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Active Sky for X-Plane might be released Q4 2018

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1 minute ago, Adrian123 said:

I'm confused. Does Xenvir read and generate weather as does a "weather engine" ?

As I understand it, xEnviro operates on a client/server model. The client plugin running in X-Plane tells a remote server where the plane is located. The remote server uses a proprietary set of weather data to build a set of wind, cloud, and visibility data that is downloaded to the client, and the client then shows that weather in X-Plane (within the limitations of X-Plane's own internal ability to render the weather as essentially horizontal layers).

This is different than the way a plugin like SkyMaxx Pro with the RWC option works, where the weather effects are generated locally by the plugin, using data from X-Plane's METAR files that can come from several different sources (either ones you specify, or their own external sources).

In that respect, the xEnviro weather plugin is a little more "brittle" than other options, because it depends entirely on a reliable, full-time connection to that remote server (which I think is located in Russia?). If the server goes down -- which I've seen happen in my early tests of the plugin -- you may not get anything but blue skies when the weather should be different. The same thing can happen if you can't maintain a full-time Internet connection. It also means you have very limited ability to adjust the weather, because everything is "assembled" remotely on the server.

It's still one of the major options available for weather, and if you can live with the limitations of real weather only, with minimal adjustment, you should try it (IMO). The only way to have an informed opinion on all these weather options is to buy them all, and see which one fits your personal flying style.

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I see. Thanks. Did not know that! I'm just looking for a simple, don't like to compare, Active Sky and REX combo for Xplane.

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It is true that Active Sky is a weather injector and not a clouds/effects replacement, but there is a big difference between FSX/P3D and XP: FSX native weather engine is still much better than XP one, having more cloud types, better cloud structures, being dynamic in space and time and not static, and with more layers for clouds, wind and visibility. So IMHO active sky for XP would only do half the job until it will replace native clouds.

Edited by Murmur
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Was reading a bit on the internal cloud generation of XP11. Sounds far more complex then just needing cloud textures to become like FS. Complicated, perhaps more because they don't seem willing to fix it.

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1 hour ago, Adrian123 said:

. Complicated, perhaps more because they don't seem willing to fix it.

It has more to do with the problem, do you start to change the weather system when you replace nearly the complete graphics engine in the near future anyway?They are currently replacing the shaders. It is all a part of their way to Vulkan.

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Count me as +1 on the desire to see anvil-head cumulonimbus!  Wouldn't that be great!

Edited by Griphos

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2 hours ago, Longranger said:

It has more to do with the problem, do you start to change the weather system when you replace nearly the complete graphics engine in the near future anyway?They are currently replacing the shaders. It is all a part of their way to Vulkan.

I understand that, and agree...but only up to a point. And that point is that a flight sim that can't model a decent thunderstorm is ignoring the "ocean of air" that we fly in. Avoiding hazards is part of the job, and CBs are one of the REALLY BIG hazards out there. They're not even modeled in this sim, to any real extent.

It doesn't take Vulkan to model a thunderstorm, it takes a commitment to modeling 3D weather, including updrafts and downdrafts, and horizontal airflow near the ground in the flight model that have nothing to do with what you see outside the cockpit.

I've said this before, and I don't know how true it is, but I think the fact that X-Plane is so far behind in modeling the kinds of severe weather that commercial airline and bush pilots have to deal with, is a result of Austin (the Laminar CEO) being a recreational GA pilot who has the luxury of just not flying when the weather is bad. Stay home, program stuff on your computer... meanwhile the commercial bush pilots and airline pilots out there actually have to deal with heavy weather.

I hope I'm wrong about that, but the history of X-Plane's internal weather modeling says otherwise.

Austin has talked about renting time in a float-plane to improve the modeling of water takeoffs and landings. Which is a great idea, and it does need work. Name another flight sim where the CEO talks this way about improving the flight sim. This is how we got a more accurate modeling of turboprop engines, when Austin bought a plane with a PT-6 and got interested in how it actually works.

Maybe he just needs to fly on a few more bad weather days, or talk to a few airline and bush pilots about what they deal with every day.

Edited by Paraffin
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13 minutes ago, Paraffin said:

modeling of turboprop engines

I do like the Turbo Props in Xplane. Go from flying the Carenado PC12 in P3d to Xplane and it's a night and day difference. Agree, weather should be priority one, then seasons.

Edited by Adrian123
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I'm not in any rush for AS when I can get results like the below.  All done at a cost of $0 - Default XP WX engine, FSEnhancer and RE Shade.

 

G-AAAcrz.png 

 

Ok, so it won't let me add another image so here's a link - http://www.dmcity.com/webpics/B752F2.png

 

Tell me the're not pretty decent.

 

Merry XMas!

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1 hour ago, Dean_EGTC said:

I'm not in any rush for AS when I can get results like the below.  All done at a cost of $0 - Default XP WX engine, FSEnhancer and RE Shade.

 

G-AAAcrz.png 

 

Ok, so it won't let me add another image so here's a link - http://www.dmcity.com/webpics/B752F2.png

 

Tell me the're not pretty decent.

 

Merry XMas!

Thank you for sharing.Sorry but i am not at all convinced by your clouds!

Here at least it looks like something I saw often in the real world

coUFdZj.jpg

Rt6Fmdq.jpg

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For sure, it looks good but it is only one specific type of cloud and weather...uniform overcast low level stratus layer. We have yet to see some more puffy, vertical and isolated structure.

Pierre

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5 minutes ago, Pochi said:

For sure, it looks good but it is only one specific type of cloud and weather...uniform overcast low level stratus layer. We have yet to see some more puffy, vertical and isolated structure.

Pierre

They work on it but even at this stage I take...

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That's an entirely different debate guys. Billboard 2d clouds versus volumetric 3d clouds. 
But it goes beyond what Active Sky is about, at least in its first version (without cloud texture replacements)

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1 hour ago, france89 said:

That's an entirely different debate guys. Billboard 2d clouds versus volumetric 3d clouds. 
But it goes beyond what Active Sky is about, at least in its first version (without cloud texture replacements)

What product uses 2d billboard clouds?

 

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Yeah, I can tell you those clouds aren’t at all convincing. But, then, I’m not all that interested in convincing clouds. Maybe that’s all tube-flyers want, but when I think weather engine, I think winds and turbulence. It’s the AIR that needs a lot of work to be convincing in XP, not visuals. And AS really captured convincing air dynamics in P3D. Maybe it’s just a GA flyer  concern...

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I think it's both. If you have ultra realistic air movements going on below static, ugly, unplausible clouds, a great deal of immersion is gone (for me)

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7 hours ago, Griphos said:

Yeah, I can tell you those clouds aren’t at all convincing. But, then, I’m not all that interested in convincing clouds. Maybe that’s all tube-flyers want, but when I think weather engine, I think winds and turbulence. It’s the AIR that needs a lot of work to be convincing in XP, not visuals. And AS really captured convincing air dynamics in P3D. Maybe it’s just a GA flyer  concern...

I used many years AS ( Maybe be a fashion effect ) with P3D and I've never been impressed by the overall quality of the rendering even for air dynamics and I would not even talk about their clouds...

I took more pleasure in the XP Cessna 172 with default dynamics turbulence than any existing add-on weather for P3D.

 

 

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Well, as a real GA pilot, I can say that the default wind dynamics in XP are bad.  Part of the problem is the code for wind interaction with the airframe.  I think current coding makes the fuselage a flying surface.  But even from the perspective of just wind dynamics alone, they are not at all realistic.

Better than P3D default, of course, by a significant margin.  

AS was a huge improvement for P3D, but P3D had a LOT of room for improvement.  It was the best of all the weather engines I tried, and I tried all of them.  I look forward to seeing what they accomplish for XP.

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20 hours ago, FlyBaby said:

What product uses 2d billboard clouds?

 

It's easy to say what doesn't. So far only the new xEnviro seems to have noise generated clouds which are actually 3d. Anything else is not 3d. Sure, they might add some effects when you enter a cloud or somewhat stop clouds from turning towards you when you fly close, but those are still workarounds

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3 hours ago, france89 said:

It's easy to say what doesn't. So far only the new xEnviro seems to have noise generated clouds which are actually 3d. Anything else is not 3d. Sure, they might add some effects when you enter a cloud or somewhat stop clouds from turning towards you when you fly close, but those are still workarounds

I'm not so sure about that. SkyMaxx Pro has claimed "Full 3D Clouds" for a while, and I haven't noticed any obvious 2D billboard-type effects.

Clouds in SkyMaxx cast believable shadows on the ground that might be trickery (i.e. calculating the ground shadow as if the cloud was 3D while showing a non-rotating billboard to the viewer). But the effect sure looks believable, however they're doing it. There are even rain effects that start and stop as you move under individual clouds, which presumes some degree of 3D modeling for the rain, at least. 

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I have XP11, but have held off (until now) of purchasing xEnviro. I'm going to see what ASx brings, but the more that I read about ASx, the less I'm interested in it. Anyway, I was under the impression that true volumetric clouds aren't planned for xEnviro until the release of version 1.10. I just checked their website again, it still says that. There's nothing more recent about this on .org either.

Some of what is being discussed in this thread is probably hampered by semantics. A 2D cloud would be a billboard; a flat texture applied to a planar surface. This approach works fine for horizontally distant clouds and high altitude cirrus formations. A 2.5D cloud would stack billboards horizontally and possibly vertically. Microsoft and Lockheed Martin refer to these layered/stacked billboards as sprites. The sprite mode is also enhanced in Active Sky for P3d4 with both volumetric fog and and an in-cloud volumetric effect. The word volumetric in this context refers to effects that are made up of individual particles that can move either collectively or independently. For a full 3D mode, the clouds would have to consist of particles. It makes zero sense to use 3D clouds except for the those closest to the aircraft. For distant clouds, 2D and 2.5D clouds are more than enough to provide realism. This is basically the approach that LM used in P3d4 with 3D trees. The trees are only 3D objects close up and as one's viewpoint is further and further away, the trees are 2.5D billboard versions. And keep in mind that the  denser settings of 3D trees in P3d4 absolutely kill performance, so most users revert back to option for the 2.5D trees.

Edited by jabloomf1230
typo

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7 hours ago, Paraffin said:

I'm not so sure about that. SkyMaxx Pro has claimed "Full 3D Clouds" for a while, and I haven't noticed any obvious 2D billboard-type effects.

Clouds in SkyMaxx cast believable shadows on the ground that might be trickery (i.e. calculating the ground shadow as if the cloud was 3D while showing a non-rotating billboard to the viewer). But the effect sure looks believable, however they're doing it. There are even rain effects that start and stop as you move under individual clouds, which presumes some degree of 3D modeling for the rain, at least. 

SkyMaxx can claim a lot of things, but what actually happens is the same. If you have seen the noise generated clouds in xEnviro, you will instantly see the difference well beyond my ability to explain it in English 🙂 Either way sprites, billboards (rotating or not) are still 2d clouds.

2 hours ago, jabloomf1230 said:

I have XP11, but have held off (until now) of purchasing xEnviro. I'm going to see what ASx brings, but the more that I read about ASx, the less I'm interested in it. Anyway, I was under the impression that true volumetric clouds aren't planned for xEnviro until the release of version 1.10. I just checked their website again, it still says that. There's nothing more recent about this on .org either.

Some of what is being discussed in this thread is probably hampered by semantics. A 2D cloud would be a billboard; a flat texture applied to a planar surface. This approach works fine for horizontally distant clouds and high altitude cirrus formations. A 2.5D cloud would stack billboards horizontally and possibly vertically. Microsoft and Lockheed Martin refer to these layered/stacked billboards as sprites. The sprite mode is also enhanced in Active Sky for P3d4 with both volumetric fog and and an in-cloud volumetric effect. The word volumetric in this context refers to effects that are made up of individual particles that can move either collectively or independently. For a full 3D mode, the clouds would have to consist of particles. It makes zero sense to use 3D clouds except for the those closest to the aircraft. For distant clouds, 2D and 2.5D clouds are more than enough to provide realism. This is basically the approach that LM used in P3d4 with 3D trees. The trees are only 3D objects close up and as one's viewpoint is further and further away, the trees are 2.5D billboard versions. And keep in mind that the  denser settings of 3D trees in P3d4 absolutely kill performance, so most users revert back to option for the 2.5D trees.

It is indeed xEnviro 1.10, on their facebook page they share a lot of screenshots and videos from testings. I'll just put in here a recent video (there are still visual artifacts in it, more recently they showed also more clouds which develops vertically as well)
 

 

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Thanks Francesco. It's hard to tell from the video whether the clouds are made up either of particles or sprites, but I'll take xEnviro's word for it that they true volumetric clouds, until someone shows otherwise. One would only be able to tell from watching a video if the aircraft flew down through the clouds and even then, sprite-based clouds combined with limited particle effects (like in Active Sky for P3d4) can be somewhat convincing.

 I have SkyMaxx and those clouds may appear "volumetric" but they are layered billboards of some sort.

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2 hours ago, france89 said:

SkyMaxx can claim a lot of things, but what actually happens is the same. If you have seen the noise generated clouds in xEnviro, you will instantly see the difference well beyond my ability to explain it in English 🙂 Either way sprites, billboards (rotating or not) are still 2d clouds.

Do you have SkyMaxx Pro and have tested this? Just curious.

 

2 hours ago, jabloomf1230 said:

 I have SkyMaxx and those clouds may appear "volumetric" but they are layered billboards of some sort.

Well, then they're guilty of false advertising, because it's a listed feature on their sales page. 🙂

Semantics aside, I'm curious how SkyMaxx Pro can generate cloud shadows from individual cumulus puffs on the ground, if the clouds aren't 3D. Honest question, I don't have an agenda here.

Edited by Paraffin

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21 minutes ago, Paraffin said:

I'm curious how SkyMaxx Pro can generate cloud shadows from individual cumulus puffs on the ground, if the clouds aren't 3D. Honest question, I don't have an agenda here.

Cloud shadows are painted, as well as cloud reflections.

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