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J van E

Scenery heaven may be coming our way

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More and more people are getting tired of generic landclass scenery that even 'new' sims keep on giving us. More and more people are getting interested in Aerofly FS 2 because of the photoreal scenery but specially the awesome graphical engine it has. Unfortunately the default scenery looks quite empty. Now Orbx has announced support for AFS2 and they won't convert their landclass scenery to AFS2, no, apart from releasing LOWI in a week or so and Meigs later on, they are working on photoreal scenery with accurate autogen. A lot of people fear that adding options to AFS2 will make it an FSX-like slideshow. Well, John Venema posted this on the Orbx forum today:

"Whilst not quite ready for release day next week, we have 500,000+ buildings up and running in AFS2 at Chicago at 100+FPS *before* any optimisation. That's not a typo. We will patch that in seamlessly via FTXC once we finesse it. We can scale that to a million, 2 million or more. This engine can handle stuff others can only dream about.

How about 12,000km2 of photoreal stretching from Milwaukee down to Gary? You got it!   It's a sandbox ready for more content.

We are building tech right now to cover entire regions with super footprint-accurate buildings and trees. Not landclass, but photoreal.

This is not a race, it's a journey."

Well, that sounds very good to me. I wonder how many people will get more and seriously interested in AFS2 now? Specially now IPACS has posted the release of the Bombardier Dash 8 (Q-Series) is coming near: then we will really know how well the AFS2 engine performs under heavy load! 2017 is a great year for flight simmers!

PS I posted this in Hangar chat on purpose because it may be of interest for all simmers, not just the few that visit the Aerofly subforum... :happy: so hopefully this topic can stay here. I am also interested in what people actually think about this kind of scenery, if it is the future or not. I think it is, more so than landclass scenery.

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J.V.'s response is music to my ears.  I think if ORBX can eventually release a constant stream of scenery regions for Aerofly, such that we can reasonably expect a good part of the world to be covered within a few years, then this is indeed the sim I personally have been waiting for.  The icing on the cake would be having ai traffic and ATC incorporated into the sim.

Interesting and exciting times ahead for flight simulation.

Dave

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I do not have X-plane or AFS2, but I think X-plane's option with Ortho, where you can build the region that YOU want, is a much better approach, but that's just me flying A320 in Europe and North America, which is a huge area to cover with payware. Of course with Ortho too, but that is just the hard drive cost and not paying for the scenery itself. Much better flexibility than being dependent on developers.

I agree that we are getting tired of land class type scenery and more and more simmers want 'Google Earth' type scenery in their sim.

We are on the right track, but still ways to go for better scenery on a global scale.

 

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As ever, I remain hopeful for AeroFly FS2; it definitely is ploughing its own furrow, and nobody can seriously deny that it is the outright winner for default terrain out of all the sims (both released fully and early access), but my concern is still the lack of ATC, flight planning, AI traffic and more complex avionics in the included aeroplanes. I want to see what that will do to its legendary frame rates.

I know they have said recently that they are' working on it', but anyone who knows XPlane 11 will know that the lack of decent ATC and flight planning severely curtails what one can do in the sim even when it has some incredible (i.e. Flight Factor etc) airliners for it. Such airliners are effectively hangar queens for me right now because of the lacking ATC and flight planning features of XPlane 11, and that's a real annoyance, because XPlane has some features in it which put FSX and P3D to shame, such as its far more realistic runways and vastly superior lighting.

So I would be concerned about AeroFly FS2 ending up the same, even if a realistic Dash 8 shows up, with it ending up all dressed up and with nowhere to go, which is much the case in XP for me whilst there is not the base sim structure and features to allow one to use realistically featured aeroplanes as they should be used. Personally, I think the Dash 8 is fugly and prefer the ATR-72, but I know it is a good aeroplane in real life, since I've flown on the things more times than I can remember, so if they do get a good one in there and have the flight planning, avionics, traffic and ATC such an aeroplane needs in order to be simulated and operated properly in a believable environment, I'd be all over it. Flying the Corsair and such around is fun, but it gets old very quickly in spite of the pretty terrain below. Right now, climbing in a default airliner in FS98 would be more realistic than getting in AeroFly's 737, and that is really not demonstrative of sim which could really grab me I terms of realism, in spite of the pretty visuals. We know FS2 can look great, we need the developers to show us it can do the other stuff too, and after over 12 months of early access, it's about time they did.

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I will keep an eye on the development of this sim, but like Alan I find to many things are missing at this point. Not even the exciting accomplishments Orbx has made with this engine will change this for me.

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Well if things move toward what AF2 is using for scenery, prepare for Petabytes of storage capacity if you want world coverage.  I admit tho, it looks really good, but we don't know how good once all the missing things are added.

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14 minutes ago, SmokeDiddy said:

Well if things move toward what AF2 is using for scenery, prepare for Petabytes of storage capacity if you want world coverage.  I admit tho, it looks really good, but we don't know how good once all the missing things are added.

Somebody calculated that you could possibly get passable world coverage with only about 4tb if you left out oceans and antarctica.....

And of course specific areas of interest around cities/airports could have higher resolution.

Realistically, I think most people would just download areas of interest to them, as all evidence seems to point to users flying mostly to relatively few favorite destinations, rather than wandering the entire world equally......

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I would completely be willing to give AF2 a chance, but for me it comes down to the available aircraft in the simulator.

If it had even one or two more interesting things to fly, then it might be a different story. But as it stands right now, there's nothing compelling (for me) in the list of what's available. I get that they want to include a few popular aircraft that everyone is familiar with, but why not mix it up a bit more?

Perhaps the performance and incoming FTX scenery will drive user adoption enough that some third party devs can come on board and round out the aircraft selection a bit, but that will need to happen first. Sadly, I'm not able to adopt the sim based on scenery & performance alone.

 

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On 6/5/2017 at 2:08 PM, J van E said:

I wonder how many people will get more and seriously interested in AFS2 now? Specially now IPACS has posted the release of the Bombardier Dash 8 (Q-Series) is coming near: then we will really know how well the AFS2 engine performs under heavy load! 2017 is a great year for flight simmers!

PS I posted this in Hangar chat on purpose because it may be of interest for all simmers, not just the few that visit the Aerofly subforum... :happy: so hopefully this topic can stay here. I am also interested in what people actually think about this kind of scenery, if it is the future or not. I think it is, more so than landclass scenery.

Okay, if you're actually interested in opinions on this scenery approach, and not just affirmation of AFS2 :happy:, then here's one person's opinion.

I don't like orthophoto-based scenery.

I think of it as a legacy approach, developed way back when computers weren't powerful enough to generate procedural terrain based on real-world data. I don't even like it when it's combined with an OSM-generated autogen layer on top, because the artifacts are still present and immersion-breaking (for me, this is just personal opinion here).

I usually fly at 15,000 ft. or below in light to medium GA planes and helicopters. Often I'm flying a lot lower than that. At low altitudes, and especially in areas away from "special" scenery that's been done in higher resolution, it's too easy to see artifacts on the ground like squashed buildings, cars, and trees.

I can even see it in the demo trailer for AFS2 on their web site. Go to 1:28 where the airliner is landing, and you can see the approach lighting strip is baked into the terrain (water) just before the runway threshold. The approach lighting is a blurry, flat photo, not an actual object in the world. Maybe that isn't immersion-breaking for others, but it kills the realism for me. I like seeing objects on the ground sharply defined, casting shadows, responding to different colors of sunlight through the day, and looking believable at night.

I also like to see the ground when I'm landing a helicopter off-airport. I can see a nice detailed ground texture hovering to a landing below 20 feet with landclass-based terrain. With orthos, even at higher resolution, what I see is a blur of color and I can't land smoothly.

Another thing is that I do most of my flying in the FSEconomy game, in places like the remote Pacific Northwest, Alaska, New Zealand, and South America. Ortho coverage for some of these places simply isn't available or only exists in low resolution. 

I know some parts of the world (especially Europe) can look pretty good with a combination of OSM autogen on top of ortho scenery, but I get a faster frame rate just using landclass and OSM autogen. It's easier on the hard drive too. I'm using just around 90 GB with my XP11 installation, vs. the terabytes I'd need for high-res ortho-based scenery.

I could get an even faster frame rate with orthoscenery alone, which is one reason why people are excited about AFS2, I guess. But I'm just not interested in making that big a compromise in what the world looks like.

Finally... I know this is getting long... but if we get the kind of procedural seasons in XP that Austin has talked about, with dynamic snow, tree leaves changing color and falling off, etc. instead of a bitmapped texture overlay -- then I'll bet it will work better on landclass than with ortho terrain. That's the future, from my perspective. Not terrain based on sunny day photographs.

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I spend the last 10 years or so in a few regions only. Quite a few years in PNW and quite a few years in Norway. I don't need the entire world to be modeled because I'd never have the time to visit all places. I wonder how many flight simmers ever visited all countries. Or even all continents. For me personally this is of no importance as long as there are at least a few interesting regions.

EDIT

This was a reply to SmokeDiddy. Others were typing at the same time. ;) 

Jimmy RFR: better planes are coming, stay tuned. Hopefully within a few months Aerofly may offer enough to give it a try.

Paraffin: some good points you have there. Nothing is perfect yet. Aerofly certainly isn't. And it indeed all depends on what you do with a sim. Procedural terrain based on real-world data sounds good but I'll have to see how that works out in the future. In the end I'd prefer a live connection with 3D camera's placed all over the world so I can experience what is happening everywhere right now. ;) I don't think I will live to see that though. :p

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1 minute ago, J van E said:

I spend the last 10 years or so in a few regions only. Quite a few years in PNW and quite a few years in Norway. I don't need the entire world to be modeled because I'd never have the time to visit all places. I wonder how many flight simmers ever visited all countries. Or even all continents. For me personally this is of no importance as long as there are at least a few interesting regions.

Okay, but we all have different priorities. In the FSEconomy game, I never know where I'll be flying next, because I just pick up the good-paying assignments (I don't own any FBOs or fly hub routes). That could mean flying anywhere along the NW coast between Seattle and Anchorage, or into Western Canada. Not just the big city airports, lots of small GA airports and more primitive airstrips. If I'm flying in New Zealand, it's all around the north and south islands, not just into Christchurch. 

Another thing is localization. If you want to practice procedures out of your local GA airport, you want that airport to be there in the scenery, and there are pilots living and flying all over the world. For many pilots, it will never be enough to have just a few interesting regions as eye candy.

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2 minutes ago, J van E said:

I spend the last 10 years or so in a few regions only. Quite a few years in PNW and quite a few years in Norway. I don't need the entire world to be modeled because I'd never have the time to visit all places. I wonder how many flight simmers ever visited all countries. Or even all continents. For me personally this is of no importance as long as there are at least a few interesting regions.

True. But don't we all just love the feeling of... "hmm, where do I want to go today?" (MS pun is a bit intended. P3D is their baby after all. grandchild at least:ha:) and that is amazing feeling let me tell you. I fly mostly in mountainous areas but often visit some place out of curiosity. Or when I watch some program about certain area/place/city and then it makes me interested into it enough to fly over it. Don't you ? :senang:

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The underlying fallacy of the whole conversation is the idea that we seem to only be allowed one sim in our lives. (and apparently that one sim needs to do absolutely everything)

For instance, while there are many things that don't attract me to X-plane, what does attract me is the night flying. So I use X-plane for that, and while I have it, explore other things it offers as well.

Aerofly to me is for beauty and speed (and absolutely VR!!) and it gets me out of the straightjacket of seeing the same depiction of the world I've seen for the last decade, and which has accordingly gotten more than a little stale to me. It's something original, and it could go anywhere.

I'm glad Orbx had the vision to step in there while it's young and take the opportunity to help shape it into a worthy platform.

I purchased P3dv4 out of curiosity, and because it allows me to experiment again with stuff that I had eventually decided was too costly in FPS to run. It's something to fiddle with when I'm in the mood, and FTX central takes away the headache of digging for updates (and sim upkeep) that's partially what chased me away from Orbx (and honestly a lot of other things) in the first place.

I can finally use that old scenery that I haven't used for years.

They all have their attractions and hey, I purchased a 6TB HD this morning, so what real excuse do I have to stick with just one thing?

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4 minutes ago, HiFlyer said:

The underlying fallacy of the whole conversation is the idea that we seem to only be allowed one sim in our lives. (and apparently that one sim needs to do absolutely everything)

I do fly different sims, but two of them are air combat, which doesn't leave a lot of free time for swapping around civilian sims. :happy:

That's one reason. Another is that I do almost all my civilian flying in the FSEconomy virtual charter game. I could, theoretically, jump around between flying FSE assignments in FS9, FSX, or X-Plane. It supports all those sims (not Flight Sim World or Aerofly FS2 yet, for lack of airports and plane models). However, I fly better and screw up less often when I'm flying the same plane models from one assignment to the next. Same switch locations in the cockpit, same autopilot and GPS systems, same flight model. In a perfect world, every flight sim platform would model planes exactly the same way, so there would be zero difference switching between them. But we all know it doesn't work that way. Even the same Carenado plane model behaves a little differently between FSX and XP.

So there are situations like this, where it pays to stick with one sim platform. You get to know a few specific aircraft models very well. I imagine this is what keeps so many airliner enthusiasts wedded to PMDG and FSX/P3D.

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2 hours ago, Paraffin said:

So there are situations like this, where it pays to stick with one sim platform.

Well, There are always going to be the exceptions. To me, though, if everyone stayed where they were, where would anything new come from?

In the real world, there are (usually) enough people on the trail of the early adopters that innovation and new things find room to take root.

But flight simulation has become kind of a special case. Essentially, a fluke has allowed one property to dominate the market for so long that change has become almost unacceptably hard for various reasons. All sorts of structures have become entrenched.

Yet MS tech is undeniably growing older, and I think Orbx is wise, not only for itself, but for the hobby as a whole, to aggressively support future options.

For myself, I'm definitely going to support future options, especially when, like when I first saw the cockpit of the Aerofly 747 in VR, or flew over NY in VR, I felt the almost forgotten sense of wonder for flight that I had lost without even noticing it over the last few years, lost in the CFG.

For the first time in I don't know how long in a sim, I said "Wow!"

Not only did it look real: it was so smooth! 

Even now, months later, I sometimes just spontaneously grin as I look around, seeing things I never thought I would see.

How could I not support that?

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1 hour ago, HiFlyer said:

Well, There are always going to be the exceptions. To me, though, if everyone stayed where they were, where would anything new come from?

New developments come in two different flavors. One way is starting something new from scratch like Aerofly FS2, which I don't deny is a different approach with some advantages for those who aren't put off by the orthoscenery approach. Especially, jacking up the frame rates to enable VR.

Another way we get new stuff, is when a developer that's been around for a while analyzes the market, and tries to give people new things they've been asking for. Even if it comes more slowly than some people would like. That's the path LM is on with P3D, and Laminar with X-Plane.

We didn't get some things we've been asking for in XP11, but we sure did get a lot of new stuff -- a new lighting model, new pbr rendering, turboprop and jet engine changes, a new UI, and a better fleet of default aircraft. LM's P3Dv4 is a big move to 64-bit, with better LOD, and at least a stab at better night lighting. You can't say all this isn't "new," it just isn't a brand new sim platform. 

And back to Aerofly FS2... to be honest, if I wasn't waiting for the next generation of VR before buying into the hardware, I'd probably be trying Aerofly FS2 just for the VR experience... while moaning about the lack of helicopters. :happy:  I know I'm not going to get VR frame rates in XP11 with the eye candy settings I'm used to, even after it goes native VR support (soon).

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Well,

my hopes are also very strong regarding the future of AEFS2.

Recent posts at one of the threads where I had raised a question regarding the modelling of the turbines in the upcoming Q-400 showed an attention to detail and complexity in the turboprop modelling that is totally ahead of what I was expecting - and we're talking about a "default" aircraft.

With the tremendous support from ORBX, which will actually make me buy their regional / specific offers for the first time in my simmer life, starting with the upcoming LOWI ( I only owned FTX Global for FSX and P3D, but those two are history... and unfortunately they skipped X-Plane :-/ ... ) I believe more 3rd party devs will have good reasons to start seriously considering AEFS2.

I would really love to see A2A offers, but also Aerosoft with some of their best models, Carenado with at least the excellent b1900d ( my only Carenado product for FSX / P3D ) and others...

Weather engines are another area from where AEFS2 could certainly get interesting support in the future. How I would love to see Active Sky for AEFS2 :-)

Meanwhile, enjoying the unique fluidity, and trying to learn how to tweak some flight dynamics, given the very open nature of the flight dynamics configuration files, and the evidence of a rather powerful and complex physics model, still under development, and certainly bringing in even more details.

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16 hours ago, HiFlyer said:

Realistically, I think most people would just download areas of interest to them, as all evidence seems to point to users flying mostly to relatively few favorite destinations, rather than wandering the entire world equally......

That's me in a nutshell.  I have been flying GA exclusively around the Caribbean the last year or so with FSX-SE.  Any sim that allows me to add "eye candy" for the places I like to fly is right in my wheelhouse.  I see no need to carry xtra baggage if I'm never going to fly there.

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As a developer... I'm open to new platforms.. but finding platforms that are as easy to work with as the MSFS-based ones... doesn't exist yet.

However, the SDK doesn't support custom display programming yet. While you can re-use all existing displays, there is no way to get your display code into the simulator. This will be addressed in future versions of the SDK.

That statement eliminates pretty much all my addon work, for now.  LOL

 

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Just trying to understand what's being offered by AFS2 and ORBX: photoreal scenery with accurate autogen? Isn't this what France VFR has produced in their regional sceneries since FS9? Which many of us (at least I) have thought was an impressive (though limited) set of sceneries, but have stopped using them because their autogen is not compatible with ORBX FTX regions. It seems that the idea now is to have a very limited scenery area of great accuracy and detail, and to not fly from one "region" to another, so compatibility among various developers would not be an issue?

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While I can agree that photoreal has its limitations currently,  I feel that the objects placed on top of that PR are capable of making me not care so much about its appearance.  The default AFS2 city of Las Vegas is a good example.  Those buildings - the models - are incredibly well done and if you fly in close and watch the dynamic reflections in all the windows and then start noticing all the little detail signs and such that they've put in that area, you start to pay more attention to whats on top of the PR than to the PR itself.  and I think that can be done well everywhere by a company like Orbx especially if they some new tech that allows them to do it quicker over a larger area. I hope that when Orbx does cities for AFS2 that they maintain that quality of modeling and Im sure they will.

 

I also think that in the future it will be easier to clean up PR using the same new tech that can recognize trees and buildings in the images.  If it can see those objects by texture comparison then it should also be able to learn what various other embedded objects like power lines and HV towers and approach lighting and cars and boats and other stuff looks like and maybe the new tech can help remove such items.

 

Xplane has talked about procedural rock slides and you wont get that if you use Ortho4XP but I don't know why a sim couldn't be written to allow for any such things (procedural rock slides, snowfall, etc) to exist in conjunction with PR.

 

AFS2 has a ways to go but it really could be the future.  It needs to feel more alive for me though.  XP11 creates a pretty amazing world and I feel dead set against anymore P3D sims.  I want either XP11 or AFS2 or FSW.  one (or all) of those has just got to do well.

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Fact is, anything based on legacy 32 bit will be at a disadvantage in the 64 bit world. This would include all MS flightsim derivatives, leaving only XP11 in the developed pool.

I am hoping the increasing interest in AFS2 will produce a 21st century product we can live with for a long time.

Until then, FS2004 does everything I would want from a PC based flight simulator. 

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