My previous post describes some of the new tech behind the airport system. It’s important to remember that we can provide a single “lego brick” in the airport system that places multiple OBJs (e.g. an .agp scene or a .fac facade with attached objects), and it’s also important to remember that simple OBJs are reasonably fast in X-Plane 10, so using a bunch of small, simple objects can be a win.
With that in mind, our current plan for gates and jetways is:
- Provide a lego brick to create a parking spot. This lego brick would be located at the same place and heading as the apt.dat start location – it would be an .agp mini-scene that would bring in the ground markings (via an OBJ with draped geometry) as well as any other nearby equipment that we want to populate and align relative to the airplane.
- Provide a lego brick jetway that has an anchor point on the terminal facade wall. The jetway will be static in 10.0 – we’ll address animation in a patch.
- Provide wall type rules that control where there are (and are not) windows, so that you can ensure that there aren’t windows underneath the jetway.
Thus, placing each gate in WED should be three clicks: jetway, ramp start, parking scene. The ramp start and parking scene will be colocated. (We could probably create a function in WED to make ramp starts for every parking scene to make this even easier.)
The jetways will align with the facades by locating the point location of the OBJ (that is, the single point where you tell X-Plane to put the OBJ) with a point on the facade wall. First, you’ll split the facade wall at the point where the jetway belongs, then you’ll place the OBJ.
Why split the wall? Splitting the wall guarantees there won’t be windows underneath the jetway. The facade wall definitions are set up to have non-glass at the end of each side. so by dividing a side in half (for example), you ensure that there will be a few meters of non-glass right where you need them. The art definitions will be set up to ensure at least enough “jetway-friendly” wall for half a jetway on either side of a segment.
We considered attaching the jetways and parking scenes directly to the facade wall, so placing a facade terminal would “auto-gen” the parking spots, but ultimately we rejected this for a few reasons:
- The facades can’t spawn ramp starts – you’d have to place those by hand anyway.
- The ramp starts might not align very well with the facade, which would look bad.
- Users who fly online or care about realism care about having real-world gate locations. Autogen gates and jetways wouldn’t provide enough precision.
- We looked at a number of proposals to autogen gates with exact precision but they were all insanely complicated.