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custom ground tiles should be photoscenery

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1,482
Much effort is expended by developers to create custom ground tiles around airports using bglcomp. We know that 7cm/pixel photoscenery looks great on the ground, but source images at lower res is usually all that's available. Lower res imagry is also small enough to distribute.

Something is different between the appearance of a decorated plane compiled thru bglcomp and the same area decorated using the same res image in resample. Perhaps its the noise filter suggested at devcon.

If whatever causes the appearance of a decorated plane to differ from replacement photoscenery could be removed as an option in resample, then the need for your tesselation, the need for the custom ground tweaks could be done away with. Non-flat ground imagry could be then provided users with nice apearance to the imagry from the ground.

Bob Bernstein
 
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Much effort is expended by developers to create custom ground tiles around airports using bglcomp. We know that 7cm/pixel photoscenery looks great on the ground, but source images at lower res is usually all that's available. Lower res imagry is also small enough to distribute.

Something is different between the appearance of a decorated plane compiled thru bglcomp and the same area decorated using the same res image in resample. Perhaps its the noise filter suggested at devcon.

If whatever causes the appearance of a decorated plane to differ from replacement photoscenery could be removed as an option in resample, then the need for your tesselation, the need for the custom ground tweaks could be done away with. Non-flat ground imagry could be then provided users with nice apearance to the imagry from the ground.

Bob Bernstein

Will you please document your workflows and provide some screenshots (notated or described) identifying specific differences you are experiencing? If not obvious, please specify which result is preferable.

-Doug
 
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1,482
Results

Doug, apologies, I made this claim once before and thought I'd shown that resample was still not as capable as putting a decorated poly in place. Its partly still true, but not for the reason I first thought.

I just finished a study...in which I placed the same source data as [1] resampled ground cover, and [2] a decorated poly using the fs2002 gamepack, and the asm code tweak from this site that removes shadow and sets a priority level for z.

I tracked the details quite carefully, but as it ends up, it hardly matters. the results are too simple to require all that.

Once complete, I found that the only difference between the two was that the decorated poly (fs2002 gamepace) was unaffected by the texture resolution slider.

Of course, this was PRECISELY the cause of my assuming there was a difference. In the hunt for frame rates, I'd decided to "settle" on 1m texture resolution. This resolution causes high res imagry to look bad close up, but doesn't have any impact on the decorated polygon.

When texture resolution was lowered to a point below the source resolution, there was negligable if any difference.

Live and learn. Sadly, developers can't at present control the users slider setting. Thus, resample style imagry cannot replace polygon images.

So, is there any way that the developer could use resample, create photoscenery, and for a small area...FORCE the users texture resolution to be 7cm or 60cm....that would then create the same affect as providing a ground polygon, and allow us to create ground completely within the current sdk rules.

This could be bgl specific, and for the "ground area" a separate bgl could contain the instruction to force display of high resultion overriding the users slider setting. In this way their main slider setting could control the remainder of their FS world.

Best,
Bob Bernstein
 
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Once complete, I found that the only difference between the two was that the decorated poly (fs2002 gamepace) was unaffected by the texture resolution slider.

Probably because FSX in considering that "legacy".

So, is there any way that the developer could use resample, create photoscenery, and for a small area...FORCE the users texture resolution to be 7cm or 60cm....that would then create the same affect as providing a ground polygon, and allow us to create ground completely within the current sdk rules.

This could be bgl specific, and for the "ground area" a separate bgl could contain the instruction to force display of high resultion overriding the users slider setting. In this way their main slider setting could control the remainder of their FS world.

I'll consider this to be the ask from this thread.

-Doug
 
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1,058
This was always going to be an issue, and we just haven't seen enough high resolution photo scenery to gauge the impact. The only other time I have to suggest 'recommended settings' is with the Global texture size, as I use 1024x textures most of the time. Every time I release a scenery, though, I spell this out with screenshots of settings etc, and this has worked well -- I still get the occasional complaint about blurry textures, but this is easily dealt with.

So this is just another area where the user needs to be educated. That's really the job of the installation manual. I wonder what percentage of users read scenery installation instructions? At Christmas I released my first FSX-only scenery, using 12cm resolution imagery, and just gave a recommended display setting in the readme. I've had one complaint asking why the scenery didn't look like my screenshots, out of 1500 downloads, but I guess there is no real way to gauge how many people are not getting the full benefit of my high res image.

People, surely, must be aware that the appearance of the scenery depends on the display settings? If not, then it is up to developers to spell this out with every release. Sooner or later everyone will get the idea...

If we were going to ask for the ability to force a specific setting, I'd vote for scenery shadows:) Nothing annoys me as much as seeing screenshots of my scenery on high-end systems, with shadows turned off. You may as well turn off the sun...
 
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Hi Toprob...perhaps you aren't following my intent.

My goal is to make it possible for scenery designers to obey the sdk rules, use only fsx sdk techniques, and still provide high resolution ground images as we currently do with the fs2002 polygon decoration technique documented in Arno's wiki. http://www.fsdeveloper.com/wiki/index.php?title=Ground_polygons_with_GMax

This is *not* a topic dealing with photorealistic imagry as seen from the air.

We can *never* expect a user to set texture resolution above what their hardware allows for general flying use.

This topic is only important for areas that developers intend their customers to drive on...taxiways, tarmac, the areas directly around airports, that we have used polygons for in the past. In the future, perhaps we could abandon polygons and rely on a unique form of photoreal. A small bgl of photoreal overlaid over the main scenery, the small portion forcing a 60cm or 7cm texture resolution regardless of the user setting.

That would then replicate the way the user perceives current top of the line payware airports (in which high res polygon display over lowerres photoreal).

Does that make better sense?

Bob
 
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arno

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Hi Bob,

This is *not* a topic dealing with photorealistic imagry as seen from the air.

We can *never* expect a user to set texture resolution above what their hardware allows for general flying use.

I am not sure if we should see this as different things. We only do that now because we needed a different technique before to get higher resolution at our airports.

Now that we can do it all with the same SDK, why would there be a difference between airport and other photo scenery? I don't think there is any. And it is the choice of the user what his does with his slider (and if he reduces some scenery quality). We just need to tell him what the consequences are and consider when we design that not everybody might run with everything maxed.
 
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Arno, ask yourself why designers use polygons for their airport ground? There is no reason except to FORCE the user to see high resolution imagry. The user doesn't have an option to not see the polygon in high resolution.

And why isn't this done with resample.exe? I now know...its not because there is anything different with resmaple.exe image resolution...its just that we can't force the user to see the high resolution.

If we could, then we could eliminate ground polys, avoid the constraint of flatness at the airports, and make totally fsx complient airports (at least with this feature in mind).

The net result of overriding slider settings here is just to replicate the current situation.

Bob
 
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1,058
My post was more a discussion on what we have now, rather than what I want in a future sim. To suggest that a user sets a certain minimum level in this case isn't that bad a thing -- on my low-end system I don't really notice much performance dip through the range of resolution settings. And if someone pays money for quality addon scenery, it would make sense for them to do some work towards getting the best experience from it.

I do have my own ideas on how we should deal with photo scenery both large-scale and localised to the airport. I would certainly support the ability to flick a switch in my BGL to constrain the display resolution, but suggesting this as a solution doesn't solve the main problem I have, not being able to define photo runways etc. It makes sense to me to be able to define photo polys over the top of everything else, but not at the expense of the ability to follow the mesh.
So a couple of solutions are:
To be able to apply our own textures to airport surfaces, including layers, but not be constrained to flat surfaces; or
To have the current ability to apply mesh-clinging photo scenery at different resolutions for different results, but be able to define the airport surfaces without a visible default surface showing up.

My main wish-list (and that of a lot of users, from what they constantly ask for), if you haven't figured it out, is this:
1. No more flat airports -- this negates all the lovely high resolution meshes we have access to now;
2. The ability to define EVERYTHING as photo scenery, at any resolution.
 
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