Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Good ideas, bad ideas..

Ok fine, Aerosoft is releasing its own Navdata manager, Navdata Pro.. whatever.. It's a good idea for a company, it's even a Graal, to get recurrent earnings for ever. But for us, consumers, con-simmers... it's a few bucks less for our aircrafts and sceneries. The good idea of the week ? It's from ../.

From Kevin Firth, who is desperately fighting to develop, stimulate, promote, the new dynamic shadow recently programmed by FS Dreamteam.  Dynamic shadows were implemented in FS9, not in FSX. FS Dreamteam just did it.
And that change FSX perspective. Some people said "FSX is not even in its prime", two years ago. With better processors and dynamic shadows, it's just like having... well not a Porsche, but a Mercedes will all special effects. I concur with Kevin. This should be developed. And you know what ? FSDT is ready to licence it. But yes, it costs money and takes time for developers to learn and include it in their own work...
Good luck and good night !
 D. Mason
 What is a dynamic shadow ? A "static" shadow is designed from the texture layers to give the impression of a real shadow.

But a dynamic shadow is calculated by an algorythm or code lines, in order to be accurate depending on the real time and sun position. The algorythm take into account all 3D models interactions.
Kevin Firth is working a lot for the FS world, he developed a complement for UK 2000 Liverpool, wrote a blog etc..
Dynamic shadows were developed recently by FS Dreamteam for Vancouver airport. I suspect this technology is a direct consequence of their work on KLAX and lighting but it's just a guess.

A more comprehensive explanation has been post by Umberto, CEO of FSDT :

From FSDT forum :
" Note that, shadows are Dynamic (meaning, they are not always the same), but are not constantly changing in real time, we'll have several time bands along the day, which will be chosen to represent significant changes in the day lighting so, it's more like an expansion of the FSX concept of day/dusk/night transition, here we'll have the "day" part divided in several transitions. We believe this is a good compromise compared to a true realtime shadows engine, which would surely have a great impact on fps.

Our ever-present Couatl engine will use a script that calculates the correct lighting to use depending on time of the day, day of the year and CYVR coordinates, in order to have things like "late afternoon" or "early morning" shadows happening at different times along the year, depending on the season.

The granularity of the switching doesn't have any impact on the fps, only on hard drive space and download times so, we might even consider having a download version with less switches, and a DVD-only version (or a special download for register customers only: we have a Trial version, which means we can't waste too much bandwidth) with a finer switching process. .//.. "

More on this topic :



Kevin Firth said...

Thanks Dom, I think 'desperately fighting' might be a slight use of literary licence though! :p I just thought it interesting that Umberto was willing to distribute the coautl engine to other developers. Gary Summons (UK2000) has said he won't be using it, preferring to concentrate his efforts on producing more sceneries. I think others may have similar feelings, when you also take into account that they'd have to learn the python scripting language and potentially have to change the entire way they work and create sceneries. Also, they'd have to use FSDTs add-on manager and sell purely through eSellerate, which could prove unattractive to some, before we even get round to considering a licence fee! So, I think there won't be a rush to incorporate dynamic shadowing into lots of other airport sceneries in the short term.

Anonymous said...

FSDT's shadows are not really dynamic. They just use their coautl 'thing' to do crude texture swaps based on time. The shadows don't animate & will need slow reloads to change positions. They probably only render the shadow positions every 3-5 hours or the file size will get enormous.
Its not worth the effort & seems like a desperate feature push. Static shadows are more than good enough until a real graphics engine provide it as a normal feature. Like almost all modern games do.

Even MS Flight did it properly.

PS. Xplane has a REAL Dynamic Shadow system built in.

John, FS DEV

Kevin Firth said...

I came to the same conclusion about the time based texture swaps - I can entirely understand why a developer wouldn't want to spend lots of time reworking textures as it probably wouldn't be a cost effective use of their time. What I did like though, is the thinking outside the box attitude. Not every innovation makes a commercial impact ( think Sinclair C5!) but sooner or later it may find a more commercially attractive application :)

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