning bump mapping off or on within the Duke itself. We referred to reflection and bump mapping options where they feature in some graphics cards tuners. Most modern cards and drivers have reflection and bump mapping enabled by default, so nowadays it is not an issue.

 

Bump mapping is an alternative to "painting on" what appear to be undulations in wing and other surfaces. Painting on can look somewhat artificial. Instead we have custom bump mapping which, given the right lighting conditions, looks much more natural. It also takes a much longer development time than just painting the surfaces onto the textures.

 

However, there are also things that can spoil bump mapping effects, and while some of these are due to the lighting in FSX itself, some can be user-induced. FSX lighting at noon is very very bright compared with other times, and with the sun high, can wash out bump mapping because there is not sufficient angle of light and shadow to show the mapping. Thus, especially if you have your monitor brightness or gamma turned up high, the excessive light will literally wash away the bump mapping. It is still there, but the brightness ruins the contrast between the undulating surfaces.

 

When you add to this a current trend of adding bleached effects like bloom, with enb-series or other addon lighting effects, this further washes out the bump mapping and (from a personal point of view) more than subtle use of these lighting effects throws up all sorts of other problems like washed out gauges you cannot read, over-glaring of interior lighting and a somewhat artificial look than seems to be a trend lately in half the videos I see on YouTube.

 

While these over-bright settings can look quite magical in some views, they also serve to scupper the great care and attention some developers give to show their aircraft at their best.

 

In the shot above, I would guess this is middle of the daytime or thereabouts, with monitor settings quite bright and no doubt with the Duke point in the direction that demonstrates the wash out. If you take off and alter direction and bank angle you'll find the bump mapping shows. When sunlight is almost directly on the wing, clearly there is no angle for the mapping to show since the light is directly on the surface. The best time in FSX for this to show is anytime from dusk to mid morning, or late afternoon to evening.

 

Unfortunately this is the way FSX is and I can assure you there will be many other developers who spend inordinate amounts of time trying to overcome this restriction in FSX which exaggerates the washed out look in bright light conditions. I think it would have been more balanced to have included another shot where the bump mapping does show, and you'll find on this site and many others similar shots where the bump mapping shows very well.

 

All the best,

 

Rob - RealAir

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Rob, thanks for taking the time to comment on this. The time of the picture was 11:55 am. As I mentioned I did move the aircraft about, changed times, and adjusted the gamma + color values. There was no way to get a good depiction of the textures except at low sun angles. Since FSX does not seem to adjust Sun values when totally cloudy that was also an oddity.

 

I normally just use the same time for all "flights". Obviously I need to adjust that. I will then gain the ground shadows that enhance mountainous areas as well. You might want to place a caution about noon-day washout of bump textured surfaces so everybody can enjoy the fine texturing that I am sure cost a lost of time.

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