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arno

FSX: Ironing Out Certain Issues

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Hi everyone, i would like to point out a few issues that have always left me with a big question mark. Now that a new version has been announced i hope that these issues will be ironed out in FSX.1. I mainly use gmax as my scenery design program and I do wish that its tools are given more support. As most scenery and aircraft designers know, Gmax is a very powerful program and I'm pretty sure that 80% of the scenery can be created with it.First of all why isn't it possible to create ground polygons directly with Gmax? Why do we have to manually tweak the source code in order to make it work. I'm pretty sure that there is a solution to it. There are several other things that we have to manually tweak and usually alot of time is spent trying to find a way around certain problems.2. Opacity/transparency is also another issue. When one tries to set the opacity of a polygon through the Gmax material editor (for eg to create window panes for a control tower) one will notice that that the clouds will appear in front of the glass and the clouds are not actually obscured by the glass. So in this case Fs is finding a problem with their display priority.However this problem doesn't seem to exist in aircraft models. Why? I know that instead of using the opacity setting we can assign a DXT3 texture to create glass, but now we have removed the possibility to create a reflective glass.If I'm not mistaken it was possible to create reflective glass in Fs2002 but it seems that this was removed in Fs2004. Isn't it much easier to use tools available in the material editor the same way we create the dynamic shine by using the specular level? 3. I don't know if this was mentioned already and it's not actually an issue but it's more like, if we'll we be able to create it one day. Up till now the main light source in Fs is the sun. When the effects were introduced we could see the light coming from the anti-collisionbeing reflected by the aircraft's fuselage etc... That was a nice touch however these effects do not cast any light on scenery objects. Why do certain features work on aircraft models and on scenery models they don't, I can'understand. It would be nice that one day we'll be able to create proper lights that actually cast light on to the ground and 3D objects. That will partially elimnate the use of night textures and the overall night ambience will be more realistic. Is Flightsim's graphic's engine able to handle this or is it still too demanding for today's hardware?Having mentioned Gmax, everybody knows that its future is uncertain. What is actually going to happen to it and is MS still going to produce a plugin for it to export our models? I think Gmax's capabilites will enable us to continue creating 3D models for years to come as long as makemdl continues to enhance its support to it.A big thanks to the Flightsim team for all their work and listening to all our requests and complaints. I'm pretty sure they all end up with a headache at the end of the day!! :)RegardsDaniel

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Hi Daniel,>First of all why isn't it possible to create ground polygons>directly with Gmax? Why do we have to manually tweak the>source code in order to make it work. I'm pretty sure that>there is a solution to it. I think some scenery designers are trying to do more with GMax, then what the gamepack has been designed for. If you look at the default scenery, you will see that all things like airports, ground polygons, etc have been made with different parts of the scenery. Not with the 3D object code that MakeMDL is creating. I think this is not a problem of MakeMDL, but a problem of the designers, they think that GMax can do everything, while it is only intended for 3D objects.In the default scenery the ground polygons and airport are for example made with XML code. I know this code is a bit limited at the moment if you want to make a very realistic airport. I hope that is something that will be fixed in the next version. So a more flexibile and extendable XML format.>So in this case Fs is finding a problem with their display>priority.However this problem doesn't seem to exist in>aircraft models. Why? This is a good point. It would be nice if this was solved (or else if we got a nice document to explain what the drawing order exactly is, so that we might think of smart workarounds).Aircraft are processed different from the scenery by the graphical engine, so the fact that they work as you expend does not really matter I think.>I know that instead of using the opacity setting we can assign>a DXT3 texture to create glass, but now we have removed the>possibility to create a reflective glass.I think you should also be able to put the reflection in the material and use the texture for transparancy. But this is not supported by MakeMDL directly I think, you might have to tweak a little bit for that.>If I'm not mistaken it was possible to create reflective glass>in Fs2002 but it seems that this was removed in Fs2004. Yes, that was a bug in the Fs2002 gamepack that they solved. The reflection is a subtexture type of an aircraft texture, so it was never supposed to work in scenery as well.>Why do certain features work on aircraft models and on scenery>models they don't, I can'understand. Because they are draw completely independant by the graphical engine. Each has its own features. Just think of the performance hit if you have to calculate such lighting effects for a big scenery area. An aircraft is rather small, so then the performance hit will be less.It would be nice if we could have it, but not if that means that the framerates go down a lot.

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Hi Arno,thanks for your reply. It's always nice to read your posts. Your help here is invaluable."I think some scenery designers are trying to do more with GMax,then what the gamepack has been designed for. If you look at the default scenery, you will see that all things like airports, ground polygons, etc have been made with different parts of the scenery. Not with the 3D object code that MakeMDL is creating. I think this is not a problem of MakeMDL, but a problem of the designers, they think that GMax can do everything, while it is only intended for 3D objects"True however i don't fully agree. After all once we add the zbias to the material name and tweak the asm file it works. Not 100% but it works. I know there are shadow problems etc.. So I think it's a matter of perhaps adjusting the makemdl and make it work. One can create a polygon in Gmax and all he has to do is to add a prefix to the object name like groundpoly_xxxx for the object name and makemdl will automatically recognize it as a ground poly. Same like adding tick18 in order to make the animation work. This is just an example and I know it's easier said than done, but up till now no one said that it can't be done. Anyway we'll wait and see what FSX has to offer!! :)Daniel

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Hi Daniel,>After all once we add the>zbias to the material name and tweak the asm file it works.>Not 100% but it works. I know there are shadow problems etc..> So I think it's a matter of perhaps adjusting the makemdl and>make it work.I do not agree here. First it never really works in the new gamepack. People using the ZBIAS fix have reported problems with rising/sinking polygons in the distance etc. It only works correctly with the Fs2002 gamepack. And that has nothing to do with the gamepack itself, but with the type of BGL it creates.The Fs2004 MDL format is just not intended to be used for ground polygons, it is meant for 3D objects. That is very clear if you look at the structure of these files and how they relate to other scenery elements.So I think the problem is not in GMax or MakeMDL, it is a choice the FS designers made with the MDL format. It is for 3D objects, while the ground elements of the scenery are done with XML code. Have a look at the default scenery and you will see very clear that there are no ground polygons for airports etc in the MDL objects.I think it is more a matter of understand what the different scenery elements can do. You are not going to try to make a 3D object with the mesh scenery either, are you?

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Hi ArnoI'm fully aware that Gmax is mainly intended to create 3d object, but the fact that scenery designers are trying to find new ways to create their sceneries, simply shows that the XML format is, perhaps not the best way. First of all we can't determine the number of repetitions of texture tiles we can assign to a ground polygon. We are restricted to what MS has set. Correct me if I'm wrong. We also can't rotate the texture in a ground polygon. This is quite useful when applying textures to show concrete slabs and wanting them to point in the right direction for example.The texture always points North. I know you can rotate the bmp itself but I don't think it's the ideal way. It's true that certain problems arise because we try to go into alot of detail but in my case it's a little different.The airport I am creating has part of its main terminal situated below ground level. Although it's below ground level it's still visible, and literally had to 'dig' a hole into the terrain in order to get that part of the terminal be visble. Then obviously I have to patch up everything with gmax in order to cover the hole nicely. However one particular problem was that at certain points where the ground has been lowered and part of my ground polygon (to create a parking ramp) floats over the hole, that part of the building situated below ground level was visible through the ground polygon. Obviously this is because 3d objects have higher display priority.So for me the only solution was that my ground polygon has to be created with Gmax. In this case it's not a matter of detail but it's because the way the real terminal is constructed. So there are issues here that I think it would be nice if the Fs developers will have a look at them.It would also be nice if they can share their ideas about this.Daniel

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Hi Daniel,>I'm fully aware that Gmax is mainly intended to create 3d>object, but the fact that scenery designers are trying to find>new ways to create their sceneries, simply shows that the XML>format is, perhaps not the best way. I fully agree here and that is why I hope they will extend the XML format in the next version. It should be more flexible. For example the mapping you mention, but I would also like to be able to select my own textures. For example you can only make yellow marking lines now, but on an airport you often also need red and white ones. And we can make a huge list of such things.But I hope they extend the XML format for this, not change MakeMDL. The XML is the place to define your airport and so that format should be extended in my opinion.So for the moment we have to switch back to the old Fs2002 code if we want to do ground layouts. I really hope Fs2004 is a transition here, as making a nice looking ground layout with only the Fs2004 techniques is quite a #### of a job (I would say it is impossible).

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