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Alouette III overhaul

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Re: Alouette III overhaul

Postby Thorsten » Sat Dec 02, 2017 6:36 pm

Funny about how there was this poll/feeler put out by core devs, a couple years back concerning the average FG user, and the data returned showed a lot of FG users and potential users were getting into FG because it was ...wait for it...Free.


I'm not sure what this has got to do with anything. 'Optional' means you can switch it off and it won't hurt your performance then. I get that you want to be able to run FG on whatever rig you own - but I don't get on what grounds you want to oppose adding features for those who have real graphics cards when they don't change your own experience at all (which shaders really don't, because they don't even get compiled till they're used).

So what's really wrong with a feature that only 2% of FG users can use - as long as it doesn't change how FG works for the other 98%?

Except you have to look at the screenshots and might wonder whether you ought to invest into a graphics card...

(Oh, and the software would still be for free even if we'd decide to require gaming rigs as hardware).
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Re: Alouette III overhaul

Postby wlbragg » Sat Dec 02, 2017 7:11 pm

I have to say, I have always admired the FlightGear communities attempt to keep the software as lean as possible for older (outdated) equipment. That is a worthy goal.

That said, I also grew up upgrading my hardware every 10 minutes because of the rapid development over the past decade or two. I programmed at a time when 256K was an enormous amount of ram and hit limits every time I turned around. My first 10 megabyte hard drive was awesome. That equipment cost 2 to three times what it costs for a higher end DIY system now days. So if we're really trying to say we need to make FlightGear continue to work on what was really expensive but now outdated equipment, I don't think that is smart at all.

Free software doesn't equate to cheap, outdated hardware. If this is about the low end "modern" hardware, well, this is a flight simulator that is driven by a physics engine, by its nature it requires a bit of power to work well. I think we're way past the wire frame graphic stage.

I am all for backward compatibility to accommodate hardware to a point. But if we don't put to use the state of the art as well were being really being dumb about it for reasons I don't understand. I'm not doing any of this to accommodate a sect of the community. I do it because of its potential. That potential is a free, state of the art flight simulator platform.

Otherwise, maybe we should just go back to the Etch-a-sketch and our imagination.
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Re: Alouette III overhaul

Postby LesterBoffo » Sat Dec 02, 2017 7:27 pm

Some of us don't have the financial resources to upgrade every '10 minutes'.

Sometimes there are sad life realities.
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Re: Alouette III overhaul

Postby wlbragg » Sat Dec 02, 2017 7:43 pm

I have always admired the FlightGear communities attempt to keep the software as lean as possible for older (outdated) equipment. That is a worthy goal.


Some of us don't have the financial resources to upgrade every '10 minutes'.

I don't either anymore, I get my children's hand-me-downs now. So I am in the mid to low range anyway. :)

My point is also that hardware that can handle all of these effects is as inexpensive as it has ever been. Not only that compared to the past it has been relatively stable in it's progression over the last several years.

But, like Thorsten said, if it is an option, then what's the downside?
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Re: Alouette III overhaul

Postby LesterBoffo » Sat Dec 02, 2017 8:01 pm

I guess there isn't a downside, It is my personal opinion that the new grass shader actually kills the immersion for me.

My 3 year old materials patch for the WWI mod I've made has a crop/grass effect for the green spaces that looks surprisingly like wind ruffled grass. I forget what shader channel it uses, I'm thinking it's like effect number 11 or some such. (that's Thorsten's realm, I just mix the effects together..) It's actually brilliant, because when used with two overlays of airport grass .pngs, the look is much more realistic life like than the individual grassrows/ tree waving shader effect and it didn't drag my system into the single digits when climbing above 400' AGL.

You've seen my videos. Full shader sliders and tree and cloud shadows enabled on most.
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Re: Alouette III overhaul

Postby wkitty42 » Sat Dec 02, 2017 8:11 pm

wlbragg wrote in Sat Dec 02, 2017 7:43 pm:My point is also that hardware that can handle all of these effects is as inexpensive as it has ever been.

yeah but think about it... $500US for a video card to go into a powerful $500US DIY machine with an 8-core 4ghz CPU with 16G RAM and 1TB HD? we're not mining bitcoin here ;)
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Re: Alouette III overhaul

Postby wlbragg » Sat Dec 02, 2017 9:00 pm

I paid $4000 for a 286, 256k ram, 5 mg hd that maybe could run the original version of FlightGear 30 years ago. I think $1000 for a solid gaming system is a pretty good deal.
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Re: Alouette III overhaul

Postby Thorsten » Sun Dec 03, 2017 6:45 am

It's actually brilliant, because when used with two overlays of airport grass .pngs, the look is much more realistic life like than the individual grassrows/ tree waving shader effect and it didn't drag my system into the single digits when climbing above 400' AGL.


I'm not sure what grass effect we're now talking about here.

The effect that is related to the trees ('volumetric grass') is somewhat older and off by default, you have to un-comment the section in the materials file to use it at all. So I fail to see how it can spoil anyone's immersion.

The newer one by IcecodeGL is based on a geometry shader - and again you have to opt in by selecting the option in the GUI, it is off by default.

So what is really brilliant in my opinion is that neither of these solutions bothers you when implementing your own solution - you can in fact customize whatever you like and whatever your system can support within a minute. Case in point - Wayne prefers the old volumetric grass combined with geometry shader, I prefer to run just geometry shader.

(Admittedly I've never consciously seen your effect - it probably was on screenshots (?), but I don't connect anything with it. We could - if so licensed and desired - offer it as yet another alternative.)
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Re: Alouette III overhaul

Postby Hooray » Sun Dec 03, 2017 11:57 am

I agree with Thorsten: that is exactly the reason why we now have OPTIONAL features like the effects system, Advanced Weather, ALS or the Canvas system: at some point some developer thought it would be a cool idea and they implemented these ideas despite nowing very well that some hardware may be left out of the loop, but these are after all optional components - and as time has proven over and over again, these are the decisions that make FlightGear development progress enormously.

A few years ago, a dedicated gaming rig would be $2k US - these days, the same multi-GPU machine would be under 500 bucks.

If you are stuck with old hardware, simply disable optional stuff and use custom settings - or an older FlightGear version.
If FlightGear development were to continue with the mindset that all legacy hardware must continue to be supported, it would also be stuck.

Note though that I totally agree that new stuff must remain optional and should not become mandatory without a reason.

As a matter of fact, I am finding myself more and more often in the same camp of people who no longer build FlightGear regularly, because we're seeing an increasing tendency to adopt the "latest & greatest", especially in the Qt5 department - a few years ago, it would not have been tolerated on the devel list if an optional component (as in the Qt5 launcher or the FGQCanvas work) were breaking the default build for the rest of the people building from source not even wanting those features - equally, just continuing to simply raise the required version number to "solve" these problems would have been frowned upon.

So there's that, too. But that has nothing to do with hardware requirements - it's more to do with carefully managing software requirements in general, and formalizing those so that people can play by the rules. Anyway, if new features are truly added in an optional fashion, I do think it's a good thing - no matter if that means raising hardware or software requirements, but it should definitely be opt-in, or we'll be seeing more and more people use a more conservatively managed fork, like the osgEarth sources, which simply continue to work for most of us, i.e. are not affected by the whole Qt5 fallout.
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Re: Alouette III overhaul

Postby LesterBoffo » Sun Dec 03, 2017 4:12 pm

Thorsten wrote in Sun Dec 03, 2017 6:45 am:
It's actually brilliant, because when used with two overlays of airport grass .pngs, the look is much more realistic life like than the individual grassrows/ tree waving shader effect and it didn't drag my system into the single digits when climbing above 400' AGL.


I'm not sure what grass effect we're now talking about here.

The effect that is related to the trees ('volumetric grass') is somewhat older and off by default, you have to un-comment the section in the materials file to use it at all. So I fail to see how it can spoil anyone's immersion.

The newer one by IcecodeGL is based on a geometry shader - and again you have to opt in by selecting the option in the GUI, it is off by default.

So what is really brilliant in my opinion is that neither of these solutions bothers you when implementing your own solution - you can in fact customize whatever you like and whatever your system can support within a minute. Case in point - Wayne prefers the old volumetric grass combined with geometry shader, I prefer to run just geometry shader.

(Admittedly I've never consciously seen your effect - it probably was on screenshots (?), but I don't connect anything with it. We could - if so licensed and desired - offer it as yet another alternative.)


Maybe I should have been more clear, but yes, the volumetric grass effect which was commented out in the materials call. I suppose a close up shot of the grass effect in action needs to have a video made of it. What it looks like is a semi transparent cover that moves somewhat with the strength of the wind, like slow motion gelatin. It's a crude way of describing how it looks. It creates an impression of the field of grass more as a sea movement, like pastoral old 1950's movies of waving fields of grain or other crops.
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Re: Alouette III overhaul

Postby Hooray » Sun Dec 03, 2017 4:14 pm

LesterBoffo wrote in Sun Dec 03, 2017 4:12 pm:like slow motion gelatin.


I take it then, that this is indeed your nomination for the name of the next shader to be developed ? :mrgreen:
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Re: Alouette III overhaul

Postby wlbragg » Sun Dec 03, 2017 4:23 pm

Maybe I should have been more clear, but yes, the volumetric grass effect which was commented out in the materials call. I suppose a close up shot of the grass effect in action needs to have a video made of it. What it looks like is a semi transparent cover that moves somewhat with the strength of the wind, like slow motion gelatin.

That is not the volumetric grass effect, that is a dust/debris/grass effect. It was one of the early on effects and I agree it was the least effective of probably all the effects. But it too is optional. The volumetric grass effect and the geometry shader effect are two entirely different effects and they are a class of there own. Both are of great value to the immersion factor of the sim.
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Re: Alouette III overhaul

Postby LesterBoffo » Sun Dec 03, 2017 4:46 pm

Well I think it's somewhat of a judgement call.



I prefer the look of this effect over the volumetric grass, and it's combining with the other shaders, culls out parts of the green with progressive increases of the autumn slider, making for patchy areas of live grass as the season progress to Winter. I think with higher wind conditions it tends to become a little frenetic.
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Re: Alouette III overhaul

Postby LesterBoffo » Sun Dec 03, 2017 4:54 pm

wlbragg wrote in Sun Dec 03, 2017 4:23 pm:
Maybe I should have been more clear, but yes, the volumetric grass effect which was commented out in the materials call. I suppose a close up shot of the grass effect in action needs to have a video made of it. What it looks like is a semi transparent cover that moves somewhat with the strength of the wind, like slow motion gelatin.

That is not the volumetric grass effect, that is a dust/debris/grass effect. It was one of the early on effects and I agree it was the least effective of probably all the effects. But it too is optional. The volumetric grass effect and the geometry shader effect are two entirely different effects and they are a class of there own. Both are of great value to the immersion factor of the sim.


I don't think I ever said it was an volumetric effect. It was part of a suite of FG shader effects brought in with FG 3.4? like the stratified rock shader and the grass Autumn shader.

'Least effective'? Maybe because no-one bothered to play around with it.
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Re: Alouette III overhaul

Postby wlbragg » Sun Dec 03, 2017 5:08 pm

I was trying to clarify the discussion as it read to me that the volumetric and geometry shader was being confused with the "early suite" shader.

Maybe because no-one bothered to play around with it.

Maybe so, I suppose there is more that could be done to improve its look if someone was interested.
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