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ChaoticBeauty

17th June 2021 Developer Q&A: Begins at 08:30 AM PST

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Posted (edited)

Today's Developer Q&A is scheduled to begin at 08:30 AM PST, or 10 minutes from now. Who is excited?!

This Q&A session will be centred around World Updates, photogrammetry, scenery, airports and related topics.

It is important to note that any questions regarding Xbox and Sim Update 5/DirectX 12 should be directed at the 30th June Q&A.

You can watch it in here: twitch.tv/msfsofficial

Quote

Quick Summary

The stream begins with a recap of an exciting past week (Xbox/Top Gun announcement, SDK Q&A, update release) and the Nordics World Update trailer (along with a before/after comparison and some screenshots cut from the trailer). Even though it was not possible at the moment, they will keep trying to get photogrammetry cities for the Nordics. The landing challenges and bush trips are made by Perfect Flight.

World Update VI Announcement

DACH (Germany/Austria/Switzerland) is next. Great DEM and aerials are coming.

EDHL Lübeck and LSZR St. Gallen–Altenrhein are the handmade airports.

Vienna will get photogrammetry (other cities are still in negotiation phase).

New Plane Announcement

Junkers Ju 52, famous German plane, will be out in August 2021 (at Gamescom with the DACH World Update).

They are putting lots of work into it in order to get the engines, sounds and overall accuracy right.

New partner is Oliver Fischer, an Aerosoft developer that's helping with development for the Ju 52.

Questions

Jörg is thankful for the list of missing airports created by the community, he says it's going to take time but they're actively looking to add as many as possible.

They are looking a lot at the possibility of creating 3D models for boats/marinas/piers, Jörg says they deserve attention. There is a lot to do on their journey to create a digital twin of Earth.

They are committed to updating the entire planet, they are hoping to go around the entire planet until the next year.

Regarding airport gate lights illuminating the ramps, it is something they are researching into, they need to find the correct algorithms.

So far they haven't had the time to correct hangar heights, but it is something they are looking into.

Float planes were showcased in the Xbox trailer and they are coming, the amount of lakes in the Nordics influenced their addition.

OpenStreetMap data has not been updated since launch, importing the database and testing it is very time-consuming, it is on their schedule but they cannot give a time frame yet.

They think that doing World Updates region by region is working well now, but it won't always be that way. By next year they plan to add some really good data into the simulator (like aerial imagery down to 5cm/pixel). They also plan to add more navigation lights at sea.

Due to the inconsistency in the imagery, it is very complicated to have AI do the water masks. For now, they will continue to make them by hand, but they still plan to experiment with the way water masks are generated (maybe bathymetry in 2022).

Eventually they will fix the issue of airport/runway lights being on during daytime.

Jörg mentions that the Gaya team has about 40 people right now working on POIs and airports, the Bing Maps team is huge (larger than the Asobo team working on the simulator), including editors who clean up the data (about 20-30 people) they receive from their partners. Perfect Flight will be doing the bush trips and landing challenges from now on. The missing/incorrect airports are being tackled by an internal Asobo team of about 10 people.

They are working on missing LODs from the POIs introduced with past World Updates. They plan to go back to parts of the world already updated to ensure they look great.

Jörg is committed to using the most modern technology possible to create the World Updates, and gathering as many photogrammetry cities as possible.

They are looking into databases to generate high and low tides in coastal regions.

They plan to create a section to collect all the past landing challenges featured in World Updates (coming in 2021 according to the Feedback Snapshot).

The aurora borealis is on the roadmap (also indicated in the Feedback Snapshot), but they don't want to fake it so they will have lots of research to do.

Jörg will be talking about the Xbox and new features in an interview, that will be presented on the Xbox Extended Showcase in half an hour from now:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7ZCGAUSCAU

 

Edited by ChaoticBeauty
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Cool JU52, unfortunately they ceased real life ops due to the last crash. Glad that we'll get one into the sim!

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1 hour ago, ChaoticBeauty said:

he aurora borealis is on the roadmap (also indicated in the Feedback Snapshot), but they don't want to fake it so they will have lots of research to do.

Yeah, they want to make it dynamic, not a canned FX that looks like a looped animation.

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The Bing maps team, that is larger than the  Asobo team working on the simulator, is technically not working on MSFS, right?  That is, the Bing maps team is actually working on Bing and Asobo is just piggybacking off their work and reaping the benefits in MSFS.

Can someone with a more detailed knowledge of Bing & Asobo, confirm this?


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This will be a very welcome update : the Alps DEM ! And improvements on the Alps countries themselves.

👍

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14 minutes ago, abrams_tank said:

The Bing maps team, that is larger than the  Asobo team working on the simulator, is technically not working on MSFS, right?  That is, the Bing maps team is actually working on Bing and Asobo is just piggybacking off their work and reaping the benefits in MSFS.

From what I recall, based on what Jörg has said in the past Q&A sessions regarding implementing scenery (like the London photogrammetry), the Bing Maps team are effectively working both for the Bing database and the simulator, collaborating with a smaller scenery team at Asobo. As said in a few older, pre-release previews, its release has motivated Microsoft to invest more into Bing Maps since both parties benefit. They want both Bing and the simulator to have the best possible imagery and elevation data.

It's worth noting that some of the simulator's world improvements like the Tokyo photogrammetry are not being reflected on the Bing Maps app yet though.

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5 minutes ago, ChaoticBeauty said:

From what I recall, based on what Jörg has said in the past Q&A sessions regarding implementing scenery (like the London photogrammetry), the Bing Maps team are effectively working both for the Bing database and the simulator, collaborating with a smaller scenery team at Asobo. As said in a few older, pre-release previews, its release has motivated Microsoft to invest more into Bing Maps since both parties benefit. They want both Bing and the simulator to have the best possible imagery and elevation data.

It's worth noting that some of the simulator's world improvements like the Tokyo photogrammetry are not being reflected on the Bing Maps app yet though.

Oh, I see. That’s interesting.  If the revenue for MSFS drops enough, then one day, there will be less incentive for Microsoft to do this for both MSFS and Bing.  The main value for Microsoft would mainly be for Bing at that point.

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2 minutes ago, abrams_tank said:

Oh, I see. That’s interesting.  If the revenue for MSFS drops enough, then one day, there will be less incentive for Microsoft to do this for both MSFS and Bing.  The main value for Microsoft would mainly be for Bing at that point.

Indeed, although the fact that Jörg continues to say that it is their goal to create a digital twin of Earth could mean that there is already enough revenue to keep it up for a long time (and they're already creating roadmaps for 2023 and beyond based on the past sessions and the Feedback Snapshot). Even if they don't though, based on what he's said on today's stream, it seems almost guaranteed that they will be going over the entire world by the end of 2022, which is an exciting prospect!

Also, the impression I got from those pre-release interviews was that Microsoft not only want Bing to have the best maps database, but also beat Google at it.

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3 hours ago, ChaoticBeauty said:

 

Also, the impression I got from those pre-release interviews was that Microsoft not only want Bing to have the best maps database, but also beat Google at it.

They have not had much success at that with search engines so far, Google consistently finds better results for obscure searches and when was the last time you heard someone (outside MS sponsored sitcoms) say "just Bing it" .

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Good news on WU6, I wonder if they'll include neighboring countries such as Slovakia & all the historical castles there. Bratislava is a mere 60km from Wien


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13 hours ago, ChaoticBeauty said:

Indeed, although the fact that Jörg continues to say that it is their goal to create a digital twin of Earth could mean that there is already enough revenue to keep it up for a long time (and they're already creating roadmaps for 2023 and beyond based on the past sessions and the Feedback Snapshot).

My pet theory is: their main goal is to create the digital twin of the Earth and chose us as guinea pigs because the flight sim community is the most pedantic of all 😉

Seriously though, I really think the digital Earth twin is one big motivation for them to do all this. There has been talk about military projects with VR making use of MSFS' digital Earth, there are countless possibilities where this can be put to good use.

However, it's evident that Google is way ahead of them in terms of available data. I'm speaking primarily of the coverage of photogrammetry and aerial photos, I haven't really compared the DEM, but I'd hazard a guess they're leading here too. In Europe Bing / MSFS has a total of about 10-15 photogrammetry cities, this is about the number Google has in small countries like Czech republic, larger countries reaching 50 or more cities with photogrammetry data.

I know there's no way MSFS is ever going to adopt Google maps, I'm just saying they're in an uphill battle. As Jörg said in the Q&A, it takes a lot of planning ahead of time to acquire aerial data, and I hope they're picking up the pace over the years. Most photogrammetry we see in Google maps has been added over the past 10 years, so it's reasonable to assume MS can do the same if they want to.

It seems they're still in a learning process. Just take a look at the quality of the photogrammetry in Paris and London, and the forum discussions about it. I think the underlying photographic data is of sufficient quality, yet the houses they generate from it don't come close and look melted. It's as if Google's algorithm is a lot better at identifying the corners of a building, and it seems to understand that house walls are basically planar objects, instead of using the measured depth for every single vertex, even if it's low accuracy.

13 hours ago, ChaoticBeauty said:

Also, the impression I got from those pre-release interviews was that Microsoft not only want Bing to have the best maps database, but also beat Google at it.

Yeah, I got the same impression. If their motivation is driven by the will to create the digital twin of the Earth, and I really hope it is, we're in for some big improvements in the coming years. But it's taking longer than everyone hoped for, and admittedly, so far the world updates haven't met the high expectations many had been holding. A few decisions are a bit hard to understand (e.g. why handcraft Svalbard airport if the DEM/satellite data of the surroundings is really bad), but other than that, it's still nice to see we're moving forward. 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

If I understood properly, the MSFS project is in a position to initiate (RW) flights to aquire aerials to integrate into Bing for usage in MSFS. (Recall Jörg explained they didn't get permissions for flights over some airports and regions for the Northern Update.)

Up until now, I was under the impression, Bing is aquiring date for some high-level industries, say military or automotive, and we just get the byproducts. I never believed them to have a say in the process or being able to initiate any actions.

This makes me even more scratching my head about funding and finals goals of the project and if they can be achieved. Development has been running and funded for years behind the courtain, they need to maintain the server infrastructure, continuous development, mostly by Asobo, acquisition of imagery... who pays for all this? If I look up the Steam usage numbers they are continually shrinking, and I doubt they are in an order of magnitude MS had in mind. The same goes for Steam ratings.

One goal might be to push the X-Box project - which may or may not succeed.

I am certainly thankfully benefitting from the effort, but I always have that vague feeling the project could be cancelled if someone high-up doesn't find it worth funding into the future. While MS certainly is in a position to cross-fund MSFS from other branches for some time, this will not go on forever. Even if the MS strategy seems to have changed since Ballmer's time, it has to be profitable over a long run - as for any healthy company.

Kind regards, Michael

Edited by pmb
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Posted (edited)
20 hours ago, ChaoticBeauty said:

Vienna will get photogrammetry (other cities are still in negotiation phase)

:lope_you:

Finally my home country! Flying through the alps is already great. Hope for some nice updates.

They'll include LOWK Klagenfurt. Baiscally my home airport where I do RL flying.

In case someone from ASOBO reads this - the two old hangars in the east have been removed since a few months.

Edited by tweekz
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MSFS FTW !!
Maybe a little tweaking of ground effect needed. 🙂

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13 hours ago, Glenn Fitzpatrick said:

They have not had much success at that with search engines so far, Google consistently finds better results for obscure searches and when was the last time you heard someone (outside MS sponsored sitcoms) say "just Bing it" .

They were talking strictly about the maps component from what I recall. Even though it shares the same name as the search engine, I don't think they are too close to each other. It used to be called MSN Virtual Earth, then Windows Live Maps and so on.

3 hours ago, pstrub said:

It seems they're still in a learning process. Just take a look at the quality of the photogrammetry in Paris and London, and the forum discussions about it. I think the underlying photographic data is of sufficient quality, yet the houses they generate from it don't come close and look melted. It's as if Google's algorithm is a lot better at identifying the corners of a building, and it seems to understand that house walls are basically planar objects, instead of using the measured depth for every single vertex, even if it's low accuracy.

I think the problem with London and Paris is that they came from a different source than the usual ones, Bluesky, and Jörg admitted on an earlier Q&A that especially London was not as optimised as it could be inside the simulator (too many wasted vertices). So I have the feeling that those two are not going to be part of the Bing database, though I was expecting that Tokyo would've been integrated by now, as it's certainly on the level of other photogrammetry cities when it comes to quality and performance.

2 hours ago, pmb said:

This makes me even more scratching my head about funding and finals goals of the project and if they can be achieved.

They said in pre-release interviews that the project wouldn't have happened without Xbox Game Pass. They both benefit from each other, it opens up accessibility to the simulator, and in return the subscription service gets wider appeal as there is no other product like it in its existing catalogue.

Also I guess the marketplace is doing way better than they expected (after all Microsoft's CEO specially mentioned it in a recent conference call), and they might be projecting similar incomes from the Xbox version. Considering the amount of people that have been asking about it in the socials for almost a year now, demand must be really high.

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