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Christopher Low

The FLED Empire Strikes Back

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Well, it seems that the FLED bug has bitten me again....hard. After releasing Seattle 2003 and SanFran 2003, I am now preparing to make more significant modifications to God knows how many airfields and scenery packages. As an example, that freezing problem just after take-off or landing near San Francisco really annoys me, mainly because I want to use my Angel Island package without the freeze time increasing from one second to over five seconds. I have decided that this calls for drastic action.The size of the Angel Island package is 326k. That means that I need to shave roughly that amount off other packages in the immediate area, and this is how I think that I'm going to do it:-Delete BUENA VISTA PARK package (35k)Delete COIT TOWER package (9k)Delete MOUNTAIN LAKE package (37k)Delete LAKE MERRITT package (52k)Delete STRAWBERRY POINT package (49k)Reduce the size of the PRESIDIO package from 253k to 170k (83k)Reduce the size of the MARIN HEADLANDS package from 192k to 130k (62k)This removes a total of 327k, which will allow me to include my Angel Island package without a loss of performance. Does this sound like a good idea to everyone ? The packages that I am intending to delete are not particularly important to the scenery in the area, since there are still plenty of packages staying put :-)In addition to this, I am making extensive modifications to a huge number of airfield packages, including some where tree planting has clearly become rather ridiculous. These are the ones which have trees spread over too wide an area, resulting in a bland, lifeless scenery package. These include the following:-LEISURELAND AIRPARK....all of those trees around the lake have already been removed (cut down entirely by hand last night):-eek They will be replaced by some new trees close to the airfield (to make the tree density greater and more realistic), clusters of trees around three or four buildings in the area, and a scattering of trees along the eastern shore of the lake (beneath the final approach path to runway 08). The animated sailboat may be removed, together with the jetty. A few static sailboats will probably remain near the shore.RANGER CREEK....Some of the outlying trees need to be removed, and more trees added closer in....providing more of a scary final approach :-)EASTON STATE....Once again, there are far too many trees spread far and wide, with a consequent loss of structure. Lots of trees will be removed, including those near the small lake to the west (plus the animated sailboat). The final package will have a denser feel to it, with less trees but a better overall structure, including a small cluster of trees around the house and car near the large lake. This one is going to take some time, but it has to be done.BLUE RIBBON is going to be completely rebuilt, two airfields will be deleted (MAZZA RANCH and FLYING H RANCH), and two older scenery packages are also biting the dust (PORT GAMBLE and BELVEDERE ISLAND). Over twenty five other airfields are going to be modified to a greater or lesser extent (some simply with logs to mark the runway, but others will be getting more extensive upgrades like more trees, new parking areas, fencing, fuel tanks, and hangars). It is quite possible that I will be able to delete all of the dotted line runways and parking areas after this extensive modernisation program is complete.I hope to be able to "flatten" the runways at AUBURN ACADEMY and INGLENOOK RANCH, although this is something that I am unlikely to be able to include in any released package.I have also deleted the APEXMARTHAHARVEY package. This was one of the first packages that I started developing, and the reason for the combination of airfields was simply because I thought that there was a PACKAGES limit at the time. I quickly realised that it was the AIRPORT ICONS that had a limit, so this anomaly was never repeated. However, it has always looked "ugly" to me, so I recently decided to rebuild the three airfield packages separately (APEX AIRPARK, MARTHA LAKE and HARVEY FIELD). These have now been completed, so I can concentrate on the minefield mentioned above :-)Finally, I will also be including all of the tweaks and modifications that I have made to AI pathways, parking spots, and taxiways to various airports and airfields in both high resolution scenery regions (this currently stands at 20). Some of these are virtually imperceptible tweaks that are unlikely to be noticed, but other modifications are more obvious (like the improved taxiway section near the runway 26 threshold at Sonoma Skypark).Anyway, I just wanted to inform you that you have something to look forward to after you have become bored of Jon's Dash 8 and Ansgar's new 747 this summer :-lolChris Low,ENGLAND.

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Well, I decided to trash my existing Easton State package, and start from scratch. I have added the trees around the airfield, but it still looks a bit lifeless. I think the problem is that surrounding an airfield with lots of trees just doesn't look as good as carefully selecting each planting location. Another aspect that doesn't help is the low resolution of the terrain textures around some airfields. Easton State is a good example, but others include Ranger Creek, Skykomish State, and Bergseth Field. In fact, these low resolution textures are the main reason why I have disposed of my Flying H Ranch package. The trees and other objects just seem to disappear into the low resolution background when viewed from the air, and the entire scene is rather ugly (in my opinion).A good example of a nice location to add trees is Harvey Field. The textures around this airfield are higher resolution than those at Easton State, and the terrain is a mixture of fields and groups of trees. This means that trees have been added in specific locations, resulting in a mixture of single trees, small groups of trees, and lines of trees (simulating some kind of hedge). This makes everything look more natural, and therefore realistic.I suppose that I will just have to accept that some airfields are going to look inferior to others.With respect to removing some packages so that the ANGEL ISLAND package can be used with minimal loss of performance, do you think that I should keep them, and simply let the user decide what they would like to do ? I suppose that it makes some sense, although it would require some kind of explanation in the text file. It's just that it took me some time to add all of those trees and other objects to the Angel Island package, and I would like others to be able to experience this "work of art" :-lol Removing the packages that I mentioned (and trimming the other two) would enable everyone to install it without affecting the "take-off and landing freeze problem" to any great extent.Chris Low.

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Well, it seems that adding logs to these airfields isn't going to be quite as straightforward as I had assumed. The relatively flat airfields aren't a problem, but those with slopes result in logs sticking out of the ground very unrealistically ! I have decided that I would rather not have any logs at all than ones that look stupid, so these airfields will not be getting the "logs" upgrade. Consequently, if anyone else knows of any other models or markers that I can use for these other airfields, then please let me know. Even better would be one or two screenshots showing some of these alternatives in place.The airfields that I have added logs to so far are Aero Plaza (including a log defined parking area), Asplund Field, and Blue Ribbon (a completely new version of this airfield; I didn't really like the other one). Bergseth Field and Black Diamond are two airfields that will not be getting any logs.I have managed to cut down over 300 trees in the Marin Headlands scenery package (SanFran region), which has reduced the size of the package by more than 50k. This marginally improves the "freezing" problem, which gives you some idea of just how many trees there are in the San Francisco Bay area ! One or two buildings have been deleted in the Presidio package, but I will not be doing any extensive "tree felling".Talking of freezes, I noticed that there is quite a serious one at McChord AFB in the Seattle scenery region. This amounts to something like five seconds, but I am puzzled why this occurs. The amount of trees in this area is only a fraction of that in the San Francisoc Bay area, so this is a bit of a mystery. I would be interested to hear of any possible theories........Chris Low,ENGLAND.

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Here's an idea that I'd like to implement in London, UK:As you may know, I'm working with Rob Driscoll on making the London City airport come alive. The question is (as always), what can we add without running into frame rate problems? We could add buildings, skyscrapers, trees, cranes, boats etc in all directions. Rob has custom-made models for the most prominent buildings and we're certainly going to use all of those.I was thinking, how about a general "heavy" package for the entire city, adding more details for those with powerful PCs? Then we could put extra buildings and trees in this one and make it run in tandem with the basic packages of the same area. Those who are able to take the full set of packages will keep it all and those who can't will simply avoid the heavy enhancement package. By doing it this way it will be a clean choice of (de)selecting packages rather than having to prune the main packages to get decent frame rates. best regards,Hans Petter

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Chris,For a marker, have a look at my last model collection upload. There's a 'chocky block' in there ;) It's 'universal' RGB with no mipfile so it can be used anywhere.:-waveJon Point*************************(effyouthree@hotmail.com)*************************

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Jon,How BIG is this marker ? It needs to be something that can be seen on final approach. Obviously, I do not expect to be able to see the model from a couple of miles, but the main target with my current project is to make all of the grass strips clearly visible before touchdown. Trying to anticipate where the dotted lines are can be a nightmare....and they don't appear until after I have landed.Chris Low,ENGLAND.

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