Update: the comments form is fixed – sorry about that!
I’ve been working a bit on scenery tools this week. Here’s a road map of some of what’s coming up.
WED and the X-Plane Scenery Gateway
We are working on a release of the latest scenery gateway airports for X-Plane 10.45. Like all releases, we’ve found problems with airports that WED does not detect. So I will try to release a new version of WED with stricter validation soon.
Airport Parking Spots
Austin is working on new code to place static aircraft at unused ramp parking spots. I’l describe this in more detail in another post, but here are some key points:
- As an airport author, you simply place ramp starts, not static aircraft.
- X-Plane will feature some new static aircraft in the update.
- Third parties can further add to the static aircraft and have them be used via the library system.
- There will be a revision to the apt.dat format that stores more data per ramp spot and a WED update to support this new data.
- Since there may be scenery now with static aircraft on top of ramp starts*, we will auto-remove static aircraft from ramp starts in the gateway export as a temporary measure until authors can resolve the situation and post the fixes to the gateway.
- We are not removing the old static aircraft from the library, but we will be hiding them from WED’s library so that authors use ramp starts instead of placing them by hand.
Static aircraft in parking spots will ship next year, not this year, but is planned as a v10 update.
Scenery Tools on OS X
I made significant progress this week porting WED for OS X to 64-bit and modern Mac APIs. This effort basically meant rewriting the OS-level UI code in WED to be new AppKit based calls instead of the old Carbon API.
What this means is that developers will be able to build all of the scenery tools on a modern Mac running Yosemite or El Capitan with X-Code 7. Since Chris has already updated the projects to compiled WED in MSVC, a developer can build all of the common scenery tools from the most widely used open source IDEs.
It also brings us closer to a 64-bit WED on Mac, which is desperately needed since OS X provides the least amount of usable address space to 32-bit apps. I am not sure of the 64-bit status of the Windows WED build; it may need more work on the libraries.
Will It Blend
This might be the most significant scenery tools development: we’ve been working with Ondrej (der-On on Git-Hub) on new features for the Blender 2.7 exporter. This will include:
- Much better animation support. Complete WYSIWYG animation of data blocks and bones, with no work-arounds needed. Bone animations match Blender 2.49 so you can move your projects forward.
- Modernized material support including instancing for a really clean work-flow that takes advantage of X-Plane 10’s features.
- Updates for the latest OBJ features.
- Our plan is to create a migration script to bring 2.49 projects into 2.7, converting the special tags used for an X-Plane 2.49 export into 2.7.
Many of our artists still use 2.49, but there’s no question that 2.49’s days are numbered. It’s a question of when it stops working on OS X, not if. With the migration step, we can move our projects forward without artists having to redo work.
Like the previous 2.7 exporter, this one is open source and will be free, and should be able to export existing 2.7-type projects with no modifications – we are trying to maintain full backward compatibility.
* This situation is slightly silly – if the user picks the ramp start to fly, the user will be on top of a static aircraft.