I don’t actually know all of the best ways to make an apt.dat file. The format is new and we haven’t had a ton of time to performance test it. But here are some thoughts:
- One thing I know is…it is best to describe the shape you are using with the fewest number of nodes possible. In other words, let bezier curves do their thing, don’t add a ton of vertices to them. And please don’t add vertices to try to make the curves smoother. The best thing is to leave the layout simple and let X-Plane render it. In the future we will allow the user to set the level of smoothness based on his or her hardware. Adding more nodes will hurt quality – we will be able to pick better nodes at runtime than you can in the apt.dat file.
- Avoid overlapping large areas of pavement. Overlap is bad – it hurts framerate by requiring the graphics card to draw the same pixels over and over. As X-Plane supports more advanced shaders for nicer lighting, this cost will be a lot heavier on users.
- Ignoring overlap, the question of whether to have several smaller chunks of pavement vs. one large one is a difficult question. I would suggest moderation – try not to make too many individual pavement elements, but don’t make the entire element one giant pavement either. You may have to experiment to find the best framerate.