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Guest JSPuonti

Seeing Eye-to-Eye in FSX Multiplayer

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Hi all,Here is one small improvement in the Multiplayer System that would be very helpful. It would be great to be able to "see" other aircraft more often and more consistently.As you know, multiplayer transforms the FS experience. While not for everyone or for every moment, the sharing of an airspace with others makes for a wonderfully rich environment in which to enjoy flight simulation. Critically, it deepens the sense of community.One really stunning feature is the ability to see other aircraft for what they are. Sitting on the flightline with the appropriate models clearly visible does much to enhance the "real" feel of the experience.At the moment, you can "see" the other aircraft only if you have the exact same aircraft (with the same "title") installed on your hard drive. This is better than nothing. And much appreciated.However, it would be wonderful if one could see close approximations as well as exact matches. Say you encounter a Piper Cheyenne (Blue & White, Nxxxx) but do not have that exact aircraft-model-repaint active. Say, again, that you do have another Cheyenne (Red-Gold, Nyyyy) installed. In FS9, you get something (maybe a C172 or maybe something else). It would be a boon to get that other Cheyenne (Red-Gold) to represent the multiplayer aircraft.Even using the current system, you could first seek an exact match by title. If that fails, you could do a search on the "ui manufacturer" and then the "ui type" and then the "ui variation" to get as close a match as possible. Pick that aircraft.(There is a problem. Most recently, payware modelers have decided to use the "ui manufacturer" spot to put in their own company name. So a simple translation will not always work: we shall have to be more clever.)It would additionally be helpful to have a way for the user to designate an "alias" link. The downstream user could create an aircraft entry that points FSX to a particular aircraft when it encounters a given "ui manufacturer"-"ui type" combination and cannot find an exact match. So on seeing a Piper Cheyenne, and not finding an exact match, FSX goes to the lookup table and substitutes in the designated aircraft to take the place of the Piper.(The multiplayer aircraft owner or the observer, or both, could designate such an aliasing network. Probably the observer's designation would take priority.)Apparently the Team is working hard on the new Multiplayer System. One hopes that the effort will do much to improve the experience. Adding in this extra capacity would be icing on the cake.Does anyone have any suggestions about how they might best achieve this goal?Best,Mike

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The only thing we (well, me, really) have said publically is that we've completely scrapped and re-written the multiplayer system in FSX. I think you'll be amazed but that's all I can really say right now.As for the problem you bring up, we have discussed it at length and there are, in theory, numerous ways to solve it technically. We may be able to get better in the future but there are, as you note, many variables and whatever logic we would come up with would not be perfect. Thanks for the discussion, tho.

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If we're gonna be amazed at the multiplayer system, (especially seeing the measures some 3rd party websites have taken to develop software etc. to allow real time ATC and traffic in the skies) it must be a great one indeed :)

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>I think you'll be amazed but that's all I can>really say right now.Does that mean we'll be amazed at what the multiplayer capabilities are, or that we are amazed that you can't say anything further? Hopefully the former will be amazing while the latter will never amaze. Amazing as than may seem ;-)Keep up the good work.BTW, I'd very much like to see an updated map user interface. It's one cluncky map at the moment. Perhaps mouse wheel scrolling for zooming? Or bringing up the map without having to hold the flight.

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Why think about it in traditional terms of having to have things installed on the client side to see other player's models?With the bandwidth available today, why not transfer the geometry and texture data on the fly so that we can see another player's aircraft exactly as they are using it regardless of what they are flying. I'd rather have a delay of a few seconds before a player joins the environment rather than having to manually download and permanently install huge packs of aircraft which still leave you with many planes which you don't have... SB3 and FSINN have done a good job in working with aircraft modelers and painters given the current software that they have to work with, but an on the fly transfer would be so much better.Can't wait to see and hear the unveiling of the enhanced multiplayer feature set. I can only hope that support has been enhanced for online ATC ala VATSIM etc...

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>>I think you'll be amazed but that's all I can>>really say right now.>>Does that mean we'll be amazed at what the multiplayer>capabilities are, or that we are amazed that you can't say>anything further? Hopefully the former will be amazing while>the latter will never amaze. Amazing as than may seem ;-)Ha! But for the existence of a 'but'. Read what I wrote again without it and you'll see. ;)BTW, if that twists your noodle you should really check out "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" by Lynn Truss (http://eatsshootsandleaves.com/). It's a short but exceedingly fun read.

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>Why think about it in traditional terms of having to have>things installed on the client side to see other player's>models?>>With the bandwidth available today, why not transfer the>geometry and texture data on the fly so that we can see>another player's aircraft exactly as they are using it>regardless of what they are flying. I'd rather have a delay>of a few seconds before a player joins the environment rather>than having to manually download and permanently install huge>packs of aircraft which still leave you with many planes which>you don't have... SB3 and FSINN have done a good job in>working with aircraft modelers and painters given the current>software that they have to work with, but an on the fly>transfer would be so much better.No! Please don't do that.1. It wouldn't work for dialup users like me who can't get broadband where they live2. It wouldn't even work for broadband usersScenario :You're flying in multiplayer and another pilot on multiplayer is flying the opposite direction. At 30 nm the other aircraft comes into view and you start transferring each others aircraft models and textures.You both have detailed aircraft with 50MB textures.You're both flying at 400 KTAS so you'll meet each other in just under 2.5 minutes.You'd both have to transfer about 350KB/sec or have 2800 Mbit/sec upstreams to each other in order that you can see each others aircraft paint the moment you pass each other. Now throw in 4 or 5 aircraft ...You may argue that you can download all the aircraft models and textures when you connect but if there are a couple of dozen players you'll have to wait a while even on broad band.You could transfer a downscaled version of the textures but that won't look so good close up such as when on the ground at airports.This is a tough one to solve and it affects other sims too but doing the transfer while flying just isn't going to work until we have Gigabit connection speeds.Paul

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calm down. We are using things are computers which have the capability of taking large amounts of data and simplifing them or downscaling as you say. For example the designers can include reduced polygon/texture size or the app can resize textures to make them smaller. Besides that this version has to last us about another 2 or 3 years and broadband usage has far surpassed dialup in the places where microsoft will do the majority of its sales. In the USA, a quick google search shows a report saying there are 31.9 million broadband households in 2004, and they expect that to be 88 million by 2010. Top DSL providers are reaching 100% availability in their markets. Lets not slow down progress for a few lumberjacks. ;-) It's just an idea anyway, whatever they are going to do has already been done.

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>In the USA, a quick google search shows a report saying there>are 31.9 million broadband households in 2004, and they expect>that to be 88 million by 2010. Top DSL providers are reaching>100% availability in their markets. >>Lets not slow down progress for a few lumberjacks. ;-) It's>just an idea anyway, whatever they are going to do has already>been done.Now you're displaying geographic myopia... This is an international community and it isn't fair at all to use the status of broadband access in the US as a benchmark comparison... ;)

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>Now you're displaying geographic myopia... This is an>international community and it isn't fair at all to use the>status of broadband access in the US as a benchmark>comparison... ;)Exactly right - why hold the rest of the world back? :D http://www.websiteoptimization.com/bw/0508/ Seriously though, transmitting and caching low-LOD versions of airplanes and textures dynamically over the net would absolutely NOT be a problem. No doubt, like many other features, it could be turned off by those who don't have the bandwidth to do it.For them, aside from improvements made in other areas of network play, things would be the same as before (as in, "no worse than it used to be"). At the same time broadband users would get the benefit of not having to worry about maintaining a multiplayer model set.

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>Seriously though, transmitting and caching low-LOD versions of>airplanes and textures dynamically over the net would>absolutely NOT be a problem. No doubt, like many other>features, it could be turned off by those who don't have the>bandwidth to do it.>low LOD model and downsampled textures would still probably be at least a megabyte worth of data. I guess it depends on what MS has in store for us. If it's something where dozens or 100s of people can be logged on at once and flying in the same area, could get tricky.Don't forget you not only have to download everyone elses data, but you have to upload your data to everyone else and upload speeds are usually much slower than download. So imagine your computer trying to upload your textures to 20 other players while at the same time trying to download textures from 20 other players at their slower upload speed. All the while, every 30 seconds or so a new player is popping in, or leaving. Don't see it working very well.But would be nice to see this problem resolved somehow.Matt

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It wouldn't have to work that way - no doubt FSX's multiplayer will still require a dedicated server to which players connect. Instead of each player sending their aircraft to a multitude of players, they'd send it to the server right after connecting (and while doing checklist, taxiing, etc .. depending on their upload speed). The server would then trickle the data down to other players, since servers have much more upstream bandwidth available than most players.The server could even cache these contents for a certain amount of time since the last "request", so that the more common plane packages would not need to be uploaded to the server every time. And remember that once a player has downloaded the package once, it's stored on their computer. They won't be requesting it again unless they need to re-install and somehow misplace the multiplayer plane cache.

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>The only thing we (well, me, really) have said publically is>that we've completely scrapped and re-written the multiplayer>system in FSX. I think you'll be amazed but that's all I can>really say right now.>That's great to hear. It's gotta mean that you guys have re-written the multi-player chat module too, right? The old chat function almost seems like an after thought.Really looking forward to FSX.AT

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