X-Plane 10.40 will have an option to load a larger local region of DSF scenery. For as long as I have been involved in X-Plane (back to X-Plane 6 as a user) the local scenery region was 3x2 tiles (each 1x1 degree in latitude and longitude). With this option, the region is 4x3.
What this gets us is the option for a longer viewing distance before we have to transition from the higher detail DSF scenery tiles to the lower resolution whole-planet render. In X-plane 10 the planet render actually has shape, but the resolution is low; if you see it up close, it does not look good.
Some fine print:
- You will only be able to use this option in the 64-bit build of X-Plane. The 32-bit version does not have enough memory.
- Combining extended DSFs with heavy third party scenery may be unacceptably slow. For example, Alpilotx was able to run extended DSFs with the HD meshes, but his computer has monstrous amounts of RAM (64 GB I think??). I'm pretty sure extending with the UHD meshes is a non-starter.
- Load time shouldn't be too bad; this change also includes a re-work of the DSF loader that takes better advantage of multi-core hardware. If you have a 4-core machine your DSF load time shouldn't be worse, even with extended DSFs.
Here are two sets of pictures taken over the demo area at extreme res on my PC; this shows the interaction between atmospheric scattering and loading more DSFs. The camera is at about 30k feet.
The combination of pushing the transition to the planet "out" away from us and using scattering to remove color detail starts to get something that looks more like the real world.
Note that to get the match-up in the lower right, you must have Earth Orbit textures (which come with any full install) and you must be in extreme res or the planet starts to get fuzzier.
Here's another set.
In the long long term, I expect the planet to improve in render quality (with at least a 2x boost in image quality, and perhaps better than that in mesh shape), and I expect scattering and other lighting to improve in quality.
I do not expect to further extend the DSF box beyond 4x3; I think that the planet can improve to further "bridge the gap."