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tkyler

X-Plane 10 scenery Q & A

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For those that don't know me, my name is Tom and I'm the primary developer of default x-plane 10 airport scenery and also the new library of airport "lego bricks" for developers to use. Please use this forum to ask any questions you may have regarding scenery development in x-plane 10....from technical questions to tip and tricks and techniques. I will not be addressing scenery related questions in other forums. I believe x-pilot.com to be the highest quality outlet of x-plane technical information and knowledge and choose to give my support here. Please spread the word if you feel people need to know about this thread. I would request that, in the spirit of maintaining quality content for new scenery developers, we keep our posts related to the pursuit of scenery development issues and minimize casual rhetoric. I would like this thread to be a treasure trove of useful information for aspiring scenery devs.

X-Plane 10 has very exciting scenery capabilities and is a wide open canvas for the adventurous spirit. This is a new road and is just getting started. Patience, determination and perseverance is the key, but I think that once a few bugs are worked out of x-plane's scenery tools, you will find that x-plane is, without a doubt, the easiest sim to develop scenery for....and the open communication lines to the developers means that we all work on improving the quality together. If you enjoy scenery creation, welcome to the playground!

-Tom Kyler

Edited by tkyler
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Hi Tom,

I'm really interested in evolutions of the facade file format, can you give information on this point?

Will laminar publish something like this page for xp10 soon?

Thanks.

Ben

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Laminar will definitely get the info up on the wiki at some point. We have kept an internal dev wiki and I have a whole host of notes yet to organize into documentation. The new facade file format, in a nutshell works like so. You draw a facade path in WED. Each bezier path is defined by segments between nodes. Each segment has a finite length. What you do as a developer is create 3D linear "lego bricks" of varying lengths and types. For example I may have a wall type of "solid" and a wall type of "windows". Given each wall type, I'll have various lengths. This is just like lego where you had a "1" a "2" a "4" a 8" etc...and you combined those pieces to make your overall piece.

So what xplane will do is look at the length of the line segments you drew in WED and it will auto-combine the pieces you have provided it to fill in that segment and try and match the length....any "leftover" dimension causes the individual pieces to be stretched slightly. A consequence of this is that you can now specify what wall type is what. You will select a node in WED and via a pull down menu will tell WED what kind of wall type that is. So one side of a facade building might have windows, another side might be solid...and you might have just one specifc wall type that is a type of building entry...with doors and a covered area with steps. You can attach other objects (we call these "annotated OBJs) to each wall type also. So lets say you create a wall type of "entry door". With this wall type you can annotate a vending machine next to the door, a garbage can, mailbox, some plants and even a overhead security light....whatever you want to attach to it..so that with one single pull-down in WED, you have this little mini-scene that looks like the entry of a building with detail and all.

Right now, the tools to support this workflow are all in Blender and we have a very special facade script just for that purpose. There are very rigid guidelines for setting up the blender scene to succesfully export out a facade. Below is a screenshot of a scene set up to export facades so you can see what these pieces look like. Xplane will automatically create the roof and in my opinion, the roof is the "weak spot". To get a natural look, roofs need infrastructure like RTUs (Roof Top Unit Air conditioners)...exhaust fans, vents, drain pipes, ducts, you name it...and getting those onto the top of a facade at the right level is a lot of extra work. I have pinged Ben supnik about this and think that in the future, we can add in a feature where OBJs can be placed on top of facade roofs...it's definitely an area for improvement.

After working with Facades for a good while now, I think the best use of them is for creating generic office buildings of a "typical" nature. That is stucco / metal / brick type with common commercial doors and windows. Also, you can create alternate "height variations" in Blender and in WED you can specify the height of the facade and xplane will look at the facades you created and pick the one nearest the height you specified. Xplane will NOT auto-create a multi-story facade. You create the multi-story variations in blender and xplane simply selects what you provide. If you provide only one story, then one is all you'll ever get no matter what height you specify in WED. So that's the gist...I know there's probably more questions than answers, but learning something new always takes one piece at a time.

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Hello Tom,

I'm interested in adding smaller airports with the Library Assets, will this be roughly the same as using OE?

Sorry for the noob question.

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I'm interested in adding smaller airports with the Library Assets, will this be roughly the same as using OE?

It will be easier in my opinion. You'll have to adjust to the top down view instead of the 3D isometric but it's no real big deal. Once you have a WED file setup with an airport (more on this later), you simply navigate to the art asset you want in with the "asset browser" then insert > save > export...then fly. It's very fast.

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Thank you very much Tom.

I figure I'll start like this before attempting to create assets with the other tools.

ed

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Hi Tom,

I'm really interested in evolutions of the facade file format, can you give information on this point?

Will laminar publish something like this page for xp10 soon?

Thanks.

Ben

Glad u asked Tom that question Ben, I was gonna go for that too. The facade script sounds fascinating Tom, can't wait to use it Tom! Any idea when it'll be out?

A blog reader has asked if you are doing O'Hare, u may have a queue of customers :-) ah time, wonderful isn't it.

VERY impressed with your demo airport.

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I was looking in the default KSEA folder and I noticed .agp files. What are these files, and do they do anything that a .obj file does not?

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When will the development tools become available?

I'm not sure about that Ola. We are wanting to spend December optimizing xplane...after that, I think Ben wants to make WED1.1 final and then immediately release 1.2 beta, which is what I use for V10 work. The blender scripts will be available too but they might need a bit of polishing.

I was looking in the default KSEA folder and I noticed .agp files. What are these files, and do they do anything that a .obj file does not?

and AGP file is a file that "specifices a scene" that is made up of individual objects and/or facades. You can think of it as a group of objects. It is defined by a rectangular polygon tile which acts as a boundary upon which you can place multiple objects and facades. The practical limit of the tile size is about 1 sq km according to Ben Supnik. After that you can get some numerical errors that cause alignment issues. The largest AGP tile I've used is about 200 meters max. This single polygon tile can be textured or it can be invisible and the tile will lay flat on the ground. As of now, you can only assemble an AG tile in blender and it's rather involved in that to use an AG tile, you have to specify objects to place on it and to do that you have to create a library of objects TO place on it and then you have to organize that library of stuff so that it can be "importable" into blender...and all that has to be structured in Blender's outliner system with some very specific conventions.

Creation of AGP tiles is a powerful scenery building tool and probably for the more "comfortable" blender user. I expect to do a tutorial on it one day, but it will be pretty advanced.

Edited by tkyler

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I suggest you make it a video tutorial in the end. I can only speak for myself, but learning by text can some times be quite hard compared to see how it's done.

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Hi Tom:

I'm very interested in digging into V10 scenery and have started a rapid learning cycle to get myself 'Blenderized'.

The turorial seems a rather splendid idea... the time to bring this to us mere mortals combined with what seems a rather full plate... well.

How about

A V10 airport that we would all love and enjoy combined with a dedicated tutorial system that uses this airport as the sample. A complete video tutorial, with support docs, that goes through each piece of the puzzle and supposes that the average, motivated developer will be able to produce a decent effort on their own once the tutorial course is complete.

Sell the airport with or without tutorial included. A little less for the one without tutorial. a few key inclusions for the one with tutorial so that the one without won't access the tutorial properly (anti-pirate idea). This way you sell to current scenery devs and wish-to-be's, satisfy the need to provide a good framework learning system to try to bring quality up on freeware development, still have an extreme quality payware airport to sell and satisfy your altruistic nature by balancing the cost of airport:airport+tutorial so that the airport is still the purchase focus. All developers would, I'm sure, be happy to kick a couple more bucks out the door to learn well, how to do this right.

Anyhow... sign me up for whatever plan you have. I :wub: good learning systems.

bc

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Tom, have the lighting features for scenery objects changed? Eg any lighting tutes of explanations for v9 stay the same? Are new lights available, different colours etc?

If I can stop flying in 10, i'm ready to experiment with lighting. Damn xp10, flying is getting in the way of scenery stuff!!

Tx

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I would really like to see a variety in the colour of lights. A mix of red, white and orange lights would look great and much realistic at the airport aswell as for the city !

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bc,

I have a few ideas of tutorials along all of those lines you mentioned. There are details to work out of course, but I hear what you are saying.

Simon / Baber. The old V9 lighting tech is still there....that is LIT textures and ATTR_light_level. For V10, "REAL" lights are somewhat "hard coded" into a text file. This is not a file you want to be messing with; however, it does contain (if I'm not mistaken) a totally custom light where you can set up color, brightness, direction, beam width..everything. How you get that light into your work is to either hand edit it into the obj file...OR wait for the 2.49b blender scripts along with the tutorial on how it's used. If you hand edit the file, you'll need to put entries like the one below into your OBJ file. This particular light is the generic yellowish light that is used all over KSEA.

So the letters after the name...XYZBTSS represent values you need to provide. This is a naming convention I happen to use...not some standard you'd find in other light types. You'll notice that you need seven of these; however, if you count the number of parameters, you'll see that there are 10. This is because the first 3 numbers are the XYZ coordinate of the light relative to the objects ...and in the example code, this was automatically inserted by Blender. The following seven values I provided and represent:

X: X direction vector of the spotlight

Y: Y direction vector of the spotlight

Z: Z direction vector of the spotlight

B: (a bit complex to explain...make it 1.0 and you'll be fine)

T: Throw of the light...bigger numbers = longer throw. 100 = big tarmac light.....10 = light over door

S: The width of the spotlight beam. 0 = 180 degrees.....1 = 0 degrees.

S: The size of the halo.....I think.

Finally, you need to have HDR enabled in order to see the lights in sim.

LIGHT_PARAM sodium_flood_XYZBTSS    0.0109   12.7033   -0.1128 0.0  -0.707  -0.707  1.0  35  0.5 8

Edited by tkyler

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Great Tom, exactly what I hoped, 'easy'!

I looked up the version 8 object definitions - Baber you can use RGB values to create any colour lights you wish.

Now, I couldn't find a strobe/flicker value in the def. It would be cool to have a flickering fluoro type light.

I'm using the carpark for all my learnings/experiments (if I ever stop playing with 10 and videos!) so expect the most ridiulously festooned carpark you've ever seen, once I get the hand of it & combine it with animation - Remember, christmas is coming :D . You should be able to spot this from space! This puppy will be as subtle as my funny signs experiments with KMMH.

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Anyone else having z buffer problems where none existed in XP9?

If you have shadows turned up you may see it. Unfortunately, until shadows are fully tuned it will likely continue.

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Hi,

I realize that missing airport buildings is seen as major gap in x-plane 10. I'd like to contribute by generating basic airfields for europe / germany.

Will WEP 2.0 "lego bricks" be capable to just position basic library assets to the layout?

When do you expect this will be possible for newbies without using blender or sketchup?

Regards,

Heiko

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Heiko,

I just got off the phone with Ben Supnik to discuss airport population. This is the next thing we are going to address; however, BenS still has optimizations to do to improve xplane performance and then he will get with me to add a new feature to WED to help control performance. At that time, I will begin populating some larger airports with generic hangars and towers.

As soon as the WED 1.2b comes out, you will be able to take the lego brick pieces and add them to any airport layout. We are discussing ways for users to submit their work when they contribute and determine how to best manage it and have that work available to other users through the xplane updater. I would guess perhaps 2 months for WED 1.2b to be available for now, but this is only a very rough guess. The delay is due to holidays and more important performance issues that must be addressed first.

-Tom Kyler

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If you have shadows turned up you may see it. Unfortunately, until shadows are fully tuned it will likely continue.

Shadows were all the way down. Turns out it was Marginal's script for exporting Sketchup to XP. It worked fine with XP9, but with 10 the Z buffer goes wild. I had a year long project finished and waiting for XP10. I'm now having to export each object to AC3D and then to XP.

It may all be for nothing, however. The reason for building this scenery is the power lines 25 ft from one end of the runway and the busy road 10 ft from, and perpendicular to the other runway--makes for an exciting approach: http://g.co/maps/aee96

I can replace the power lines, but the segment of missing road is a different matter. In an email Ben stated that the solution was to wait for a tool (not currently under development) to export draped roads from OSM to XP10. As it stands now cars disappear. I may have to resort to XP9 roads--I've put in too much work to just walk away.

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I'm wondering if we'll ever get seasons in X-Plane.

It's on the list of things to add, as is regional water colors. In time! :)

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