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Night flying in X-Plane: Yay or Nah?

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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.

X-Plane and Microsoft Flight Simulator on Windows 10 
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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."

Karsten Schubert

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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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On 2/17/2017 at 7:15 PM, exodus1977 said:

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.



I7 6700K 4.6 GHz, MSI Geforce GTX 1070 8GB GDDR5

16GB DDR4 Corsair Vengeance 2666 MHz RAM, 750GB SSD, 1TB HDD

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This is an older thread but still pertinent.  Really a good fix would be to add pilot controlled lighting.  That would blackout the majority of airports as you fly along enroute.  But it would of course leave towered airports with lights on that you could easily pick out (when you shouldn't be able to).  In real life in a city it can be difficult to actually see the airport especially when be vectored by approach.  I normally look for a darker rectangle...and that's where the big airport is.

| Windows 11 | MSI Z690 Tomahawk | 12700K 4.7GHz | EVGA GTX1080 Ti | 32GB 5600 MHz DDR5 | 500GB Samsung 860 Evo SSD | 2x 2TB Samsung 970 Evo M.2 | EVGA 850W Gold | Corsair 5000X |



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