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turner112

Time to revamp "Beginner's Guide to Scenery Design" ?

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Been looking through it...GMAX is dead. Just an example. EZ-Scenery at least deserves a mention.For a beginner, while generally valuable, I can say it could probably use a little housekeeping.Just saying-Andrew

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Andrew,An update to the guide is always appropriate, the art is constantly evolving. Doing the work is no-one's obligation, so its unclear who you are writing to. I'd suggest you author a segment on EZ-Scenery. As you write, please consider the difference between a modeller, and an assembler. From what I understand, EZ-scenery is not a modeling tool. Now if I'm wrong, I apologize, and please set me straight. If I'm right, then discussing EZ-Scenery must be done in a seperate section from 3d modellers like Gmax.And let me share an alternate perspective on Gmax...I'd argue it's alive and well. FS development team has made a commitment to maintaining the 3rd party developers. They also alluded to some behind the scenes activity in preparing for a new version of the sim. The idea that Discreets choice to stop supporting gmax has "killed" it, is wrong. It works great and there is nothing released that produces more modern or more efficient code. Its also available for free on the fs2004 disks. It Clearly deserves its section in the design guide.The design guide in May of 2006 should help people in May of 2006. Once something new is known, then something new should be written.Just my opinion.Best,Bob

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Hi Andrew.GMax isn't dead. In fact, it is the standard object/aircraft modeling tool used by designers for FS2004.There is some concern about it's use in FSX... and when FSX gets here, we'll deal with that. The Aces team has had conversations with the GMax people, and there may well be modules for it in the future.FSX will have backward compatibility for objects and aircraft, so in any case I expect it will be used for years to come.What may change are the terrain tools needed for FSX... certainly the use of BGLC and the current macros will be changed.Dick

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Hi guys - "The design guide in May of 2006 should help people in May of 2006."Not sure what you mean, but the header of that thread appears to have been authored in 2004. Whether the thread reveals new things later, I don't know - I didn't consider the remainder of the thread to be "the" guide, albeit it's better than no update.Good news about gmax, although as with any tools no longer being developed (or is it?) once something fundamental changes which stops it from performing to its potential, its usefulness begins to fade. That said, seeing that it's still in wide use, I guess I'll take another look. What I've experienced so far was pretty good, and I have to wonder if a factor other than economics stopped it.Cheers,Andrew

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Hi Andrew....I guess writing "The design guide in May of 2006 should help people in May of 2006." was a tad cryptic.All I meant was that design tools that are present and functional can't be dismissed just because a next version of the sim that's not out yet may drive changes.The factor that reportedly stopped the support of gmax was a failure to achieve the marketing goals for the gamepacks. That's where the money was in the business plan for discrete. Only 5 or so game products bought the gamepack license, Discreet counted on many more.Bob

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Oh, ok.Well, yeah, it's too bad about gmax, and I certainly agree with you.[edit] Also - in my first post, I just happen to have mentioned gmax and EZ in the same line, but did not mean for EZ to be construed to be a modeler. It's not.Obviously, I can't edit the original 2004 post, and since it's "the" guide, I don't feel it's necessary to place it way down in a thread. EZ, I think, deserves a cursory mention at least. And there are probably a number of other programs which deserve a mention as well!Andrew

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Hello Andrew,That guide was originally my project, so perhaps your comments were directed at me.Let me begin by saying that the guide is a joint effort of many of the members of this forum. This allows us to pool our expertise and provide a greater breadth of information than if I had done it alone.Second, the guide is NOT a static document. It can, and occasionally is, updated with new information, as the various additions to it attest.Third, that guide is a collective thread, the responsibility of all members of this forum who believe that they can furnish information for new designers. In which case, please do feel free to add to it at will. Your contributions will undoubtedly be greatly appreciated and you can feel that you are doing something very productive for our hobby.Finally, I do not believe that there is any information in the guide at all that is no longer valid. Everything in there, from Gmax to SCASM, is still useful and still works with Flight Simulator for the moment. And will probably still work with the next version of Flight Simulator.Please do contribute to that thread. Just please remember that we want to encourage designers, not discourage them from using any techniques or tools. Also, as a general rule, we did not mention commercial design tools in the guide because it is not our role to promote or advertise them, so we only refer to free tools. Any commercial design tools can be discussed in the course of the regular forum posts.Best regards.Luis

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Hi Luis - "Also, as a general rule, we did not mention commercial design tools in the guide because it is not our role to promote or advertise them, so we only refer to free tools."Understood. I think, however, the omission of commercial tools - especially in the context of amateur designers (such as myself) may be less than productive. If there is a commercial tool (such as EZ) which makes a job much easier for the novice, why not include it? I tried installing RWY12 this morning, only to find broken links in the documentation and expired files (Microsoft) when attempting to load the ones I found through searching the Microsoft site. The EZ demo installed and worked flawlessly.In addition, the fact that the guide is actually a thread is also not exactly ideal - if there is a tool for creating bitmaps (freeware or not) I believe it should be in a group with all other similar tools. Again, for someone who is/has been involved with scenery design for some time, it may be second nature to just "know" what is available, or, for that matter, where to look to find it.Spreading out valuable information throughout a growing thread, we run the risk of diluting the utility of the guide to the point where good tools may be missed by someone reading through the thread.In fact, if someone just goes there looking, for example, for a modeling program, it creates a situation in which someone must read through all the posts in a thread - and even then, it's potentially a dead end - take Novasim, for example. Maybe it still exists somewhere, but certainly not at the link in the thread.As someone who often needs to organize tons of disjointed information in my work (I'm a designer and often create large catalogs), I can say that the guide, as it exists, and as a thread, could definitely use some editing.I would be more than happy to assemble a guide, and update it as needed. However, obviously, I couldn't know what is needed by myself, so I'd have to rely on the community to submit information and updates. I'd be happy to host it on my own site and link it from here if necessary.Don't get me wrong - the information is valuable, and having this guide is superior to reading through a whole forum. I greatly appreciate all the effort there, and, really, in every forum here... Avsim has a great community, and it's the reason I keep coming!Best regards-Andrew

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Recommending commercial products when free ones already exist sounds like a painful process....I can already see complaints about bias, kickbacks....and a clear obligation to add a new product every time it comes out or again...bias charges result. I like the fact that the guide can help beginners experience design without having to spend money. I almost wonder if it might be better for you to organize a seperate guide, perhaps called "guide to payware tools for scenery design"...as it sounds like you are ready to take on the challenges above.Bob

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Hi Bob-"Recommending commercial products when free ones already exist sounds like a painful process...."FlightGear ;)I really don't see the problem - bias? Kickbacks? How is that a factor in a not-for-profit, user-developed guide? Seems kind of like saying that one shouldn't be show ads for cars, since walking is available.It's great for beginners not to have to spend money, but it's better to get those beginners onboard and let them make the choice to spend the money if they want, and possibly avoid seemingly chaotic and ill-functioning installations of perpetually beta software. I can't get RWY12 installed, for example. I'll still try.Plus, beginner or otherwise, I don't see the harm in letting a flight sim enthusiast know there's a $29 program available that might easily let them improve their favorite airports after spending $1500+ (and more!) for a computer, not including video card upgrades, peripherals, software... A beginner's guide should be comprehensive. It makes sense to divide each section into freeware/payware. It -should- be updated every time a new product comes out. If a commercial developer feels that an existing freeware utility is competition, great. That's the best thing for all of us. If a freeware developer feels like throwing in the towel because a commercial outfit has a product which is more attractive, it's a shame, but that's the way the world is. In the best of cases it acts as an impetus for that freeware developer to be even more innovative. (And we know the vast innovation we've seen over the years.)Even so, I'm still (probably) far from aware of all the offerings from both sides of the camp, so I'd still need a lot of help in the "what's actually available" department.Think about it this way: I feel one should be able to ask the question"What scenery design utilities are available for FS2004?"and receive a wholly unbiased and comprehensive answer. There are lots of resources scattered about the web, but I haven't been able to find one that seems fully up to date.Cheers,Andrew

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Hi guys,Good to see some discussion again about the Guide :).Personally I don't think it is wrong to mention the payware tools as well, as long as we mention it right away with the product. I think most starting designers will have a small bias to freeware products anyway, as they just want to try it.Also, I think we should not strip all the old information from the guide. As long as stuff is organized in a good way, it would be very useful to keep things from the Fs2002-days there as well. First because part of the techniques and tool might still be useful and second because there are still some people designing for the older version as well.So GMax still deserves its place (if we call GMax death by now, than EOD certainly does not belong in the list as it was developped for Fs98 and is much more "death" by now). As long as MS keeps providing and maintaining the gamepack for GMax, I don't see that much trouble anyway. The most problems we have with GMax are in MakeMDL, not in GMax itself :D.More as a side note, if there is interest, it would be possible to put the Guide on the Wiki I have created at SceneryDesign.org. This would have the advantage that people can easier contribute changes, as they can all edit the page. I don't want to steal the work from here of course, but if this sounds useful, I would certainly be willing to help.

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In fact, I was going to mention Wiki... it never feels quite as friendly, but it's a great tool.Andrew

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