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Cameron

Announcing TerraMaxx - Seasons for X-Plane!

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Captains,

Over the years we have released SkyMaxx Pro, Real Weather Connector, SoundMaxx, and MaxxFX. The community support throughout the release cycle of these products has been nothing short of fantastic, and we have listened to requests from many of you over that time. Today, we are really excited to officially announce TerraMaxx!

TerraMaxx will bring you seasons in X-Plane, and it does it without you ever having to leave the simulator, or even having to manually switch out season sets! There are settings in the plug-in menu if you desire to force a season to show, but the product has it's own algorithm on when to show seasonal textures based on location, time of year, and your current flying position (meaning it can also change during the flight).

The proper feature list is as follows:

  • Automatic swapping of X-Plane’s default scenery with seasonal representations of summer, autumn, mild winter, and deep winter based on your simulated location, date, and temperature
  • Replacement tree textures with 4X the resolution of default and seasonal variations
  • Optional post-processing effects to give autumn and winter scenes season- appropriate hues
  • If you indicated that your GPU has more than 5GB of VRAM when installing, high-resolution normal maps for default scenery will be installed, to give the appearance of more depth to the terrain. You can easily switch between the normal map option with the installer.

Screenshots

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Elias_TM.jpg

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Will it work with airports and other scenery packages?

Airports will continue to work in X-Plane and with TerraMaxx as they always have, but TerraMaxx will not apply seasonal effects to existing custom scenery packages. However, within the documentation that ships with TerraMaxx, scenery designers will find information about integrating their airports and surrounding scenery with TerraMaxx in an even more immersive way if they so choose (not mandatory, airports and TerraMaxx will load side-by-side together just fine). With the steps followed in the documentation, scenery designers could then have buildings that have snow on them in the winter, or different colored grass during autumn, etc!

IMPORTANT: Currently NOT supported at this time is orthophoto scenery. Believe me, we understand a number of people enjoy orthophoto scenery, and we're considering ways to integrate this in (we have a few ideas already bouncing around), but that kind of development is going to heavily depend on how the community supports this product from initial release. A lot of work has already gone into this (more than a year with all the textures, coding, etc.), and we need to see that what we're providing is something the community can get behind before we dump more time and resources into it. This all said, TerraMaxx adds a very nice element to the sim even without orthophotos, especially during winter!

 

How do mid-flight seasonal textures change?

Let's say you're flying from Florida on a warm, sunny day in the winter to Utah where it's cold and filled with snow. As you approach the boundaries where textures should plausibly change, proper textures will begin to re-load for that region. This does mean you can have a small pause as the textures come in (and TerraMaxx will display in the lower right corner that it is loading in new seasonal textures), and once X-Plane is done loading the scenery all is as it should be. Keep in mind that regions of snow conditions are typically quite large (numerous states), so this does NOT mean as you cross DSF scenery tiles that things are constantly re-loading. We have also talked to Laminar about ways to smooth out the pause, and while we have some positive discussion there, we are again going to wait to see how much support from the community is given to this project before we potentially venture down that path more.

Additionally, the auto texture changing is OPTIONAL. You do not have to have this, and you can force a single season as you wish, no matter the location. Below is a screenshot of the menu for TerraMaxx.

TM_Menu.jpg
 
What will performance be like?
 
TerraMaxx will perform much in the same way you're used to with default X-Plane scenery from a FPS standpoint. The only time this might change is if you elect to install the hi-res normal maps for more depth to the scene. On my system I can't tell much of a difference between having them on or off performance wise, but your mileage may vary with that depending on your graphics card. I have a GTX 1080, but overall our testers had positive experiences as well during the test process! The best way to go is to try it for yourself (the normal maps, that is). :) You can always run the installer again to swap them out. Either way, normal maps or not, the overall change in scenery is very welcome!
 
Which version of X-Plane is this compatible with?
Typically we don't like to state official support in a beta of X-Plane, but we're actually recommending X-Plane 11.20+ for this product. It will work fine in X-Plane 11.10, but Laminar fixed a bug in X-Plane 11.20 where at times the livery on the aircraft you were flying with would get re-loaded back to the default livery for that aircraft. This part aside, everything else works just fine in 11.10 if that's what you choose to use for now.
 
 
When will this be released?
 
Tomorrow! Yes, that's right...we're releasing TerraMaxx Saturday, March 17th, 2018!
 
We're excited to get this out to you all, and we feel based on our beta testers' feedback (normal customers just like you) we've got a product you all can and will continue to enjoy as we further develop and evolve it. The developers behind this product (Sundog and Maxx-XP) have a track record of sticking to their products and updating them, and as many will recall, SkyMaxx Pro v4 is much different than its first version years ago. As time moves on, improvements do too, and we can't wait to have you along for the adventure! :)
 
See you this weekend for the release!
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50 minutes ago, Cameron said:

Currently NOT supported at this time is orthophoto scenery.

Hi Cameron,

as a scenery designer, I have a question regarding orthophotos that are placed as overlays or draped polygons using .pol files:

Can your seasons tool install or use different version of the overlay orthophoto so they will be switchable? 

 

 

 

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Hi there, 

interesting news but I got a few questions reading through the description. Will there be patches of snow or only entire square tiles? How is the transition done from snow to no snow or the other way around? Is it a smooth blending or a rough edge? Is the current weather or METAR considered when displaying snow? Because it may be cold, but it doesn't mean there must be snow around. We had -10* and more in Germany for about two weeks but eastern Germany was not snow covered for instance.

 

Thx for your reply.

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12 minutes ago, paradoxagi said:

Can your seasons tool install or use different version of the overlay orthophoto so they will be switchable? 

Hi there! It's been a while since I've played around with .pol's, so I'm going to allow @JohnMAXX to reply to this for you as he's the one who primarily developed that side of it.

In short, the seasons will be driven in a scenery package by a library.txt file, and I don't recall whether X-Plane allows .pol's to be called in there or not. Stand by for John! :)

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Hi Cameron, 

and thanks for the fast answer. Good to hear you are using the library system - that makes things easier for me. For the pol files, I will wait for John with another question regarding this:

Will TerraMax replace the XP default draped polygons placed in WED? If this was the case I could easily provide fast landclass based patches for my scenery as a temporary solution for making sceneries usable with terramax. My orthos can be disabled by the user, so that should work then. 

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25 minutes ago, jusku said:

Will there be patches of snow or only entire square tiles?

There are two versions of winter. One is 'Mild', the other 'Deep'. In mild conditions it's more patchy (not pictured above), where you don't have full ground coverage of snow and some underlying areas are visible. That said, what we don't have is areas where higher altitude regions vs a valley are going to have snow, and this is more an X-Plane limitation reason than anything else for the moment. Assuming community response to this product will be what we expect, we do have plans to further open dialog with Laminar about this. For the moment, Laminar does not offer a for us to apply textures based on altitude in addition to time, weather, etc. We want to open it up to this similar to the steps we took with weather an SkyMaxx back in v1. It came a long way with Laminar cooperation since then, and ultimately allowed others like xEnviro to tap into it too. Better for everyone!

25 minutes ago, jusku said:

How is the transition done from snow to no snow or the other way around? Is it a smooth blending or a rough edge? Is the current weather or METAR considered when displaying snow? Because it may be cold, but it doesn't mean there must be snow around. We had -10* and more in Germany for about two weeks but eastern Germany was not snow covered for instance.

"Smooth" transitions are not available...yet. We've looked into this, and had discussions with Laminar about it. The only option available for such at this time is limiting in a way we don't view as beneficial for everyone, so we've taken the next best approach to this for the moment. See original post above about seasonal texture change. In addition, as mentioned, X-Plane does not provide a feasible SDK way at the moment to place texture based on altitude in addition to time, weather, or that "mountain top over there", so in the end we're in a position of plausibility right now. What I mean by that is something along the lines of "during this time of year, in this area, it's most likely to look like this, so let's make it so", and if you don't like it as the user you can override the decision (or even the settings on how those are applied in the product) and lock in a season at any given time.

Your questions are very valid, and we're on the same page. One step at a time. We're taking this first big one now and getting our feet wet, just as we did with SkyMaxx Pro v1. :)

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30 minutes ago, paradoxagi said:

Hi Cameron,

as a scenery designer, I have a question regarding orthophotos that are placed as overlays or draped polygons using .pol files:

Can your seasons tool install or use different version of the overlay orthophoto so they will be switchable? 

 

 

 

To intelligently answer this question, Im in the process of developing a small airport that utilizes seasons.  My goal is to use this as an example to scenery designers so they may integrate into TM.  Its been awhile since Ive played around with WED.....

 

Stand by, once its complete Ill put together a tutorial here on X-Pilot.......

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31 minutes ago, jusku said:

Hi there, 

interesting news but I got a few questions reading through the description. Will there be patches of snow or only entire square tiles? How is the transition done from snow to no snow or the other way around? Is it a smooth blending or a rough edge? Is the current weather or METAR considered when displaying snow? Because it may be cold, but it doesn't mean there must be snow around. We had -10* and more in Germany for about two weeks but eastern Germany was not snow covered for instance.

 

Thx for your reply.

Just my two cents here.........

 

Keep in mind we are breaking new ground and the concept of seasons, it is in its infancy........With that being said TM is a plausible approach given what is available to us from LR.  As Cameron said we already have concepts being discussed which will bring a higher resolution to the product...... 

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Oh yes.. The weekend looks a whole lot better already... Watching the clock now.. 

I am guessing this is going to work perfectly with SMP and RWC?... 

In auto is it getting snow fall etc from metar or RWC?... 

Autumn texture for trees too... 

Heaven... SMP4.. RWC... IXEG... TERRAMAXX... 

Happy weekend... 

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If there's no coverage around airports and ortho....as much as I want seasonal textures.....I'll take a pass on this one for now.

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1 minute ago, jcbak said:

If there's no coverage around airports and ortho

Airports can be right from release. Ortho's cannot at this time for reasons explained above. :)

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I could imagine creating a snow polygon that can be placed over the airport easily by the user in WED per airport. Maybe John includes some stuff likes this in the pakage.

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A naive question, but I have to do it: Will TerraMaxx be compatible with the releases that Orbx has already done and are intending to do?:mellow:

Cheers,

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8 minutes ago, Sinesio said:

A naive question, but I have to do it: Will TerraMaxx be compatible with the releases that Orbx has already done and are intending to do?:mellow:

Cheers,

Perfectly fine question! The product is too new for you to have experience just yet. :)

We have not talked directly with ORBX, but the release they just did can certainly be adapted to take advantage of the seasons here! As we only announced this today I guess they'll need to get wind of it before adaption happens on their end.

To be clear, their scenery will load just fine with TerraMaxx, but they will need to properly adapt their scenery to fully take advantage of TerraMaxx's features (like creating various season sets for the buildings and custom textures in the area of the scenery).

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2 minutes ago, paradoxagi said:

I could imagine creating a snow polygon that can be placed over the airport easily by the user in WED per airport. Maybe John includes some stuff likes this in the pakage.

There are 4 calls you can include using X-Plane's REGION_DREF command:

  • maxxxp/seasonsxp/is_summer
  • maxxxp/seasonsxp/is_autumn
  • maxxxp/seasonsxp/is_mid_winter
  • maxxxp/seasonsxp/is_winter

For example, if you have autumn-specific scenery in your package, you can include:

REGION_DREF maxxxp/seasonsxp/is_autumn == 1

This is all structured in the library.txt.  An airport scenery package will now need a separate folder  for each seasonal variation, most likely just three since you can exclude summer if you so chose. Ideally you can edit your textures, to include orthos, place them in the appropriate folder and call from the library.txt to present them.  Or not ideally, but already built into TM, is using the lego brick assets (objects not included).  When a seasonal variant is selected in TM it will also call from your scenery automatically.  All this will make WAAAAYYYY more sense when I have the tutorial put together.......

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This looks absolutely fantastic and almost enough to make me reinstall X-Plane!
Could you post some screenshots with default scenery around airports, maybe one shot in the UK, one in California, one in Australia, just to see the difference?

If I reinstall X-Plane, it will be on a default scenery basis, so it would be great to see how this addon improves on that.

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1 minute ago, toby23 said:

Could you post some screenshots with default scenery around airports, maybe one shot in the UK, one in California, one in Australia, just to see the difference?

That's essentially the purpose of the first three images of this thread. :) 

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I saw the screenshot with an airport in winter, it would be great to see some more single shots on approach to an airport in every season.

I know I'm being fussy but managing a sim installation is so much work and costs so much time that I would like to be 100% sure before comitting (again).

Are all the screenshots in the first post with default X-Plane scenery and only Sky Maxx Pro active?

Screenshot number 8 looks fantastic.

Edited by toby23

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5 minutes ago, toby23 said:

Are all the screenshots in the first post with default X-Plane scenery and only Sky Maxx Pro active?

Correct. :) 

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Nothing to say, except I will buy it tomorrow and review on my blog.

Do you know at what time it will be out in Italy?

Thanks,

Tommaso

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Happy Saint Patrick's Day! What a nice surprise.

TerraMaxx looks very promising. Thanks go to JohnMaxx for his artistry and hard work.

Good Luck and success with this new product.

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Looks great! Will it work with Alpilotx's UHD Mesh? Since it's using the same default textures as default X-plane does? If yes, I'm getting my wallet ready for tomorrow! :)

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Looks great! Will it work with Alpilotx's UHD Mesh? Since it's using the same default textures as default X-plane does? If yes, I'm getting my wallet ready for tomorrow! 

Yes!

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