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Virtual-Chris

Dealing with Multiple Tiers of Scenery Quality

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It seems we have multiple tiers of scenery quality now...

- Default photogrammetry scenery
- Default non-PG scenery
- Handcrafted scenery (Mostly free, some paid)

I have to admit, when I bought MSFS, I thought the quality of the scenery was so good, that add-ons wouldn't be necessary. Boy was I wrong. The difference between good hand-crafted scenery and some of the default stuff is an eye-opener.  But it creates a couple of challenges I was hoping not to have to deal with...

First, there's a subtle psychological side-effect that tells you in the back of your mind... don't bother flying to <insert location here> until someone has developed an add-on for it.  

Do any of you suffer from this?

Second, with the massive influx of add-on scenery it's almost getting mind-boggling with new stuff being published every day.

How are you dealing with this?

Do you download a new scenery add-on and then fly it?  In other words, are you you using add-ons to determine what you do in a session?

Or when you go to a location like France... do you search for all the scenery add-ons and add them before you fly there?

Or are you largely ignoring add-ons and using the default scenery?

Lastly, there's the time aspect... how long until an area of interest is hand-crafted?  How long until most of the world gets to a high standard?

Edited by Virtual-Chris

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This is the same situation that we have been living with for the last 20 years or so..

Keen, local volunteers will create freeware scenery for their neighborhood...

Addon vendors will create airports, or regions as payware..

Up to you as to how much addon scenery you want for your flights..

Personally, I find the provided scenery quite compelling, at least for now 🙂

Edited by Bert Pieke
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Bert

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4 minutes ago, Bert Pieke said:

This is the same situation that we have been living with for the last 20 years or so..

Keen, local volunteers will create freeware scenery for their neighborhood...

Addon vendors will create airports, or regions as payware..

Up to you as to how much addon scenery you want for your flights..

Personally, I find the provided scenery quite compelling, at least for now 🙂

Yeah, but how do you use it?  I'm interested in your thoughts on my questions above.

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17 minutes ago, Virtual-Chris said:

Yeah, but how do you use it?  I'm interested in your thoughts on my questions above.

Me... I bought KORS because I like to fly there, and I am hoping that Orbx will release PNW Ferries, as they did. for P3D.  I got the freeware Meigs airport for nostalgia reasons.. and that is it.


Bert

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1 hour ago, Virtual-Chris said:

I have to admit, when I bought MSFS, I thought the quality of the scenery was so good, that add-ons wouldn't be necessary. Boy was I wrong. The difference between good hand-crafted scenery and some of the default stuff is an eye-opener.  

I can understand why many people assumed that, but that was just a side effect of the fact the MSFS graphic engine is so good, that makes everything looks better *including* default airports that, if you take a good look at, are still fairly generic even if they are handcrafted. Even some default non-handcrafted airports can look good, in some situations, if the area around them is compelling enough. Even a *box* with no textures looks good under the MSFS lighting...

So, people accustomed to other simulators assumed they didn't need any add-on scenery, because the default was "good enough".

But of course, if a default scenery, or even an handcrafted default scenery ( or that puny untextured box ) looks good in the new engine, it also means a 3rd party airport that has been carefully made, usually taking a lot of time, will look even better. In fact, I'd say the opposite of what the popular belief was when MSFS was only shown in trailers: the better a scenery is made, the more it can benefit from the insanely good MSFS lighting engine. We knew that for a very long time, it only took getting both the sim and the 3rd party add-ons into people's hand, to have this perception changed.

Surely, such graphic engine is also a challenge for scenery developers, because we are starting to take even more time than ever to be sure every material is realistic, every model is correct, every texture is consistent but, the good thing is, you don't have to struggle too much to see results: you put good stuff in, and good stuff comes out...

Edited by virtuali
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And I should add that I got the Freeware Matterhorn, and took a flight there (out of Sion in the Mooney).  Totally awesome!

https://flightsim.to/

Edited by Bert Pieke

Bert

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I can't really fault MSFS for the default scenery. 

I've flown the TBM930 from the middle of Australia, up to Papa New Guinea, across Indonesia and Malaysia, up to Thailand and Myanmar, and now I'm over in India.  (I started on the other side of the planet, so I can use Live Weather and have it be daytime when flying in evening/night in the US).  'High-End' settings, 200mbit FIOS internet, all the streaming stuff turned on.

I don't think many of the areas I have been in have been touched by human hands as far as the scenery goes.

The scenery has looked good most places.  Even a couple where I went back and compared to some photos after the fact.  Better than just "plausible" for sure.  Some clouds projected down into the surface texture in a few places, some buildings near an ILS approach that the autogen placed correctly but made taller than reality that made for some fun screenshots (still cleared them).

When I have done one-off flights over some of the photogrammetry areas, the 'melted buildings' in the distance due to how LOD is working right now have had a much bigger impact on my immersion than anything out in the middle of nowhere.  Maybe I'll try turning photogrammetry off and seeing what autogen looks like in those areas instead.

If I were going to use a location as 'home base' for something like FSEconomy, maybe I'd invest in some aftermarket scenery.  Otherwise I'll wait for what the World Updates bring in terms of scenery. 

I know there are some terrain mesh issue in Alaska and elsewhere that I haven't seen personally, that some people who enjoy that area of the world might find frustrating.  I'm planning to fly around the world so maybe I'll see those in person in the future.

If only the stock aircraft performance simulation, avionics simulation, and provided documentation in this were as much of an improvement over past sims as the scenery.....


AMD 3950X | 64GB RAM | AMD 5700XT | CH Fighterstick / Pro Throttle / Pro Pedals

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9 hours ago, Virtual-Chris said:

First, there's a subtle psychological side-effect that tells you in the back of your mind... don't bother flying to <insert location here> until someone has developed an add-on for it.  

Do any of you suffer from this?

Second, with the massive influx of add-on scenery it's almost getting mind-boggling with new stuff being published every day.

Yes, very much so! I've always suffered from this. In previous sims, where I've only been interested in IFR tubeliner flights, I've only ever flown between two add-on airports and never used the defaults. In this sim, I'm trying to force myself to get away from this mindset, because I think the interest of the surrounding scenery can outweigh the disappointment of blocky, default airport scenery and I could probably save a lot of money on add-ons. So far, I'm happily flying VFR to & from default airports, and I'm treating the Asobo handcrafted airports the same as add-ons when flying the airliners... but other than that, it's not going very well and I've yet to fly an airliner into or out of a default, non-handcrafted airport.

9 hours ago, Virtual-Chris said:

Second, with the massive influx of add-on scenery it's almost getting mind-boggling with new stuff being published every day.

How are you dealing with this?

Do you download a new scenery add-on and then fly it?  In other words, are you you using add-ons to determine what you do in a session?

I'm keeping an eye on the freeware that's coming out and downloading things that are relevant to where I want to fly. For example, I downloaded the Durdle Door scenery because I'll be flying that way on my next VFR live stream. I'll probably download the Greater Toronto Area Enhancement pack when there's a CYYZ scenery to go with it, or an airliner is released that flies to and from CYTZ in the real world. Other than that, I'm mostly ignoring it until such time as I see a really excellent major airport released because the default scenery is good enough for me.

I'm really excited about the release of the Japan update and I think I'll probably be pretty happy flying around there for a long time, without downloading anything else. Mind you, that's what I thought about the default sim too 😉  

 


Simming since 1996. Live-streaming real world flights in MSFS and reviewing add-ons via my YouTube channel since 2020.
i7 8700k, GeForce GTX 1080Ti, 32GB RAM

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In terms of visuals during the daytime, unless I have some compelling attraction to the particulars of a location, I feel the default airports, even the generic ones, look more than good enough for my purposes.  actually one of the things that I personally like about flying into an airport are the airport photo surrounds, which you used to need an add-on for.  I don't really worry about whether the terminal looks like the real one, or the towers etc... unless, like I said it's a really iconic place that I have an attachment with.

I however have 3 problems.

1) I have a terrible weakness for buying things I don't really need.

2) after the sun goes down, the default night lighting at airports looks horrid.

3) the taxiway identification and parking spots are fictional, or in some cases non-existent.  (I.E. my local medium sized regional, KMDT has a reasonably correctly shaped terminal, but no parking for airliners or jetways)

The old "AFCAD solution" might even be acceptable, but the SDK doesn't currently allow some of those things to be edited, only replaced in whole.

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8 hours ago, virtuali said:

Surely, such graphic engine is also a challenge for scenery developers, because we are starting to take even more time than ever to be sure every material is realistic, every model is correct, every texture is consistent but, the good thing is, you don't have to struggle too much to see results: you put good stuff in, and good stuff comes out...

A lot of people are just converting the Albedo and Diffuse textures with automated programs that generate the other color maps, even beyond doing it manually in substance painter. Sometimes the conversions look better than the old textures if someone were converting an airport, but it just depends on the underlying color maps. The tough part is mainly on an independent scenery designer, as a lot of the old-time scenery guys have a lot of models they can convert over.

Scenery design is very labor intensive, you have to really be careful about managing your time when doing it or you will get stuck in circles (I know because it's happened to me). It's harder than regular development when it comes to time management (in some ways).

It's also too easy to make everything too shiny looking now, sometimes because it's hard to visualize exactly what a texture needs to look like until after you put it on the model, so lots of back and forth is the issue right now. I suppose that back and forth always existed to some degree.

 

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17 hours ago, Virtual-Chris said:

Do any of you suffer from this?

Not really, but that's because I've always done most of my flying in the FSEconomy game, where departures and arrivals are determined by the economics of a simulated charter operation, not how pretty the scenery or airports are outside the cockpit. You fly where the money is, which is one of the best things about the game. It takes me to places I'd never go otherwise, and I've gotten used to seeing little to no airport infrastructure at many of the smaller airstrips.

That's going to save me a ton of money in MSFS, because I won't be buying much add-on scenery at all. 😃  

The default is good enough, except in maybe a few places I'd want to dress up. On the other hand, I'm an itinerant pilot in FSE and don't always stay in the same place. So I won't be buying much scenery payware or freeware. It will mostly be aircraft. Speaking of which, it looks like it could be a year or two before I actually fly using MSFS instead of X-Plane in FSEconomy, due to available aircraft I'd want to fly. Right now it's just a VFR sightseeing sim, but I'm looking forward to the future.

 


X-Plane and Microsoft Flight Simulator on Windows 10 
i7 6700 4.0 GHz, 32 GB RAM, GTX 1660 ti, 1920x1200 monitor

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