Best Practices for Creating 3-d Virtual Cockpits in X-Plane 10

The X-Plane panel and virtual cockpit system has grown organically over time while maintaining compatibility with older versions of the sim; one of the side affects of this growth is that the panel system has a number of confusing features.  This article describes how to create a 3-d cockpit using all of the most modern techniques, while ignoring older legacy features that are only in the sim for backward compatibility.

Things you should do:

  • Use the 3-d panel in Plane-Maker.  Plane-Maker’s panel editor has two panels to edit, a 2-d one and a 3-d one – this allows you to make a 2-d panel and build a separate 3-d panel for texturing.  For 3-d work, always use the 3-d panel, and put custom panel/instrument textures in the cockpit_3d folder of your aircraft.
  • Always use a power of 2 for your 3-d panel size.  Use 1024×1024 or 2048×1024.
  • Pack your 3-d panel tightly!  3-d panel space is particularly expensive performance-wise, so do not waste 3-d panel space!
  • Use one cockpit region that matches the size of your 3-d panel. For example, if you 3-d panel is 2048×1024, use one region in your OBJ.
  • Always use ATTR_cockpit_region 0 with that region mentioned above.
  • Use GLOBAL_cockpit_lit if needed to allow translucent alpha with the cockpit texture.

Things you should not do:

  • Do not use the 2-d panel for 3-d work.
  • Do not use ATTR_cockpit without GLOBAL_cockpit_lit.
  • Do not use a non-power-of-2 panel background.
  • Do not use multiple cockpit regions.
  • Do not use any of the -1 or -2 background lighting layers for your 3-d panel background; these are meant only for 2-d work.

 

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