As always, let us know your thoughts in the comments and if you have requests for other tutorials. I’m starting to get the hang of creating movies, and if you don’t troll me too hard about the quality I might make more. 😉
X-Plane 10.40 will have an option to load a larger local region of DSF scenery. For as long as I have been involved in X-Plane (back to X-Plane 6 as a user) the local scenery region was 3×2 tiles (each 1×1 degree in latitude and longitude). With this option, the region is 4×3.
What this gets us is the option for a longer viewing distance before we have to transition from the higher detail DSF scenery tiles to the lower resolution whole-planet render. In X-plane 10 the planet render actually has shape, but the resolution is low; if you see it up close, it does not look good.
Some fine print:
You will only be able to use this option in the 64-bit build of X-Plane. The 32-bit version does not have enough memory.
Combining extended DSFs with heavy third party scenery may be unacceptably slow. For example, Alpilotx was able to run extended DSFs with the HD meshes, but his computer has monstrous amounts of RAM (64 GB I think??). I’m pretty sure extending with the UHD meshes is a non-starter.
Load time shouldn’t be too bad; this change also includes a re-work of the DSF loader that takes better advantage of multi-core hardware. If you have a 4-core machine your DSF load time shouldn’t be worse, even with extended DSFs.
Here are two sets of pictures taken over the demo area at extreme res on my PC; this shows the interaction between atmospheric scattering and loading more DSFs. The camera is at about 30k feet.
The combination of pushing the transition to the planet “out” away from us and using scattering to remove color detail starts to get something that looks more like the real world.
Note that to get the match-up in the lower right, you must have Earth Orbit textures (which come with any full install) and you must be in extreme res or the planet starts to get fuzzier.
Here’s another set.
In the long long term, I expect the planet to improve in render quality (with at least a 2x boost in image quality, and perhaps better than that in mesh shape), and I expect scattering and other lighting to improve in quality.
I do not expect to further extend the DSF box beyond 4×3; I think that the planet can improve to further “bridge the gap.”
I’ve just uploaded some new videos to the official X-Plane YouTube video channel. These videos are screencast tutorials for airport authors to help them understand the ATC Airport Flow feature in X-Plane v10.
ATC Airport Flows are essentially a set of rules that control how the runways are used for airport operations. An airport like Chicago’s O’Hare (KORD) for example has 7 runways (14 different takeoff/landing directions)! ATC does not simply put aircraft wherever they feel like in the moment or there’d be a massive aluminum traffic jam. They have a set of rules that control which runway(s) are in active and inactive at any given time. These rules are typically based on two main criteria: weather conditions and time of day.
In the real world, at major airports, traffic studies are done to decide which runway combinations are most efficient for traffic flow, safety and workload and those combinations of runways become active when the conditions are just right.
Once the controller deems certain runways active/inactive for the current conditions, there are yet more rules to determine which types of aircraft use each of those runways. For example, if a small Pilatus is flying into KORD, I strongly doubt they’re going to block up their major runways for arrivals for a small single engine turbo prop. They’re likely to put him on a smaller accessory runway. Also consider some airports which only use certain runways for arrivals while other runways are only used for departures. This is often done for noise abatement or obstacle avoidance. These types of rules can be included in the ATC Airport Flow.
Our goal was to give authors enough granularity to closely mimic the way real airports are run so that when X-Plane’s ATC is in action, it’s towers can make similar decisions to the real controllers.
Well as I promised (11 months ago), here’s a tutorial on making ATC Taxi Networks in WorldEditor v1.2. Hopefully this clears up some misunderstandings about how the pieces of the system work and how they’re meant to be used. Perhaps the next video tutorial will be on creating Airport flows to teach ATC which runways get used for which operations.