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Christopher Low

Weather

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I haven't really done any flying in bad weather, simply because of the framerate issues (yes, even a 1.2Ghz Athlon with a 64Mb GeForce 3 and 512Mb RAM struggles at maximum detail, 1024 by 768 resolution, and 4xS anti-aliasing). However, I have just been initialising startup positions with a variety of weather effects, and I have noticed a very annoying problem. Why is it that some clouds appear that are almost completely black ? They look ridiculous with a completely overcast GREY sky in the background. Is this a graphics card problem, or does everyone suffer from this ?More importantly, IS THERE A SOLUTION ?!!!Chris Low,ENGLAND.

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From the flt3.cfg file:;Nice, non-blocky haze may be achieved with;HazeMethod Specular;but few 3D drivers support it properly. You'll see things;like black clouds if your driver doesn't handle it.That may be your problem.

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As far as I know, none of the Geforce cards properly support specular lighting (still!). The only ones I know of are the Voodoo 5500 (and above) and the ATI Radeon.Chris Ehttp://website.lineone.net/~flightsimukAvoid AGP texturing = Better Performance ;)

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Chris wrote: Yes, even a 1.2Ghz Athlon with a 64Mb GeForce 3 and 512Mb RAM struggles at maximum detail, 1024 by 768 resolution, and 4xS anti-aliasing.So did an 800 Mhz CPU 760+ MB RAM and a Voodoo 5 5500 while I was using the highest resolution. I went back to 800 x 600 and it's fine, even in "bad" weather. Since FU3 is really made for 800 x 600 I don't see any improvement by going higher.Please check out Driscoll's CFG. You may need to disable "specular" but it would give us a common frame of reference if we base our tweaks on that configuration file. It would also disclose whatever changes one needs to make with Nvidea cards. I run his CFG "as is", except that I added rudder pedal configs.best regards,Hans Petter

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Jimmi, Chris, Hans,Many thanks for the advice. The black clouds were indeed due to SkyHazeMethod being set to SPECULAR. I removed this line, and now the black clouds have become much more realistic dark grey clouds.I will test the framerates with bad weather at 800*600 and 1024*768 resolution.Best Wishes,Chris Low,ENGLAND.

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Hans,I have done some preliminary tests on my PC, and I don't see a great improvement in framerate when using 800 by 600 resolution. I personally think that FU3 looks noticeably better at 1024 by 768 resolution, and I will be sticking with this. I need to make a few test flights in bad weather to ascertain whether the framerates are acceptable or not.Chris Low,ENGLAND.

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Chris,I don't see much difference in frames btw 1024X768 & 800X600 either. I use 1024X768 most of the time. But 800X600 does look pretty good in FU3 on my system.

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Frame rates should be better if you turn off anti-aliasing, no? Although it'll be jaggy, you'd only have to turn it off in bad weather (when there isn't much scenery to look at anyway).

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Peter,At first I was a bit shocked at the suggestion of turning off AA in FU3... FU3 is after all why I have AA. But inside a storm you may just have a point. But most of you now have more potent systems than my latest upgrade (12-00... 933mhz P3)... and I get good frames in FU3 at 1024X768... 4xFSAA... most everything turned way up. I can sense some slowing over downtown Seattle... but I expect that... and usually only fly there for screenshots... and I want it all pretty for those anyway. I can see where some cranking down of detail would be acceptable in heavy weather... but then some slowing of fps is also acceptable under those conditions. I guess if I was going to do anything it would be to drop to 2xFSAA... I do that for some racing games anyway... but love my 4xFSAA in FU3. I guess I'm trying to say that I agree with you... but only grudgingly! :)

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Hehe. I just thought I'd throw it in since Chris is experiencing bad frame rates on a 1.2 GHz.

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Peter,I only ever want to experience the absolute best graphics in FU3. That's why I bought a GeForce 3.........so I could access the 4xS anti-aliasing (and it DOES make a huge difference compared to 2x on a GeForce 2 GTS). I only ever run at 1024 by 768 resolution, with EVERYTHING cranked up to maximum detail. I couldn't bear to take those sliders towards the left !I am currently testing framerates with a warm front weather setup. This seems to give acceptable framerates in areas with dense scenery, and is perfectly fine in less demanding areas.Now I know why Naji likes flying in the rain so much. It makes a real difference to the overall atmosphere when you can hear and see rain falling, and the subtle texturing of the overcast sky is excellent. I will upload a few screenshots soon to illustrate my current flights.Best Wishes,Chris Low,ENGLAND.

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I have done some more testing in bad weather, and the framerates are acceptable to me. Framerates around Flying B Ranch in the San Francisco region are as high as 17 fps, but they drop to around 8 fps at San Francisco International. I can live with this, since flying in bad weather is tremendous fun. I am currently sticking to a favourite weather setup (Warm Front with 6 mph winds), which gives me plenty of rain and a decent amount of visibility (don't for one minute imagine that I'm any good at IFR flight).I have noticed a couple of fascinating features whilst flying in the rain. I love the way that the sound of the rain gets louder as the speed of the aircraft increases. This adds tremendously to the realism. I also noticed that the AI planes tack into the wind when they are on final approach. That's very impressive, and it is something that I have never noticed before. These are two more aspects of FU3 that make me realise just how much better it is than anything that Microsoft has to offer (don't worry..........Tom's on "vacation". I've got two weeks before I have to put the knives away).I'm really hoping that FU3 can be released on a budget label in the near future. I can't wait to write another article for PC Pilot !Chris Low,ENGLAND.

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I think one of my favorite things is the turbulence that builds up when as you fly closer to/thru a cumulous cloud (which you ought not do in real life if you can help it ;) ). The closest I can get in MSFS is with the "add random turbulence in clouds" setting in the FSUIPC module - just aint the same.As for D3D settings, I get the largest visual improvment with Anistropy level maxed (64-tap on my GForce 4). I generally have anti-aliasing set to Quincunx mode. 4xS drops my frame rate by 10fps and the sky banding is severe (which irritates me to no end).I'm amazed at how graphics intensive FU is considering it's age. I can really put my machine (1.3 GHz AMD 512Mb of primary and the afore-mentioned GeForce 4) through it's paces. As a software developer, I'd really like to know what machines Looking Glass had access to when they developed this sim :)-hoo

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Chris,"(don't worry..........Tom's on "vacation". I've got two weeks before I have to put the knives away)"Remember, Bob is on duty, and he is meaner than I am. There is nothing wrong with discussing what you like about FU... but this "my sim is better than your sim" nonsense is getting really old.

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Yeah, weather in FU is excellent. Even if I don't feel like flying in the rain, I always like to have clouds for the view as well as the effects.

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You mean this Bob is mean? I've never seen him use that emoticon before :-eek

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Tom,You really are rather touchy about this subject, aren't you ! Don't worry, I was only JOKING.Chris Low,ENGLAND.

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Chris and all, one thing I forgot to mention:If you add some haze you won't need a perfect view of far-away scenery. By tweaking the distance clipping you save CPU resources for the objects that you see rather than keeping the PC busy drawing perfect textures on the polygons that are out of sight. This was being mentioned in a previous post by someone and it may have a more positive effect on frame rates than the choice of resolution has.Hans Petter

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