Here’s a quick round-up on the state of scenery tools, as of 10.21 release candidates…
WED: WorldEditor 1.2 beta 2 is “in the can” and should be posted tonight. I’ll post more about the changes for beta 2 in another post, but beta 2 should fix any major beta bugs that were stopping people from getting work done, and opens up the path to submit airport buildings to Robin for collection in the global database.
MeshTool: I have a few bug fixes for MeshTool 2.0 and will cut a MeshTool 2.1 patch probably in the next week. If you use MeshTool 2.0 and woud like to test the patches now, let me know. The MeshTool 2.x builds will build v9-style DSFs, compatible with X-Plane 9 or 10.
I now have a prototype of MeshTool 3.0, which will produce X-Plane 10-style DSFs (E.g. with X-Plane 10 landclasses/terrain, and the X-Plane 10 DEM-in-DSF style storage). I am working on the XES files authors will need.
Note that having a prototype is a long way from having a stable beta; in particular, X-Plane 10’s new DEM system has never been tested with really huge DEMs – there could be significant bugs before MeshTool 3.x is ready to go.
The script format for MeshTool 2.1 and 3.x are the same, so you can easily create a MeshTool project and cut your scenery twice, once targeting X-Plane 9 and once targeting X-Plane 10.
Blender 2.49: I uploaded my patches to Jonathan’s scripts to GitHub – that “v10scenery” branch actually works for airplanes too and contains:
- Jonathan’s original work and
- Ben Russell’s manipulator exporter and
- Ondrej’s manipulator exporter for 2.49 and
- All of my modifications to support new v10 attributes and other stuff.
The idea is to have a unified Blender 2.49 script that is totally v10 ready and can directly export older projects.
Blender 2.6x: I also submitted a patch or two to Ondrej’s Blender 2.6x scripts, found here. I think that with their current status and those bug fixes, they should be totally usable for aircraft development.
A comment about Blender: I know that some of you have tried to use Blender 2.49 and were absolutely horrified. I have heard plenty of authors absolutely refuse to touch Blender 2.49, and I do not blame you at all.*
Blender 2.6 is different. The UI is completely redone and it is significantly less astonishingly weird. I was able to install Ondrej’s scripts, build an object, animate it, add lights, and export it using the user manual only to install the scripts; everything else I was able to do with a few good guesses about how the program might work. That’s a huge step forward from Blender 2.49 in terms of usability.
So I think Blender 2.6 with X-Plane export has the potential to be a really good intermediate modeling program for authors. It has all of the power tools you need in a 3-d editor (solid UV unwrapping, visual key-frame animation, non-destructive editing), and if you really become an expert, the hard core features are there (e.g. render baking), so you won’t have to change editors later.
The X-Plane integration is really clean too. Unlike Blender 2.49, Blender 2.6 allows plugin scripts to augment the core user interface, which is exactly what Ondrej has done. The result is that custom X-Plane properties are visible directly in the main UI with your editing properties. This makes full editing of X-Plane features straightforward.
So I believe that my next scenery-tools step (besides running out the betas for WED and MeshTool) will be to submit a few more patches for the Blender 2.6 scripts, to bring in direct support for some of the v10 scenery features. I think these changes should be straightforward, as it’s basically “more attributes, more check boxes”.
(I think the 2.6 scripts are not yet ready for major intensive X-Plane 10 scenery development – we need to get a few key v10 attributes in to allow authors to get maximum performance from their scenery packs. These attributes are not important for airplanes.)
* When I first started using Blender 2.49 to support our internal team, I basically had to have Propsman on the phone for a few hours going “click this box, now hit the space bar” and me going “what?!! seriously?! what the @#$@# did that button do!??!” In other words, Blender 2.49 is totally usable…as long as you have an experienced modeler to use it for you!
(I will say this though: once you overcome the Blender 2.49 learning curve, which takes about six months (!) the actual key strokes to use it are super-fast and efficient, which is why I think very experienced 2.49 modelers tend to look at 2.6 and go “who cares”?)