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The influence of wind on the scenery

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Here some ideas about how wind speed and direction could affect the scenery:1. Trees and other plants The branches of autogen trees in a specific range around the aircraft should move in conjunction with wind speed and direction. It is realy unrealistic if your aircrafts is parking in front of a tree while the atis reports 23 kts wind and the tree are totaly static. If there are gras in the default scenery (like http://216.25.73.93/demos/fz02/termE-dev-03.jpg ) blades of grass should move in conjunction with wind speed and direction. The engine thrust should affect it too. 2. Dusty surfaces In conjunction with gusts of wind there should be dust clouds on dusty dry surfaces. 3. Water surfaces In conjuction with wind speed there should be small waves on puddles and lakes. The speed of how fast puddles dry should stay in conjunction with temperature and wind speed. The wave height on oceans should stay in conjunction with wind speed and direction. For example: You could have three default wave types low (from 0 to 9 kts), medium (from 10 to 15 kts) and high (from 16 kts and more).MfG. C.N.

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While I agree that seeing static trees and water is unrealistic, I also think it's a necessary evil. Imagine the performance hit from the animation of hundreds of trees and waves. Sure it would look nice but at a very high cost in terms of performance. The only benifit aside from eye candy that I could see for this feature is a way to determine wind direction at a location where there is no other source for the information. For example if you are landing a sea plane in the bush hundreds of miles from an airport, you can't tune ATIS and hear the wind speed and direction. If there is no wind sock, all you can do is watch the water and tree and see which way things are blowing.

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I agree, that would be the ultimate in realism but honestly, I don't know if we are there yet in terms of hardware to simulate that in FS....I'd rather the sim be smooth and realistic otherwise, and if that meant I couldn't have moving trees, etc. then so be it. If the horsepower is there, though, I say let's have all the animations possible! Otherwise no.Rhett

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It'd only have to animate within a certain distance before you wouldn't notice it anymore, say 1/4 mile or so. That'd help out on the system resources, although it'd still be a hog. Maybe in FS11. :) As far as I'm concerned, they are trying to accomodate a LARGE user base, with a wide range of systems. A GeForce 3 would probably be a minimum (or 9700Pro series), and a x1900 series for optimum. Although I would like to see some features available for the higher end (slider controlled, or something), if the programming time doesn't consume a lot of time.Wind would be a BIG improvement, and make a HUGE difference in the immersion factor. BUT, only when you are on the ground. Once you're in the air, you don't notice it at all (the movement of tree's). So, if done right (>2000 feet above GL) no animations, and only in the field of view and <2000 feet from the view. It'd be nice. Along with the blowing snow, dust, rain, tumbleweeds, squirrels, ants.

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>I agree, that would be the ultimate in realism but honestly,>I don't know if we are there yet in terms of hardware to>simulate that in FS.>>...I'd rather the sim be smooth and realistic otherwise, and>if that meant I couldn't have moving trees, etc. then so be>it. If the horsepower is there, though, I say let's have all>the animations possible! Otherwise no.>>>RhettExcellent comment! Let's have lots of realism, accurate flight and wind dynamics but real time fluid motion. It would be great to fly and land without any framerate stutters again! :) Regards,Mark.

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The operative word here is MOVEMENTS. They have been adding movements slowly from one sim to another.We currently have waves, we have AI Planes and automobiles. We have clouds that give movements (relative to aircrafts), We have smoke and skid marks on touch down. Factory smokes that is in relation to wind.I already see in FSX Birds and cars on streets. I think the water has movements in FSX. I am not sure, but sure looks that way. I'd like precise movements in the water in relation to a chopper for eg...the wake from the chopper effect.Yeah..we need movements on trees and grass and mist/smoke wing vortex. :)Manny

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> Excellent comment! Let's have lots of realism, accurate flight and wind dynamics but real time fluid motion. It would be great to fly and land without any framerate stutters again!Meet Mr DX 10 ;)

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>While I agree that seeing static trees and water is>unrealistic, I also think it's a necessary evil. Imagine the>performance hit from the animation of hundreds of trees and>waves...... I think the performance hit would be surprisingly small. I'm very familiar with the Far Cry game and vegetation is one of its strengths. Apart from looking very realistic, the trees and vegetation sways *very* realistically in the wind. The effect is quite extraordinary. For example, not all the trees sway in sync, which is likely due to local gusting. And the swaying changes with time, so for a while there is very little swaying and then it gets stronger. Even with lots of swaying vegetation - and, yes, very relistic animated water that can reflect everything, including flocks of birds! - the game delivers very good frame rates even on my middle of the road PC. And rememeber there are also very realistic AI humans who, for some reason, want to kill you! True, the swaying probably doesn't change with wind settings, but the extra coding to achieve that would be pretty minor and would not effect frame rates noticeably. It's quite possible the new Cry Engine 2 will support this. I can't emphasise how effective this feature is, though of course it's more important for this kind of game where you are on the ground and directly surrounded by trees, vegetation and animals etc However, imagine taking a flight in the Beaver, landing on a lake in Alaska and going for a stroll in the woods. Then realistic surroundings would add to the experience immeasurably. I can't wait! Best regards, Chris

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>It'd only have to animate within a certain distance before you >wouldn't notice it anymore, say 1/4 mile or so. That'd help out on >the system resources, although it'd still be a hog.You are right, therefore I wrote "in a specific range around the aircraft". There could be rules when and under which conditions the tree animations are shown. For example: If the tree animation option is enabled.If the aircraft are slower then 30 kts.If the aircraft are on the ground.If the tree is in a specific range around the aircraft.Due to these rules in each case just a few animated trees would be shown.Some add on scenery have it already, but there is no significantly drop in fps.>Wind would be a BIG improvement, and make a HUGE difference in the >immersion factor. BUT, only when you are on the ground.Yes, but if you accomplish seriously your flights, you are at least 30 minutes on the ground for pre flight preparation.Or on large airports, just for taxing to and from the runway you have to spend some time on the ground.Therefore there are enough opportunities to see animated trees. >Imagine the performance hit from the animation of hundreds of trees >and waves. Sure it would look nice but at a very high cost in terms >of performance.I dont think so. We already have some kind of wave animation in this fs version. As you can see on the screenshots, there should be animated waves in fs x too. They just have to bring them in conjunction with wind speed and direction. This needs maybe just some space on your hd for different sets of waves.>The only benifit aside from eye candy that I could see for this >feature is a way to determine wind direction at a location where >there is no other source for the information.If you land on water, the wave height is a decisive factor.Particularly while flying small aircrafts, the fs world is too static. Such animations can give it more aliveness.If I have to fly in an unrealistic and static world, for me the motivation to fly gets strongly reduzed.MfG. C.N.

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Have you seen the video of the new Crytek demo? It basically shows what Far Cry can be using the new engine. Soft shadows, wind blowing on the trees (rather than the standard animation movement), vegetation is manipulated by touching it (great for exhaust or crashing). I think the technology is there, it's the hardware that needs to get there. With the AI planes, the scenery, the flight dynamics, and all the other stuff in FS, computing the wind speed, direction, and effect on each tree, smoke, dust, etc., would be a little too much. Unless you have a Athlon 64 X2 4800+ (or FX60), 2GB RAM, 2 x1900's... Although I know they can't comment, I'm sure they are working on something like that for a future version. Just have to get it optimized and whatnot. I'd like to know what got cut in this version due to time contraints. :)

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What I find interesting is... how small the FS team is at Microsoft. I got that impression from watching one of those videos where this guy went around the MS Flight Sim team interviewing them.I would have thought, they could expand the team a bit and add more functionality into the product.:)Manny

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> I think the performance hit would be surprisingly small. I'm>very familiar with the Far Cry game and vegetation { clipped }While FarCry does look awesome, it's "troublesome" to compare it with the FS series. In FarCry you have extremely restricted visibility (lots of mountains and 'fog/mist' not too far out at sea, all there to cover up the VERY near horison). In FS you can see miles and miles out so the developers have to be very careful with how to spend the triangle budget. A better example (that I know of) is the online war sim "World War II online". There you have basically the same visibility (un)restrictions as in FS, and you have swaying vegetation. To further the comparison, you can also see more than hundred other players (planes, soldiers, tanks etc) at the same time. Having played that game for a few years, mostly as a pilot, before I got tired of it, I think I can safely say that swaying vegetation (incl. grass), per se, would probably not be too taxing to most machines, provided it was limited in visibility as suggested in this thread. naturally this would be a feature that could be turned off for anyone preferring to spend clock cycles on other stuff, such as very complex birds.

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>While FarCry does look awesome, it's "troublesome" to compare>it with the FS series..... True, but my point that moving vegetation would have a minimal effect on frame rates is still valid. On the other hand Far Cry terrain resolution is about 100 times higher than FS. And in the surrounding few square miles the environment(buildings, vegetation, vehicles, AI people) is at least as complex as in FS and probably more so. And it still delivers good frame rates. Actually, visibility is not restricted by the Far Cry engine. In the editor you have complete control over rendering distance as well as fog. By the way, the Far Cry editor is probably the most impressive piece of software I've ever used. If only there was an equivalent for FS.... But there is a significant limit in Far Cry and that's the actual size of the scenery. I've made maps a few miles across and in theory they could be a lot larger but there appears to be a bug in the editor (yes, even the most impressive software can have bugs!) Although my machine has two Gb of RAM it is unable to assign sufficient memory for a larger map). I'm sure this will be fixed in CryEngine 2 which will be released in the same time frame as FSX. One of the features quoted is indeed larger map areas. Best regards, Chris

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>Have you seen the video of the new Crytek demo?..... I would like to and I probably will, providing it's not too big - I'm still on dialup! Meanwhile the preview in PC Zone is quite good. I particularly liked the four terrain shots, showing the change in lighting etc with the passage of time. I'm looking forward to FSX and Crysis equally!>I think the technology is there, it's the hardware that needs>to get there. With the AI planes, the scenery, the flight>dynamics, and all the other stuff in FS, computing the wind>speed, direction, and effect on each tree, smoke, dust, etc.,>would be a little too much. Unless you have a Athlon 64 X2>4800+ (or FX60), 2GB RAM, 2 x1900's... I'm not an expert on this, but my feeling is that the frame rate impact of animation is relatively small. Take the new animated ground traffic in FSX. I'd almost bet that the processing needed to move the cars is significantly smaller compared to that needed to render the objects every frame. After all, to move an object from A to B all you have to do is update four numbers (X,Y,Z and rotation). For more complex animations (e.g. bending vegetation) you would need to update more numbers, but the principle is the same. Updating some numbers according to a fairly simple algorithm would consume a relatively small amount of processing. Take smoke as an example. This is a standard FS effect using the particle system. To make it move according to wind direction and speed is an almost trivial task, requiring a small number of parameters to be set. I've seen the effect of AI/animation in the Far Cry editor. There's an animation/AI button. When you click it it enables all the AI animations, so that for example the AI men will start shooting each other or driving vehicles. I've never seen a significant frame rate drop when I've done this. I think the real problem in adding these kind of features is the programming and debugging time required rather than available computer horse power. Best regards, Chris

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I just saw a new preview of the new Far Cry (Crysis) in PC Gamer (UK). One thing caught my attention. The new system is capable of dynamically loading new scenery as you move, presumably similar to FS and other flight simulators. It was already known that the maps in Crysis are much larger. Far Cry loads all the scenery in one go and this is a major restriction as far as very big maps is concerned. Best regards, Chris

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Another reason it's difficult to compare this sim to most 'normal games' is its support for add ons. I think it was TDragger who claimed they would be able to do amazing things the day they decided to drop that support. That, however, would be devastating to the product and shorten its shelf life radically. I just played FarCry a few times (I think it was a demo) when it first came out so I don't know if there's any add on support for it. Is it?A third factor may be the 'behind the scenes': FS doesn't just render the world as we fly. There's also AI planes flying all over, there's ATC controlling the AI planes and there's wheather systems building more or less in real time. Add to that the more or less complex flight systems (fairly simple in the default planes and extremely complex if you load up add on products like PMDG's 747 for example). All of this consume CPU time that could be used for rendering and 'environmental physics'. While FSX seems to be moving closer to the 'game' genre by introducing a role playing, mission driven, aspect, it still aimes to be a simulator first. I might be underestimating FarCry's 'behind the scenes' factor but I can only assume it very simplified when compared to FS.Lastly, when compared with most other entertainment software, FS is very old. It's difficult to keep refactoring and optimising the same code base for ever while, at the same time, introducing new features that take advantage of newer technologies. At some point in time the software needs to be almost completely re-written to deal with the growing 'code rot'. I can only assume MS has done this a few times by now but, then again, there are indications (from TDragger's and Pixelpoke's posts) that there is still very old code floating around in the sim. It would be interesting to hear if legacy code is limiting the FS developers abilities to make advances.

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Nice post. I will take issue with one thing, though. That has to do with the "age" our code.I think there are a lot of misconceptions about this. Yes, the game has been around for almost 25 years but certainly the code we're running now hasn't. I see a lot people claim, "If they just rewrote it from scratch all the problems would be solved." Those that make this claim simply do not understand how software development works, IMO. The fact is major chunks of our code get rewritten all the time. The weather system in FS2004 is completely new, for example. Even the part of it that makes simple clouds look like they did in FS2002 is brand new. I have yet to see anyone really explain how starting from scrath would solve all the problems they claim FS has. <>I don't know what sorts of advances you have in mind. You've seen the screenshots of FSX. Do you think we're being limited? Besides, it really has nothing to do with old code. It takes almost the same amount of time (if not more in many cases) to rewrite something than it does to get the same effect by building on what's there.If there is anything that "limits" us (although I don't consider it a negative) it's support for backward compatibility. And to be clear, I'm not talking strictly about the same code. I mean the ability to load the same content and get the same effect. The underlying code can and often does change "under the covers" without anyone even knowing. And this limits us only in the sense that it takes extra time to design and build systems that can both provide new functionality and cope with older content. This is time we could have spent building more "stuff" if we didn't have to support older add-ons.Now, there are many people who say (on this forum, in fact) we should break backward compatibility and use that extra time on new features. What I find intersting is that these are people who have invested lots of time and money in add-ons. Maybe they have money and time to burn and will jusy buy the updated versions of their favorite add-ons. But most people don't have this luxury and having to give up their favority airplane or scenery would be irritating. So, those of you complaining that we're being held back by our "old" code (and I'm not counting you, moggel--I know you weren't really complaining) and feel we should just throw it away should rest assured that you'll still have at least one thing to complain about for years to come! ;)

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>What I find interesting is... how small the FS team is at>Microsoft. I got that impression from watching one of those>videos where this guy went around the MS Flight Sim team>interviewing them.>>I would have thought, they could expand the team a bit and add>more functionality into the product.Ahhmmm... The team is about 60 people in size AFAIK, not just the few guys shown in that video. :)

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Even when building from scratch, you'd be re-doing libraries with near identical code anyway. There would be little to no improvements with a lot of it. Sure, you'd probably find a few new ways of doing things, but in the long run, you'd spend countless hours and money with minimal improvement. Similar to basic C coding, most programs will use the standard libraries for I/O, sound, etc.. If you re-coded them, you wouldn't be gaining anything. It's going to be the same functionality either way. The libraries you do work on are actually needed to be optimized; graphics engine (which probably doesn't need to be completely re-writen, just changed a bit), terrain, etc. And what gets changed really makes a huge difference. Visually and in the immersion factor. Some small things are always going to bug some people. It's never going to be perfect. Add-on's help, the next version will be better. But, there is always going to be something else to fix. Always. If you hold out on buying the new version, because it's not perfect, when will you upgrade? Next version will still have a few things missing; and the next; But with each new version, it's leaps and bounds better than the last. FS95 doesn't have anything compared to FS2004. Improvements in hardware, OS, and programming standards help move everything along. New cars usually are built using similar parts, only the body style is changed. The engine is still a combustion engine with FI, intake, exhaust. Why redesign the whole thing, and still ending up with a very similar engine, chassis, electrical. It's not really needed. Of course, AFAIK, the compilers still aren't very optimized for multi-threading, multi-cores. It's still up to the programmer to take care of a lot of that.

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>I think there are a lot of misconceptions about this. Yes, the>game has been around for almost 25 years but certainly the>code we're running now hasn't. I see a lot people claim, "If>they just rewrote it from scratch all the problems would be>solved."What about the main graphic engine? How come it's the only flight sim engine that often suffers from blurries, where texture are often reloaded when switching views, and where the lag while they're loading is visible?This (along with some aspects of the Flight Model) is my main gripe about MSFS. Any chance to improve it?Marco

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I was going to answer but then I saw your sig and figured I didn't need to. ;)

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> It is realy unrealistic if your aircrafts is parking in>front of a tree whileAnd I will tell you it is even 10 times less realistic to have stutters while taxiing. Lets get rid off all stutters and we can have moving blades of grass and possibly grsshoppers too. No, I don't believe for a second such a thing would be performance neutral.Michael J.http://www.precisionmanuals.com/images/forum/pmdg_744F.jpghttp://sales.hifisim.com/pub-download/asv6-banner-beta.jpg

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Oh, alright. ;)<The same applies to the graphics engine. We're re-writing it constantly. As for things like "the blurries" and texture loading issues, these have been discussed at length here and on our blogs.

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