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Cjr60611

Night flying in X-Plane: Yay or Nah?

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I constantly see post from simmers who rave about the night environment in X-Plane.  I mostly agree with them as takeoff and landing in the cover of darkness is a true pleasure in the sim.  I can't compare the experience to FSX or P3D because I don't remember doing much flying at night with them, I mostly avoided it.  However, with XP I often will bid on flights that take me into the night.  So, I guess that's a testament to the sims features.

 

But....  While takeoff and landing are great :dance: , cruise in darkness in X-Plane is kinda wacky!  First, the issue with "moonshine" in beta is bothersome enough (I'm thinking they will fix that).  The more irksome issue is the numerous airports in sight that shine bright regardless of distance, cloud cover and surrounding area.  It's almost like the runway lights are the only lights you see for miles in every direction!  I know some of us need that security if a nearby airport "just in case" but, this is and looks crazy!  I'm surprised by this because the team at LR have done a fantastic job with the rest of the sim

 

My questions are;  Is there a way to turn down distant runway lights in the settings?  Or, is there a mod/plug-in that addresses the concern?  Finally, I haven't seen other comments on this issue so, is it just me?

 

   

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I have noticed this a bit, but primarily only because the draw distance for the airport lights is farther out than the draw distance for the rest of the scenery lighting.

 

I would personally love for LR to figure out a way too increase the draw distance for all the lights. In certain situations, the night lighting is indeed awesome - but it's quite crippled in my opinion because of the rather close distance that lights have to be within before they show at all.

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I'm sure there will be improvements.  The depiction overall is unmatched by P3D.

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I'm undecided on the night lighting. I think at low levels the view is incredible, especially coming in to land and seeing all the cars moving on the highways and I think there is a reason the majority of X-Plane screenshots are taken at dawn/dusk and night :-). But also there is still something missing for me and I can't quite put my finger on it. Once you get high up the lights seem way overdone and especially in Europe it just looks wrong that every single road has street lights. Although I think the HDR lighting is one of XP's greatest strengths, it's not something I actually care too much for since I like to see where I'm flying  :smile:

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It's the best out there, but yes, needs improvement. 

 

Draw distance needs to be about twice as far. At least make it an option for those with beefier systems. 

 

The night sky, moon, banding, etc. are all issues that hopefully get fixed. 

 

And yeah, the biggest issue as far as realism goes IMO is the runway lights showing up dozens of miles away through everything. In real life, it's hard to find an airport at night that you aren't familiar with. P3D suffers from this as well. 

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It's the best out there, but yes, needs improvement. 

 

Draw distance needs to be about twice as far. At least make it an option for those with beefier systems. 

 

The night sky, moon, banding, etc. are all issues that hopefully get fixed. 

 

And yeah, the biggest issue as far as realism goes IMO is the runway lights showing up dozens of miles away through everything. In real life, it's hard to find an airport at night that you aren't familiar with. P3D suffers from this as well.

 

You can say that again,it can be very hard.

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P3D suffers from this as well. 

 

Yeah, it's even worse in P3D at times....can be to the point where you can't MISS seeing the airport....precisely the opposite of real life.

 

A problem on both sides.  It's also the sort of thing, like weather in XP in general, that I wish would have higher Dev priority to remedy, as it slides right into the realism of simulating the real thing category that I personally wish was as high of a priority as possible.

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I actually prefer flying at late dusk / early dawn instead of pitch black. The added ambient light hides a lot of the shortcomings regarding short draw distance, while allowing for the nice parts to 'shine'. (Couldn't help the pun. :smile: )

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I agree Jim. Like I said, no surprises that most screenshots in both sims are done during dusk/dawn.

 

Reminds me of this stunning video

 

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The city lights nee to fade in instead of pop in. And, at altitude, it seems they should dim down. Otherwise, they are pretty spectacular.

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The city lights nee to fade in instead of pop in. And, at altitude, it seems they should dim down. Otherwise, they are pretty spectacular.

 

 

This - Exactly...well said

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@exodus1977 Hit the nail on the head with that one. 100% agreed

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The city lights nee to fade in instead of pop in. And, at altitude, it seems they should dim down. Otherwise, they are pretty spectacular.

We all should file bug reports on this, only chance we can have them fix this as long as the lights through clouds.

 

By the way, even with these shortcomings XP night time is prime show...reading some posts it looks poor...cmon please do a tour in PRD Orbx bulbs or look at any airport triangle fake cone light in FSX and go back to XP then.

 

I could open many "yeah or nah" topic on XP features but night lights would be bottom of the list for me.

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If we spread the word and report the distance of lights as a bug, they will consider it. As far as I know Austin likes GA aircrafts and so I guess he is not flying much at night... :P So he is not into IFR ... (it is a guess, but it makes sense since the problem with the lights showing through clouds is not yet fixed and the fact that when you fly at FL300 outside is completely dark and no lights on the horizon.

There is a guy that attempted to get a sort of solution to the drawing distance and I think he is on the right direction (or at least he was). I was thinking about that solution too and I also reported that to LR long before I discovered the "primitive" solution that guy did, but so far LR didnt do anything.

My suggestion was this: Do you guys remember when XP10 first came out? From low altitudes it was great but once up in the sky all the world looked like an immense layer of green grass,even where big cities were supposed to be. Then they came out with a fix using city textures (and no autogen that was gradually fading while climbing). Tht can be the solution for the night flying... NIGHT CITY TEXTURES (like the ones used for the cities during the day when flying high)! 3d light can gradually fade as you climb and that would also increase framerates cause 3d lights will not be there anymore. Anyway, who can tell if that is a 3d light or not from FL 300???

And also I agree that airport lights should dim while climbing. When I fly at night (for real as a passenger) you won't see airports around you shining that bright! But this is another story! :)

I hope you guys too might copy and paste the solution I wrote here  and send it to laminar... maybe someone will eventually listen.

BTW, here is the link to the "temporal fix" that a Brazilian guy did... and that I am using. It is not perfect but at least is better than flying over a sea of darkness.

https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/36942-night-city-textures-extended-lights-lod/&tab=comments#comment-234366

Cheers

 

Stefano

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The distance for night lighting has been discussed by the developers in the past.  I seem to recall that they are aware, but it is a resource hog and they have concluded that the framerates are better spent on other things.  Maybe, once Vulcan comes on the scene in the not too distant future, performance will pick up to the point that they can bring it onboard.  As far as distant airports, I agree that they could dim some, but realize that a candle on a dark night can be seen from far away and there is probably nothing brighter at night than airport lighting.  It's also helpful if you experiencing a failure and looking for a place to set it down!

John

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5 hours ago, Malombroso said:

My suggestion was this: Do you guys remember when XP10 first came out? From low altitudes it was great but once up in the sky all the world looked like an immense layer of green grass,even where big cities were supposed to be. Then they came out with a fix using city textures (and no autogen that was gradually fading while climbing). Tht can be the solution for the night flying... NIGHT CITY TEXTURES (like the ones used for the cities during the day when flying high)! 3d light can gradually fade as you climb and that would also increase framerates cause 3d lights will not be there anymore. Anyway, who can tell if that is a 3d light or not from FL 300???

Distant 2D textures fading into procedural 3D ights closer to the aircraft is a good solution, but there is a downside in storage size for the bitmaps, if they're pre-generated.

Especially now that people are expecting 4k monitor support. Those textures have to be held on disk and then shoved through the video bus as needed. You would need a ton of them if they're pre-generated for every major city. The current method of generating individual light sources from OSM street and building data is heavy on the CPU/GPU, but it's efficient if you have a strong enough system.

Austin seems to prefer procedural methods over textures, which is why we don't have seasonal terrain yet (he wants a procedural system). Procedural graphics are a better way to keep up with advances in monitor tech, for one thing, instead of getting locked into one texture resolution. Probably easier to scale up or down for VR too.

Maybe it's possible to generate a night lighting texture for distant lights "on the fly" from the same OSM data used for the closer-in procedural lighting? That might work as a compromise if it can be done fast enough. 

I have a feeling though, that they don't consider this a high priority, and may just be waiting for user hardware to catch up, and get fast enough to extend the night lighting radius with the current procedural method.

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Well, they added cities textures in a very fast time when XP10 came out (and at the beginning it was all grey when above 10.000ft!)... so I dont see why they dont make the LIT version of the city texture they are using when flying higher... and make it fade in at sunset (and make the 3d ligths fade as well, either as you climb and as you approach them). They do the same thing already fore the houses and trees and so on... they slowly fade as you approach them and once you are higher than a certain level they fade out and they give space to the greyish city textures... I guess it won't take them long to make them! The night lighting near the aircraft is fantastic... they just need to add a bit of immersion taking out the popping of the lights and add some bright spots where major cities are supposed to be... they dont have to make the perfect lighting of the streets of the city that are far away.... Once you approach it and you are low level, that LIT "rough" texture can slowly fade away and leave space to the actual night 3d environment....

Im not a developer, but if they could do it with the day scenery I dont see why they cannot do this way for the night one! For xp10 it took just a very little time to get the fix to the green cities on high level... I bet it is something that they could do in few days! To me it sounds like when we asked to have upper winds... Austin said it took him a day or 2 to implement them... but in the end it took him many years before deciding they were worth it! To me it sounds more like a "Austin is not interested in IFR, so, even if it is pretty quick to do it, we won't"...
I guess XPlane still has some parts that need improvement and in my opinion are more important for the immersion than the VR! If you use VR but what you see is not believable then it is useless!!! I think they should first try to solve issues they have since long (clouds transparency for example should be a very very high priority!)

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4 hours ago, Malombroso said:

Im not a developer, but if they could do it with the day scenery I dont see why they cannot do this way for the night one! For xp10 it took just a very little time to get the fix to the green cities on high level... I bet it is something that they could do in few days!

Well, we already see, that you are not a developer and that you don´t really know, what you are talking about.

The main problem with the lights is that the simulator siimply doesn´t load the underlying structures if they are too far away. It would simply destroy the frame rate otherwise. And these light textures shall look good even if you have changed the types of lights, that you are using, or when people use 3rd party sceneries, otherwise you simply see, that it isn´t the scenery that continues, but something else. They are working on something texture based, but it won´t be a simple LIT texture as you think. And in fact I am not sure if this will happen before Vulkan is added and there is a new unified foundation layer for the graphics.

This is simply one of multiple "features", where some people think that they might get a solution now. I don´t really think that they will push for bigger solutions till they have the real problems out of the way. Otherwise it is likely that they have to fix the same problems multipile times.

Don´t try to second guess a code, that you don´t know! In the beginning even most developers think that they have a simple solution, only to end up with a real monster after they have fixed all the problems that the simple solution had. You don´t really help the developer. A simple bug report is a better idea,

But don´t believe that many bug reports will really give you a faster solution. This might work i big companies, but not in small companies where you have one or two guys that really know the code where the problem might be located. But this might not be the right place for a solution.

Especially since we aren´t talking about a real bug but about a feature. This isn´t something that a developer overlooked but a case of: "This will become a problem, but this is the best compromise, that I was able to find so far. Everything better might mean bigger changes in other parts of the code."

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In some post on the dev blog Ben mentioned that Austin wants night lighting extended until the horizon, so they're most defintely aware of it. If it were an easy fix they most certainly would've done it a long time ago.

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Draw distance is still a problem and needs to be fixed. It ruins x plane night flying experience when flying high.

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