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Guest PhilC

Optimizing Scenery

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All,This may sound like a loaded question but I am fairly new at this. I have searched this forum and not found out exactly what I need to know...I work with another designer who makes most of his scenery using Airport 2.60 and quite a few API macros. The problem is that most of the scenery we make is pretty hard on the framerates. With my 2.8 gig P4 when I approach the scenery I get terrible stutters and a large drop in framerate.Are there any good tricks to making this scenery more framerate friendly? For instance, would converting the bitmaps used to another format help?Most of out scenery is designed to be used with FS2004 but we would like it to be compatible with FS2002 also.Any help or suggestions are appreciated.

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Hi Phil,In general the best way to keep the frames nice is to make the objects as simple as possible. I don't know if you (or the other designer) have made the macros yourself? Which program did you use for them in that case?It can also be important to set the distances of your objects correct. It would not be really worthwhile for example to load a very small object while you are still 10 km from the airfield. If you play with these visibility distances you can gain some frames. Setting the v2 value correct can also be very important for the frames (for a little tutorial about what these v1 and v2 paramters do, please see my website).I theory making all the textures DXT1 with mipmaps should give the best performance, but I must say that I haven't noticed a big frame increase by doing this. Maybe if you are using a lot of textures. For the amount of diskspace used it is also better to use DXT textures, as these are smaller.

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Converting 8-bit bitmaps to DXT1/3 formats should improve performance a little, but I don't think we'll see any dramatic results there.I think that the real optimization lies in the object model, which the original designer can manipulate to achieve better framerates. It has already been mentioned in this forum that macros created using FSDS2 can be optimized by combining all the parts into as few parts as possible. Macros created using GMAX don't require this since the Makemdl program does this already (I think). Also, we can control the visibilty setting of objects so that smaller objects don't become visible until we are close enough to see them well.Of course, if you don't create your own macros, you can still improve performance by using object libraries rather than ordinary macros. There is much written in this forum about libraries and how to use them, but the most well-known library is Gerrrish Grey's tree library which will give you a brief introduction to library objects.The basic principle is that when objects are used many times in a scenery, it is more efficient to load them into memory once and then call them as required in the scenery. Basically, the object gets loaded into memory once rather than several times, which will improve performance.Creating libraries requires a bit of SCASM editing, but the results make it worthwhile. Also, you can modify most existing .api macros for inclusion in a library which you create, so you don't have to be the original object designer in order to create the library.Anyway, there's plenty written in these forums about library objects, and there may even be a tutorial floating around somewhere. In my opinion, the library object is the best way to optimize scenery for improved framerates.- Martin

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Thanks Arno and Martin... good info here and, Arno, your website is a fantastic resource. As I said, I am totally new to this and am just beginning to learn. You guys have set me off on the right foot.Looks like I need to learn a little about xml libraries. When we build a scenery I am usually involved more in the AFCAD and overall enhancement stage but I am getting tired of people saying that our sceneries create a big framerate hit when I see even more complex sceneries that do not.Thanks again for your suggestions and advice.

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