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John Venema

To Season or Not to Season - that is the Community Question

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18 minutes ago, John Venema said:

This is TrueEarth GB South for XP11, with xEnviro adding snow. Note how even the roofs and trees have snow added. Nice volumetric clouds too.

 

All with shaders

 

image.thumb.png.fbad713380fef089a1e091c99d6a2b60.png

 

 
So if this can be done for XP11, why not for P3D?
 
That to me is the future of large area photoreal regions. Create summer/night and use tech to add seasons.Eventually P3D won't need night ortho textures because it will all be dynamically lit like XP11 does.

Agree in theory, but is it likely anytime soon? Market opportunity here?

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I'd like seasons; i'm near EGLL/ EGLF (btw please dont forget the Mclaren factory test track) and EGTF which covers airlines, bizjets and light GA and be it Ifr or Vfr its disappointing  when your simming in your local area and the weather on the screen is way different to that outside your window. Seasons please 

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Hmmm, thanks for sharing this JV.

Taken with all the other comments in this thread a direction of travel is beginning to emerge that might help with the data delivery demand. With the software solutions emerging as such a pace it must be very difficult to know quite when and where to jump with these big product launches!

If after the LOD15 summer TE GB south release a raincheck allows the development of LOD15 seasonal releases using this sort of shader overlay alongside a new Central 5 than thinks are looking very interesting for the future. 

 

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Honestly, I am a Little bit surprised by this discussion. No one ever asked ORBX to go down the TE route and it was obvious from the beginning that those TE products are huge in regard of download volumes and disk space requirements, why suddenly bringing up a discussion about seasons or how to avoid increased or too high traffic off from the ORBX servers?

 

To me, the individual seasons is one of the things I really like in P3D over Xplane. While I could live with single seasons for regions where you never see snow (but still coloured trees in spring/autumn), I certainly would miss snowy landscapes in many places. I also could easily live with slightly reduced photoground resolution to compensate for the demand of disk space.

 

If ORBX manages to get around the 5 season texture set by using shaders, why not? This would be equally nice. Just please do not go down the Xplane route with having the northern hemisphere world in green all winter long...

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2 hours ago, kevinfirth said:

Agree in theory, but is it likely anytime soon? Market opportunity here?

 

We had gone down the path of hiring coders to make a shader season tool for P3D, XP11 and AFS2 but I pulled the plug on the project when I saw what other companies are doing in the same space. It is fairly easy to produce seasons from a summer base with the following colour and tonal controls:

 

Red

Green

Blue

Brightness

Contrast

Saturation

Desaturation

Inverse

 

Create a simple app that can be called from inside the sim, have a canned preset for each season and a tree texture switcher for XP11 and AFS2. Allow users to tweak and make their own presets and save them locally and to a community tweaks location. Done.

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19 minutes ago, John Venema said:

 

We had gone down the path of hiring coders to make a shader season tool for P3D, XP11 and AFS2 but I pulled the plug on the project when I saw what other companies are doing in the same space. It is fairly easy to produce seasons from a summer base with the following colour and tonal controls:

 

Red

Green

Blue

Brightness

Contrast

Saturation

Desaturation

Inverse

 

Create a simple app that can be called from inside the sim, have a canned preset for each season and a tree texture switcher for XP11 and AFS2. Allow users to tweak and make their own presets and save them locally and to a community tweaks location. Done.

I confess I dont know much about the use of shaders and seasonal adjustments so this is a learning curve for me.  Are you aware of such a shader product being currently developed for P3D then please John? or are you unable to discuss that? :p

 

If so, and especially if its dynamically linked to sim weather conditions, via PKD, that would somewhat negate the demand for seasonal texture variations based purely on a monthly basis when the bgls are compiled...

 

You'd be able to deliver a single season 0.6m/pp ground image then? ;)

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Xenviro if ever upgraded to 1.10 will be good going by the shots I have seen.

I have terramaxx, this does seasonal stuff like trees and snow but I couldn't get it to work with ORBX..

To be honest though for me snow is not everything, I would be happy with seasonal trees.......currently using ASXP with UWXP and very happy with the results' I have Xenviro and Skymaxx Pro to...

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If after the LOD15 summer TE GB south release a raincheck allows the development of LOD15 seasonal releases using this sort of shader overlay alongside a new Central 5 than thinks are looking very interesting for the future.

 

I would prefer any "rain check" to happen after all of the TrueEarth GB and Ireland products have been released for P3D.

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I come back to the initial subject of the post.
For photo-realism, you absolutely need the best possible resolution if you want to have a sharp enough rendering at low altitude, otherwise it's blurry and it's not beautiful.
So, necessarily, from Lod 15 without the seasons.
Lod 14 is far too little as a resolution.

Edited by Handie

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10 minutes ago, Christopher Low said:

 

I would prefer any "rain check" to happen after all of the TrueEarth GB and Ireland products have been released for P3D.

See JVs post above Chris, he believes this is being addressed by 3rd party devs...no need for delay or rain checks on anything as I read it.

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I watched the xEnviro v1.10 snow accumulation test video and saw the Facebook picture.
While this is fascinating stuff and could solve the problems of having to develop individual seasons, my concern is that this is being developed for XP11. Who is the developer that is going to do something similar for P3D?
Also, how will we get the shaders to display the correct colours and tones appropriate to the season we choose in the sim? A 3rd party purchased add-on, manually copying community driven pre-set season shader files into the shaders folder, a menu selection in FTX Central 4, automatically based on the date in sim? 
Just displaying snow on the ground will not be enough to delineate a difference from northern hemisphere summer when we're in April or October.

I think that we could wait for seasons until after the LOD 15 summer only versions for all areas of TE GB are released, to see if anything does come along. However, if nothing is announced by the time P3D TE GB North is about to release, I feel ORBX should devote its resources to creating the additional seasons textures as discussed in this thread.

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I mentioned a 'rain check' because there will be a pause after TE GB south for the team to work on  LC Africa which is long awaited. (See post 'Where is ORBX going with Regions').

Also Nick said elsewhere that he thought Central 4 would be some time coming. 

It may be that more TE LOD 15 summer only areas are released and the 'shader fix' for want of a better term is applied later. That might satisfy both those restless for GB to be completed, but keep seasonality alive as an ongoing project maybe? I'd certainly be happy with that.

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6 hours ago, F737NG said:

I watched the xEnviro v1.10 snow accumulation test video and saw the Facebook picture.

 

I saw those videos also, still very much under development and on the performance front looks like an update for the elite plus hardware group :) ... don't think my 9900K @5.4Ghz 2080Ti setup will be enough to hack it.  On the fence regarding the clouds ... better than want currently exists in XP11 but not a fan of TrueSky as it looked odd in FSW with rapid warping of sprites (if that's what is being used) but maybe it just a matter of better implementation?

 

As for the dynamic lights highlighting clouds, I definitely like it, but it looks like another significant hit to FPS (the demo vids were definitely showing signs of "load").  In P3D the lighting of clouds happens with certain aircraft and AS4 cloud motion effects ... but that's a front face quad just being illuminated and not a dynamic illumination with volume like that shown in xEnviro 1.10.

 

xEnviro 1.10 would be a welcome improvement to XP but not a replacement for 4-5 seasons.

 

Cheers, Rob.

Edited by Rob Ainscough

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Just to mention (in regards to X-Plane), technically it can support seasons in a similar way to P3D. Developers can change the objects in the scenery based on the time of year, e.g. You could replace all the trees with autumn colours between October and November. However, when dealing with orthoimagery, at present it would require the same imagery to be distributed again for each season, so if TE GB South is 130GB, then adding Autumn would be 260GB, Winter would be 390GB, so you get the picture :D. With winter, covering every single ortho with snow is just unrealistic, snow is patchy, especially in the UK, with some parts of the country rarely seeing snow compared to others. (Incidentally a flurry of snow in the UK causes a national breakdown and everything closes)

 

The crazy part is that often the seasonal changes applied to ortho imagery are just color-tints and saturation, so it's the same imagery. The tech needs to move on, xEnviro at least shows what is possible, so in my opinion, this is the way forward for both sims, and our hard-disk storage space sanity. 

 

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23 hours ago, John Venema said:

This is TrueEarth GB South for XP11, with xEnviro adding snow. Note how even the roofs and trees have snow added. Nice volumetric clouds too.

 

All with shaders

 

image.thumb.png.fbad713380fef089a1e091c99d6a2b60.png

 

 
So if this can be done for XP11, why not for P3D?
 
That to me is the future of large area photoreal regions. Create summer/night and use tech to add seasons.Eventually P3D won't need night ortho textures because it will all be dynamically lit like XP11 does.

 

Seriously, I can use XEnviro to add snow? Until now I used another tool and this duplicated the photoreal textures.

 

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On 1/7/2019 at 7:31 AM, John Venema said:

This is TrueEarth GB South for XP11, with xEnviro adding snow. Note how even the roofs and trees have snow added. Nice volumetric clouds too.

 

All with shaders

 

image.thumb.png.fbad713380fef089a1e091c99d6a2b60.png

 

 
So if this can be done for XP11, why not for P3D?
 
That to me is the future of large area photoreal regions. Create summer/night and use tech to add seasons.Eventually P3D won't need night ortho textures because it will all be dynamically lit like XP11 does.

John,

How likely is it that this seasonal shader tech will be reliably available from another third party or do you think it may make sense for Orbx to take another look at producing seasonal shader tech?

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8 hours ago, MartinM said:

 

Seriously, I can use XEnviro to add snow? Until now I used another tool and this duplicated the photoreal textures.

 

Not yet. This is something that they promise for the next version. We will have to see how good it really works without any additional help. But I think if they will present a feature that works sometimes the chance is pretty high that Laminar or other 3rd party publishers will also get active.

Edited by Longranger241

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The fact that they are showing Orbx’s EGKA Shoreham Airport (and TE GB behind it) completely clad in white including the roofs and trees, without any contribution from us,  is all the evidence you need that it works.

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42 minutes ago, John Venema said:

is all the evidence you need that it works.

There is a difference between: It works and it works well! In reality there are several additional things that will have to work:

Automatic exchange to other trees. Snow that doesn't only react on a date.

18°C... People are running around in T-Shirts, plants try this unexpected spring weather but the simulator says: Everything is covered in snow...

But I am certain: When the first company shows: it is possible, many competitors will be there.

The problem with XEnviro is that it isn't the first time that they promised great new features. But it doesn't help if the core system doesn't run stable.

Edited by Longranger241

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To make it clearer why I have doubts. This isn't the first time that we had in X-Plane 10 a nearly perfect solution but in the long run it was a severe problem.

I am talking about the clouds of X-Plane 10! In the first versions of X-Plane 10 we had really beautiful clouds in X-Plane 10. We had three sliders and it was very often possible to correct with these sliders the clouds to a really good compromise between looks and performance. But when the system was switched to an automatic...

I would expect that for a first example there was some fine tuning by hand required. Nothing unusual about it. But in the final version the shaders have to be capable to react by themselves and in a performant manner to changes in the cloud cover, the amount of snow, changes in the terrain, the height of the sun or the viewing distance and how the scenery looks at night. And all these adaptations have to look realistically. There is a considerable amount of work between a single picture that demonstrates that it can work and a solution that you can sell!

And this is the simple reason why I am not really convinced that this really is the solution. It is a candidate but especially when we are are talking about weather effects, there are often some compromises involved.

A solution might be perfect in one situation, but in the next minute it looks more like the result of a car crash!

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20 hours ago, John Venema said:

without any contribution from us

 

Isn't that the key statement?  :)

 

Come on John, you know you can sell seasons in P3D/FSX, hire more devs ... shaders are great and supported in both platforms, but they have limits and they don't come for free in terms of FPS. 

 

Material scripting however is far more efficient, no FPS hit, and you can get the "exact" look you want ... yes I know it's exclusive to P3D V4.4 (no FSX or prior version support) ... does XP support material scripting (I couldn't find anything in the XP11 SDK)?

 

Cheers, Rob.

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49 minutes ago, Rob Ainscough said:

 

Isn't that the key statement?  :)

 

Come on John, you know you can sell seasons in P3D/FSX, hire more devs ... shaders are great and supported in both platforms, but they have limits and they don't come for free in terms of FPS. 

 

Material scripting however is far more efficient, no FPS hit, and you can get the "exact" look you want ... yes I know it's exclusive to P3D V4.4 (no FSX or prior version support) ... does XP support material scripting (I couldn't find anything in the XP11 SDK)?

 

Cheers, Rob.

 

Great....for XPlane...No-ones been able to link to any shader based product available or being developed for P3D yet though...

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59 minutes ago, kevinfirth said:

No-ones been able to link to any shader based product available or being developed for P3D yet though

 

Sure they have, and you've most likely already been using them ... TrueGlass, PMDG's rain effects on windshield ... those are shaders but they do take "some" processing resources and those are "special gauges" per window exposed via the P3D SDK/PDK. 

 

Implementation of shaders on the primary view/window will obviously take more processing resources.  How much more I don't know ... from the xEnviro videos I could definitely see there was a significant FPS hit but no idea what hardware was used in that video.  Just waiting for 1.10 release ... it's better than no seasons at all ... however, I'm still in favor of Material scripting and full season support as a better solution on visuals and the FPS front.

 

Cheers, Rob.

Edited by Rob Ainscough

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21 minutes ago, Rob Ainscough said:

 

Sure they have, and you've most likely already been using them ... TrueGlass, PMDG's rain effects on windshield ... those are shaders but they do take "some" processing resources and those are "special gauges" per window exposed via the P3D SDK/PDK. 

 

Implementation of shaders on the primary view/window will obviously take more processing resources.  How much more I don't know ... from the xEnviro videos I could definitely see there was a significant FPS hit but no idea what hardware was used in that video.  Just waiting for 1.10 release ... it's better than no seasons at all ... however, I'm still in favor of Material scripting and full season support as a better solution on visuals and the FPS front.

 

Cheers, Rob.

I meant in terms of seasonal variations to PR...apols for my lack of specificity...

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3 hours ago, Rob Ainscough said:

 does XP support material scripting (I couldn't find anything in the XP11 SDK)?

Difficult to say, since they are in the process of writing a new SDK.In 11.30 they just now exchanged the complete shader system in preparation for Vulkan. So all shaders currently have to emulate the old shaders. We have to wait to see what they were really build for.

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1 hour ago, John Venema said:

I think Rob and Kevin need to start their own company and solve all these issues for everyone

 

You wanna buy some shares?  It's that nagging $200/yr average user spends on add-ons per Navigraph survey that's holding us back.  Come on John, we love your scenery, your company, your dev team, just do it ... seasons!!  :)

 

29 minutes ago, Longranger241 said:

they just now exchanged the complete shader system in preparation for Vulkan.

 

I'm curious to see what's going to happen there on the performance front ... AF2 Vulkan had better shadow quality but performance was down from OpenGL implementation and multi-GPU support was problematic and I've never had any success with multi-GPUs in XP.

 

Cheers, Rob.

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13 hours ago, Rob Ainscough said:

 

Isn't that the key statement?  :)

 

Come on John, you know you can sell seasons in P3D/FSX, hire more devs ... shaders are great and supported in both platforms, but they have limits and they don't come for free in terms of FPS. 

 

Material scripting however is far more efficient, no FPS hit, and you can get the "exact" look you want ... yes I know it's exclusive to P3D V4.4 (no FSX or prior version support) ... does XP support material scripting (I couldn't find anything in the XP11 SDK)?

 

Cheers, Rob.

 

Hi Rob,

 

As far as I know from P3D's SDK, Material Scripting only applies to scenery objects (MDL), not terrain. The script is attached to the object via Material Editor. Terrain is compiled with the "resample tool" direct to a BGL file. If there is a way to attach a material script to terrain, please do share.

 

Also, Material Scripting can be very costly. It all depends on how it is implemented. Besides that, it is executed once per frame and per material. So if you have the same MS and two materials it will be run twice per frame. It is there in the SDK.

 

Shaders are the native graphics language. It is extremely efficient to process its tasks via GPU. Material Scripting would tend to be less efficient since it will do its job by being interpreted in the CPU (Lua --> C++) and then head to the GPU with the results (to be processed by another shader). In other words, having shaders doing these calculations with minimal exchange with the simulator's code is the most efficient way to do the job IMHO.

 

Cheers,

Jorge.

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9 hours ago, Rob Ainscough said:

Come on John, we love your scenery, your company, your dev team, just do it ... seasons!!  :)

If only you could put all this energy into convincing LM that we need new tech for doing seasons B). In my view, in this day and age, it seems crazy in any modern game/simulator to provide 5 different versions of the same texture. I remember even reading some time ago that FlightGear (the Opensource simulator) had a concept working (https://home.flightgear.org/tours/simulating-the-ever-changing-scenery/). Not only would such a method make developing airports and scenery much easier, it would likely be cheaper for the customer and much more consistent, e.g. Imagine buying an airport that has summer only textures and putting them into a winter scene, it would look pretty bad and vice versa. Just like with the X-Plane mesh tile limitation problem, hopefully if enough people complain about it and don't just accept it, something will eventually get done. We need progress in our sims so we can take the tech forwards as well, and being stuck in the past is not helping.

 

9 hours ago, Rob Ainscough said:

I'm curious to see what's going to happen there on the performance front ... AF2 Vulkan had better shadow quality but performance was down from OpenGL implementation and multi-GPU support was problematic and I've never had any success with multi-GPUs in XP.

 

Looks like we'll be waiting a bit to find out. I didn't notice much difference in AF2 using Vulkan, but then again it already has crazy fast performance. In X-Plane, my hope is that it will speed things up such as loading and make better use of multiple CPU cores. Time will tell, but sadly it seems we'll be waiting a few more months.

 

 

 

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what about really advanced procedures like an FSL A319 with real weather at a winter airport doing de-icing processes - that we can do realistically right now in P3D with Orbx & advanced add ons?

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9 hours ago, tonywob said:

In my view, in this day and age, it seems crazy in any modern game/simulator to provide 5 different versions of the same texture.

 

The only reason this is done is due to cost (one can buy seasonal imagery that is accurate to the time of year).  I'm aware that most content providers use a single season source for terrain textures and then do their own processing thru PS scripts or one's image manipulation software of choice ... but that's the content creators choice to operate it that way in order to save money and keep the product cost down and hopefully sell enough to bring some profit home.

 

Carefully used shaders are nice in "addition" to a base seasonal textures.  Look at the FlightGear depiction of drift ice from the link you provided, it has no depth and no shadows, it looks just like someone place another texture layer on top of the water (it has no dimension).  But the BIGGEST issue with FG is there is NO climate simulation.  Shaders is not a solution and it will require more of a blind eye and processing power than going with static 4-5 seasonal textures. 

 

I completely understand the "desire" and how it would solve workflow and imagery cost on the content provider side, I get that.  But shaders alone is NOT a solution for a global environment.  We're stuck because we just don't have the computational hardware yet ... I see storage capacity getting cheaper, I don't see GPU's getting cheaper, just the opposite.  Like I said earlier, 10TB drives now at $260 and 2TB M.2's $479 these were $1200 last year.

 

I'm hoping Vulkan will bring better shadow quality to XP, I'm not expecting any FPS increase ... Vulkan (or DX12) is the way forward for any attempt at Ray Tracing support and control of multiple GPUs which I hope Laminar add support for in their Vulkan update.

 

Cheers, Rob.

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I can understand ( a bit) the cry for seasons for VFR flying, but not for tube flying. You are at 30000ft + with winter cloud cover so what scenery below are you going to see in the detail offered in a TE scenery. Change the tree foliage and shaders for Fall. Winter and Spring. That leaves us with only Winter snow to deal with and that is very variable. For GB which is the current topic of to Season or not to Season (in P3D) then the white stuff all over Gb is totally unrealistic.

 PNW in Winter needs a good covering of white stuff so for those that want seasons I agree, but PNW is NOT the topic of this thread, TE GB for P3D is the topic.

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image.thumb.png.f1db68abacf192c9b6ca4ef594308329.png

 

clearly Winter!

 

& some Orbx blurb (long time standing),

Global Base Pack P3D - 'Textures for all 4 (edit 5) seasons'...

 

& i believe Orbx has confirmed that all ever released & to be released P3D OpenLC products are based on seasons...

 

& also i believe P3D Netherlands TrueEarth LOD 15 (available now - waiting for accuracy Service Pack) is all based on seasons...

 

who would tell LM & Orbx that they were crazy for all their Season development?

 

in fact, i know, there are a lot of diehard XP11 users that would love Seasons - available right now with P3D, Orbx & professional addons @ start of 2019...

 

i'm not so sure shaders alone are the 'magic bullet'...

 

a cautionary tale - 'if it's not broke - don't fix it'...

 

;)

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3 hours ago, jjaycee1 said:

For GB which is the current topic of to Season or not to Season (in P3D) then the white stuff all over Gb is totally unrealistic.

 

Well, except when it's snowing. Let's not forget that P3D's way of selecting ground textures according to season is a gross approximation under any circumstances. It would be nice if we could select the ground season depiction as an option from the flight setup screen.

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34 minutes ago, MarkH said:

Well, except when it's snowing. Let's not forget that P3D's way of selecting ground textures according to season is a gross approximation under any circumstances. It would be nice if we could select the ground season depiction as an option from the flight setup screen.

 

very well said, MarkH

 

it is all an approximation (sim world) - i find the Active Sky real weather the most immersive - along with the approximate 4/5 seasons - & plenty of my airports have switches to match Orbx for the 4/5 seasons...

 

nuances of the Seasons & real weather makes for the most immersion for me - & i must admit the most accurate land classes & POIs make all the difference - still a long way to go in Orbx Land!

Edited by craigeaglefire

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4 hours ago, MarkH said:

 

Well, except when it's snowing. Let's not forget that P3D's way of selecting ground textures according to season is a gross approximation under any circumstances. It would be nice if we could select the ground season depiction as an option from the flight setup screen.

 

 I agree but clearly stated that snow all over GB was unrealistic. It is extremely rare to have the whole of the UK uniformly covered in snow. That was my point about being unrealistic. Snow in Norfolk doesn't necessarily mean snow in west Wales or Cornwall for example.

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3 minutes ago, jjaycee1 said:

 I agree but clearly stated that snow all over GB was unrealistic

 

This seems like a pretty minor inconsistency next to not allowing the depiction of snow at all. Until P3D gets a technology for ground depiction that depends on weather, not season, there will always be a mismatch between the real world and sim world.

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