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Did something in the Terrasync scenery just change?

Graphics issues like: bad framerates, weird colors, OpenGL errors etc. Bad graphics ar usually the result of bad graphics cards or drivers.
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Re: Did something in the Terrasync scenery just change?

Postby Hooray » Sat Nov 15, 2014 6:26 pm

To be fair, the issue discussed here is a relatively "recent" one apparently - IMO, testing things using the minimal startup profile was well-intentioned.

Still, in this particular case, our wiki doesn't yet necessarily a lot of useful information for people less tech-savvy. In fact, it would be a good idea to update our troubleshooting resources accordingly. When I came up with the "minimal startup profile" it was to help people provide better debugging information - obviously, not all our resources are applicable for every problem, so people may have to try different things and report back so that we can -try to- draw conclusions.

There's roughly 5-12 "power users" here who tend to help people with troubleshooting things - unfortunately, our time is limited and getting involved in forum discussions is a pretty tedious and time-consuming process - which is why I'd like to re-encourage these people to help maintain our troubleshooting resources on the wiki, so that we can grow a library of troubleshooting tips there, and merely need to post a link here and maybe adapt/update things over time.

In summary, FlightGear is far from being perfect - but even in a perfect world, we need much more, and much better, feedback - feedback that is actually actionable - otherwise, FlightGear will continue for the exact minority of power users and contributors/developers who bother to provide feedback and do RC testing - simply because that's then the "baseline" that FlightGear is benchmarked against. This isn't meant to sound harsh at all - but no matter the kind of product or service: people cannot expect things to be improved according to their requirements if they fail to provide adequate feedback to make these changes happen. Now, I do fully understand that this process is also pretty tedious for non-developers - but any other bug reports are usually just "pointless", i.e. cannot be acted upon.

Obviously, "threats" in the form of statements like "...will have to delete FlightGear" are also pointless: for us, and any other contributors, doing so just means that we will have more time to spend helping others who bother to provide proper feedback - equally, with less users (especially non-contributors) abandoning FlightGear, there will be more manpower available for things that we're interested in, i.e. more development time - and less time spent supporting end-users. Thus, it doesn't make any sense at all for anybody to state here that they're considering to abandon FlightGear due to some circumstance - it doesn't even work that way if you are having major stakes in the project, as could be seen in a number of instances where long-time contributors -including core developers- also switched to "drama queen" mode in response to some development.

As unfortunate as this might seem to some of you, this also makes FlightGear stronger in a way, simply because there's an inherent "stability" due to all the inertia involved in the project.
But please don't just expect FlightGear to magically improve just because you decide not to use it - even X-Plane is primarily shaped by its community of users - and it's mainly people who bother to provide actionable feedback that get to shape things, not people who are simply frustrated and delete stuff.
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Re: Did something in the Terrasync scenery just change?

Postby someguy » Sat Nov 15, 2014 7:38 pm

You guys are overreacting. I'm not threatening anyone; I'm frustrated, because I want to help but don't understand what Thorsten wants me to do. "You know what to do" is not very helpful; if I knew what to do, I'd simply do it rather than pester the experts. I don't understand what all the commands mean, I just pasted them from the wiki (which is really difficult for the non-developer to use, especially if one does not run linux or Windows). I'm sorry if I've misled anyone into thinking I knew what I was doing. I'm just trying to follow vague instructions, often guessing at their meaning. FlightGear, like my computer, is mostly a wonderful black box that sometimes brings joy, other times not so much.

So, how many posts do I need to write before all the inner workings of FG implant themselves magically into my poor, tired brain? :)
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Re: Did something in the Terrasync scenery just change?

Postby wlbragg » Sat Nov 15, 2014 7:55 pm

You guys are overreacting

Your probably right.

I bit my lip and that is why you got my less than stellar reply.
But I basically wanted to tell you to go ahead and wipe your drive if that is what you want.

It was the
which means there will soon be a large empty space on my hard drive where FG used to be

that set me off.
It came off as threatening, like we'll lose your business or something. But we aren't selling anything so threats are just annoying. Especially when all we are trying to do is help you solve your problem and thus fix our potential problem.

But for sure we can't fix your problem without understanding what it is nor without your help.
So I would suggest, if you want to continue just ask if you don't understand something and remember, we're all in the same boat.
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Re: Did something in the Terrasync scenery just change?

Postby someguy » Mon Nov 17, 2014 1:14 am

One thing I've always noticed was a drastic frame rate hit from using regional scenery. In northern California, I found that I could go from 4 fps to 12 fps by changing the largest (>3 MB) hi-res textures from 32-bit PNG to 8-bit PNG with adaptive palettes. I did not find an objectionable color shift, and I didn't mess with any images that actually use the alpha channel. This doesn't help me much at KSFO, though, where lately I get only 2-4 fps using global textures.

Questions: are the low-res textures global and the hi-res regional? If so, I'll attack the global textures, too. Is there a downside to editing the KSFO .stg file to reduce the scenery glut (buildings, towers, other useless bric-a-brac) that's choking my computer? How about simply removing non-essential scenery object files so FG can't find them? How about the roads?

There's just too much STUFF for those of us with older computers. Some developers are IMHO heading in the wrong direction by overloading the scenery with models, as opposed to the sensible evolution of shaders, which except for the highest setting have little to no effect on frame rates (thank you, Thorsten).
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Re: Did something in the Terrasync scenery just change?

Postby legoboyvdlp » Mon Nov 17, 2014 1:58 am

How about a simple Details checkbox which loads roads, railways, towers, pylons, and anything else.

Even better, do it like shaders where you can select slider or else custom way, ie see roads but no pylons etc.. Obviously you could also deselect models, as in term. buildings.
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Re: Did something in the Terrasync scenery just change?

Postby someguy » Mon Nov 17, 2014 5:31 pm

I converted every PNG terrain texture over 200k to 8 bits with adaptive palettes, including the transparent ones. They seem to work just fine, and most lost 1/2 to 2/3 of their bulk. The result is 14 fps with regional scenery in the Grand Canyon where I used to get 5, with ALS and shaders maxed except Transition one notch down from the top. If I max that one too, I get the lovely strata effect, but only 4 fps. With all goodies disabled, I saw 60 (!) fps. RAM and CPU usage seems down in areas with few/no models.

I can see no reason to waste disk space, fps, and RAM on 32-bit PNG files.

Regional scenery at KSFO is still 1 fps, or sometimes 2 looking SW toward the mountains if no buildings are in view. Frame rate is still wildly variable, and not very predictable. Sometimes reloading scenery makes a difference, sometimes not, in exactly the same location and heading. Very puzzling.
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Re: Did something in the Terrasync scenery just change?

Postby legoboyvdlp » Mon Nov 17, 2014 6:45 pm

Just how would you convert textures? I am getting AVG 30 BTW in lonely areas, so your FPS may just be because of traffic.
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Re: Did something in the Terrasync scenery just change?

Postby someguy » Mon Nov 17, 2014 7:33 pm

I converted the images in Adobe Fireworks, my favorite image editor. I'm sure most other Photoshop-type apps can do the same thing.

My graphics are slow because I have a 4 year old iMac with only 256 MB of VRAM on a low-end Radeon card. It is not possible to upgrade the video. When I bought it, 256 MB was plenty, but FG has gone nuts with gratuitous detail since then, with no way to turn it off. Again, shaders are not the issue. It's like there's a very cranky little gnome in my computer, with violent mood swings. :)
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Re: Did something in the Terrasync scenery just change?

Postby Thorsten » Tue Nov 18, 2014 7:35 am

> When I bought it, 256 MB was plenty, but FG has gone nuts with gratuitous detail since then, with no way to turn it off.

Not true on both counts. My 7 year old spare laptop has more than 256 MB video ram, you need to go back quite a bit more than 4 years till 256 MB was plenty - and for all their shiny exterior, many Macs have pretty lousy hardware inside if you ask for raw computational performance - it's not what they're made for.

And of course you can turn off almost all features of FG 3.3 such that it looks quite like 1.9 - just the defaults keep rising from version to version and you need to invest some 10 minutes of config time if you want to go back in time.

The real problem is that hardly anyone wants that - typically users want the new graphical goodies to run on old hardware.
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Re: Did something in the Terrasync scenery just change?

Postby Hooray » Tue Nov 18, 2014 8:29 am

right, my 8+ year old ASUS a6JM/7600GO came with 512MB VRAM, and I can still make it start FlightGear:

Image

The real problem for us, as those providing end-user support around here, is that people expect FG to "magically" just work for them regardless of their hardware, and regardless of the increasing default settings.

X-Plane does manage to pull this off by keeping things disabled that are either unsupported or that affect frame rate/spacing way too much.

Currently, we don't do dynamic feature scaling though - and while a few hundred lines of Nasal could certainly do this in a few areas, there's a ton of C++ code that cannot be dynamically toggled on/off or just be told to run less frequently.

Technically, the right thing to do would be for FG to start up analogous to your operating system with well-defined responsibilities and boundaries (e.g headless, networking, sound, GUI etc) - currently, our subsystems and features are too tightly coupled to support this use-case easily. However, all the reset/re-init work done by Zakalawe clearly paved the way for this - but it have another 3-5 years to go until things materialize there. So while the Nasal/GLSL side is usually easy to make optional, we do have new/recent C++ features/subsystems that are not optional at all, developed by long-time core developers - even breaking overlapping efforts like reset/re-init. The way subsystems are added and initialized in a hard-coded fashion is adding to this obviously. So it isn't entirely wrong to say that new features might not always be optional - even though this is certainly the case in the "eye candy" department.

Yet, the way the materials/effects subsystems are linked and assumed to be always running is obviously an issue for people with old hardware - i.e. little GLSL support. There, unused features may utilize RAM and CPU resources that are simply not available.
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Re: Did something in the Terrasync scenery just change?

Postby someguy » Tue Nov 18, 2014 3:53 pm

Thorsten wrote in Tue Nov 18, 2014 7:35 am:And of course you can turn off almost all features of FG 3.3 such that it looks quite like 1.9


Please tell me how to prevent all the new static models at KSFO et al from clogging my graphics system, and all the over-detailed airliners from making FG choke despite their models not being installed on my computer. I presume those two issues are the source of my excess-vertices problem? As noted above, the problems persist despite unchecking all the boxes in the rendering dialog and setting quality to zero. It's not a matter of reducing defaults, it seems to be things over which I have no control. I'd be delighted to be shown otherwise.

Oh, wait. I'm not using 3.3. It must be a lot different from 3.2.
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Re: Did something in the Terrasync scenery just change?

Postby Thorsten » Tue Nov 18, 2014 6:51 pm

Please tell me how to prevent all the new static models at KSFO et al from clogging my graphics system, and all the over-detailed airliners from making FG choke despite their models not being installed on my computer


The KSFO scenery tile is like... <0.001% of the world? Most of the world is embarrassingly empty. So there are solutions ranging from reverting to any previous state of the scenery to just flying elsewhere.

It's not that the scenery is tied to the FG version after all (which is why it has a separate version number in case you wondered) - you can use your old World Scenery 1.0 just as well, nobody is forcing you to use any new static models. You just can't use terrasync, because that points towards the default.

How over-detailed airliners not being installed manage to choke your system remains a mystery. I have yet to see how the osg model loader manages to load a model that's not on the harddisk. Such an ability would verge on magic. So - chances are, they actually don't.

See, here's the weird thing:

My frame rates have dropped in the past few days, from 10-20 fps with most sliders maxed and random veggies @ 1.9, to <1 fps with quality=0 and everything turned off, using global textures.


Nothing substantial changed on the FG side in the past days. So, it's almost certain that there was some change on your side. This is very consistent with the observation that you don't report actual systematics (like your rendering settings) or try to diagnose the problem in a standard situation, but you just blame random subsystems one after the other (remember, first it wasn't MP, then it was MP...)

So, the most likely case of your troubles is (and that's my final analysis unless you manage to somehow convince me otherwise), you changed some config option or setting but don't remember it. At the same time, you switched to excellent visibility (see the KSFO scene - hardly any fog!) - I missed that clue on the first look. So, I combine a card with 256 MB graphic memory with the fact that you're using recent high vertex density 2.0 world scenery and a large visibility setting, and I understand perfectly well why you have a high vertex count and a low framerate without any bug involved.

Configure as appropriate for your hardware, i.e. revert scenery to 1.0 and don't use terrasync, set visibility to reasonable values and you'll see your framerate go up again. Good luck :-)
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Re: Did something in the Terrasync scenery just change?

Postby f-ojac » Sat Nov 29, 2014 11:24 am

It's been a while since I haven't seen *new* scenery static models @KSFO. You mean AI aircrafts probably?
But for sure, using KSFO + multiplayer or like is probably not the best way to get decent fps.
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