Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Friday, March 20, 2009

External v3.0 ...

I promise I won't be all long winded with this post, hehe. The short version is that all of the external model upgrades (minus rebuilt pilots) are now complete. So here are some pics for your enjoyment. She's come a hell of a long way...



Sunday, March 1, 2009

Upgrades aplenty...

Well for those interested I figured I'd give a little L-39 status update.

The past few weeks have been spent doing a complete rework of the external model and all of its 27 textures, a very big job, one which I'm about 2/3 of the way through. The shape is now a *lot* more accurate, with a completely rebuilt external model cockpit, cleaned up mapping, and a ton of performance optimizations. It's very slow work but the results are well worth it so far.

Performance of the already very lean external model is now up by about 25%, which puts it somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of the performance hit of the quite efficient Acceleration F-18 in multiplayer. I've also done some tests with the special formation team model, a 'no frills' L-39 which lacks bump and specular mapping, but which absolutely blows the doors off anything out there performance wise. The final count on that model came in at around 20,000 texture vertices, and that means it's even less of a rendering hit than the default Extra-300... aka it's *FAST*. On a really good system you should be able to get at least 10 of those Albatroses on screen before noticing any kind of real performance hit. If you're into large online formation team flying then I hope that extra effort will be a big help to you. That external model will be paired with a similarly spartan single seat VC.

In other news I'm still waiting for my sounds to arrive but what I've heard from TSS so far is pretty stellar I have to say. Permission to recreate Pipsqueak (the reno racer L-39 I mentioned several posts back) has been obtained, so that's going to be a very fun addition to the lineup soon, and one that I'm very much looking forward to building. It's fully 100 knots faster than a stock Albatros and boasts double the climb rate as well as faster roll rates. Should be a good laugh for racing or very short cross country trips, and, performance aside, its crazy ass paint job and winglets are worth it alone. ;)

Almost forgot, in addition to all that, the real L-39 pilot testing the plane for me has given me a solid thumbs up on the flight model. Aside from some small compromises necessary to work around FSX's essentially broken jet engine model, the plane flies just as an Albatros should and no major changes are needed. Feels good to put that part to bed.

Oh, and in case you're wondering why I felt I needed to redo the external model at all, well, a picture will answer that question. The right wing is new, the left wing is the old style. ;)

And of course external upgrades have benefits in the VC too...

Bottom line... I'm a perfectionist. I want this thing to be as good as I can possibly make it.

After all of the external upgrades are finished then it will be merged into the VC model and a second pass of improvements will be done on that as well. Now that all of the cockpit parts are in and textured I can talk a little about performance there as well. If you have RealAir's excellent Spitfire for FSX (if you don't then you need to get it!) it's probably the closest match VC performance wise. The L-39's cockpit has fewer polygons and texture vertices but it does use a lot more texture space and draw calls, so it generally evens out in the end. Whatever performance you get with the Spitfire is probably around what you can expect from the L-39's full featured two seat pit. The L-39's VC texture load times are definitely longer on view changes but that's a fair trade for a smooth performing aircraft with two fully functional and detailed cockpits in my opinion. The single seat version of the L-39 VC is roughly 25% more efficient than the two seater though.

Like many recent addons, almost everything is built into the VC model itself and there are no 2D gauges apart from the GPS, so the L-39 is very much the opposite of traditional addon aircraft when it comes to performance demands and is pretty much videocard limited rather than CPU limited. The more powerful your videocard is the better your performance will be. People always seem to assume that FSX is strictly CPU limited but this isn't actually the case. It depends entirely on how content is built for it and I've gone to rather stupid lengths to keep the plane's render load on the videocard where it belongs, and off the CPU. As always top end Nvidia cards with 512+ mb of video memory yield the best results, though we're seeing surprisingly good performance even with a lower end 256 meg ATI card on a stock 2.4 ghz Q6600, 25-30 fps in most situations, even in multiplayer, which is very encouraging. The best part of an all-3D gauged aircraft like this though is that it's virtually 100% stutter free. Be gone archaic 2D gauges! :)

(I will no doubt eat those last few words one day when I decide to do an aircraft with a digital MFD based pit ;))

Anyway, again my apologies for disabling comments, but I just don't have time to deal with unreasonable people these days. I'll re-enable them after the L-39 is done, at the latest, and I'm looking forward to reopening dialogue with you all, but in the future I will probably be forced to delete comments that are outright rude or disrespectful to myself or anyone else.

Ok, that 'little' update kind of turned out to be long, doh. Hehe.

And with that, back to work...