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kjb

Some thoughts on the new design tools from Abacus...

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Hi there,Abacus recently released two programs for use in scenery design: EZ-Scenery, and FSDS3. I have been using both these programs for the last few days, and I have some observations which I'd like to share.To start with, FSDS3 is simply an update to FSDS2 which allows us to export our models in the .x format, which allows them to be compiled by the version of makemdl.exe which came with the FS2004 SDK. Otherwise, there don't seem to be many changes in the program. If you are a GMAX user, there isn't much point to getting this program. Still, this is a long-awaited update for the many FSDS2 users who never really got into bed with GMAX. I'm pretty happy to back in my FSDS-comfort-zone, since I always admired the simplicity of the program.I'm loath to purchase any program that has "EZ" in the name, but I thought I'd take a chance with EZ-Scenery. This software reminds me a little of Lago's FS Enhancer 2004, but I think EZ-S does an even better job of it. The program is run from within FS2004, and once you start placing objects, they are visible immediately - you don't have to exit, compile, reload, adjust, exit, recompile, etc. It is ridiculously easy to place objects using the in-game interface, and I never even bothered to read the manual. When the EZ-S is loaded, you can choose objects by selecting specific libraries which are loaded within FS. The object is then "previewed" in FS while you position it and adjust the angle, heading, etc. I find it very handy for placing multiple objects with precision (trees, cars).Previously, I used SGX and hand-coding to place objects into scenery, but I think that I will use EZ-S to place the majority of objects from now on. I never used Rwy12, so I can't compare it, but I know that Rwy12 has a loyal following too, so it would be interesting to hear from those guys. Anyway, I would certainly recommend this to someone just starting out in scenery design, or to someone who just wants to liven up their local airport.- Martin

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My experience is very similar -- I have no use for FSDS3, having learnt to love GMAX after a long and difficult learning period, but EZ Scenery really makes my life a lot, well, ezier. I have no interest in building airports from other people's bits and pieces, but for my own models this is the best method by far for putting it all together. The design process is this simple: build an object in GMAX, export, add the MDL to the library using EZ Scenery Library Manager, load the sim and place the object, being able to fine-tune the placement exactly. If I need to place a lot of objects, such as fence sections, it's almost impossible to go wrong, so this type of job changes from a nuisance to almost a pleasure:)My current (payware) project is built this way, the only drawback being that I can't set a display complexity. To compensate, I've had to incorporate a lot more LODs, but this makes more sense, allowing everyone to see all the detail, but have the LODs do the optimisation.Visit the Windowlight forum on Avsim... everything you need to know about New Zealand flightsim sceneryhttp://forums.avsim.net/dcboard.php?az=sho...forum=203&page=

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It's good to see you back here more often, Martin. Thanks for the impressions.I wonder about this EZ-Scenery. It sounds great, and although I don't use other people's models (except for the occasional default object), it sound very useful. But, is it true that one cannot set display complexity? Are there any other limitations? Recently, there was some mention of bugs - have you found any problems?All in all, though, it sounds like Konstantin has, once again, come up with a revolutionary product.Best regards.Luis

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It's true that you can't set display complexity. Also, it would be nice to export an XML file to edit by hand. But I guess the software is targeted at the novice and they might not need these features. My overall impression was that they wanted to keep the software as simple as possible. I haven't run into any bugs.One thing I thought of was that the program comes with it's own library objects, which anyone can download for free from Abacus. Of course, these aren't meant to be distributed with the finished scenery, so we have to rely on the end user to go to the Abacus website and download them if we want to use them. I doubt that many people will bother to do this nowadays. Also, if we are using other peoples library objects, we have to remember to include the libraries and textures in our distribution. Again, since EZ-S is targeted at the novice, they might not realise this.- Martin

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Since I've loaded EZ-Scenery I've been unable to move from 'window' to full screen view. There appears to be some conflict with panels.dll which also resides in the Modules folder. Removal of the EZ plug-in module from the Modules folder solves the problem of the windowing. Has anybody else experienced this?

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I too have d/led and used the new EZ Scenery package. Generally, it works very well - seeing the result without having to recompile is a great feature. But the program seems to have problems coping with multiple objects in very close promimity. In my case, I was trying to build a jetway from the components contained in the newly-released library called "tj_jetway_collect" or something similar (I'm not at my home computer, so I'm not certain of the name). EZ Scenery really got "confused", the cursor disappeared and, at one point, it even overwrote the wrong file - and I lost most of a day's work. I've advised Abacus of my experience and, hopefully, they'll produce an update soon. I completed the jetway by hand, coding an XML file and tweaking the result until everything was where it should be! But then, maybe I am expecting too much from a $30 piece of software. Don

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I have also tried EZ Scenery and really like it. With a few small additions EZ Scenery could be a huge seller for years to come.Like you other guys mentioned the detail complexity should be changableand an exported XML would be nice. A smaller, more accurate placementmarker might help for the "small work". I have used Rwy 12 and EZS is lightyears better! I placed about 1000 meters of fence around a military airbase for a friend....took me all of 45 minutes using EZ Scenery.One other thing I noticed and that is the "heading" of the objects.EZS seems to be limited to 1 degree changes. I would like to see .1accuracy. Or is this just my setup?? Has anyone else noticed this?I just hope the author is working on a Pro version. :-)FaxCap

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I'm one of those folks that never really got into Gmax and purchased FSDS V2.X and now 3.0. I was looking at EZ Scenery as a simple method of building up the areas around my airports with buildings and other objects, but haven't purchased it for the reasons I've seen here: If you want anyone else to be able to use your scenery, they have to have the libraries installed. I've used Runway 12 before as well, and have the same problem with that.Since FSDS 3.0 came out, I've been able to export my objects as .mdl objects and place them with SceneGenX with relative ease. I use the building creation tool in SGX or FS9 native library objects to populate the outlying areas of the airport. The FS9 .mdl and associated placement xml should be the "New" .api in my opinion. The .mdl simply becomes part of the airport.bgl generated during the compilation process. Jim Dhaenens

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Folks as Abacus has no forum for its EZScenery clients, by default users have adopted the BEV forums and the BEV forum folks have not minded at all, here is the URL to get to the site, but you need to register and log into the forums to participate.There are complete listings of all new objects and sceneries completed and lots of innovative discussion going on there.http://www.flightsim-bevs.com/smf_1-0-5/index.php?board=59.0

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That's real nice. Hope there would be a dedicated forum for FSDSV2/V3 as well. BTW, FSDS2 indeed HAD a seasonal texture feature, a bit clumsy though, but it's there. Learned that getting V3 version. And over that, one even has a way to synchronise those with local FS seasonal change. Man! Did I loose enough time over that one. Mainly trying to write about it ;-) Shall I wait for V4 to find out the way to Rotate to Aircraft within V3 and V2?So, when and where for this forum :-)Hugo

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Thanks for the reply FaxCap. I had visisted Arno's site b4 but never remarked the FSDS section. Guess it's time for me 'to think' to get glasses!! I fastly browsed through it and remarked that the activity there has picked up since the advent of FSDS3. Arno's decision to do some work with this version is probably the reason for this. Thanks to him for getting involved into that aspect too. I just wonder where and how he finds the energy and the time over his daily workload to be so broadly involved with so much pertinant interventions, here, there, at BEV and other places I came across its contributions. Hats off to the guy!There is a thread about Rotate to Aircraft related to FSDS3. It seams the matter has not been yet resolved. Arno is looking into it, amongs other things!! So, if a solution has to be found, I guess it's the place I will get it :-)I think FSDS is a nice tool with a lot of potential but too thinly documented by Abacus. So a dedicated forum like this one is a must, mainly so as FSDS has jumped to the newest compiling environment. A way for us people that haven't gone GMax learning curve and its associated conterparts, .x, .xml, .asm files, to keep pace with scenery design evolution.Thanks again, Hugo

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Windows to Full Screen...AHA! Me too! I just didn't know why until right now! Thanks. I hope they patch this.

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Having used EZScenery for a while, I've run into some 'interesting' quirks. If you move an object down slightly below ground level its elevation shows up as roughly 4,290,000M AGL in the disassembled text file. That's interesting, especially if you decide to move the object. You won't see it being selected...because it's in orbit in space.The other quirk is object shifting. This one is a real problem. After you've been working on a project for a while, it isn't unusual to suddenly find that one or even all objects are not where you left them. I had one crop up today that has essentially trashed the project. There are probably a thousand objects involved and now they're about 30' from the original positions. Hangars are in the middle of taxiways, trees are in the streets, etc. I noticed it this morning when I went to delete some objects. The selection outline wasn't around the object, but offset. It did select the object and delete it, but that was when I noticed that everything was out of place.This wasn't the first time I've seen this. I did a segmented circle around a windsock and a few days later the windsock was completely outside the circle.

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>Having used EZScenery for a while, I've run into some>'interesting' quirks. If you move an object down slightly>below ground level its elevation shows up as roughly>4,290,000M AGL in the disassembled text file. That's>interesting, especially if you decide to move the object. You>won't see it being selected...because it's in orbit in space.It just occured to me that a workaround to not having an XML-export feature is to try using BGLXML to decompile the BGL file. Thanks!>>The other quirk is object shifting. This one is a real>problem. After you've been working on a project for a while,>it isn't unusual to suddenly find that one or even all objects>are not where you left them. I had one crop up today that has>essentially trashed the project. There are probably a thousand>objects involved and now they're about 30' from the original>positions. Hangars are in the middle of taxiways, trees are in>the streets, etc. I noticed it this morning when I went to>delete some objects. The selection outline wasn't around the>object, but offset. It did select the object and delete it,>but that was when I noticed that everything was out of place.>>This wasn't the first time I've seen this. I did a segmented>circle around a windsock and a few days later the windsock was>completely outside the circle.I haven't had this problem or the other problems that people have described, but I wonder if it has to do with the number of objects being placed. So far, I've had good luck with the program.- Martin

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