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FS2004..... Implications for scenery design

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Hi All It it not my wish to invoke a FS2002 - FS2004 discussion, but wounder whether it is common knowledge, yet, about changes that are being anticipated for Scenery compatibility with FS2004some designers seem to be preparing for the changes(According to their web site), at this stage to suggest they know what changes will take place, effecting their current output.I'll be interested in other viewsDave

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I think till more news from MS is there it will remain a bit of guessing, but as far as I have understood some of the older commands will not be supported anymore (already mentioned in the Fs2000 scenery SDK).As far as I know this would mean that only the new floating point (FP) commands should still work find in Fs2004.I have also heard people talking about the BGL format going away completely, but I haven't found much indicates for this yet.I guess we just have to wait :D (and in the mean time it looks that scenery made with GMax has a good chance of working fine in the next version).Arno


Member Netherlands 2000 Scenery Team[link:home.wanadoo.nl/arno.gerretsen]Arno's FlightSim World for scenery design hints, tips and other tricks...

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Considering Microsofts policy to remain backwards compatible for 2 versions anything that was introduced in FS2000 or FS2002 should still work.Things introduced in FS98 may or may not work (and things described as deprecated in any SDK are never guaranteed to work in newer versions anyway).Even if a new BGL model is introduced, this would mean that the current model would still be supported (with likely a note that it is deprecated added to the SDK docs indicating it will be gone in FS2006).

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Thanks guysIT seems like transition time is allowed forMy reason for raising this question, is as follows:---gary summons as made this reference, to his designs and below is a quote from his web site!!!!---------------------------------------------------------------------"As many of you know the type of code used to make these airports will not longer work in FS2004 when it's released. As such I have to startagain from scratch for that Sim. I wanted to make this the last majorupdate of my scenery for FS2002 so users can enjoy it for years to come or until they upgrade to FS2004. There's a good change many will not use FS2004 until the add-on scenery is ready so it was important to address a lot of problems now."---------------------------------------------------------------------Not sure whether he is stating his scenery is FS2004 friendly, or not.May be the code he uses is older than one would think from his results.I am a great admirer of his work and I think he sets many standards in the UKwhat do you guys think?

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I think he is refering to the old integer commands things (like Points, Poly, etc). If I have understand the rumours correct all this code will not work anymore. They are replaced by the FP commands now. These commands are old already, in use since Fs5.But in principle it should be possible to make some sort of converter that can transform the old source into FP one (I have been thinking about this a little, maybe (when the next version of NL2000 has been released) I'll start working on such a thing). Should make the transition easier.Arno


Member Netherlands 2000 Scenery Team[link:home.wanadoo.nl/arno.gerretsen]Arno's FlightSim World for scenery design hints, tips and other tricks...

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looks like their is no escape from the Fp commandsAre their any examples of code written using these commands, indicating how these new commands replace the old onesIt would prove very useful to many people, I would think, if not now but during the next few monthsManu thanksDave

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FSDS2 produces such code and at the moment I am rewriting my DXF2SCA converter so it produces FP code for ground polygons.Basically you do this:[ol][li]You replace the Points command by a VertexList command. Something new about these new VertexLists is that they also include the texture mapping of the point. This requires a little change of thinking, as you might need to add a point twice, because it has a different texture mapping (think about a vertex of a cube that is a part of two polygons and thus can have two texture mappings).[li]Then you have the LoadBitmap and RGBSColor commands. These are replaced by a MaterialList and a TextureList. Here all different kind of material are defined. We the MaterialList is equivalent to the RGBSColor command, as it sets the color (no texture) and the TextureList is equivalent to the LoadBitmap command, as this sets the texture. Finally there is the new SetMaterial command that is used to pick a Material and a Texture from their lists and use that for the next triangles.[li]Then you have the actual polygons. Here the Poly and TexPoly commands are replaced by the DrawTriList command. One big difference is that this command can only draw triangles, so you need to split more complex polygons into triangles. As I have said in another thread I have made my own triangulate algorithm to do this for (complex) ground polygons.As I said before a difference with the old polygons is that the texture mapping is no longer in the TexPoly command, but it is in the VertexList now.Final thing is that the side of the polygon that is drawn can not be defined anymore. It is determined by the vector you give in the VertexList and if you define the point of the triangle clockwise or counterclock wise.[/ol]There is one more note. Both GMax and FSDS use a little bit of a different structure for the source then we are used to. With the old commands we ussually made a point list, load a texture, draw a polygon, defined another point list, load another texture, draw another polygon, etc. With the new code it seems to be more efficient to collect all polygons into one big VertexList and collect all materials and textures into one list.I have found that if you have a VertexList, followed by a MaterialList, a TextureList and a DrawTriList command and after that you define a new VertexList the previous MaterialList and TextureList can not be called anymore by the SetMaterial command. So this means that it is best to collect all vertices in one VertexList.Tomorrow I'll take a little example code from the ground polygons with me so you can have a look at it and it might help in giving the idea.PS. I almost confused myself while writing this, so I hope you are not completely confused now :D.Arno


Member Netherlands 2000 Scenery Team[link:home.wanadoo.nl/arno.gerretsen]Arno's FlightSim World for scenery design hints, tips and other tricks...

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Hi Arnoyou should go home and rest, after that replyyour explanation seem fairly straight forward in principle, thats where it gets tricky, ApplicationI have been looking at your Web Site, haven't been their lately, and it seems the future then is gmax, and BGLCI have been looking at your Gmax Tips page, and you show the way some of these new commands are to be used, although a cube example would be very nice as a tutorialI guess there is time to go into this transition, and you really seem to have your hands full, so I appreciate your supportI will go in search of a Gmax Tutorial, I think!!!RegardsDave

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>your explanation seem fairly straight forward in principle, >thats where it gets tricky, ApplicationWell, I think I'll give it a try in a while. I have made some other conversion tools, so I think I have some experience in reading in and converting SCASM code.>I have been looking at your Web Site, haven't been their >lately, and it seems the future then is gmax, and BGLC I think GMax is certainly the future, but instead of BGLC SCASM seems better to me. It is much easier to use and the lastest version can do all our Fs2002 wishes. Actually I have a ASM2SCA converter in the pipeline, but I don't know when it will come out :). Then it is possible to get the GMax stuff in SCASM format. That makes it a lot easier to change the code (a lot of people know how to make little changes in SCASM) and it also allows you to merge it with other things easier.Arno


Member Netherlands 2000 Scenery Team[link:home.wanadoo.nl/arno.gerretsen]Arno's FlightSim World for scenery design hints, tips and other tricks...

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Reasuring ArnoWtih the help of yourself and others in the forum, I have been trying to learn Scasm, with some sucess. I have been pursuing Scanrery design for the last 12 months and find the need to programme and understand Scasm more and more. your remarks are reasuring, and I hope others would agree with me.Whilst I am aware that Gmax as seemed the future, since its early release, I have had a reluctance to master the program, I just haven't had the patience, but it is the setup proberly.I find it interesting that although gmax, as gained tremendos popularity and produced excelent results in Aircraft, that we now have Version 2 of FSDS, which I thought was an excellent product.May be its weakness's didn't effect scenery design as much as Aircraft.I would actively encourage you to pursue your explorations into various programs that you are considering, as I believe many must have invested lots of time in understanding the lanuage.

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Hi to all.I think that these rumours regarding floating point commands started to appear when FS2002 came out. And I doubt a little, that in FS2004 will not be used anymore because Mifcrosoft's policy is still that every new version should support at least 2 older version's files. So these commands should work until FS2006 comes, because FP commands were introduced in FS2002. And it would be stupid from MS to make this sharp cut. But do take a little look also what these command brought to us; no need for using scale! What this means? If we make API's with scale 1.00 they could be also more accurate than with messing with other scale factors but I think that MS will also seize to exist scaling in future versions because it won't be needed. With fixed points FS engine must divide every point with the scale and then draw it, with scale 1.00 this step becomes unnecessary thus perhaps we can have a little more complex objects at the same frame rate or more FPS with same complexity.Also the next step in FS2004 is probably enhancement in FS terrain engine resolution. Just look at these FS2002 roads! They are awful, unsharp, almost no texture on them. How can You draw a railroad with real-life width? You can't! But as this FS terrain engine will become better and more precise, the old FS98 style roads will dissapear. We will see muc more things in LWM/VTP area... FS2002 introduced also some new area definitions, probably to replace older types. But do we really know how and when to use them (I mean Areas 4, 6, 7, 9, C & R)?FS2002 also introduced AI traffic, which brought us ATC zones. Do we have any SDK for AI? Only for making flights and voice modifications. What about modifying ATC zones? Only Christian Stock made some discoveries and that's all. And we all know AI traffic is nice addition but sometimes really stupid (how many times did You have chance to get "Go Around" when You were just about to touch down with B747?) and not everything is implemented good (backtrack for example is weird).After all I think FS2004 will bring us some new additions, new features, some older functions will seize to exist and I hope that fixed point definitions will still be usable. And I really hope, that at least scenery SDK's (which are becoming more important than aircraft; they are great allready!) will be available very soon after release of FS2004. This behaviour from MS is quite odd. If YOu look in the MS field of Windows, SDK's for new Win versions are available while Wins are in beta testing phase so the software houses have time to update their own software to prepare market place. It would be wise from MS to have SDK's soon before or after release of FSxxx.Best regards to all,Goran BrumenFS Slovenija 2002 teamhttp://slovenia.avsim.net

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My current bet is that things will be bad.I really think that M$ plans are to kill the BGL file and use something else, eg X files. What's been added to the BGL in FS2002 was just to accomodate the new DirectX structure, I really think they'll use a completely new format. I don't feel up to it to predict how much old functionality will be retained, but I could imagine a situation where the old BGL code is more powerful than what we will be forced to use in Fs2004.Reasons for my suspicions:They've done it in CFS3. Old aircrafts don't work. Period. At least that's all the complaints I've read in the CFS3 forum.There's no serious competition (in sales). We'll just have to buy what M$ releases. (Or go with x-plane/flightgear which in sales really doesn't even slightly compete to MSFS)Just looking at sales, virtually no one seems to care about add-ons. While we may have a small subset of enthusiasts here lets face it. The big dollars roll in from people who use MSFS just as a game and probably don't even know you can download all these add-ons for it.The job search ad at the FS site is an indication of the roadmap. Fancy graphics, no increase in non-graphical technology. If you read the forum threads here, everyone wants the opposite, rather more technology than graphics, but M$ doesn't listen. It seems graphics is the seller, and we are just stupid enthusiasts who don't contribute to the big dollars.M$ said clearly that gmax aircrafts will be compatible with FS2004. What I think this translates to is: Load your aircraft in gmax and export it using the new makemdl that'll ship with FS2004 (same for scenery). Old bgls will be done with and won't work...A hope for good SDKs is unjustified, IMHO. Fly! is discontinued, there is no competition, so why open the architecture? We'll get a gmax exporter, if we're very lucky a new terrain tool and that'll be it.Conclusion:I predict that FS2002 will be become an enthusiast product. From what I've seen so far, I won't get FS2004 and rather stick to FS2002 and enhance it further. I bet with all our input we can make FS2002 a far superior product than FS2004 ever will be. I for one can't justify to invest all my time into a product that probably will be even harder to produce add-ons for than FS2002. I think FS2004 will be for the casual flightsimmer, FS2002 will become the 'labour of love' from enthusiasts.Just my predictions, but they may of course be completely wrong...Cheers, Christian

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Hi Christian.I sure hope you're wrong!I've got CFS3, and it isn't remotely similar to any FS version. It was misnamed... shouldn't have carried the FS designation.That sim was not created by the in-house FS design team, but was out-contracted... a departure from the FS design process. MS is less than happy about the results, as they are forcing that contracted design team to make a huge patch for the game. Many design issues with the game. Quite a few combat simmers have actually returned to CFS2, or 'defected' to IL-2.Designwise, most elements of CFS3, other than the planes and targets, are ascii XML files ( some huge ). It appears there is no "swapping in" of files as the aircraft position changes... so everything exits in the sim from the start... or it doesn't exist at all.... impossible for a world-wide simulation. The default terrain only covers about 1/4 of the European Theatre of WW2. The mesh and ground textures are awful.The CFS3 planes and ground objects can be exported from Gmax using a different export module... so you're right, there.MS has actually started the design process for FS200x ( I don't know if it will be 2004 or not ), and the indication I got, was that this isn't the same crew that made CFS3, but mostly the old 'in house' crew of FS2002. If that's true, I take that as a good sign.I think we all like backward compatibility... and I think FS2002 was very good. It does need some elements polished, but light years ahead of FS2000! If FS2004 is bad, I'll stick with FS2002 , as well. Dick

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Hi Dick,>I sure hope you're wrong! Well, so do I to be honest. I was just adding one and one from what I knew I tried to make some predictions. Thanks for that added info. That puts things into a slightly different perspective. I guess there is some hope left then that things won't be as dramatic as CFS3. I was also secretly hoping that M$ would learn from the CFS3 mistake.> The mesh and ground textures are >awful. And I thought they are so much better :) I think this will be one of the main new features of FS200X/4, detailed ground textures. I thought CFS3 has those and they make things look better. There you go, can't judge something you haven't seen with your own eyes :)>>The CFS3 planes and ground objects can be exported from Gmax >using a different export module... so you're right, there. This is my biggest fear, but I'm half convinced it will be this way. This would really be a major setback since many people still don't use gmax...>MS has actually started the design process for FS200x ( I >don't know if it will be 2004 or not ), and the indication I >got, was that this isn't the same crew that made CFS3, but >mostly the old 'in house' crew of FS2002. If that's true, I >take that as a good sign. I think CFS3 features will find their way into FS2004. It would just be too expensive to throw that all overboard and start from 'vanilla' FS2002. On the other hand that may mean FS2005. Sounds like that CFS3 'experiment' will have cost M$ a good amount of money, I guess they won't hire contractors that fast again :-lolActually, this is quite sad really, because that means less time and resources available for SDKs!Let's keep fingers crossed, but I'm quite pessimistic. Acording to marketing studies simulators aren't big money makers at the moment, so I really think FS2004 will look good graphically to attract the masses, but the sim aspect will suffer...Cheers, Christian

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Interesting all those thoughts :).In principle I don't really care if they still support the old commands or not, as long as they indicate it before the release of the sim. That would give the designers some time to adapt to the changes (and make new things in a compatible way).I think Christians comments about more grapical looks or more a sim are interesting. I don't hope this is a trend, but when you look at some of the new commands, like the taximarkings for example then you see that they are not very changable (you can't choose a different color or texture for example). Also the new FP commands don't have commands like SenseBorder for example. Maybe these things will be added in the future (I sure hope so), but otherwise it looks like the new commands are not very well suited for designers how want to make a scenery that look different (and better of course :)) then the default.In a few weeks a new magazine will come out in the Netherlands and it also includes an email interview with the team working on Fs2004. The people from the magazine also contact our team, so we have contributed some questions (I have asked about their view on addons, SDK and how open the commands must be (see above, the taximarkings for example). I don't know if all questions are included in the final interview of course, but I hope it can give some clues.....Arno


Member Netherlands 2000 Scenery Team[link:home.wanadoo.nl/arno.gerretsen]Arno's FlightSim World for scenery design hints, tips and other tricks...

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