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Guest cbuchner1

Speed up loading of AutoGen and Photoscenery tiles: new project?

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Hi there,I am currently Matt Fox's excellent AutoGen texture resize scripts, but the process takes hours and hours on my PC. The benefit is that textures get downsized from 1024x1024 to 512x512 (or optionally 256x256) therefore consuming less disk space AND getting loaded faster. Also the program folder of Flight Simulator X shrinks from about 14MB to 9MB. Get these scripts here:http://www.fox-fam.com/wordpress/?page_id=41I just had an idea for a new programming project (and my Google Earth / MSN Virtual Earth based livestreaming photoscenery project isn't even finished yet...). The new project would act like a turbo charger for the FSX terrain loader. It would also help reducing the "blurries" that some people have with old-style FS2002 and FS2004 photoscenery in FSX.I have previously created a filesystem filter driver that allows FSX to "see" different resolution terrain tiles, no matter what size or resolution they really have on disk. This is already being used successfully in my photoscenery project.My idea would be to speed up tile loading by presenting only the resolution to FSX as is set in the "Global Maximum Texture Resolution" slider in FSX. So for example if you have set this to "Normal", a maximum of 256x256 pixels applies in the FSX texture loader. However FSX will always first read the full BMP file from disk (being 683kb each) before it extracts the 256x256 detail level from it. Quite a waste of resources (disk access, memory and DMA bandwidth) and loading time! This new project could help here by not allowing FSX to read the entire file, but just the section it will actually use.Other people have noted that some textures are being searched for in 4 or 5 folders before the texture is actually being found. Here a filesystem filter driver could intervene and make FSX find the correct file on the first load attempt already.Furthermore, some often used autogen terrain tiles could be cached in RAM by the filter driver for speedier access.All these features could shave a few boring seconds from loading flights and make that progress bar move a bit faster - in particular on those low-end and mid-range systems that have a bit slower drives and disk access (laptops, etc). I don't know when I will get to implement this idea, but based on what I already have, this shouldn't be too much effort.There would be one more benefit over using Matt Fox's scripts: You don't have to modify your FSX install on disk, hence all future official patches for FSX released by Microsoft should continue to work.If that idea actually works in practice and saves some loading time, I will publish this as freeware, maybe with a PayPal button next to it ;)Christian

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I that works it will be great. Good luck with your endeavor. R-

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Great idea, but if I understand you right, the filter will generally load the resolution level that is set in "Global Maximum Texture Resolution". Many (like me) have set this to "maximum" to see 1m/pixel ground textures and a high quality cockpit, BUT want autogen and cloud textures of only 512 or 256 pixels. So the filter should be more intelligent or we are back to the handmade batch files that cut off the unneeded 1024 pixel mip levels of autogen...

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Sounds like a great project. As Marcus said, it would be nice if your application could be smarter than just going off the Max Tex Resolution. Should have a few different categories so the user can reduce each category differently (Clouds, Ground Textures, Autogen Buildings, Trees, etc). Also, instead of just having a max texture size, should reduce the textures by a percentage.Good LuckMatt Fox

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Excellent idea!I would like to see this become available, especially since it is uncertain as to exactly what and when we would see in the way of a performance patch for FSX.I greatly admire your innovativeness, and although I wonder whether Microsoft or Google couldn't fan even more wondrous creative genius out of that brain of yours with a supportive environment and generous buget, I also wonder if you shouldn't simply pursue the righteous path of directly benefitting from your own efforts with the help of some CAREFULLY chosen venture capitalists like the guys at Yahoo and Google did when they got started.Allow me to give an example of a parallel scenario. NASA with a huge budget and in spite of good intentions gets caught up in bureaucracy and falls down periodically in spite of that big budget and some good minds working overtime, often to their personal detriment.Projects have failed, and people may have even died because of management decisions which might have involved meeting arbitrary schedules and hoping for the best while project schedule agendas marched on in spite of cautionary feedback from the people like yourself who pay attention to nitty-gritty details of "how things work", and whether they are actually "working properly" at a given point of proposed public launch.American aeronautical engineer and visionary Burt Rutan's small, but determined research firm out in the desert at Mojave airport makes the acquaintance of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and they successfully beat out all competitors with SpaceShipOne being the first privately funded aircraft to exceed Mach 2 and Mach 3, first privately funded spacecraft to exceed 100km altitude, and first privately funded reusable spacecraft (no government funding... and all done by a team consisting of a handful of people!). New funding will come from British tycoon Richard Branson, who is to fund the successor SpaceShipTwo for his new company Virgin Galactic through a $21 million US deal. One year and one month after SpaceShipOne's first flight, Mojave Airport reclassified itself (part-time) as the Mojave "Spaceport".So, entities with bigger budgets and longer track records are not necessarily always the better environments in which to cultivate fulfillment of one's ideas, and there is always room for an innovator to step forward and show others new ways to do things, often in a more efficient, interesting, and successful way.Godspeed, Christian; even if your initial projects for FS will serve as commercial or freeware temporary interventions applicable to the shortcomings of Microsoft's latest project released apparently before it was "truly" ready IMHO, I see further good things yet to come as result of your creativity in solving problems.Perhaps you will be the entrepreneur who will bring us THE flight simulation which is browser based, faster, extensible (via efforts of FS user community and 3rd party developers), using locally cacheable photorealistic imagery which is further subject to local cache processing via your application's scripted routines to create alternate resolutions, seasonal and time of day deriviatives etc. (all on the end user's own computer in the privacy of their own home!) to achieve more efficient (and user-controllable) use of that imagery for a superb flying experience over mesh and autogen comparable to what we are (trying to do) in FSX! ;-) GaryGB

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In defense of NASA, the reason they get caught up in bureaucracy is because the taxpayers won't let them take risks. Multi-Billionaires have no one to answer for if something goes wrong.Matt

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Hi Matt:Hopefully NASA will have no further tragedies regardless of what it is that compels failsafe precision and caution, and I do wish them well.My major point to Christian as he contemplates his future direction from time to time, was of course, that in spite of what one might ordinarily expect of larger established entities with big budgets and lots of experience, sometimes the smaller operator with a handful of people, attention (and commitment) to details, and innovative genius can successfully come up with more efficient ways of doing things on a lesser budget and in a shorter time!(3) Cheers (for Christian)! :-)GaryGB

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>My major point to Christian as he contemplates his future>direction from time to time, was of course, that in spite of>what one might ordinarily expect of larger established>entities with big budgets and lots of experience, sometimes>the smaller operator with a handful of people, attention (and>commitment) to details, and innovative genius can successfully>come up with more efficient ways of doing things on a lesser>budget and in a shorter time!I definately agree with you there.

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Yes, you are right. There would be absolutely be no speed benefit if the user has intentionally set the texture resolution to Maximum 1024x1024 ;)But a selective reduction by object type (building, autogen, clouds, cockpit, aircraft textures etc) might be desirable.Right now my "downrezzing" works with BMP DXT1 which is commonly used for terrain tiles. I would have to add more compression formats, like DDS and BMP DXT3 (maybe more) to my portfolio to fully support the different texture types I listed above.Christian

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I feel flattered - but be assured that my genius is offset by other vices that shall remain unnamed ;)

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