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walterg74

Making sense of the FSX addon world

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Hi all,

 

New to posting, not to reading the wonderful threads on the forum.

 

I'm going through my first install of FSX on my (relatively) new PC built a couple of months ago, and after I get it going, stable, etc. I want to start adding to it to improve the visuals.

 

While *I think* I undesrtand the basics, some terms/items still have me confused, or I get them mixed up, so to start, bear with me and can you tell me if the following is right, or what is not or not entirely so?

 

Besides aircraft and other misc items (fspassenger, etc), when it comes to addons for what would be "the world", the following elements make up the addon types:

 

- mesh: this simply is the terrain elevation at any given point, the more acurate the more realistic the "shape" of the world will be (height wise)

- landclass: specifies what general type of land should be at a location?

- vector: specifies more specific items as what goes at the location??

- land textures: self explanatory

- other textures: for elements like sky, water, etc.

- airports: besides the airports themselves, more specific and reduced area of land, would go on top of this whole item hierarchy

 

So to start, is the above correct?

 

Then, I assume since you can fly FSX out of the box, it must come with a default for each of those types of elements, correct?

 

What would happen if you install some addons of some types but not others? Would it just use the default for the elements that you didn't install an addon from? Does it cause any issues in any case? (Whether it's functional or visual).

 

Moving on, regarding the most popular addons, I'm not gonna ask "which one is better?", because, well.. we've all seen the threads.. But can you tell me if these are categorized correctly so I know what I would miss/need to add?

 

- mesh: fsgenesis / others?

- landclass: UTX has landclass / the few landclass items FTX released / others?

- vector: UTX has vector / FTX Vector / others?

- land textures: FTX Global / GEX / others?

- other textures: REX 4 TD / rex soft clouds / others?

- airports: misc airports by diferent vendors / hd airports addon / others?

 

So for example, I know I could use GEX + UTX, but do I need mesh? Or would it use the default? Anything else I need in that case?

 

I can use FTX Global + FTX Vector, but I need mesh and landclass? Or does it use the defaults in that case?

 

Ok, still with me? Good, last one I promise:

 

I know REX4 is super nice, but in contrast to REX Essentials + OD, you need a separate weather generator, like ASN, Opus, etc. Now besides REX4+ASN vs REXE+OD for example, beside both combos having weather generator + textures, what is the "Flight Planner" that comes with the latter do? Would I want such a thing? (And if so, what separate ones are there if one opts for REX4+ASN?

 

Whew... That was long but to you pros it should be a breeze ;)

 

*plus I googled and can't find anything actually cataloging/listing/explaining ALL the different elements :(

 

Thanks!!

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My recommendations

 

- mesh: FS GLOBAL ULTIMATE 2010
- landclass: ORBX FTX GLOBAL / Area Specific Areas - FTX Global will change the landclass and add all new textures for the ENTIRE world.  It is worth the bang for the buck.  They will be releasing LC packages for specific areas of the world to even better refine the look of the land masses in the future.  Right now you have EUROPE available to you.  United States is coming.
- vector: If you are using FTX Global, Vector is the choice.   If you are not, UTX is the choice.   Both do a great job of fixing rivers, roads, coastlines and adding new landclass entries such as golf courses, parks, railways, shipyards, etc.
- land textures: FTX Global will do your land textures on the entire planet.
- other textures: REX4 Direct with Softclouds DLC Add-on will do everything else graphically that needs to be done and it does very very very very well.   One of the best products out there.
- airports: I own about 20 payware airports.   In order of Best to Good (IMO):    Flightbeam, FS Dream Team, Taxi2Gate, FlyTampa, ImageSims, LatinVFR, TropicalSims

- weather:  Active Sky NEXT is absolutely the best out there IMO.   OPUS is a close second for me.   I personally don't like OPUS's interface compared to the simplicity of ASN but OPUS does have some nice extras like a built in camera system (EZDok will be needed to setup cameras if you use anything other than OPUS).

- Utilities/Extra:

  • Accu-Feel 2.0 and Shockwave Lights from A2A.   You want to add the effects of gravity on your pilot and get realistic cockpit bounce, shake and shimmes, ACCU-FEEL 2.0 is epic and it works in line with EZDOK/OPUS.   Shockwave Lights takes the dull lifeless night lighting of airplanes and turns it into volumetric 3D awesomeness.
  • FSCaptain - If you want more from your simluation, if you want goals to achieve, then FSCaptain is awesome.  It turns the Flight Simulator into an Airline Simulator and is capable of creating airlines from the big ones down to the small ma and pop operations, PAX or Cargo.
  • VoxATC - If you want to 'talk' to ATC rather than mashing buttons on your keyboard VoxATC is the best bang for the buck IMO.  It use speech recognition to allow you to communicate with Clearance, Ground, Tower, Approach/Departure/ARTCC.  The entire control experience can be had with VoxATC.
  • FS2Crew - If you are planning on picking up or already own some of the big tube liners then FS2Crew is for you.  It puts a virtual First Office in the cockpit of some of the most sophisticated aircraft out there; A3xx, 747-4xx, 737NGX or the big ones.

 

And here is the way I keep my different elements straight in my head.  Picture a big thick juicy hamburger with delicious meat and cheese, lettuce, pickles, tomato on a crispy sesame bun.   Now let's build that hamburger from the ground up.

 

Bottom Bun - Terrain Mesh:  This is the wire polygon mesh the entire simulation sits on top of.  It is created using satellite terrain elevation data.  The more accurate the data the better the mesh is represented in game.  Default mesh is not extremely high resolution which is why you have Devs that make HD meshes so every crack and crevice can be depicted on those mountains you love flying over.

Meat Patty - Landclass:  This sits on top of the mesh and is composed a thousands of squares and each square has data in it that tells the simulation what is suppose to be there; Desert, Forest, City, Lake, Ocean, River, etc.   This also has your autogen mesh built into it so the simulation knows what generic objects to draw on top.  This is where all your Autogen 3D houses, buildings and trees come from.

Cheese - Texture:  The graphics library that has all the graphics that you see with your eyes for the terrain engine.   Once the Landclass tells the simulator what is suppose to go there it goes and looks at the texture library which I believe are flagged as desert/forest/city just like the landclass.   And through wizardary it fits all these textures together to try and avoid to much repetitive textures on the ground.   Default FSX/P3D is not good at doing this.   FTX Global rocks at doing this which is why I think it is worth the price tag.

Lettuce - Scenery Objects:  This is your airports and custom scenery models such as down town cities and famous landmarks that have dedicated model files representing them.

Tomato - Weather Engine:   Default weather sucks harder than the vacuum of space.  Get an upgrade ASAP.  

Top Bun - Texture HD Addons:  This upgrades everything above to photoreal or HD textures.  REX4/REX OD do this amazingly well.

The Seeds On the Bun - Utilities:  These are the little bits and pieces that modify how the simulation runs.   From Performance enhancers, to head shaking simulation, runway thumping, sound packages, lighting changes or just making FSX run with DX10 like it should have done in the first place.  These are so many little programs out there it can make your head spin.

 

Hopefully you are not more confused.  XD   Now I am hunger for a hamburger.   Man this Nutrisystem diet is killing me.

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Hi Walter,

It sounds like your understanding of the various scenery elements is correct. A graphical display is available in PDF format can be found by clicking on the link in the first post found here:

http://www.orbxsystems.com/forum/topic/61846-ftx-global-user-guide-pdf/

 

And yes, all of the basic elements are included in FSX.

 

Before adding anything I suggest getting a feel for the default.  Every addon, while improving on the basic, takes a toll.  As an example, you may prefer to fly with lots of AI traffic but find that that fantastically detailed airport results in an unacceptable framerate with the amount of AI you prefer.  I'm sure this is not news to you but keep in mind that it's all a balancing act.

Jim F.

 

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My recommendations

 

- mesh: FS GLOBAL ULTIMATE 2010- landclass: ORBX FTX GLOBAL / Area Specific Areas - FTX Global will change the landclass and add all new textures for the ENTIRE world. It is worth the bang for the buck. They will be releasing LC packages for specific areas of the world to even better refine the look of the land masses in the future. Right now you have EUROPE available to you. United States is coming.- vector: If you are using FTX Global, Vector is the choice. If you are not, UTX is the choice. Both do a great job of fixing rivers, roads, coastlines and adding new landclass entries such as golf courses, parks, railways, shipyards, etc.- land textures: FTX Global will do your land textures on the entire planet.- other textures: REX4 Direct with Softclouds DLC Add-on will do everything else graphically that needs to be done and it does very very very very well. One of the best products out there.- airports: I own about 20 payware airports. In order of Best to Good (IMO): Flightbeam, FS Dream Team, Taxi2Gate, FlyTampa, ImageSims, LatinVFR, TropicalSims

- weather: Active Sky NEXT is absolutely the best out there IMO. OPUS is a close second for me. I personally don't like OPUS's interface compared to the simplicity of ASN but OPUS does have some nice extras like a built in camera system (EZDok will be needed to setup cameras if you use anything other than OPUS).

- Utilities/Extra:

 

  • Accu-Feel 2.0 and Shockwave Lights from A2A. You want to add the effects of gravity on your pilot and get realistic cockpit bounce, shake and shimmes, ACCU-FEEL 2.0 is epic and it works in line with EZDOK/OPUS. Shockwave Lights takes the dull lifeless night lighting of airplanes and turns it into volumetric 3D awesomeness.
  • FSCaptain - If you want more from your simluation, if you want goals to achieve, then FSCaptain is awesome. It turns the Flight Simulator into an Airline Simulator and is capable of creating airlines from the big ones down to the small ma and pop operations, PAX or Cargo.
  • VoxATC - If you want to 'talk' to ATC rather than mashing buttons on your keyboard VoxATC is the best bang for the buck IMO. It use speech recognition to allow you to communicate with Clearance, Ground, Tower, Approach/Departure/ARTCC. The entire control experience can be had with VoxATC.
  • FS2Crew - If you are planning on picking up or already own some of the big tube liners then FS2Crew is for you. It puts a virtual First Office in the cockpit of some of the most sophisticated aircraft out there; A3xx, 747-4xx, 737NGX or the big ones.
And here is the way I keep my different elements straight in my head. Picture a big thick juicy hamburger with delicious meat and cheese, lettuce, pickles, tomato on a crispy sesame bun. Now let's build that hamburger from the ground up.

 

Bottom Bun - Terrain Mesh: This is the wire polygon mesh the entire simulation sits on top of. It is created using satellite terrain elevation data. The more accurate the data the better the mesh is represented in game. Default mesh is not extremely high resolution which is why you have Devs that make HD meshes so every crack and crevice can be depicted on those mountains you love flying over.

Meat Patty - Landclass: This sits on top of the mesh and is composed a thousands of squares and each square has data in it that tells the simulation what is suppose to be there; Desert, Forest, City, Lake, Ocean, River, etc. This also has your autogen mesh built into it so the simulation knows what generic objects to draw on top. This is where all your Autogen 3D houses, buildings and trees come from.

Cheese - Texture: The graphics library that has all the graphics that you see with your eyes for the terrain engine. Once the Landclass tells the simulator what is suppose to go there it goes and looks at the texture library which I believe are flagged as desert/forest/city just like the landclass. And through wizardary it fits all these textures together to try and avoid to much repetitive textures on the ground. Default FSX/P3D is not good at doing this. FTX Global rocks at doing this which is why I think it is worth the price tag.

Lettuce - Scenery Objects: This is your airports and custom scenery models such as down town cities and famous landmarks that have dedicated model files representing them.

Tomato - Weather Engine: Default weather sucks harder than the vacuum of space. Get an upgrade ASAP.

Top Bun - Texture HD Addons: This upgrades everything above to photoreal or HD textures. REX4/REX OD do this amazingly well.

The Seeds On the Bun - Utilities: These are the little bits and pieces that modify how the simulation runs. From Performance enhancers, to head shaking simulation, runway thumping, sound packages, lighting changes or just making FSX run with DX10 like it should have done in the first place. These are so many little programs out there it can make your head spin.

 

Hopefully you are not more confused. XD Now I am hunger for a hamburger. Man this Nutrisystem diet is killing me.

Hey, thanks for the extensive reply!

 

So I guess I more or less had the idea, but in this burger you speak of... What would the vector part be? A second patty..? :P that the one thing I'm not 100% sure of what it is still.

 

So seems if we talk about the "major" ones people use the. You need one of these combos:

 

1) Some mesh prod + ftx global + ftx vector + some lc whenever that's available for the region you want...

2) some mesh prod + ftx global + utx

3) some mesh prod + gex + utx

 

Is that about right?

 

The other problem is you have now given me a lot of extra addons to look at... :D

 

Well, that and the hamburger part of course...

Hi Walter,

It sounds like your understanding of the various scenery elements is correct. A graphical display is available in PDF format can be found by clicking on the link in the first post found here:

http://www.orbxsystems.com/forum/topic/61846-ftx-global-user-guide-pdf/

 

And yes, all of the basic elements are included in FSX.

 

Before adding anything I suggest getting a feel for the default. Every addon, while improving on the basic, takes a toll. As an example, you may prefer to fly with lots of AI traffic but find that that fantastically detailed airport results in an unacceptable framerate with the amount of AI you prefer. I'm sure this is not news to you but keep in mind that it's all a balancing act.

Jim F.

Hi Jim, thanks for the info, I'll be taking a look at that now.

 

Yes, I want to get the vanilla one all nice and smooth first, and then I'll start with the addons, specially after hearing about all these OOM nightmares...

I'm currently following the FSX bible, so let's see how that goes...

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Vector contains additional data that sits on top of the landclass (works along side it) to define roads, railroads, powerlines, rivers and coast lines.     All those thousands of roads you see AI cars driving on?  Those are from vector data.   Those rivers winding through the the downtown XXXX city, Vector data.

 

Programs like FTX Vector and UTX give the Vector data a major overall, putting all the roads, rail lines, rivers and coastlines right where they belong based on OSM data (Open Street Map)... well at least I know it does the roads for sure.   Vector is the ketchup/mustard you may or may not want to put on your burger as it can add extra calories and make your sim ugly if you let it get out of control.  Most vector 3rd party programs allow you to adjust how much data they pull in though.   Vector data destroys/supresses autogen.  So let's say you turn on road ways to 100%... well in a major city you are going to get every single major and minor road which creates a giant waffle pattern that has tons of roads but all the autogen trees and buildings get sacrificed.  Most people only turn on major roads and leave it at this.  To much AI car traffic can choke the life out of your frame rate and bog down the simulation in unnecessary eye candy rendering.

 

 

There are many.  I think I spent just over a $1000 bucks on software alone with all my MegaSceneryEarth 2.0 packs, ORBX products and all the other bells and whistles, not to mention expensive add-on planes.

 

And yes.  Your fomulas are correct.

 

Mine looks like this:   FS Global 2010 Ultimate Americas + FTX Global + FTX Vector + REX4HD w/ Softclouds + 20+ Payware Airports + Active Sky NEXT

 

This makes my sim world big and beautiful for all my 737's, Airbuses and prop jobs to buzz around in.   Be warned that each peace of the formula nibbles away just a little bit more at your FPS and your VAS Memory.   With everything running I can do about 4 hour long flights before I start getting the ding of Death Warning that I am about to run out of memory which is fine because I only do domestic commercial flights.

 

Oh... I left out one of the most important Utility programs that you will at the very least want to get the free version of;  Pete's FSUIPC.   Many many add-ons require at  least the free version installed to function properly.

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If you like to fly 'heavy and high' FTXG is a very good product.

 

If you prefer 'low and slow' and enjoy the scenery like I do with a glider here are my two preferences-

 

1. Aime Leclercq's free textures of trees, fields, rocks and mountains-

    https://sites.google.com/site/aimecreations/freeware-fsx

 

2. Ground Environment X (GEX) are great textures about $35 per continent.

 

 

Scenery Tech is a good standard landclass product for either scenery choice.

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Vector contains additional data that sits on top of the landclass (works along side it) to define roads, railroads, powerlines, rivers and coast lines.     All those thousands of roads you see AI cars driving on?  Those are from vector data.   Those rivers winding through the the downtown XXXX city, Vector data.

 

Programs like FTX Vector and UTX give the Vector data a major overall, putting all the roads, rail lines, rivers and coastlines right where they belong based on OSM data (Open Street Map)... well at least I know it does the roads for sure.   Vector is the ketchup/mustard you may or may not want to put on your burger as it can add extra calories and make your sim ugly if you let it get out of control.  Most vector 3rd party programs allow you to adjust how much data they pull in though.   Vector data destroys/supresses autogen.  So let's say you turn on road ways to 100%... well in a major city you are going to get every single major and minor road which creates a giant waffle pattern that has tons of roads but all the autogen trees and buildings get sacrificed.  Most people only turn on major roads and leave it at this.  To much AI car traffic can choke the life out of your frame rate and bog down the simulation in unnecessary eye candy rendering.

 

 

There are many.  I think I spent just over a $1000 bucks on software alone with all my MegaSceneryEarth 2.0 packs, ORBX products and all the other bells and whistles, not to mention expensive add-on planes.

 

And yes.  Your fomulas are correct.

 

Mine looks like this:   FS Global 2010 Ultimate Americas + FTX Global + FTX Vector + REX4HD w/ Softclouds + 20+ Payware Airports + Active Sky NEXT

 

This makes my sim world big and beautiful for all my 737's, Airbuses and prop jobs to buzz around in.   Be warned that each peace of the formula nibbles away just a little bit more at your FPS and your VAS Memory.   With everything running I can do about 4 hour long flights before I start getting the ding of Death Warning that I am about to run out of memory which is fine because I only do domestic commercial flights.

 

Oh... I left out one of the most important Utility programs that you will at the very least want to get the free version of;  Pete's FSUIPC.   Many many add-ons require at  least the free version installed to function properly.

I'll look into FSUIPC, hadn't even seen it yet...

 

So from your description of your setup you don't have any landclass products and just use the defaults? (And the "touches" FTXG fixes up).

 

What about DX10? Would that be something important to start looking at all the tweaks and fixes that exist to have it run properly, or should I just be happy with DX9?

 

Lastly since you mentioned them.. What's the deal with the megascenery packs? Do they sit atop everything and cver it all up? Simce I know they're ugly to land on, do you complement with airports anget a nice compromise or is there just no way around it to get the best of both worlds..?

If you like to fly 'heavy and high' FTXG is a very good product.

 

If you prefer 'low and slow' and enjoy the scenery like I do with a glider here are my two preferences-

 

1. Aime Leclercq's free textures of trees, fields, rocks and mountains-

    https://sites.google.com/site/aimecreations/freeware-fsx

 

2. Ground Environment X (GEX) are great textures about $35 per continent.

 

 

Scenery Tech is a good standard landclass product for either scenery choice.

Thanks for the info, the freeware ones look nice too at least in the screenshots!

 

Don't understand though, freeware aside, why you say you like ftx for flying high and gex for flying low... Since they do the same thing and I assume the same detail, is it simply because you like the GEX texture more when viewed from closer down..?

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FSUIPC fixes many problems in FSX and gives you a much better and more refined way of setting up your controllers for use in FSX.   You can literally setup your throttles and buttons on a per plane basis which is very liberating if you fly many different types of jets.   This gives you a one stop place to configure each plane's controls.    On top of that, FSUIPC fixes many annoying weather bugs regarding wind and turbulence.  It will also monitor your VAS usage and warn you when you are about to have a crash so you can save your in flight progress.

 

You are correct.  FTX Global *IS* a landclass/texture package but it's loose on the landclass side of things which is why ORBX releases region specific LC packages.  These LC packages better define the landclass for the areas they are meant to give you a more accurate depiction of that region.

 

And this is a good spot to segway into MegaSceneryEarth and what it does.   MSE is what is known as a Photoreal package.   Photoreal scenery replaces landclass completely and simply overlays satellite imagery onto the mesh.   There are pros and cons to using photo real.

 

PROS:

  1. 100% accurate terrain texturing with every city,road and river represented EXACTLY as it is in the real world.
  2. Autogen is 100% suppressed which frees up VAS memory and improves Frame Rates. 
  3. Most Photoreal Payware packages use 50cm high resolution data to create incredibly sharp images at altitudes as low as 1500 feet AGL.

CONS:

  1. Because of the nature of Photoreal and how large the installation packages are you sacrifice seasons and night lighting.   Your average US state runs about 25-35 GIGS of installation space.    This would have to be doubled if they had night lighting textures and quadrupled for seasons.
  2. Some people don't like flying with Autogen suppressed.  It makes the world seem 'FLAT'.    If you are a airline pilot Autogen should mean jack diddly to you because you aren't going to see it anyway at 38000 feet but having a GPS accurate real world scrolling below you is breath taking.   Good payware airports will give you more than enough building and tree eye candy around the airport which is the only place you are going to care about scenery as an airline pilot.
  3. It's expensive as hell.   Taking MSE as an example, their average cost for just ONE state is $24.99 I believe.    Their Ultra Res cities packages are about 15-20 bucks a pop.   At 50 states and over 20 cities, you can see where that adds up not mention the drive space required to store the files let alone install them.
  4. Drastically increased load times when starting your flight.   Photoreal takes much longer to load into the sim.  Once it's loaded in though it won't load again.  You can a seamless fly from point A to point B.

Now, that all being said.   I own almost the entire United States from MSE.  I have a bunch of 6T hard drives so I am fine on storage.  In the spring and summertime I fly exclusively with MegaScenery for all my day flights.   In Fall and Winter or for night flights I turn off MegaScenery and turn on FTX Global.

 

Now the good news for Photoreal.   We have night lighting now thanks to the efforts of Night Enviroment Extreme and 3D Nights.   These products put 3D lights on top of Photoreal to light up our nights with accurate night lighting in and around major cities.

 

And more good news...  MegaSceneryEarth frequently has 40% off sales of all their products, greatly reducing the cost.   Every Tuesday over at PCAviator all their MSE producst are 10% off.   It is not much more affordable.

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FSUIPC fixes many problems in FSX and gives you a much better and more refined way of setting up your controllers for use in FSX.   You can literally setup your throttles and buttons on a per plane basis which is very liberating if you fly many different types of jets.   This gives you a one stop place to configure each plane's controls.    On top of that, FSUIPC fixes many annoying weather bugs regarding wind and turbulence.  It will also monitor your VAS usage and warn you when you are about to have a crash so you can save your in flight progress.

 

You are correct.  FTX Global *IS* a landclass/texture package but it's loose on the landclass side of things which is why ORBX releases region specific LC packages.  These LC packages better define the landclass for the areas they are meant to give you a more accurate depiction of that region.

 

And this is a good spot to segway into MegaSceneryEarth and what it does.   MSE is what is known as a Photoreal package.   Photoreal scenery replaces landclass completely and simply overlays satellite imagery onto the mesh.   There are pros and cons to using photo real.

 

PROS:

 

  • 100% accurate terrain texturing with every city,road and river represented EXACTLY as it is in the real world.
  • Autogen is 100% suppressed which frees up VAS memory and improves Frame Rates. 
  • Most Photoreal Payware packages use 50cm high resolution data to create incredibly sharp images at altitudes as low as 1500 feet AGL.
CONS:

  • Because of the nature of Photoreal and how large the installation packages are you sacrifice seasons and night lighting.   Your average US state runs about 25-35 GIGS of installation space.    This would have to be doubled if they had night lighting textures and quadrupled for seasons.
  • Some people don't like flying with Autogen suppressed.  It makes the world seem 'FLAT'.    If you are a airline pilot Autogen should mean jack diddly to you because you aren't going to see it anyway at 38000 feet but having a GPS accurate real world scrolling below you is breath taking.   Good payware airports will give you more than enough building and tree eye candy around the airport which is the only place you are going to care about scenery as an airline pilot.
  • It's expensive as hell.   Taking MSE as an example, their average cost for just ONE state is $24.99 I believe.    Their Ultra Res cities packages are about 15-20 bucks a pop.   At 50 states and over 20 cities, you can see where that adds up not mention the drive space required to store the files let alone install them.
  • Drastically increased load times when starting your flight.   Photoreal takes much longer to load into the sim.  Once it's loaded in though it won't load again.  You can a seamless fly from point A to point B.
Now, that all being said.   I own almost the entire United States from MSE.  I have a bunch of 6T hard drives so I am fine on storage.  In the spring and summertime I fly exclusively with MegaScenery for all my day flights.   In Fall and Winter or for night flights I turn off MegaScenery and turn on FTX Global.

 

Now the good news for Photoreal.   We have night lighting now thanks to the efforts of Night Enviroment Extreme and 3D Nights.   These products put 3D lights on top of Photoreal to light up our nights with accurate night lighting in and around major cities.

 

And more good news...  MegaSceneryEarth frequently has 40% off sales of all their products, greatly reducing the cost.   Every Tuesday over at PCAviator all their MSE producst are 10% off.   It is not much more affordable.

Nice. I guess it comes down to a balance and not getting desperate to want to go out and buy the whole world :) regarding these products ypu mention of Night environment extreme and 3d nights, I get the part about the lights, but how do you get Night, or does photoreal cover it (even if it doesn't cover seasons?)

 

I saw the sales, and since the 40% is with a coupon, on tuesdays it stacks and you get 50% off.. Not bad to at least give it a try... I would assume the cities have even more detail than the state they belong to and are "on top" just like traditional,graphic elements are on top of each other in our burger...

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My recommendations are subjective and based solely on my personal preferences.

 

You could download and install Leclerq's Creation scenery and FTX Greenland Demo and make a comparison for yourself.

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I'm hugely in favour of trying out freeware solutions prior to investing money in payware.

 

A noted previously, each area that you may want to improve can take a performance toll on your sim.  The act of combining various elements to suit an individuals taste, while catering to their system requirements, is somewhat an art form.  It gets easier over time, but faced with the typical wall of 'best' reccomendations, it can quickly be overwhelming for anyone starting out.  Not only from an information perspective, but from a financial viewpoint as well!!

 

There are:

 

Freeware mesh packages available, generally for small regions, in the library here.

Demo's of very high end payware airports available from FSDreamTeam.  Time limited, but essential since they let you know what sort of performance hit you can expect to acheive high fidelity in large airport environments.

Freeware ground and cloud textures available, some of which is mentioned above.

Freeware weather engine to better depict, er, weather. FSrealWX is a good choice.

Freeware regions, such as the few that Orbx offers.  (FTX Iceland is excellent.)

Freeware photoreal, such as offered by BlueSkyScenery.

 

Combine this with the literal ton of freeware airports and aircraft available, and you can see that you can experiment to find out exactly which areas of the sim you really want to explore upgrading, all at no cost.

 

I know this really doesn't address your original post regarding how it all fits together, but I saw so many payware names being tossed about that I thought it essential to point out that you can experiment and learn without having to buy anything.

 

Then, when you have gained the knowledge of how it all works, you're able to approach payware with a keen eye for not just if a payware product is 'the best', but if it is really going to be the best for you!

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My recommendations are subjective and based solely on my personal preferences.

 

You could download and install Leclerq's Creation scenery and FTX Greenland Demo and make a comparison for yourself.

Right, I understand. But what I meant was since you're using two products that do the same but say you use one for flying high and the other for low, is that the reason? That you think one looks better at higher distance and the other at lower distance?

I'm hugely in favour of trying out freeware solutions prior to investing money in payware.

 

A noted previously, each area that you may want to improve can take a performance toll on your sim.  The act of combining various elements to suit an individuals taste, while catering to their system requirements, is somewhat an art form.  It gets easier over time, but faced with the typical wall of 'best' reccomendations, it can quickly be overwhelming for anyone starting out.  Not only from an information perspective, but from a financial viewpoint as well!!

 

There are:

 

Freeware mesh packages available, generally for small regions, in the library here.

Demo's of very high end payware airports available from FSDreamTeam.  Time limited, but essential since they let you know what sort of performance hit you can expect to acheive high fidelity in large airport environments.

Freeware ground and cloud textures available, some of which is mentioned above.

Freeware weather engine to better depict, er, weather. FSrealWX is a good choice.

Freeware regions, such as the few that Orbx offers.  (FTX Iceland is excellent.)

Freeware photoreal, such as offered by BlueSkyScenery.

 

Combine this with the literal ton of freeware airports and aircraft available, and you can see that you can experiment to find out exactly which areas of the sim you really want to explore upgrading, all at no cost.

 

I know this really doesn't address your original post regarding how it all fits together, but I saw so many payware names being tossed about that I thought it essential to point out that you can experiment and learn without having to buy anything.

 

Then, when you have gained the knowledge of how it all works, you're able to approach payware with a keen eye for not just if a payware product is 'the best', but if it is really going to be the best for you!

That seems like a very sensible approach, and I probably will check out the ones you mention. The only concer I have with that is how your system/install is left after adding and removing so many test addons... Are most of these relatively "tidy" or will they leave much garbage behind if you choose to uninstall them?

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Nice. I guess it comes down to a balance and not getting desperate to want to go out and buy the whole world :) regarding these products ypu mention of Night environment extreme and 3d nights, I get the part about the lights, but how do you get Night, or does photoreal cover it (even if it doesn't cover seasons?)

 

I saw the sales, and since the 40% is with a coupon, on tuesdays it stacks and you get 50% off.. Not bad to at least give it a try... I would assume the cities have even more detail than the state they belong to and are "on top" just like traditional,graphic elements are on top of each other in our burger...

 

If you fly over photoreal scenery during the night time it will look like a zombie apocalypse wasteland because the engine will use the day textures which have no lighting painted on them.  FTX Global and others like it add 3D lighting models but they add it to the Autogen layer which gets suppressed by Photoreal scenery so you can't use that either for night lighting.   You will see nothing but darkness.   Now these new stand alone 3D Night lighting packinages are created on a graphics layer that sits just above the photoscenery textures.  This layer is where all your Custom Scenery Objects come from which is why you still see downtown city blocks and famous landmark buildings when you turn on Photoreal.  These are not generated by the autogen system.  They are hand placed by a team of developers.  Because they are considered Custom Building Objects (the lights) they  don't get suppressed by the Photoreal layer and light up the night terrain, usually with spectacular results that match up to the real world road ways and urban areas of the cities you are flying over.   It is quite breathtaking to see.

 

If you mean literally, how do you get night... ummm.. just.. adjust your in-game time to night time???   lol.  

 

MSE Ultra Resolution Cities provide an even great level of detail than the state level scenery, which is why one city package can be almost the same size as a whole state.   These Ultra City packages usually cover the entire terminal control area of the city they were designed after.  They do so at the same 50cm sample resolution that the state's were taken at but they are not compressed like the states so your detail level is preserved and looks incredible.  There is a video on my YouTube flight blog of me flying over Ultra Res Dallas/Fort Worth in a Mooney.   If you want to see what it looks like go check it out.

 

As others are mentioning, there are freeware projects out there to play with.  There are many free payware quality airports.  Tileproxy provides same nice texture packages for the terrain.  There are even some amazing airplane add-ons that are on par with some of the high end payware aircraft.  If you have the money though then support the 3rd party devs.  They are the ones, in my opinion, that keep this hobby alive and fresh when it should have died a long time ago under the strain of its neglect by the non-existent official developers (I am referring to the original FSX).

 

That's my buck fifty.

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That seems like a very sensible approach, and I probably will check out the ones you mention. The only concer I have with that is how your system/install is left after adding and removing so many test addons... Are most of these relatively "tidy" or will they leave much garbage behind if you choose to uninstall them?

 

This is one area where freeware does pretty well.  A lot of freeware items don't have an installer; for scenery, you simply put it whereever you want, and and it to your scenery library.  For example, I have a significant amount of photoreal by BlueSkyScenery.  I don't even keep it on the same hard drive as my FSX install; I just add it to the scenery library myself, and only enable it when I want to use it.  I use tons of freeware airports; they too are all organized outside of my FSX folder, and added to the scenery library myself.

 

Payware demos are a different story.  Some that have limitations, such as being time limited, have an installation routine and would then require uninstallation if you decide that you don't like them.  Most developers are pretty good about giving you the ability to do a clean uninstall.

 

Texture replacements, whether they are freeware or payware are also entirely different; they actually replace the textures within your FSX installation. Some payware options give you the ability to back up your original textures first, or you can learn how to do that yourself.  But all of them affect your FSX installation in a way that is un-reversable if you don't keep a backup.

 

Also, most Orbx / FTX items are pretty much a one way street.  A few of their newer products are above to be cleanly removed, but most of their regions and airports require a bit more work.  I have a very Orbx heavy installation; I'm pretty much resigned to the fact that the easiest way to uninstall it all would be to simply blow it all up and reinstall FSX. ^_^


 

[snip] Tileproxy provides same nice texture packages for the terrain. [/snip]

 

Just a clarification; Tileproxy does not provide any textures.  It provides a low level means to download satellite imagery on the fly from certain well known sources.  It's not easy to setup on every pc (it wasn't easy on mine!) and questions on whether it violates the terms of service from the providers of the imagery is best left to another place.  That said, some people have very good luck with it, but it depends on how fast you fly, and how good your download speeds are, and how good / even the coverage is where you want to fly.

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"I'm hugely in favour of trying out freeware solutions prior to investing money in payware."

 

I only fly gliders from the 1100 ft. bluffs of the Mississippi to as far away as the Alps or the Himalayas so I'm often riding air waves close to ridges and mountains.

 

It's that 2-500 ft distance from any object that sure looks good to me.

 

I defer to the pilots who fly much higher that pretty much unanimously recommend FS Global. 

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FTX Global and others like it add 3D lighting models but they add it to the Autogen layer which gets suppressed by Photoreal scenery so you can't use that either for night lighting. You will see nothing but darkness.

 

 

I have FTX Global with the vector road lights turned on and attached to UTX roads and they work at night over photoreal. The only thing I lose is the FTX autogen night lights. Since I use the older MegaScenery title like Dallas, Phoenix, SoCal, etc., that include photoreal night textures, the FTX road night lights still look good albeit, even though I have autogen, I don't have the autogen night lights, only roads and freeways.

 

One disadvantage of using lots of photoreal packages that I hadn't seen mentioned is that they consume a lot of VAS if you leave them all turned on at once. May or may not be an issue depending on what type of a/c you're flying, what size cloud textures your using, how far your LOD settings are and things like that. If you have many full states turned on, fly something like the NGX or T7, use addon airports, then you may not have enough VAS left to complete your flights prior to running out of memory. I like photoreal as well, so to over come this I usually just buy city ppass of photoreal, mainly the older MegaScenery products since they have night textures, and then only leave the cities enabled that I am going to be using for that flight.

 

The reason photoreal consumes more VAS is because the scenery loads no matter where your are. For example, if you own photoreal for the whole US, start a flight somewhere in the middle of the US, then go to top down view and start zooming out until you can view the whole US, you will see that the photoreal scenery will be displayed for the whole country.

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I have FTX Global with the vector road lights turned on and attached to UTX roads and they work at night over photoreal. The only thing I lose is the FTX autogen night lights. Since I use the older MegaScenery title like Dallas, Phoenix, SoCal, etc., that include photoreal night textures, the FTX road night lights still look good albeit, even though I have autogen, I don't have the autogen night lights, only roads and freeways.

 

One disadvantage of using lots of photoreal packages that I hadn't seen mentioned is that they consume a lot of VAS if you leave them all turned on at once. May or may not be an issue depending on what type of a/c you're flying, what size cloud textures your using, how far your LOD settings are and things like that. If you have many full states turned on, fly something like the NGX or T7, use addon airports, then you may not have enough VAS left to complete your flights prior to running out of memory. I like photoreal as well, so to over come this I usually just buy city ppass of photoreal, mainly the older MegaScenery products since they have night textures, and then only leave the cities enabled that I am going to be using for that flight.

 

The reason photoreal consumes more VAS is because the scenery loads no matter where your are. For example, if you own photoreal for the whole US, start a flight somewhere in the middle of the US, then go to top down view and start zooming out until you can view the whole US, you will see that the photoreal scenery will be displayed for the whole country.

 

All 100% true.  You are not meant to fly with all your photoreal packages turned on.  There is a lovely program called SceneryConfigurator that is 100% free that allows you to organize all of your scenery add-ons and turn them off and on at will before each flight.   When I take a flight, I file my flight plan, see what states my path will take me over and then I turn on only those states and the starting city and ending city Ultra Res packages and then the departure and arrival payware/updated AFCAD airport.   This allows me a good 4 hours worth of flight no matter what plane or weather I am in and you can pretty much fly from one side of the US to the other, up or down, in 4 hours.   Most of my flights are 2 hours long though so I never worry about OOM crashing.  We are still able to load up to around 6 states before we have issues because we don't have to deal with costly autogen eating up the VAS.

 

The reason why you get night lighting with Vector/UTX is because those lights are slaved to the Vector layer, rather than the Autogen layer.  Your cities will still go black but the roads will be lit.  For some that is enough night lighting but I want not just the roads to light up but the entire city.  Night lighting enviroment packages do this very well.

 

MegaSceneryEarth has cleverly hidden their legacy products from view or maybe I am not seeing them.   I have the older Dallas Mega City but oh man is it butt ugly compared to their new Ultra Res city.  The older photoscenery is not very sharp.   They sacrificed quality to give you the night lighting in the same package as the day textures.  The other problem is I think they ditched the old method long before they competed the United States.

 

Also of note, If you are a Euro flyer, the good news is that MSE is working diligently to provide photoreal of all of Europe and the UK and have already made great strides in completing this.

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Lots of great info, thanks to everyone for the feedback.

 

Related to my original post, besides understanding it better thanks to the feedback received here, as luck would have it I registered yesterday on the Orbx forums, and on one of the stickies, they *just* uploaded yesterday v2 of their "ultimate guide" to FTX.

 

It contains exactly what I asked here, explaining all the layers, elements, etc. A very good read besides containing also info about their products of course.

 

I won't upload it here without permission but all you need to do is go to the forum and you'll see it right away. I'm sure most of you are probably already registered :)

 

Edit: niw all I gotta do is learn to setup and calibrate my controls correctly (saitek pro flight yoke, quadrant and rudder pedals)

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Lots of great info, thanks to everyone for the feedback.

 

Related to my original post, besides understanding it better thanks to the feedback received here, as luck would have it I registered yesterday on the Orbx forums, and on one of the stickies, they *just* uploaded yesterday v2 of their "ultimate guide" to FTX.

 

It contains exactly what I asked here, explaining all the layers, elements, etc. A very good read besides containing also info about their products of course.

 

I won't upload it here without permission but all you need to do is go to the forum and you'll see it right away. I'm sure most of you are probably already registered :)

 

Edit: niw all I gotta do is learn to setup and calibrate my controls correctly (saitek pro flight yoke, quadrant and rudder pedals)

 

Glad we could be of help.  I am telling you this right now.   Get FSUIPC and setup ALL your controls through it.  Don't use FSX/P3D's controller setup system.  FSUPIC is extremely powerful and can setup controls on a Per Plane basis which is epic.   You aren't stuck with One Scheme Fits All.  Because it doesn't.   Prop planes, Twin Engine, Jets, all require different settings to be accurate and life-like and FSUIPC allows that.

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@

Kuragiman

 

you mention the lighting to add in over the mega scenery, can you give me the full names of them, a quick google search did not give me much love,

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Glad we could be of help.  I am telling you this right now.   Get FSUIPC and setup ALL your controls through it.  Don't use FSX/P3D's controller setup system.  FSUPIC is extremely powerful and can setup controls on a Per Plane basis which is epic.   You aren't stuck with One Scheme Fits All.  Because it doesn't.   Prop planes, Twin Engine, Jets, all require different settings to be accurate and life-like and FSUIPC allows that.

Ok, I will look into it. Does is have to be the registered version for that functionality?

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@

Kuragiman

 

you mention the lighting to add in over the mega scenery, can you give me the full names of them, a quick google search did not give me much love,

 

http://www.nightenvironment.com/    <--- Solution #1

 

http://secure.simmarket.com/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=NIGHT+3D   <----- Solution #2

 

These are the two I am looking at.   I tried out Texas for NIGHT 3D but the frame rate got completely trashed and I don't know of any easy way to tone down the settings.    It looks amazing.  Does not perform amazing.  I am told Flight1's Night Enviroment is better and easier to configure for less FPS hit but it is lacking in US coverage at the moment.  They are working feverishly on it though.

Ok, I will look into it. Does is have to be the registered version for that functionality?

 

Not sure.  Have a look at the website and find out.  I just bought the thing outright since it came so highly recommended to me.

 

http://www.schiratti.com/dowson.html

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These are the two I am looking at.   I tried out Texas for NIGHT 3D but the frame rate got completely trashed and I don't know of any easy way to tone down the settings.    It looks amazing.  Does not perform amazing.  I am told Flight1's Night Enviroment is better and easier to configure for less FPS hit but it is lacking in US coverage at the moment.  They are working feverishly on it though.

 

Aren't those two links both the Aerosoft Product? Or am I missing something...

Edited by n4gix
Moved reply *out* of the quote box!

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These are the two I am looking at.   I tried out Texas for NIGHT 3D but the frame rate got completely trashed and I don't know of any easy way to tone down the settings.    It looks amazing.  Does not perform amazing.  I am told Flight1's Night Enviroment is better and easier to configure for less FPS hit but it is lacking in US coverage at the moment.  They are working feverishly on it though.

 

Aren't those two links both the Aerosoft Product? Or am I missing something...

 

No.  Two different products.

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