Custom shadow model

A recent question by Don Grovestine on the FSDeveloper forum made me look more at the shadows of FSX models. As everybody knows, turning on the shadows in FSX can have a considerable influence on the performance. But the FSX MDL format also does allow you to specify a custom model that is used to render the shadow. I did some testing today to determine how big the performance difference can be. I started by making a rather complex object, with almost 6000 triangles. And I placed many instances of it at my favourite test location. The screenshot below shows how the … Continue reading Custom shadow model

It’s the scale, stupid

While working on the next update of the NL2000 scenery, I have learned some interesting things again. For this update I have worked on the road bridges we have in the scenery. These objects have been in the scenery a couple of versions already, but with the road traffic that FSX has added it became quite clear that the cars were not driving over the bridge, but through it. The solution for this was to add a platform to the road surface of the bridge. Adding the platform was easy, that could be done with ModelConverterX in a few seconds. … Continue reading It’s the scale, stupid

Importing into GMax

Today I was trying to import an object into GMax again. As usual I used ModelConverterX to make a 3DS file and then imported that one. But, also as usual, that meant a lot of trouble with the textures. Especially since the 3DS format can only store short DOS filenames, it can be quite some trouble to get everything imported correct. I had heard of scripts to import Wavefront OBJ files before, so I decided to look around a bit. In the end I found this script. Using it, it became a lot easier to import my objects I have … Continue reading Importing into GMax

Level of detail for FS2004 models

Tonight I have been improving how ModelConverterX reads levels of detail from FS2004 MDL files. The LOD values are now calculated more accurately. Since I spend quite some time figuring out some details I had figured out last year already (but forgot since then), let me sum up my main findings about levels of detail: The LOD switching distance is determined by the object radius and the LOD value. For example a LOD value of 40 means that the object will switch when 2.5 times the radius of the object covers 40 pixels. The LOD value of the highest LOD … Continue reading Level of detail for FS2004 models

FSX AGN files

On the FSDeveloper Wiki we have a page describing the FSX autogen (AGN) file format. Today I have been experimenting with AGN files a bit, so I have added more information to this page. Polygonal buidlings, library objects and row houses are not also described. For the other sections I have added some extra explanation as well. Why did I do this? I wanted to see if I can create AGN files based on shapefile footprints of buidlings. So understanding the AGN format was the first step in that process. I have now made a small tool that can decompile … Continue reading FSX AGN files

Another object placement tool?

For a while I am thinking about how to integrate the different tools I have made better. An example of this integration would be to open objects from Library Creator XML directly into ModelConverterX or easily insert an object from ModelConverterX directly into a library. While playing with those integration idea I had another idea. ModelConverterX already has a simple object placement function, so why not extend it with a proper object placement tool? Like a FSX update of ObPlacer XML. Below is a quick video of a prototype tool I made for this. [View:] My question is would yet … Continue reading Another object placement tool?

Adding objects to FlightGear

This evening I took my first (baby) steps into scenery design for FlightGear. Having done scenery design for Microsoft Flight Simulator for such a long time, it takes a little time to get used to the differences. Let me start with the good news, in the end I was able to see my objects. In this blog I will describe some of the things I came across. Getting the objects in a format that FlightGear can read was quite easy. I was using two models I had made before for FSX. So I just imported their MDL files into ModelConverterX, … Continue reading Adding objects to FlightGear

Coordinate confusion – part 2

After all the theory I blogged about yesterday, I thought it might be a good idea to illustrate the difference today. So let’s take a quite common example. I have taken the threshold coordinates of runway 06-24 from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. And I have chosen the reference point to be near the middle of the runway. What are my XY coordinates of the threshold when I am modelling the runway in my 3D editor? The two screenshots above show the XY coordinates for the threshold of 06 (top picture) and 24 (bottom picture). In the screenshots you can see both … Continue reading Coordinate confusion – part 2

Coordinate confusion

OK, I got a question for you. What kind of coordinates does your 3D modelling tool use? I mean a tool like GMax, FSDS, SketchUp or 3DS Max. Ah, that is an easy question you must think now, all of these programs use a 3D axis system where you model your object in meters (or maybe feet or inches for the developers in the US). So that question does not seem so difficult, does it? But how do these meters related to the position of the object on earth? The earth is a sphere (or more accurate an ellipsoid) and the … Continue reading Coordinate confusion

Effects with an offset

A topic that has been raised frequently on the FSDeveloper forums recently is that effects attached to an object in FSX have an offset in their placement. Especially when you use these effects for your taxiway lighting or approach lights that is an annoying “feature”. So tonight I did a little experiment to see if I could reproduce these complaints. I placed three objects at 250 meter distance, each with an effect at the top. The last one was 500 meters from the reference point and as you can see the effect is not at the top of the object, … Continue reading Effects with an offset