TS 2014 is "route-based" and not "world-based" like the FSX engine.
That means TS 2014 could be "re-engined" to the UE-style engine relatively easily.
A full-fledged world simulator like FSX, not so much. . FPS engines just are not a realistic option for a world simulator.
The fact that Aerosoft investigated and discarded multiple FPS engines should serve as a proof-point, but I see people still get impressed by rendering technology and don’t think about either the world rendering requirement or the simulation aspect behind an FS-style engine that performs full-world simulation.
So let’s get concrete for a second:
Rendering limits, range:
UE3 and the UDK had a 10kx10x10k limit to terrain, and I quote:
Unreal Engine 3 supports a maximum world size of 512k x 512k (524288 x 524288) Unreal Units. This is equivalent to approximately 10 kilometers squared of area using the default engine unit conversion of 1 UU = 2 cm (10km x 10km).
For those who don’t want to read documentation, UU=Unreal Unit. As we move to considering UE4 engine limitations, the use of UUs to describe size limitations will persist.
Clearly, UE3 just won’t work for full world rendering without a source code license and a lot of custom streaming code. Hire a good dev.
Rendering limits, range:
World Browser does have some “streaming” capability, so it goes beyond the 10kmx10km extent limit of UE3.
However, without implementing your tiling system, the default size is still small
Forum posts state world size is on the order of half the total magnitude available, eg 5kx5k.
Another thing to consider is the default UE tiling system is an infinite plane, so there is no curvature.
So you still need source code access ( cheaper now so more possible ) and a dev to write some world streaming code that conforms to loading DEM at multiple resolutions, stitches this transparently at DEM boundaries and across a world geodetic sphere definition with curvature. Hmmm, I think I know an engine that already does that.
Oh, wait. This ignores the fact that outside of low-resolution DEM data, the high-res data is a national asset and you need an interlocking set of data agreements to get "seamless" world coverage.
Oh, and wait. "Seamless" from a business development perspective means getting all the data. At the best resolution at a price point that maps to studio profitability.
Rendering-style "seamless" is different. The wizards in the Geo-team write tools that sweep the raw data, condition it where there are errors ( and if you think the published errors of spikes and holes are hysterical you should see what the data looks like before we condition it ) and export it at a data-density that respects commercially viable storage/download media/rates for most of us. Then the terrain programmer-wizard needs an oct-tree based engine that understands DEM resolution per tile, tile boundaries, level of detail, terrain texture generation, etc to stitch that all together visually in a way that from any altitude above 500 foot, the terrain looks good.
Yeah, 500 ft of altitude.
Thinking about that relative to UE4, the heightmap format has a severe limitation for our purposes, eg :
These values are divided by 128 internally, and then multiplied by the Landscape's Z scale (default 256). This means that by default, a value of 32769 (i.e. +1) is 2 units (cm) above the Actor location, and the maximum range of heights is -655.36m to +655.34m.
655 meters = ~400 feet. That is the height of the largest terrain feature.
Dead Sea to Everest spans -1300 feet below MSL to 29,029 feet above MSL.
That’s 30,329 feet of range, so you need the full 16 bits devoted to the range unmapped. And thats ignoring if you actually want to do accurate seafloors. Marianas Trench is how deep?
That is not FS altitude, which will take you to 1,000,000 ft above the planet or approx 200 miles.
Here is another one to consider:
World Coordinates and Terrain Movement:
UE4 offers “player-centered” movement where the world moves and the player stays at 0,0,0
That doesn't square with WGS84, GPS, etc.
So from this, all should see that simple use of an “engine” like UE, Crytek, etc isn’t enough.
Ignoring the issue of rendering range and if an engine could actually deliver a consistent 200milex200milex200mile rendering box, and seamlessly stream it at all altitudes – would it do it using the WGS84 coordinate system so that GPS navigation and other desirable features just work?
Not today Zurg.
And we haven’t gotten to a feature set like:
· Gauge system designed to deliver gauge data at something approximating real world frequencies ( read 1s or sub second accuracy )
· Cockpit rendering, either 2D or 3D.
· accurate 10,000 star starfield that enables shooting a sextant out of any plane and doing hand navigation, phases of the moon, tides, time of day, terrain shadows.
· real world weather stations,
· world airport database including ICAO, bush fields, etc
· auto-gen airport provisioning and rendering for 24,000 airports located geographically precise on a WGS84 Earth globe.
· ATC, taxi, tower experience, airport experience, etc
· AI traffic for auto, 3 types of boats ( military, commercial, small craft ), and 3 types of air traffic ( military, commercial, private ) synced to real world data.
· "work" systems like catapults, arresting gear, and hoists.
· Wing, engine, and flight dynamics simulation for fixed wing ( prop, turboprob, jet) and rotary wing aircraft ( helicopters )
· 5 season autogeneration of terrain textures using a continental landclass system
· water rendering, including ocean, river, lake using a water class system
· auto-generation of city-scapes, forests, and other terrain features using real-world density data
· Expandability for aircraft, terrain, textures, photo-scenery, etc as well as programmatic add-ons via the SimConnect interface.
· And more I cannot remember since its been since October 2008.
As cool as UE4 is, and it’s pretty damned cool, it isn’t going to cut it for FS11.