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Guest ben252

Why I will no longer purchase any add-on Aircraft...

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Too All those folks (and you know who you are) that are cashing in on the add-on aircraft market:1. stop with the ridiculously low frame rates as compared to MS default Aircraft2. learn how to optimize GMax3. Provide a simplified version of the Aircraft (frame rate friendly -- no that doesn't mean just add 2D panels)4. Panels that NEVER match up to MS's standard control configurations key set so I'm forced to re-program my GoFlight system for every add-on aircraft5. Panels with NO obvious method of closing6. Overwriting the default MS GPS key7. Stop adding endless DLL's to the Modules dir to the point FS just can't handle it any more8. Provide accurate step by step startup procedures for these aircraft -- documentation is horrible and incomplete9. Check DLL conflicts BEFORE installing, don't just overwriteUntil you folks GET A CLUE, I'm not wasting any more money on your products and will happily fly the free-ware products that: work reliably, look great, fly great, sound great, and most importantly don't turn my Intel P4 3.7 Ghz Extreme Edition 880Mhz FSB 1.5GB 500Mhz Corsair Extreme RAM, ATI X800XT PE, WD Raptor 10K rpm RAID system into a 5 fps crash to desktop nightmare!!Anyone else thinking of getting retail 3rd party Aircraft, you have been warned!!Rob.P.S. Computer Pilot Magazine -- you need to be more responsible in your reviews, one liners that hint at possible frame rate problems should be more clear i.e. "you can't even fly this Aircraft unless you turn EVERYTHING off or down".

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I would like to hear your tips for optimizing GMAX. Instead of telling developers what not to do, tell them how to do it better.If you take as much care in citing examples as you do boasting of your system specs, your presence here in the forums will be most welcome. I'll try to see that the thread doesn't become a flame war, since I sense many satisfied payware users are lining up, ready to say (in their own unique way) "don't speak for us". As for your comment regarding Computer Pilot, you should communicate that with them directly. I'm curious as to what they were reviewing...-John

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John,There are many ways to optimize GMax models, the first is to reduce the polygon count and/or run vertex optimizers (I believe these are built into most good 3D modelers) -- often a 3d coordinate will need to be shifted a tad to help the final image or to get a better optimization, but it can be done. Also, working with GMax doesn't consistute being a "developer" -- writing DLLs for use with panels is being a developer. If these companies are using Developers to do the GMax modeling then that is probably where the problem lies.PMDG 1900, 737 seriesaeroSoft EurowingsFlight One - 727Phoenix - PSS ConcordeThese are the folks I'm talking about.Are you suggesting I don't speak? Are you being sponsored by these folks? But please, if you feel anything I've written is false and mis-leading in nature then I'd expect you provide evidence and details to contradict my statements, rather than just "plenty of happy customers" -- how is that a good use of information exchange?Rob.

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As John said, you've done a fine job of listing your system specs. If I had a system like that and I was getting 5FPS, I'd probably be a bit skeptical myself; however you have not provided a single example of a commercial product. Instead, you've made a blanket statement to all developers that they're "cashing in" developing add-ons "without a clue".How are we to know what else you have running? MegaCity with full shadows and terrain detail, Trilinear filtering with 4x AA at 1600x1200? Who knows, and quite frankly, who cares after the tone you've set for yourself.Your examples of what not to do might actually be useful to somebody, as they're generally sound principals to follow, but the way you presented them basically makes me want to vomit.Provide some examples of products, lower your tone, and MAYBE the developer(s) who's product(s) you question can actually help you. Since you have 1 post to your name, and you're coming here instead of seeking support from them directly, I have to assume you're just trolling and you'll probably never be back. Regardless, if you would like to provide your name, I'll be happy to never sell you a product.--JonP.S. Just saw your list of products - that actually helps. Now why are you putting the entire developer community down?

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Jon,1st, nothing in a Internet forum should cause vomiting. This IS the Internet and difference of opinion are exactly that -- you make this sound religious.I did provide examples which I thought were not relevant but it seems you want me to name names. I was trying to keep it in the generic sense as it is the trend that is the problem.MS SDK provides good guidelines, but it appears that in the interest of making money these 3rd party "developers" are making eye candy the highest priority over a good flying experience. I can buy a 3D render screen saver any time I like -- I don't need you to sell me one.And perhaps, just perhaps, I'm interested in flying a different aircraft other than what is provide in MS default set? But the key is "IN FLYING" a different aircraft. Is it impossible for 3rd party AC folks to provide a "lower" quality render AC that does indeed have framerate as good as those provided by Microsoft?So far the only options for better framerates I've seen for 3rd party AC is 2D panels or setting lower res panels -- guess what, the panels res isn't the major performance problem, it's the GMAX model.Vol 9 Issue 6 Page 53. Computer Pilot Magazine -- what do you see? 5 steps on how to improve frame rate performance on Flight 1 Skyhawk. Come on folks!! This is getting silly. Out of the box not many people have enough PC performance to run FS2004 with just the graphical basics and 3rd party AC developers are making it even worse?? Does that make any rational sense to you? The only rational sense I ses is that eye candy sells -- the money machine, screw the end user satisfaction.So far the best Add-on AC I have is the Airspeed AS.57 Ambassador -- shareware!! Why, because it sounds good, looks good, flys good -- oh maybe that's because it does it all and doesn't turn my system into a slideshow.And what is with everyone's "lets bring out the Troll defense" -- stop it already. Just cause someone has something to say that isn't "fluffy bunny" you bring out "must be a troll". You don't like my approach then don't read, or leave the room, go get a cup of tea, takes some drugs, whatever!Rob.

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"Are you suggesting I don't speak? Are you being sponsored by these folks? But please, if you feel anything I've written is false and mis-leading in nature then I'd expect you provide evidence and details to contradict my statements, rather than just "plenty of happy customers" -- how is that a good use of information exchange?"I think you are the one making suggestions here. I don't get paid by Avsim to moderate the forums, and I'm certainly not sponsored by the developers, although I do produce freeware and have an add-on in just about every discipline--aircraft, scenery, and design tools.I've had my battles with payware developers and I don't need to dig those back up. You cite the PMDG 1900--fine aircraft, I have it running on a P3/800. Haven't touched the others, but just search the forums. I'd say there's more happy customers than not. You do the math--and please don't get defensive because the stats don't agree with your attempt to launch a battle here.This is a user to user forum. People say what they want about payware here, whether they are right or wrong. I've seen good payware take bad hits, and I've seen bad payware praised to high heaven. IOTW, there will always be differences of opinion. People can knock my favorite payware, and it doesn't ruffle my feathers--if they do it fairly and with the intent to have a dialog.But to choose a "shotgun" approach with a laundry list of issues, then play the "Are you calling me a liar" game when someone asks you to backup your statements isn't a great start to getting your opinions respected here. I happen to agree with you on many of them, especially when it comes to dll issues. Also, please don't waste time mincing words by saying working with GMAX isn't being a "developer". We're not talking about developing code, we're talking about developing products. And most product developers have teams of people--who specialize in graphic design, CAD, and programming.-John

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Rob,The Flight 1 Skyhawk certainly isn't a slideshow on my system--again, it's a P3/800. I guess if I were sponsored by the payware developers as you hinted at I could afford more.But I am close to locking the thread. Tone down the offense please.-John

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Hey Rob,I hear this is a good book: "How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie". Have you read it? Me neither, but I consider most folks to be morons and feel that trying to influence them is disingenuous and a waste of time. Ostensibly, your post is trying to do just that, so you should consider a different approach if success is your goal. Otherwise, the

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Rob,The problem isn't understanding what people are doing wrong, it's relaying that message in a way that isn't going to #### off the very people you levy your issues against.As I said, your complaints are not unsound, but the hostility of your original post, and ongoing hostile tone isn't going to solve anything. There's a big gap between "fluffy bunny" and "a-hole bunny". You shouldn't need a GPS to find it.This foum is loaded with people who help eachother every day. It's one of the most productive forums on Avsim, and if your attitude isn't such that is causes the Forum Admin to be the first reply to your message, then help you shall recieve.That being said, I agree with some of the points you make, but Ill address the issue of models: There should be options provided for lower poly count models and texture sets. But the fact is, poly counts are not the primary reason for system performance issues - it's texture sizes. The differnce between a 10,000 poly model and a 60,000 poly model would not be measurable on any recent graphics card with hardware transformations. I've been modeling for 18 years, so I know that's not an excuse to avoid optimizing models, but it's certainly not going to be the primary contributor to poor frame rates.You cannot assume that aircraft from PMDG, PSS and the like are just hobbled together. You also cannot assume that just because MS's default 747 gets good frame rates, that these developers should produce similarly simplisic aircraft in order to keep frame rates pegged at 80.Again, I don't understand why a system with your specs has ANY issues with frame rates, as my own humble 2 year old system maintains frame rates over 30 even within dense areas. I'd suggest to you that the blame may lay not JUST with the aircraft, but with your settings and possibly your other add-ons. Something just doesn't seem right when I hear 5FPS and 3.7 Ghz Extreme Edition in the same sentance.--Jon

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Jon and John,I will reduce the tone as best I can and remain human.I'm a software engineer and have done my own aircraft models (in prior versions of FS) and have also worked with many 3D tools over the years. I've created my own games and have worked on teams developing other mainstream games. I'm still coding and designing but mostly for business type software these days -- working on entertainment software is a grueling schedule and there were only so many years I could do it.Polygon count and memory bandwidth are the primary restrictions. Textures are only important (in terms of performance) when they can't be fetched from the graphics card's memory and must make a trip to the AGP or PCI-E bus to main memory. Texture compression is pretty good these days so you can fit A LOT into 256MB graphics card, but 256MB just is NOT enough.My real bones of contention are:1. Add-on AC vendors are not providing "lower" quality models in addition to their higher quality models. Let the consumer decide what is more important to them -- the eye candy of the aircraft, or the flight model, or new type of AC itself (not a default MS AC) and hence the experience of flying a new AC.2. Keep consist keyboard mapping with MS default AC or atleast provide an option.3. Improve Documentation.Back to my system, I don't have performance problems with my system using any of the MS default AC -- run at 1600 x 1200 32bit AA4X AF8X and everything close to max or one notch down from max. I enjoy flying with clouds and use FS Environment to help me out in this area (especially with ActiveSky and FS Live Traffic).For the $50 price tag of some of these single aircraft package, I do feel that the items 1-3 listed above should be part of that $50. I mean I did pay $50 to buy FS2004.I will not be purchasing any more aircraft until I see some of these issues addressed. If the trend continues as it is -- completely unchecked and even encouraged, then I still have my shareware sources. But I have surfed enough newsgroups, FS Forums, and more to realize that FPS is a significant key topic of discussion -- always has been. Other products like FS Environment and MegaScenery MegaBooster have attempted to at least recognize the FPS issues and provide some type option -- in FS Enviroment they offer DX cloud compression and smaller cloud textures (which can make a huge difference in fps).Also, there is no technology in the near future that can help FS2004 be realized in its full graphical glory -- dual core CPUs will not help FS2004 since it was not coded to make efficient use of the multiple CPUs (no CPU specific threading was implemented). Intel/AMD aren't producing significantly faster CPU clock speeds (they can, but they won't because of the heat & safety issues involved). There is no NEW hardware technology that is going to help double FS2004 performance -- FS2004 doesn't even work with SLI video cards. There is no killer graphics card around the corner that will double the performance over the current crop. We're gonna have to live with what we have for a while.Rob.

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Douglas,"Me neither, but I consider most folks to be morons and feel that trying to influence them is disingenuous and a waste of time." So what exactly are you trying to accomplish?"Ostensibly, your post is trying to do just that, so you should consider a different approach if success is your goal. Otherwise, the

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I think we can all see where you are coming from:"cashing in..." "in the interest of making money" "The only rational sense I see is that eye candy sells -- the money machine, screw the end user satisfaction."What's wrong with making money in a free market?Don't you see the contradiction in the last quote? You've never heard of the market place? If eye candy sells that's because it's what people want to buy. If they didn't then the firms would be out of business.Anyway, with your skills why don't you go into the business yourself. If your views are right you should make a killing.

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>>>>So what exactly are you trying to accomplish?<<<

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It's obvious, that Rob (the originator) of this post, does NOT seem to be aware of the various 3rd party payware models............that I am.I've been doing this for what seems like forever; and I'm quite picky when it comes to both graphics & flight models. I no longer upgrade my machine every two years like I did previously for at least the last ten years. Therfore, the programming for the highest yeild of frame rates, in addition to looks & flight model still means a lot!As it turns out, THE best simulated airplanes that I own, and meet all the above objectives, just happen to be payware!L.Adamson

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>1. Add-on AC vendors are not providing "lower" quality models>in addition to their higher quality models. Let the consumer>decide what is more important to them -- the eye candy of the>aircraft, or the flight model, or new type of AC itself (not a>default MS AC) and hence the experience of flying a new AC.>Oh, but "some" DO.....I'm interested in superior flight models, eye catching graphics, well done VC's for smaller aircraft, and 30 and above fps---------------all on my antique Athlon 1900XP/Geforce3Ti500 ----1600*1200*32 resolution. I usually sim fly over add-on mesh mountain areas, where I can keep fps reasonably high, when required.Happily--- some payware developers, who have many years experience, as well as a few freeware authors, deliver what I require.But without doubt, my all time favorite simulated airplane is "payware", and well worth the cost...L.Adamson

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My system - P4-1.8/geforce4Ti4200/768megs PC2100 ram. I'd say I run the sim at about 65% in terms of overall visual settings. 1152x864x32 2xfsaa/4x aniso. I keep the autogen at sparse but scenery complexity at dense. 100% 3d clouds but I use FSUIPC to reduce visibility to 30 miles. Consessions? Sure, of course. But the sim still looks great and I rarely get less than 20 fps with any planes - payware or not. If I was seeing 5fps (or even 10fps) I'd be looking for the problem with my system, not the add-on developers. As far as the Flight1 172 goes, my framerates are only 1 or 2 fps off what I get with the defualt 172 - basically 22-24fps (locked @ 24)...

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"Jon and John,I will reduce the tone as best I can and remain human."That was the response I was hoping for yesterday Rob when I asked my first question. People don't have to agree with you--they just have to see where you're coming from and qualifying your answer with your experience helps. We're birds of a feather. I've worked in development and design of business software for just shy of two decades. I don't code at all anymore except for personal projects--not since I inherited oversight of our WAN. But I sign off on every deployment plan put forth by the design team, and have metrics in place for all the potential impact our deployments may introduce.The add-on area could improve--especially in terms of how dll's are dumped into MSFS. Some products dump code in the modules folder ignorant of other developers doing the same. All heck breaks loose and often that needn't be the case.But on the issue of performance, many here give fps second fiddle to fidelity. They want to sink into cushy armchairs on their virtual bizjets, and they'd rather look at an FMC than look outside--it's quite addictive when it's done right. Search the forums for discussions on Eaglesoft, Feelthere, PMDG, and so on, and the majority want more, not less. Introduce discussion of performance into those threads and you get skewered alive--I know as I have received "skewer burn" a couple of times.But, you put forth a lot of sound ideas--one can have a "light" model without a lot of extra work. Whether the developers do listen to that idea depends on how it's delivered. We seek better performance for different reasons--I don't invest a lot in hardware as MSFS is a casual hobby, but my work and family comes first. I do invest a lot of time in the forums here, because I find the friends I gain in this hobby are more solid than any I've had through the workplace or outside the workplace, outside of the friends my wife and child are to me.I won't see your reply until midweek next week--have to leave town and work over the weekend. Please keep the tone as you have in this reply and hopefully there will be some interesting ideas when I return.Regards,John

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JohnC -- I looked up the price/features of the laptop you are now using and I sure wish I could have one. Maybe when my "extra paycheck" from SS kicks-in in October. You got a lot of power for corporate MsWord/PPoint/emails.At times I wish I was still working so I could have a new, company provided, killer laptop every year. But then I wake up in a cold sweat and realize, I don't have to do that any more. Life is good.Regards,BobShttp://s95171098.onlinehome.us/junk/aopa.jpgSeems the rage to talk about the "size and speed" of each others computer. Beat this if you can for solving novel/unique problem anywhere in the cosmos. ..Have K&E and know how to use it!

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Rob, If you take a look at the other forums, you will find that people want MORE not less in terms of eye candy and complexity. For extreme examples, wander over to the discussion in the PMDG forum and their upcomming 747. One gentleman was asking for the turbine blades to windmill WHEN ON THE GROUND. Others obsess over windshield wipers and the exact color and shape of the displays. It is getting to the point that if you ring the FA call bell and a graphic of a cup of coffee doesn't appear on the glareshield, the plane must be junk! The trend I am afraid is more not less complexity. Even GA aircraft released have radio stacks that real owners wish they could afford. If there were enough call for features like you want, the developers will put them in. Otherwise the majority rules, and the rule is full speed ahead on eyecandy and #### the framerates.

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On the topic of optimising Gmax polygon counts in aircraft it's hard to know whether commercial aircraft models are the cause of low framerates because the 3D models are always contained in the MDL format that can't be opened up for examination. Am I correct in thinking this or is there a way to check just how many polygons your favourite aircraft is gobbling up? It's far too easy to be lazy and create a great looking aircraft without being mindful of just whether it needs all those polygons to look that great in the first place. Who knows, it might prove very enlightening if we could easily extract aircraft models and load them into Gmax or 3DS Max to make sure commercial developers are putting great importance on keeping those polygon counts down :)I've yet to take on creating an aircraft and haven't used Gmax (I'm busy trying to demystify the art of gauge programming at the moment). However I've done numerous low-polygon modelling for characters and faces using 3DS Max 6. When it comes time for me to optimise such models the Edge Turning, Edge Dividing and the good old Vertex Welding features are the critical optimisation tools you should have in your polygon-crunching armoury. You just need to have the necessary polygon complexity in those areas where curvature is high and use Vertex Welding ruthlessly to reduce polygons in areas that are 'flatter'. Automated polygon optimisation tools are okay for some situations but to keep a tight, cast-iron fisted control on just where the optimisations are done, it's better to optimise by hand.Does anyone know if FS2004 has a level of detail function for aircraft at a distance? If not I hope that real-time level-of-detail techniques will be implemented for all 3D content (aircraft and terrain models) in the next installment of Flight Simulator. - Darren

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>Am I correct in thinking this or is there a way>to check just how many polygons your favourite aircraft is>gobbling up? While you cannot "open and edit" a compiled .mdl file, you can load it in ACM (Aircraft Container Manager) and it will give you a poly count... Of course, ACM can't tell you how many of those polys are "visible" at any given time, so that's not a good yardstick in the final analysis.>Automated polygon optimisation tools are okay for>some situations but to keep a tight, cast-iron fisted control>on just where the optimisations are done, it's better to>optimise by hand.Been there, done that, got the t-shirt! In addition to mesh optimization, I also make extensive use of embedded XML code to control visibility of objects. Why have the sim draw detailed sections of the model if they cannot be seen in - say - Spot View?>Does anyone know if FS2004 has a level of detail function for>aircraft at a distance?Yes, FS does support model LOD, but no longer supports "per part LOD." You can create separate, simpler models for multiple LODs.WRT the OP, I only have this to say: "Those who can, do; those who can't, complain..." ;)

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Bill,If I had posted such a comment the moderator would have jumped all over me. I find your comment so out of context as to be pretty meaningless and very naive. But applying your very simply philosophy, I guess third party add-on AC producers "can't do" ;).As to the other comments about "removing detail" -- as I've pointed out, my suggestion is to NOT remove detail, but to provide a lower detail alternative in ADDITION to the high detail model. For a $50 package, I'd expect this level effort.Also, you need to hang out at other Flight sim forums and newsgroups and perhaps read some letters to the editor for various FS magazines. You'll find that there are many folks that have very similiar findings to mind.As with anything "retail", ultimately the market will decide it for the add-on AC publishers. But for any developer serious about his/her work, ignorance is NOT bliss. My company takes in ALL enhancement requests and complaints from end users for several reasons:1. They're our market and we sell to them, keep them happy.2. They have a unique perspective that we often overlook - the human factor.3. Some of there complaints are valid and we know it because what we produced was a compromise in time & effort (and we know that at the time we released it).Rob.

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>As to the other comments about "removing detail" -- as I've>pointed out, my suggestion is to NOT remove detail, but to>provide a lower detail alternative in ADDITION to the high>detail model. For a $50 package, I'd expect this level>effort.>>Also, you need to hang out at other Flight sim forums and>newsgroups and perhaps read some letters to the editor for>various FS magazines. You'll find that there are many folks>that have very similiar findings to mind.Rob, that remark was directed at your initial post, in which you used a very wide brush to spread tar on all developers. Your subsequent followup posts have been more balanced and moderate, as well as well-reasond and rational.There are, in fact, many developers - both pay and free - who do precisely what you've outlined as the "ideal:" e.g., multiple models in one package with varying levels of complexity. If your research had been as exhaustive as you alluded, you would have realized that fact.I can only smile at the above remark, as I invest (yes, I said "invest!") at least four hours each day to reading plethora flightsim forums and newsgroups, and actively participate in most of them... ;)Returning to my "throw-away line" for a moment, think of it as a challenge. Demonstrate to the world what your "ideal" is. It's remarkably easy to be an armchair critic, and even be correct in such criticism... but, until you've personally invested the effort to realize that which you propound with such profundity in practice, they remain just that - words. You may just find that it's not nearly as easy to accomplish as you think, especially given the rather confusing and skimpy SDKs that MSFS foists off on us poor modelers.

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> Rob,> If you take a look at the other forums, you will find>that people want MORE not less in terms of eye candy and>complexity. For extreme examples, wander over to the>discussion in the PMDG forum and their upcomming 747. One>gentleman was asking for the turbine blades to windmill WHEN>ON THE GROUND. Others obsess over windshield wipers and the>exact color and shape of the displays. It is getting to the>point that if you ring the FA call bell and a graphic of a cup>of coffee doesn't appear on the glareshield, the plane must be>junk! > The trend I am afraid is more not less complexity.>Even GA aircraft released have radio stacks that real owners>wish they could afford. If there were enough call for>features like you want, the developers will put them in.>Otherwise the majority rules, and the rule is full speed ahead>on eyecandy and #### the framerates.I am afraid I have to disagree here. Richard Nixon coined a term in the fifties when he was on a political campaign. The term was "The silent majority". Irrespective on how you feel about Nixon, his premis was correct. In the case of simfan forums, the oppinions of the people who make the most noise do not necessarily make up the majority of users... they more likely make up the loudest minority. "The squeeky wheel gets the grease". Also forums are a lousy sample (in both size and randomness) to use to try to make statistical predictions that generalize the industry as a whole.Like others here, I have also worked in the development industry, and have even had the pleasure of working for IBM. I can tell you for sure that "The customer is never right". If IBM, or MS actually listened to their customers the industry would be in chaos. Why? Because the 99.99% of their customer base is not very educated in IT Technologies and are not actually qualified to make rational decisions (I know this sounds elitist, but would you suggest to a doctor how to perform surgery?). It doesn't mean that IBM and MS don't keep "Wish lists" they do, and most (but not all) customer wants will be included when the state of the art permits its effective incorporation.I suspect that the vast majority feel as I do ... FPS and in-flight quality are important ... and yes it ####### me off when my reasonably powerful mid-level machine comes to a crawl or crashes when trying to display a tool tip because the swap file is 1.6gig in size due to some crap module that has a memory leak or race condition. That does not mean I am critical of the industry as a whole, I just get ###### and delete the plane. Fortunately none have been payware, or I imagine I might end up writing a rant much like robains.The point I am trying to make is that developers have the responsibility to consider the needs of ALL end users and not just the few noisy ones or the ones who live on the bleeding edge. "Meet the needs of the many not the few" is all I ask.CheersShad

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Bill,I didn't suggest it was easy -- optimizations often do require some TLC and manipulation by hand to make it look good -- but this is where graphics designers excel and developers don't have the patients.The pay products I've used have offered "performance help" but only in terms of reduced panel quality and or reduced audio quality or turning off smoke. Neither of these have significant performance benefits as compared to a well optimized (and more simplistic) 3D model. I have yet to see an add-on AC (from retail channels) that provides multiple 3D models (other than AI models).Keyboard maps are easy -- there is no technically difficult challenge to emulate the same spec as the default AC and just expand on those features not present in the default AC. Or at the very least provide two mapping options and let the consumer decide.Also, some of the DLLs these folks produce can and do cause conflicts and some are not coded as well as others (just look at the increased resource usage on the thread associated to the DLL).I have invested the effort to communicate the problems I've experienced with retail/purchased 3rd party add-on AC.Hopefully your response is NOT typical of the majority of 3rd party Add-on AC publishers.Rob.

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