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Microsoft Flight Simulator returns to the skies

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Re: Microsoft Flight Simulator returns to the skies

Postby montagdude » Mon Aug 17, 2020 2:59 pm

erik wrote in Mon Aug 17, 2020 7:19 am:Now that you mention it, I hadn't considered all those features. It is in fact an impressive list which most FlightGear users take for granted by now.

I was looking at the scenery because FligthGear is indeed a bit behind in that area. But there too are promising ideas which hopefully at some point will be available.

Erik

Sorry, I had to laugh at that one. We're light-years behind in scenery development, and I say that as a hobbyist scenery developer for FlightGear myself. Scenery is the feature of the new MSFS that makes it so exciting/revolutionary. I don't say that as a criticism; we just don't have nearly the resources they do. While that scenery is mouth-watering, in the end it still is just scenery, and there are a lot of other things that go into the sim experience. As has been said, FlightGear is right up there with the best sims in many of those other areas.
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Re: Microsoft Flight Simulator returns to the skies

Postby wlbragg » Mon Aug 17, 2020 6:32 pm

While it's tempting to see MSFS graphical features as having been "inspired" by FlightGear,

I wasn't necessarily referring to graphics as much as the key points of features they advertise. Graphics being one we don't compete in because of money and professional man hours invested. I'm more referring to the tangible things we advertise when we talk about FlightGear compared to other simulator. Real world data, weather, wind patterns from land and clouds, FDM fidelity, accessibility. The animals (birds), a rainbow or lightning , things like that also might be something you saw crudely developed on FlightGear or some other sim that is advertised and noticed.
I saw a video of MSFS highlighting the wind patterns cause by the wind going through a city of large buildings or mountains and valleys. Enough to believe they actually modeled those patterns and cause and effects. To what detail? There have been reviews specifically talking about the FDM, we may find they took the time to do it right and it may be at the top of the industry standards. I'm sure in time we'll find out more about these things and what their grade card looks like in these areas.
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Re: Microsoft Flight Simulator returns to the skies

Postby V12 » Mon Aug 17, 2020 8:07 pm

wlbragg wrote in Mon Aug 17, 2020 6:32 pm:Graphics being one we don't compete in because of money and professional man hours invested.

Check freeware Terra Emergence project for FSX / P3D. This is one man show, but perfect :

Image

Image

Image

More screenshots at https://aleclercqcreations.blogspot.com ... oject.html
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Re: Microsoft Flight Simulator returns to the skies

Postby montagdude » Mon Aug 17, 2020 8:22 pm

V12 wrote in Mon Aug 17, 2020 8:07 pm:
wlbragg wrote in Mon Aug 17, 2020 6:32 pm:Graphics being one we don't compete in because of money and professional man hours invested.

Check freeware Terra Emergence project for FSX / P3D. This is one man show, but perfect :

More screenshots at https://aleclercqcreations.blogspot.com ... oject.html
I'd be interested to see what it looks like down low and in urban areas. All I see are mountainous shots from high altitude. Not to take anything away from his work, but that's the "easy" part of photoscenery. MS is doing a lot of other, more complicated stuff to make it look right in all conditions. Specifically, turning vegetation and buildings from the photos into actual 3D objects, and I'm sure doing something to adjust for different lighting and weather.
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Re: Microsoft Flight Simulator returns to the skies

Postby V12 » Mon Aug 17, 2020 9:16 pm

Terra Emergence is not photoscenery. Check this video, contains low level flight :

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Re: Microsoft Flight Simulator returns to the skies

Postby Parnikkapore » Tue Aug 18, 2020 6:27 am

I think this gives good perspective to how the "professional" look is constructed. The landing portion looks very similar to FG, but simply with manually placed trees and photoscenery texture.

I'm mostly curious about how stuff like ORBX can look good even without manual tweaking effort. You can make anything look good with enough effort. (...effort that is kind of lacking in the FG world)

EDIT: Yeah, Terra Emergence is a shader & texture pack apparently. I'm surprised something like that is even possible - it might be something worth picking apart. Total disrespect of real-life features and recreating the city grid from scratch, I'd presume.
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Re: Microsoft Flight Simulator returns to the skies

Postby erik » Tue Aug 18, 2020 7:17 am

stuart wrote in Mon Aug 17, 2020 2:46 pm:@erik - we can also render gazillions of trees. You just need the graphics card for it.

Form what I understand the way FligthGear renders trees is suboptimal. So there coul be improvement there, I just don't know how much code refactoring that takes.
stuart wrote in Mon Aug 17, 2020 2:46 pm:While it's tempting to see MSFS graphical features as having been "inspired" by FlightGear, i think it's more likely that they were "inspired" by simply looking around the world. Just because we implemented them first doesn't mean the MSFS developers were going through FlightGear as part of their product definition.

I think it's safe to say that even Microsoft looks at competitive products to see where they are lacking and to see how particular features work out when implemented. Let's face it, we do it too.

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Re: Microsoft Flight Simulator returns to the skies

Postby erik » Tue Aug 18, 2020 7:19 am

montagdude wrote in Mon Aug 17, 2020 2:59 pm:
erik wrote in Mon Aug 17, 2020 7:19 am:I was looking at the scenery because FligthGear is indeed a bit behind in that area. But there too are promising ideas which hopefully at some point will be available.

Sorry, I had to laugh at that one. We're light-years behind in scenery development, and I say that as a hobbyist scenery developer for FlightGear myself.

We are, because we take the hard route which in the end will be better than just slamming some photo's to a mesh. It just takes way more time.

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Re: Microsoft Flight Simulator returns to the skies

Postby Hooray » Tue Aug 18, 2020 8:40 am

FWIW, MSFS requires an internet connection (DSL/cable) to fetch all the imagery and geo data.

While we don't have access to such data like google or bing have (at least not under the GPL), there's the option to use osgEarth based imagery.
And that, too, can look rather compelling under certain circumstances, especially in conjunction with OSM vector data or procedurally generated building (autogen).

The "black box" nature of osgEarth makes it not too attractive for people interested in scenery development, but given all the progress in the canvas/compositor areas, it might even become possible to also use a hybrid approach and procedurally "mix" different textures at runtime, using a number of different effects/shaders to make certain "layers" more prominent, and others less so.

With all the advances in CPU and GPU computing it would even be possible to procedurally remove problematic image artifacts (think shadows, cloud layers, actual ground traffic etc) - that's the sort of thing that neural networks can do rather easily.

Basically, we have most of the building blocks in place to pull this off, it's not just being prioritized by anyone as far as I can see. And to be honest, I am finding the increasing tendency to require people to be online to use a piece of software rather problematic - Thorsten and others have repeatedly highlighted how they'd like FlightGear to remain functional even without an internet connection, and that's actual a very valid concern - we are already approaching a situation where more and more key functionality is added with implicit requirements in mind, such as UI functionality that requires a toolkit that other core developers requested to remain optional, or package manager/catalog and hangar systems that are becoming the primary means to download/install and deploy fgdata assets like aircraft and scenery.

In a way, FlightGear is becoming increasingly reliant on external infrastructure, which is a pity given that people can download old versions and build/run those, but newer versions have so many implicit requirements, where features are tied to external data sources/providers, that we're beginning to sacrifice more and more freedoms.

Especially in the Canvas/MFD department, it's now very easy to use external chart providers, so that more and more Canvas based avionics are actually using this method, without providing a fallback. This all started originally when we hard-coded things like the METAR URL.

Technically, this isn't necessary - i.e. the Canvas system is perfectly capable to render its own STG/BTG based charts to an FBO/RTT using code that's been available in atlas/map for decades - likewise, Torsten's mongoose based Phi back-end can easily serve such imagery to another process (web browser), but also to FlightGear itself. And it's not even running in the main loop.
And in fact, ThomasS implemented support for streaming arbitrary Canvas textures over http.

All of which is to say, FlightGear is far better prepared for a holistic approach to scenery than most people seem to realize, but as usual it's hardly common knowledge, because many of these features are poorly integrated - at least currently.

Using the atlas-based approach to creating maps procedurally would mean that FlightGear could become self-contained again, i.e. people downloading fgfs could expect such functionality to work,regardless of external 3rd party data providers.

http://wiki.flightgear.org/Canvas_Tile_Element
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Re: Microsoft Flight Simulator returns to the skies

Postby V12 » Tue Aug 18, 2020 3:08 pm

Hooray wrote in Tue Aug 18, 2020 8:40 am:FWIW, MSFS requires an internet connection (DSL/cable) to fetch all the imagery and geo data.

Flightgear too. In 1 month I downloaded approximately 50GB from terrasync. Yes, I used Concorde with visibility limit 250 km and in this case, download rate is pretty hight. And it was without OSM scenery.

Parnikkapore wrote in Tue Aug 18, 2020 6:27 am:EDIT: Yeah, Terra Emergence is a shader & texture pack apparently. I'm surprised something like that is even possible - it might be something worth picking apart. Total disrespect of real-life features and recreating the city grid from scratch, I'd presume.


Yes, it is. Video and screenshots are from P3Dv5, my customer bought v5, I installed this thing into his machine. No ORBX or other similar addons. NGXu was manually moved from old v4.5 to v5.
Last edited by V12 on Tue Aug 18, 2020 3:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Microsoft Flight Simulator returns to the skies

Postby D-ECHO » Tue Aug 18, 2020 3:24 pm

You can download terrasync before flying, e.g. using terramaster or terrasync.py. Actually, you can even get it on DVDs if your internet connection is too bad.
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Re: Microsoft Flight Simulator returns to the skies

Postby Hooray » Tue Aug 18, 2020 3:39 pm

FWIW, at least with osgEarth, you can also pre-populate/download a cache of scenery for your area(s) of interest.
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Re: Microsoft Flight Simulator returns to the skies

Postby wlbragg » Tue Aug 18, 2020 4:17 pm

Flightgear too. In 1 month I downloaded approximately 50GB from terrasync

Well, I don't ever want to hear from another user anything about speed in loading or amount of data needed.
The MSFS sim download became available at about 12:00 pm eastern time, After the initial install, it had 91 meg more to do before I could start the setup process. I went to bed downloading. This morning it took at least a minute or two to load into the sim and another few minutes to load the aircraft (about like loading the shuttle) and airport scenery. This was a small rural airport. There are bandwidth notices in very prominent places during the first installation setup. They let you know if needed you may want to cap your data transfer as it is intense.
My first glimpse of my local area is astonishing. Can't say anything yet about seasonal texturing or weather or much else. I've got blown out twice now. Flat shut off the computer.
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Re: Microsoft Flight Simulator returns to the skies

Postby StuartC » Tue Aug 18, 2020 4:27 pm

FS2020, 9hrs to download and install the basic version................................
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Re: Microsoft Flight Simulator returns to the skies

Postby islandmonkey » Tue Aug 18, 2020 5:43 pm

StuartC wrote in Tue Aug 18, 2020 4:27 pm:FS2020, 9hrs to download and install the basic version................................


Crikey, how big is FS2020 and how slow is your connection?

Little off topic, but the largest single 'thing' I have ever downloaded is probably GTA V at 80GB. Took me 4hrs with download speeds up to 10MB/s.
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