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greggerm

Scenery Distribution

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Proposal:In the legitimate live music trading world, people do what are called "blanks and postage", or B&P's... This means that someone looking for a show sends blank discs and return postage to the taper. The taper copies the show from their master copy to the received blanks, and send the requester's now-filled discs back via the provided envelope and postage. Cost to requester: A blank and postage. Cost to taper: Time and effort. I am currently working on Terrascene/Terrabuilder scenery, based on 4.8 m/p FS2002 textures, of all of New England. I am a long way from finishing - a LONG way - but I know I am not going to want to keep this under wraps for myself. If I do a good job, I'm going to want others to see and use it too. Given the extraordinary size of large areas of TB scenery, downloading is not appealing. CD/DVD distribution is seemingly the only good way of going. Do you think a "blanks and postage" approach to distributing such scenery is a legitimate one? It is time consuming, and theoretically more involved than just simple downloads, but it seems like the only real way to get this scenery out......obviously I cannot and will not *charge* for it, because I'm using Microsoft textures *AND* I believe that Terrabuilder Lite is only for freeware projects. :-) PLEASE - Find holes in the idea. Given it's a freeware-style distribution, am I restriced by using MS textures as a basis? How about TerraBuilder? Besides running my burner ragged, are there any legal type issues to overcome?!Any other ideas for free distribution that you can think of for such large chunks of data?THANKS for all your input...-Greg Germ

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I'm ready to put some blanks in the mail right now! :)The only other way, AFAIK, is for someone to pony up a huge server, which isn't going to happen.As an aside, let me know when you've got KLEB terra'd - I'd love to "beta-test" that for you! :)Best,sg

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Here's my $.02...I do *NOT* lay claim, whole or partial, on anything created with TerraBuilder. If you use TB LITE, you can sell it or have it as freeware. It is your work, effort and time that you invested, and you should charge for it. And hey, you're advertising my product when you (hopefully) mention that you used TB to create it. If you use TB PRO, you paid for it, so even better.As far as TerraServer, I am not sure what is MS saying about distribution.I do know for a fact that the USGS data (DEMs and Orthophotos) can be used to create comercial scenery. This is governmental property and your tax dollars (if you're a US citizen) pay for this data. Many commercial sceneries (eq. FSGenesis) have been created using this data. Time and effort goes into processing it, and a reasonable fee should be charged for it.

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Ok... thanks Misho for that clarification... I rarely read the license agreements for software, and I presumed yours had a clause in it. :) But... considering I am using Microsoft's textures straight out of the FS2002 directory as a basis for my Terrascene "landclass" textures, I'd probably be in hot water if they came across it for sale.Note this is along the lines of Aerosoft Australia's "SceneryUSA" project (http://www.sceneryusa.com), although they are using what appears to be homegrown textures (as they will be selling the product), and somehow have a way of populating autogen or they are painstakingly doing autogen by hand, like I am planning on doing near airports!Gridley - I want to get up north quick... I often drive I-89 in the summer and dream about what it would be to actually fly into KLEB. (Family has a place up on Lake Champlain). For now, it's the Rhode Island area getting primary treatment. I might skip up to that LOD8 section for the heck of it (let'cha download it). Plus there are hills up there, making the combo of FSGenesis 38m mesh + Terrascene'd custom textures a surefire winner. Continue to wrack your brains (rack or wrack?)!Umm... 3 LOD8 cells done... god knows how many more to do! (ack!) -Greg Germ

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Greggerm--> PM or Email me - maybe we can work out a collaborative effort on NH/VT if you'd be willing to share some of your expertise...

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I would certainly like to see some discussion on distribution, as scenery file sizes are only going to get bigger. Watching someone download a 24MB file by modem shows the problem -- this is able to be done by someone with patience and an understanding of the way this works, but for most people it is just not possible. Now multiply the file size by 10 or 20 and you see the need for another distribution method. That's what I'm looking at, with what will eventually be about 2GB of scenery.My solution was to charge -- although the scenery I create is free, it is only available as part of a magazine, which costs. Anyone who gets hold of the magazine can distribute the scenery (but not the magazine content) although I don't encourage this -- a sale would be better!Once you decide to charge the cost goes up immediately -- you need some way to collect the money. Now that you are charging, people expect a professional result -- you need to package it, work harder to get it right, and offer more than others can for free.Of course by charging I can offer a better service -- for instance, the extra money I earned from issue 1 is going on a trip over Easter to photograph an airport or two -- something which I couldn't justify (to my partner, mainly!) unless there was some payoff. (Believe me, I'd much rather be at the Marlborough Airshow this weekend.)However, I can see that there should be a better method of distribution. Perhaps someone could set up a system where authors could submit their work to a database, and customers could fill a CD for the price of the labour, materials and shipping. The web would be a great vehicle for this. Any other ideas?

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My New England project looks like it'll take a total of appx 77 LOD8 sections to do New England... NOT including most of Maine, and I'm probably missing some of Boston too. 77 x 256 MB (all seasons) EACH = 19.712 Gigabytes77 x 6145 files = 473,165 individual files. :) Woah. A lot larger than even I expected. Essentially FIVE DVD's.And that's without Maine.---snipping down to just Summer and Nighttime textures---77 x 85.4 MB = 6.575 Gigabytes...still two DVD range, or 10 CD-R's...LOTS LOTS LOTS of space needed for these things. LOTS! 10 DVD's, 10 CD-R's... far too much to effectively distribute via B&P. Two DVD's aren't so bad, but burning takes time, and blanks aren't exactly cheap these days. My project rolls on, but I fear it may be difficult to make any sort of release on it. Anyone want to do a Blank HARD DRIVE and postage distribution method?! :)

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Hi all.Currently, file sizes are huge as photoreal and psuedo-photoreal designers push the limits of their designs.But in the long run, we're going to see many designers start using LWM and VTP design for huge projects. This will mean accurate roads ( and streets ), streams, water, shorelines, at a "cost" of about 800kb per LOD8 sized area ( 1200km squared ). Arno posted a screenshot of the new NL2000 design in the scenery forum. Here's a pic of part of an LOD8 sized project I'm playing with. No textures, all default, just a scenery folder with a few small BGLs. Before and after.Dickhttp://forums.avsim.com/user_files/3138.jpghttp://forums.avsim.com/user_files/3140.jpg

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A minor benefit of the (psudo)photoreal method right now does seem to be a little more fidelity... I noticed the small airstrip at the bottom of your comparison shots lost it's mask using the new method. But with that said, the space difference is nothing short of ridiculous. If the programming types from these forums (and others) can come up with a relatively easy to use tool (a la TerraScene, or even USING TerraScene for source info) which can populate the scenery with proper and detailed roads and land use types, then that paves the way for an immediate shift in the way semi-photoreal scenery is developed!This new method, as of right now, requires hand-drawn polygons and such, correct? That would work good for smallish areas, but not yet big ones. :-) I'm actually eagerly anticipating future developments in this arena. The minds in these forums should all be part timers at Microsoft... the development team could learn a thing or two about creativity from you guys!

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If you think the Flight Simulator Scenery files are hugh, you ought to visit the Train Simulator library. Take the Ohio RR, it is approx 50MB. I have downloaded several others in the 64MB range, and right now there is one that is over 100MB.One difference in train simulator is the scenery is not global, it is strictly that route. Since you are at or near ground level, detail is everything.Lastly, the train simulator scenery and other designers are using some tools that may be of benefit to flight simulator. You might take a look here and at www.train-sim.com (be prepared for a wait for an open line if you aren't a first class member) and look at some of the tools available.

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>But in the long run, we're going to see many designers start>using LWM and VTP design for huge projects. >[sNIP]>DickExcuse my ignorance, but what are LWM and VTP designs? I'm more interested in getting accurate roads and rivers (particularly the connecticut river between VT and NH, as it is currently a bad series of partially connected lakes) than photoreal...Any tutorials, etc.?Thanks,sg

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Right now, VTP/LWM design does require hand-drawn polys and lines. You draw them over a background image. It could easily be a Terrascene derived image, or a properly sized and stretched map, or a bitmap generated by a GIS program, or a screenshot from TMFviewer, or a screenshot from the sim itself. I think within a year, we may see SHP2VTP and SHP2LWM. There is already an E002VTP, for lines. It's not a perfect program, but it does work.Right now, the time needed to draw the lines and watermask polys isn't anywhere near the time it would take to color aerial photos, or to get them to blend into the default textures, or to produce the 5 seasons and night, or to populate the slices with autogen. Terrascene derived images help with texture coloring, but there are some definite problems with these images having redundant texturing, forming odd-looking patterns in the sim. "Landclassing" with TerraScene is also very limited. Ask Jim Kanold, and he'll tell you the entire key to a good Terrascene derived scenery is in the texturing... and it is hard and time consuming to get it right. That's why Jim's sceneries have only a single season.. It could take months to get it done right if all seasons were included.Each method has it's drawbacks concerning the amount of time required to create an improved terrain. I don't believe a VTP/LWM approach would necessarily take longer. In each case, it would depend on what you're willing to settle for. I know the NL2000 project has taken a long time, but much of that time was spent inventing tools and techniques that had not yet existed. I "resurected" Prince Edward Island using Ground2K in less than 2 weeks, by recreating the LWM masking. 201kb zipped. It has all seasons and autogen, using the default. It went quickly as I had a good tool. I could do a similar project today in just a few days, as I'm more familiar with Ground2K.Jim Kanold did Prince Edward Island from a Terrascene derived image set. It is absolutely beautiful scenery. It's available for download here at AVSIM. Altogether, it's about 176,000kb zipped...Summer only with no autogen. I could now create it in greatly improved detail using a background image derived from GIS data, and Ground2k. I don't think it would take me much longer. It would be just as accurate as CUSTOM from a Terrascene-derived image, and would have all seasons, night, better landclass, autogen... and probably be less than 4,000kb in size... just as accurate as Jim's scenery.Would it be as beautiful as Jim's scenery? Probably not, as I would use default landclass textures... but a different texture set might make it beautiful.=================There are 2 drawbacks to CUSTOM that cannot be changed. The first is the size of the download needed for large areas, as you are discussing. This is a difference of 300:1 for CUSTOM vs. VTP/LWM for sceneries that include all seasons and night.The second is that CUSTOM "destroys" the underlying LWM and VTP lines and polys, and prevents anyone from adding new lines or polys over that scenery. The final version of a CUSTOM scenery is a dead-end, as far as terrain design goes.With the NL2000 project, or the sceneries I'm playing with, it's possible for another designer to add or move scenery elements, just as with the default scenery. For example, you noted the huge apron surrounding the grass runway is gone in my scenery. Anyone could add it back, if desired, and of any shape/texture desired. If someone wanted to add all the city streets, it could be added in. Or the landclass could be easily changed. Or the width, or bends of the streams could be altered in subsequent additions. Small ponds could be added, or customized ground texturing added ( as in NL2000 ). You could even add CUSTOM derived slices as VTP layers, to allow future alterations of that scenery. VTP placed and shaped polys displaying CUSTOM slices can be trimmed to roadlines, for example, to allow you to easily hide the edges where CUSTOM meets default. That could reduce the "out of place" look of CUSTOM scenery.==========================That's my reasons why I think we're going to get smaller with our terrain sceneries. We've gone through something similar with mesh, with designers oversampling to LOD 11 or 12 making for huge downloads. But for most purposes, LOD 7 or 8, with the right source data, is actually better in the sim regarding framerates or reducing the "popping" effect some mesh has. LOD8 is very good with accurate data. The result is smaller downloads as well, as designers back off from the edge of the design envelope.My point is not to "trash" CUSTOM scenery. I just think VTP and LWM design is a good way to go for designers and end-users.Dick

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I just took a look at the Ground2K_for_beginners.zip document found in the file library here... Interesting reading!Definately a lot more hand labor to it, but the results look good. Obviously not as detailed as CUSTOM, but certainly far improved over default without the storage penalty of CUSTOM.I'll have to play with it a bit to see if I can do what I want with it, but tracing out all the roadways I am interested in duplicating may be a little tedious.Thanks for the discussion!-Greg

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Hi Greg.Actually it is exactly as detailed as CUSTOM... 4.8 meters/pixel average. VTP and LWM have exactly the same detail limits as resample produces.Also, I understand the problems of producing city streets, for example. A GIS-derived or Terrascened image of a city's streets could be made as gray lines on a black background, then sliced by resample. The textures of these city streets could then be converted to 8-bit vertically flipped, mipped, with alpha. The black can be keyed as transparent for that texture.Now you'd have maybe 10-12 slices that will display as streets on transparent 'sheets', that you can drape onto the scenery as a VTP layer, using the landclass number of 252 or 253 as the texture ID#. These sheets could also have your CUSTOM autogen for the city. Now you'd have a GIS derived city street CUSTOM texture set w/autogen, and the surrounding countryside could have regular VTP lines for the area's roads.So you can have accuracy and detail, but control how you use it.Dick

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Dick, I must disagree with your comments regarding "custom" scenery. People can both add roads, AND polygons. Its just done artistically on the textures. All the textures are availalbe for the scenery to show up, and all a person must do is be familier with martin wrights tools to view the textures, convert the one of interest to editable form, edit, and reconvert back to dxt1, and "voila"..."custom" scenery with whatever edit the person chose.Remember, most of us can't edit vtp scenery without a command of special tools either. With "custom" scenery its just different tools.I have nothing against either form of design, and having tried both, I continue to prefer "custom" scenery. This way I can have the reality of a photograph, and still enjoy autogen. I keep the file sizes reasonable by doing the local areas around airports. The coloring takes me about two hours, most of that time painting the roads and masking the water. Blending is as simple as imaging the underlying landclass over top of the custom at the edges.Pix are default Harvey Field, and my work in progress....no autogen and no blending yet on the custom.My point is that folks should not be persuaded against custom for lack of complete information. Best,Bob Bernstein

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