Last year with X-Plane 10.25 we began to share 3-d lego brick airports. X-Plane 10.30 adds more, and with the X-Plane Airport Gateway now live, I’m sure we’ll have even more 3-d airports in the next update.
One thing this means: conflicts between payware airports and the global airports that ship with X-Plane will become the norm, not the exception. This blog post describes how to keep payware and the global airports from getting into each other’s hair.
Prioritization of Scenery Packs
X-Plane scenery packs are loaded in priority order; in order to ensure that you see your payware, the payware must be higher priority than the global airports. The system for prioritizing scenery packs changed in X-Plane 10.20, so please read this carefully!
Scenery packs in “Custom Scenery” are loaded in the order of scenery_packs.ini. Custom scenery packs at the top of the .ini file are loaded first and override packs below them.*
Any time X-Plane runs and finds a scenery pack not in the .ini, it adds it to the top of the file; therefore when you install new scenery, it starts at the highest priority level. Usually this is what you want.
The airports from the X-Plane Airport Gateway are in a scenery pack called “Global Airports” in your custom scenery – this pack should be higher priority than any base meshes but lower priority than any custom airports.
Exclusion Zones Are Needed
The runway and taxiway data for an airport comes from the highest priority scenery pack that includes that airport in its apt.dat. But 3-d objects are overlaid in an additive manner; in order to avoid conflicts between two sets of 3-d objects, the higher priority scenery pack must include one or more _exclusion zones_.
An exclusion zone is a rectangle in an overlay DSF that tells X-Plane to remove any 3-d in that area from lower priority packs. It lets an author “clean out” an area for later use.
Authors: all custom airports should be built with exclusion zones to protect them from other custom airports and the global airports that ship with X-Plane. If you are working on an airport and there is no 3-d in X-Plane, include an exclusion zone anyway – 3-d may appear in an update.
Users: if you have a custom airport and it does not have exclusion zones, all is not lost. Until the author updates the custom airport, you can do the following:
- Build a scenery pack that contains _only_ an exclusion zone over the affected area in WED yourself.
- Prioritize your scenery packs as follows:
- Payware – unmodified
- Your own “Exclusion zone”
- Global Airports – unmodified
Your exclusion zone pack will filter out 3-d from packs “below” it (including the global airports) and leave your payware clean and unobstructed.
Things Not To Do
There are a few things I strongly recommend you _not_ do in trying to resolve scenery conflicts:
- Don’t modify, rename or delete the scenery packs that come with X-Plane. The updater is just going to try to restore them every time there is an update. You’ll be pushing the rock up the hill over and over again. Don’t delete individual airports out of Global Airports – the installer will just put them back.
- Don’t constantly delete scenery_packs.ini. Some users have told me that they like to rename their folders to alphabetical, delete the .ini file and let it rebuild each time. But this violates the renaming rule and means updates won’t go well. Edit the .ini file to get things the way you want – it’s there for you to customize.
* Why did we pick this? The old way of customizing scenery packs (renaming them) didn’t work well with our updater – the updater would see the scenery pack (under its original name) gone and re-download the pack, wasting time, bandwidth, and creation chaos in the custom scenery folder. The scenery_packs.ini file lets users disable and re-prioritize scenery packs without having to rename anything.