If Your Icons Are Too Small

A few third party developers have noted that their X-Plane 11 aircraft icons are too small - that is, the size of the airplane in the icon square is tiny when using X-Plane's icon making function.

We use the bounding sphere of the aircraft to size the airplane, but it can be thrown off. In particular, the bounding sphere we use is the bounding sphere for drawing, but it is precomputed at load time, and therefore contains any mostly-hidden weird stuff on your aircraft.

If you've made a GPU cart or push-back truck OBJ and attached it to the ACF, the size of the airplane with the vehicle is being taken into account and it can make the airplane small.

It's actually a little bit worse - if the object is animated (so it can "drive") then we consider the animation track. If you have a translate whose end key frames are far from the aircraft, that can really change your bounding volume.

My suggestion: temporarily delete these objects from the aircraft file and then take the screenshot.

After 11.0 ships, I have a few ideas to make this better:

  1. We can use the aircraft's physics sphere to size the icon, which should be a lot more accurate and won't be fooled by ground trucks.
  2. Some day we'll have a new persistent OBJ API for plugins - when this happens, please migrate your ground vehicles to this system - there are real costs to having non-airplane objects on the airplane.

Don't Be That Guy

Finally, third party aircraft authors: please use our icon generator and don't just splat a screen-shot into the X-Plane 11 icons. The aircraft picker is going to look terrible if it turns into a tile grid of screenshots.

Our graphic designer spent a lot of time and care getting the presentation of the main aircraft picker to look good and be user-friendly; this includes balancing the relative brightness of the user interface elements, the icons, the airport list, etc.

If one third party vendor puts a screenshot into a v11 icon, it looks "louder" than all other aircraft. This tempts other third party developers to do the same thing and before we know it, we're going to have the ugliest flight picker ever.

If you are having trouble getting a clean icon screenshot of your aircraft, please let us know. Sometimes a complex third party aircraft has to have a few features turned off to make it work, but we are looking at fixing remaining bugs, etc.

(General tip: for best results, load the aircraft first, park it with engines on, then take the icon picture. In theory we can take the picture from the main menu, but in practice your plugin will be in a more 'normal' state if you go to the ramp first.)

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About Ben Supnik

Ben is a software engineer who works on X-Plane; he spends most of his days drinking coffee and swearing at the computer -- sometimes at the same time.
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13 Responses to If Your Icons Are Too Small

  1. x-alberto says:

    Speaking about the picker, is there a way to exclude from the list aircrafts that are not part of the "main" package? For example, we ship multiple configurations of the Tornado (with different weapons) in a subfloder. A user has to manually copy the specific configuraiton to the main folder (which is OK, I think), What does not look ok is that onw can directly select an acf from the subfolder (XP11 only) and it will not load.

    • Ben Supnik says:

      There is no great way to do this right now. The least bad thing I can think of is to have the modified .acf files have a fake suffix like .acf.txt to throw X-Plane off.

      I'll do a request-for-comments once we ship to get feedback on further enhancements of the aircraft picker; I've gotten all sorts of requests, and we need to gather them all up before we do a revision.

  2. RD says:

    Ben, the AI will only load aircrafts that are inside the Aircraft folder, right?
    What about an "AIaircraft" folder which we can save a TON of freeware to the use of traffic, but you don't see them in the picker?

    This sounds like a smart way to add variety to traffic without making a mess in the UI

    Thx

    • Ben Supnik says:

      This is the opposite of what I expected. Are you saying you have MANY planes for AI use but very few that YOU fly?
      Our expectation was that many third party planes would not fly well under the AI, so the goal would be to restrict what the AI can pick to what is known to work.

      • Marco O. says:

        Having aircrafts for exclusive AI use has a very good rationale. AI aircrafts have different requirements, namely they should minimize performance cost, and therefore have less visual detail, simplified flight model (i.e. as few wing parts as possible), no cockpit, etc.

        • Bruno says:

          Indeed. I think that's the idea behind the MTL libraries used for online flying on IVAO/VATSIM.

  3. x-alberto says:

    Did you intentionally miss the occasion to title "size matter"?

  4. Jay says:

    Hi Ben
    Sounds good.
    What news of the next beta?

  5. Rudolf Hardy says:

    I thought that distance to take picture was based on aircraft center position or door position using a parameter like wings length.

  6. viper says:

    Hi Ben
    Can you close the double-click the right mouse button function? It is very difficult to use!

  7. rcmarple says:

    Is there a way to generate an icon for a single livery - I don't think this is currently possible. Feature request please if there isn't a way...

  8. Andesron Lucas says:

    the JarDesign, put the screenshot... Its very ugly hahahahaha...
    Thanks for the advice!

Comments are closed.