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FSDS or Gmax ?

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Hi ! After long time making my apis with simple text editor I decided now to buy a "professional" tool for making 3d scenery objects. What is your experience with FSDS 2.x or gmax. Is the new FSDS only a fresh repaint of an outdated FS2000 tool ? Is it worth to study gmax for weeks to make something working ? I need a tool with a long duration of life span I don`t want to buy a new one every time MS releases a new FS version. And I would like to keep working with scasm. Any comments ? Thank you, Marijo

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I think both FSDS2 and GMax are good tools. My personal favorite is GMax, but there are also a lot of designers who like FSDS.FSDS2 works almost the same as FSDS1, but the code it generates is completely different, as it uses the new floating point commands.GMax is probably a bit more difficult to learn at first, but once you know a bit how it works it's fun. It has a lot of nice options to model your object. And compared to FSDS the advantage is also that you don't have to pay for it (if you have Fs2002 Pro). I think GMax will keep comming with next versions of FS, so it is probably a good investment to put some time in it now.Last thing you write you want to keep working with SCASM, what do you mean here? GMax does not produce SCASM code, but BGLC code (which is equivalent). I use it to tweak how my objects appear. I am working on a converter that can translate this BGLC code to SCASM code, but that is not finished yet.Also nice to see that there are more people who use a simple text editor and SCASM to create their scenery. I used the same method for my previous version of Schiphol :DArno


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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Marijo,I totally agree with what Arno said. You really cannot go wrong with either one.Personally, I use FSDS because of it's simplicity. FSDS V2 will give you everything you need to design high quality scenery for FS2002 (with a shorter learning curve).On the other hand, if you think that you may expand your scenery design outside of FS2002, then you may be better off learning Gmax. I have heard that the GMax interface is very similar (if not identical) to 3DS MAX, which is somewhat of an industry standard for creating 3D objects.Allen

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Thx for your replies !Only one thing left I would like to know from someone who works with FSDS since version 1.0I heard that abacus updates FSDS for new FS versions. Is that just a cosmetic work (new paint on old FS2000 tool) or can FSDS realy compare with the possibilitys of Gmax ? I remember FS6 tools i bought and throw them away when FS95 was released because of no further development of the tool. Greetings, Marijo http://www.vacc-cro.ipfox.com/And Arno it is realy fun (and it`s a good brain training) making 3d object with a simple text editor but due to comming floating point commands i HAVE to change the way of making them ( I`m not A.Einstein ;).

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FSDS2 is an almost total rework from what 1.x was (the look is similar, but the way it creates code is totally different). It will produce scenery in the exact same format as gMax, and is much easier to use. The only real advantage for gMax in FS2002 is the cost (none), but you pay for it in the learning curve.Bruce

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Hi MarijoI would like to add that there is absolutely NO reason why you cannot go on hand coding your scenery with SCASM, as you like doing it that way. It's how I work too. SCASM already fully supports the floating point command set (and has since a few weeks after FS2002 was released), and coding using the new commands is EASIER than it was with the older command set in many ways. It's not difficult to learn.In choosing between FSDS2 and gMax, FSDS2 has to be the hands-down winner if you are a SCASM enthusiast, because it generates SCASM code rather than the clunky BGLC interface used by gMax. So get yourself FSDS2 (or wait for Rafael Sanchez' new NovaSim, which should be out very soon and is going to be an excellent alternative to FSDS2), build some models and look at the generated code to learn how to do it yourself using the new FP command set ...Hope this helpsGerrish

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>he only real advantage for gMax in FS2002 is the cost (none), but you >pay for it in the learning curve.I do not completely agree here. Sure FSDS is easier to learn, but GMax has some really nice features (like the compound objects) that FSDS not has. These feature make your life in modeling your object a lot easier. I can't do without these features anymore and if I try to make something in FSDS now I get frustrated by how it works.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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How do you define compound objects? I am unfamiliar with that terminology.I have not run into anything that I have been unable to do, and I find many things are unnecessarily complicated in gmax.Bruce

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Compound objects in Gmax include a variety of functions, the one I use the most is boolean operations, addition or subtraction of parts, and/or union or intersection of two parts. Others include the ability to loft a complex shape using cross sections, shapemerge, morphing, and connections. I'd been a pretty strong user of fsds back in the days of 1.x thru 1.6. Learned GMAX only because I wasn't willing to be without a 3d modeller for a period after fs2002 came out.Since I learned it, I learned to love it.Other features of gmax that I like (and either was to dumb to learn in fsds or wasn't present in ver 1.x to 1.6) Patch modelling, modifyer stack, soft geometric editing, extrusions seem to work much better, and the material editor is much better, the zoom feature on uvwunwrap is awesome....animation.... We do what we do, I never understood what I was missing in fsds while I was using it, and its completely possible that the new version of fsds provides users everything gmax does. I resisted learning gmax mostly because it forced me to think differently about design, but it didn't take long, these horror stories about learning curve are overblown, and its really a fun program to use. The tough thing is accepting the challenge to learn a new program.Best,Bob Bernstein

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Bob,When gmax came out I tried to like it, and everytime I tried I always stopped when it came to texturing. I figured out how to apply the texture maps, but it was always the methodology by which you had to do it that I disliked. Once FSDS2 showed up I no longer had a reason to have to use gmax. The biggest advantage to FSDS2 for me is that it is designed specifically for FS, and contains no superfluous functionality that you need to work your way around to get an object out of it, and when you run into a bug there is an excellent chance of it being corrected, and within a reasonable period of time.In the end it comes down to personal taste, and personal needs, and both are capable of producing the same final result even though they require different techniques to get there.Bruce

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yep, totally agree. The best thing about fsds back in fs2000 days was the support from Louis Sinclair, he and I corresponded over the color assignment given to the "open" polygon, which I used for telephone wires...there was a bug that always set that color to blue in ver 1.6. I asked for help, and got a return email with a beta exe file with the fix overnight. FSDS was the first "cad" type object designer, and I loved it.Most of all, I'll never forget service like that...its rare.Best,Bob B

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Yes, don't understand my previous post wrong. I am not saying FSDS is not good and of course it is all personal taste. I just feeled that GMax was put in a negative light here :).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 AllFrom someone that dowsn't have the patience to spend more than 10 mins using Gmax, I have heard that setting up Gmax is crucial if you are to get past the initial explorationary phase of use, as I can't!!Is this true about 'setting up' and configuration of the program, and if so, May be there is a tutorial out there.I have to say that apart from purchasing, the fact that I am a FSDS 1.6 user and don't know what I am missing in gmax, the fact that FSDS v2 produces scasm code and and is using the scame coding capability as Gmax makes it a temping proprosition.As Gerrish mentioned, I can afford to wait and look at Novasim which will support the new Vp commands, just have this nagging feeling that gmax will be around for a long time and will BGLC replace Scasm?Only time can tell, which way shall I jump!!! Dave

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>Is this true about 'setting up' and configuration of the >program, and if so, May be there is a tutorial out there. Well, it is important to set it up correct, because then it is easier to use (and MakeMDL has some strange behaviours now and then if you set it wrong). But it is not as complex as you think, it are only a few things you need to set.>As Gerrish mentioned, I can afford to wait and look at >Novasim which will support the new Vp commandsDoes anybody know if the layout of the program will also change? As far as I know the previous versions all had the VOD like layout and once you get used to the 3D layout of FSDS/GMax that is a bit of a step back I guess.>just have >this nagging feeling that gmax will be around for a long >time and will BGLC replace Scasm? No, it will not. Look at SCASM it now also supports mesh scenery. All the FP commands are also supported. So as long as it is developped with next versions it will be a compiler, just like BGLC. BGLC is provided by MS and SCASM by Manfred. For the rest they both produce the same BGL code.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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Marijo, I used the original FSDS to design two aircraft, and it's an excellent program. I'm sure FSDS2 has many improvements. However, my strong preference is for Gmax. The learning curve is certainly a little steeper, but if you're prepared to spend some time learning the basics then Gmax can be very rewarding. The standard Gmax tutorials are pretty good. My advice would be to work through the basic tutorials and forget about scenery or aircraft design for a few weeks! The main reason for my preference is the user interface. It is far more powerful than FSDS. And yet, after some time spent using it, it is quite easy. I would strongly suggest assigning suitable keys for the most basic functions (I use m, s and r for move, scale and rotate, exactly the same as FSDS, and three adjacent keys for view pan, zoom and rotate). With suitable key assignments you can work very quickly and efficiently. Just one example. In Gmax you can model in the perspective view very easily, courtesy of the transform gizmo, which makes movement of points and objects in any direction easy and intuitive. I do most modelling in the perspective view. In FSDS (I assume FSDS2 is similar) the perspective view is very limited and certainly can't be used for modelling. A major problem with FSDS is that you couldn't select objects by clicking on them, you had to select objects from a list. (In FSDS you can select axes, but only if all axes are visible, which would be hopelessly confusing in a complex VC). Texturing in Gmax is easier also because you can do it in the standard editing windows including perspective. In FSDS you had to use a special 2D view window which was very constricting. To be fair, a lot of people - including myself originally! - found it difficult to do something as basic as applying two different texture mappings to the same object. This could be very frustrating. But it does illustrate the need to understand several Gmax basic concepts, including modifiers and the modifier stack. But once you understand the modifier stack you can do some neat things with textures - for example I was able to select a small part of a texture with text and reverse just that part, thus fixing the text mirror image problem. To summarise, the Gmax system for viewing and manipulating objects and points is far more sophisticated, powerful and elegant - and yet, with a little practice, easy and intuitive. I simply wouldn' consider modelling a complex VC in FSDS2. Gmax is functionally almost identical to one of the standard industry modelling programs, 3DSMAX, which costs thousands of dollars. Bearing this in mind, Gmax is a fantastic bargain! Best regards, Chris

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Hi Chris, I forgot totally that I used to have to work in wireframe and in the orthogonal views.You know, I often think during these kind of threads that we dicuss the pros and cons of a given software, or computer hardware, based on technical logic, but in all cases the debaters have already decided on what investment to make. Either in money spent for payware, or time spent in the case of gmax. this always biases the discussion cuz we always seek to justify our investment decisions.a random thought..Bob Bernstein

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It is always going to (almost always) be true that you will be able to work better with the program you know the best. Bruce

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Partialy true I guess. If everybody would do that then nobody would switch after they got used to a tool. I also used FSDS 1.6 before, but a while after Fs2002 was there I gave GMax a try and now I love it :).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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GentlemanWith the greatest of respect, I think we are getting a bit off beam here (as so often!). Marijo's original post centered around his preference for using SCASM in scenery design and he wondered what course he was going to have to take if he could no longer use SCASM (an incorrect impression that he had probably gained from other misinformed posts in these forums!!!).As regards the different GUI design tools available, all have their advantages and disadvantages, and - as has been said - we all have our personal preferences and loves as a result of familiarity with one particular tool or another. But it is the nature of a GUI tool that it will never be perfect and give full access to all the rich possibilities of the underlying scenery engine. The only easy way to achieve that is by hand coding with a tool such as SCASM or (if you are determined to be masochistic!) BGLC.gMax is a wonderful add-on to the world of FS that MS give us and, as a gaming-oriented derivative of 3DSMax is indeed based on a powerful industry-standard modelling tool. But as Arno and other enthusiasts well know, even gMax has its drawbacks at present because of the lack of full integration with BGL scenery programming. A number of important facilities available in the BGL graphics language are simply not available via the gMax - makemdl route unless one tinkers with the intermediate assembler code and recompiles with BGLC. Unfortunately, this is probably not easy for MS to address because gMax is not their product to tinker with - although who knows what the future may hold?FSDS, EOD and the VOD - Nova - NovaSim (as yet unreleased) series all have their relative advantages and adherents, but all have two big advantages over gMax as far as scenery design enthusiasts such as Marijo, myself and many others are concerned - (1) they are specifically designed for FS scenery modelling (well, FSDS majors on aircraft really, a bit like gMax, but is still pretty useful for scenery too), and (2) they use the familiar, and relatively easy to code, SCASM as their interface to BGL, not the cumbersome and old-fashioned BGLC / MASM assembler route.As far as Arno's reference to the VOD - Nova interface is concerned, I guess you should look a little more closely and understand the thinking and design philosophy behind these tools. Elsewhere you refer to the advantages of gMax for creating compound models - that has always been the striking advantage of Rafael Sanchez' approach in his VOD etc. series. Although perhaps a little unfamiliar to those accustomed to wire-frame / 3D-view CAD tools, his building block ~ parts list method makes it very easy to assemble complex compound objects from a collection of simple, but highly flexible, basic shapes and then map different textures to individual surfaces without any problem whatsoever. His tools also create models that are very easy to adjust and adapt, encourage a low-polygon-count approach, and incorporate a wide variety of specific FS features that are not always easily accessible from some of the other tools. It might also be as well to remember that Rafael is one of the pioneers and figureheads of our hobby and ranks alongside Manfred Moldenhauer and Pascal Meziat (and the rest of the Airport team) for his past and ongoing contributions - he has more experience and knowledge of how to go about FS scenery modelling than most of us have in our little fingers! (Of course, I have to declare a bit of bias here - Rafael is one of my personal FS heroes and, on top of that, he has granted me the privilege and honour of allowing me to get involved in his current NovaSim project!)But at the end of the day, none of us can hope to be the master of all aspects of the wonderfully complex world of MSFS, and we all have our personal preferences and specialities.And before Arno thinks I'm getting at him personally ... perish the thought :-) ... he is part of the team that has given us the wonderful Netherlands scenery and, despite his youth, is also rapidly gaining a deserved reputation as the most helpful guy in the scenery design world, always ready to help those with questions/problems, and with a growing fund of knowledge, tips and tricks. Good on yer, chum!CheersGerrish

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Hi Gerrish,Want to make some comments, and no I didn't take the last one personal :).First, maybe I understood the origional question different. I thought Marijo meant that he was getting tired of all the extra typing necesairy with the FP commands (as they produce more source) and was therefore looking for a tool that could help him to do it with a GUI.You are right about GMax, the exporter MakeMDL is not perfect for scenery design and as far as I know that exporter is the work of MS so I hope they will improve it in the next version.But I don't really see a difference. When I made an object in FSDS I still did some tweaking of the SCASM code to get what I wanted and with GMax it is the same. And if you are familiar with SCASM then the BGLC code is easy to understand, as they almost look the same (if you know the names of the commands of course).I might have sounded a bit negative about VOD, but I think almost everybody here started on that tool and I made some nice objects with it then :). I agree with you that his part list view is much better then the way the object are ordered in FSDS for example. But it is not easy to use (yes it is easy if you do all the mathematics etc on a piece of paper and just enter the parts afterwards, as I always do :))Then finally about the compound objects, I think you didn't understand what we meant here. I have seen no other tool where I can subtract one part from the other. See for example the picture below, the part with the stairs is lower then the surrounding and I first made the object without the stairs and then made the hole by subtracting the correct shape from that object. That are the kind of modeling features I meant.http://home.wanadoo.nl/arno.gerretsen/pics/tud_lib_01.jpgAnd before everybody gets it wrong, I am not trying to convince everybody to use GMax, everybody should just use what he likes most and have fun in this hobby :). Just trying to help make the differences clear.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 Arno,If You get outside FS modeling world, then there aresome modelling tools that know adding/subtracting/... things. I personally love to do such things with Pro/ENGINEER, but I am sure also other CAD/CAM software like Catia, SolidWorks and even AutoCVAD with Solid modeler can do this. And if you can work in these software, then usually You can export in dxf and import in FSDS :)Okay, this was quite off the topic, I know. Marijo, regarding FSDS and GMAX we already talked about that on VATSIM; I still like FSDS more because of easyness while gmax is more powerful and I think it has more solid future.Regards to all,Goran BrumenFS Slovenija 2002 teamhttp://slovenia.avsim.net

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Hi all>He is also rapidly gaining a deserved reputation as the most helpful guy in the scenery design world, always ready to help those with >questions/problems, and with a growing fund of knowledge, tips and tricks. Good on yer, chumI would just like to back this paragraph from Gerrish, He is reiable in his approach to helping others, myself includedRegardsDave

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Hi ArnoI couldn't agree with you more about the powerful CAD tools that gMax offers such as the Boolean part removal etc. etc. and the very important ability to 'weld' intersecting shapes so that overlapping surfaces are removed entirely from the finished model (the importance of this is that it saves the BGL engine the tedious and time-consuming chore of working out which portions of two or more overlapping / hidden surfaces on intersecting parts are actually visible - each surface can simply be painted to the frame buffer directly, relying just on simple z-sorting and the painters algorithm). In these respects, gMax is way ahead of simpler tools like FSDS or VOD/Nova etc., and will always remain so because it comes from a major software development team with the resources to address this type of issue, not individual enthusiasts like Rafael and Louis. But its complex feature-set is also one of its drawbacks for those who only want to build quick simple models - there is always a trade-off in these things. Anyone can build straightforward hangars, houses, buildings, trees, masts, bridges etc. etc. with Nova or such-like with very little learning and effort needed at all (nor are pencils, paper, and mathematics necessarily involved), whereas the initial process of setting up gMax and getting to grips with its complex interface are a daunting prospect for many users. You are quite right that getting through this stage has tremendous potential rewards for those wanting to get to grips with complex modelling, but it's not everyone's bag ... and you can build some very detailed and complex models with FSDS or Nova too ... often without any hand calculations if that is not your personal approach to model design (although I certainly agree that a paper design sketch and maybe some dimension calculations is often the most expert approach to model design). For example, Boolean cut-outs can often be handled by the simple expedient of transparent regions in textures - with the added benefit of lower polygon counts for the finished model into the bargain (to compensate for the extra overhead that transpareny creates).Also, the minor shortcomings of gMax for FS scenery design are, I'm afraid, not all as easy for MS to deal with as simply improving the makemdl.exe translator. At the moment, gMax simply has no 'knowledge' of, or facilities for, features such as seasonal texturing, automatically rotating sprites, etc. Maybe in the future MS will be able to cooperate with their partners Discreet to add these things into the rich gMax feature-set, but they are not there yet.But now I'm wandering from the original topic too, so I think it's time for me to shut up!!!CheersGerrish

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1) Now i know that FSDS can compare with Gmax and that abacus makes serious updates.2)> In choosing between FSDS2 and gMax, FSDS2 has to be the hands-down > winner if you are a SCASM enthusiast, because it generates SCASM codeThat`s it ! ! ! SCASM is a great tool, i hardly learned it and its freeware.Once again thank you for all your posts ! ! ! ! Greetings, Marijo

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>... and you can build some very detailed and complex models >with FSDS or Nova too ... often without any hand >calculations if that is not your personal approach to model >design (although I certainly agree that a paper design >sketch and maybe some dimension calculations is often the >most expert approach to model design).I guess I am too much of a perfectionist in such cases and I am not happy when it looks like every matches, but I want to calculate it and make sure those polygons fit etc :).>Also, the minor shortcomings of gMax for FS scenery design >are, I'm afraid, not all as easy for MS to deal with as >simply improving the makemdl.exe translator. At the moment, >gMax simply has no 'knowledge' of, or facilities for, >features such as seasonal texturing, automatically rotating >sprites, etc. Maybe in the future MS will be able to >cooperate with their partners Discreet to add these things >into the rich gMax feature-set, but they are not there yet. I think it should be possible. Look at how they did the animation or so now. You can get all sort of effects with prefixes for the material or part names. But they don't cover everything at this moment. Seasonal texturing is also interesting, mainly because it seems that the new FP commands don't support it anymore. The only way is to use the old Fs98 method of checking 6F8 yourself.But you are right that there will also be differences with a tool that has been custom made for FS.>But now I'm wandering from the original topic too, so I >think it's time for me to shut up!!! Yeah, I guess you are right here. I'll also (try to) shut up. This discussion is still interesting, but has nothing to do with the first question :).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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