Thursday, May 21, 2009

Onwards and...

Now that most of the bugs are fixed (and which are boring to talk about) I figured I'd give a preview of how the second pass on the cockpit is coming along.

Coming up with a really good and consistent lighting solution was a major headache and required about a week of extremely annoying trial and error alone, inducing a lot of uncontrolled cursing and ranting (sorry Peb, hehe), but the results realism wise so far are well worth the effort. Keep in mind this is still work in progress and the improvements here are only about half complete, just the panels, seat, and controls really. The upper frames still need much love, everything else needs a little tweaking still, and this is also pre-weathering, but it'll give you a hint as to the final look of the pit.

(clicky)

29 comments:

scott said...

I just started following your blog here and I have to say, amazing work! I'm really looking forward to the release.

Lotus / Ramasurinen said...

Thanks very much Scott. :)

TopDollar said...

I just noticed how awesome the seat looks. Great job dude, starting to look proper now ;)

Lotus / Ramasurinen said...

Thanks man. :)

Darrell said...

I've been following the progress for quite some time now and everytime I check back I'm amazed at how great the L-39 is looking!

After having the opportunity to sit in one of these a couple years ago and to talk with the pilot I've been looking forward to someone modeling one for FSX.

Thanks for taking on the challenge, I'll definitely be purchasing this when released!

Anonymous said...

A couple posts ago:
Lotus said: "300 moving parts"

Im trying to count them ( just for fun)

about 30 clickable cockpit switches, buttons, ect.

canopy,airbrakes,wheels,engine,stick,throttle,control surfaces rudder, elevator, flaps & ailerons, steps outside cockpit, cockpit rudder pedals, landing gear/bay doors, gear shocks.....

cant think of any others.. what other moving parts are there? ( not trying to be mean)

-M

pebble said...

M, there are far more moving parts than you can see in that picture, and some are in places you'd *never* expect. Keep in mind all those needles and indicators (some gauges have many moving parts) and you don't even what to know what the 'digital' radio stack looks like. But it adds a lot to the count. Also don't forget this is a two-seater plane, and there are a great number of effect-y type things attached to it. I think 300 moving parts is a bit of an understatement.

Dougie said...

I love the colourfulness of the cockpit...and that throttle texture still makes me smile.

Lotus / Ramasurinen said...

@Darrell

Thanks very much mate, I hope you like the finished product. As I've mentioned in posts before, I wish I could capture the smell of an L-39 cockpit as well as the look, it's really amazing and totally unique.

@M.

Yup Peb's right, there's a ton of animation going on that's invisible, even background hierarchical stuff on things that you can see. There are no 2D gauges at all (except for the gps) so every needle and knob etc had to be animated.

@Dougie.

Thanks man. Actually I've had differing takes on the throttle from L-39 pilots and mechanics, they all mention it oddly enough. Civilian ones often have a foam wrap like you see on the throttle, military ones are always plain brushed aluminium. And so it will be in the release; only civ versions will have the yellow.

AceofSpace said...

Wow I never knew so much went in to add on aircraft! I have an off topic question... I think UTX removed my fsx wave crashing effect, Ive searched through some forums and I am getting frustrated.. I know you guys are pretty skilled at this kind of thing, can someone please help? thanks!

Lotus / Ramasurinen said...

Hi AceofSpace. Glad you like the look of it. Yup, it's an *insane* amount of work.

Yes, one of the downsides of UTX is that because all of the coastlines were hand drawn basically, the polylines that control the wave crashing effect aren't present. In the default scenery that ships with FSX these were done procedurally I think, using in-house tools that aren't available to addon developers.

I ran into this problem when I started on my Iceland scenery project (which I'll hopefully continue one day). All the coast polylines for waves would have to be replaced by hand and very very carefully (they're fussy and directional).

For a country the size of Iceland this is a big big job, and for the areas that UTX versions deal with it's all but impossible, especially in Europe, which of course has a lot more coastline than North America. Using the tools available it would have taken them a year probably just to do that.

It's the only drawback of an otherwise excellent set of addons, and a fair price to pay imo.

It doesn't remove the wave crashing effect itself, it just isn't applied to the UTX areas. You should still have it visible in non-UTX scenery.

Hope that helps.

AceofSpace said...

Understood. But the only problem is yesterday I was flying around at Princess Juliana and they weren't there either(Im not 100% positive but, I could've sworn they werent there but Ill check again) And I'll also check a place that's not so close to the US.

You are right about it being more than a fair tradeoff, I love UTX and the sandy beaches & what it does for the major highways during VFR flight.

Thanks for the info! I cant wait for your L-39 add-on. Great Job! Can't wait to buy this addon, Both me & my cousin are gonna purchase it. Were gonna have fun doing to 2 man formation flights.

One more question for you, remember a while back when you did some fps research and had went to the middle of the ocean to see how many (ex. extra 300 planes) could fit on your screen all while keeping your fps @ 30? How many Lotus L-39's could you fit? (estimated)

Lotus / Ramasurinen said...

The wave effects aren't 'everywhere' by default either actually, I probably gave the wrong impression. I don't have any coastline mods for California for instance but I don't get waves along the entire coast, only in certain places, but at least they are there.

Not sure on Juliana, I generally avoid that airport for fear of being a hypocrite, hehe. It's Courchevel for the wingviewer set, but I'm curious now so I'll have a look.

Agreed on the UTX beaches, love em, also in UTX Europe the glaciers on the Alps (where I spend the bulk of my flying time) add a lot.

Thanks for all the kind words. I think you will enjoy it for multiplayer use since absolutely *everything* in the plane was designed for that from the start. The fact that it works nicely in singleplayer too is something I consider a nice bonus. :)

I do strongly encourage you and your friend to do some shared cockpit hops though, especially IFR, as that's where the plane will really show off its abilities. Plus you can drive your friend absolutely nuts with random failures from the back seat. ;)

As for the performance, I didn't feel right stating it at the time, but the L-39 was aircraft E in all the charts. So in the case of the multiple aircraft test the count was 13 of them (in clean configuration). The external model has gotten a little fatter in polys since then, around 10-12% or so, but is actually a bit more efficient to render now, so it's probably still about the same. Obviously aircraft with fuel tanks or weapons hanging off the wings add a bit of load, but not much.

Cheers mate.

AceofSpace said...

okay, just checked, flew for an hour in Rio, they show up for about 8 seconds, then they randomly disappear. strange.

Anonymous said...

It looks very nice so far. Will this L-39 include self shadowing?

Lotus / Ramasurinen said...

Hi Anonymous hehe. Thanks, glad you like what you see. I probably won't be including self shadowing in the VC because of two reasons:

1. It requires that all the geometry be manifold to work correctly which would bump up the polygon count of the cockpit enormously and end up screwing performance for DX9 users (who form the vast bulk of FSX flyers). Keep in mind this a two seater cockpit and therefore harder hitting by default, and yet high performance is my #1 goal.

2. I think the DX10 realtime cockpit shadows look absolutely *awful*, and I really don't want to support DX10 preview due to all the problems it has (flickering textures, broken vsync, bad material translations...).

So far the plane works ok in DX10, and I will experiment with enabling shadows, but I doubt the results will be very good due to my performance tweaked VC model. We'll see though.

Anonymous said...

My question was directed towards exterior self shadowing, but from your comment, it seems like only VC self shadowing will be out (I don't really intend to use DX10).

Thank you for the quick reply. It is about time someone made an L-39 for FSX.

Lotus / Ramasurinen said...

Ah ok, I misunderstood, sorry, yes external self shadowing of course works. :) That's a DX9 standard thing, no problems there. I get the VC shadow question more often, so bad assumption on my part.

Thomas said...

Nice 3D Panel how about the Frame rate in a 10 ship formations ?

Lotus / Ramasurinen said...

Hi Thomas. A 10 ship formation will be a little rough with the standard full featured 2 seater I think. On my Penryn I can get 5 on screen along with my own without much of an fps issue, and that's with pretty high scenery settings. Any more than that though and I have to make some compromises.

However, I'll also be making a formation team specific model featuring a single seat VC with no fancy stuff and an external model that does not have bump maps. You'll be able to get 10 of those in a formation with good fps easily I think.

That special formation model will probably reference the Breitling or Vjazma Rus schemes by default, but by editing the aircraft.cfg file you could assign it to any paint really, at least the paints that reference clean configuration models.

Thomas said...

I fly since 6 years professional Aerobatic Formations Virtual and i think about making a Team in FS X that why i am asking.

Also real ex-pilot.

The Team where i fly is the Frecce Tricolori Virtual, we flown FS2004 10 Ship and right now Lock On.

If your plane Com's out i test it in the Multi player sessions in Aerobatic Formations

Proflig8tor said...

Mike,

Thanks for the update. I still hope you'll sell us a relatively non-weathered version for those of us who have lots of wax and rags in our real world hangars and paint anything that gets chipped.

Interesting statistic from AirHauler's statistics site is that 75% of its users are doing so in FSX. Given the huge advantage the add on aircraft available in FS9 and the way AH works, it is a pretty strong statement. My guess is that this statistic can be applied to the FS user community, particularly the part that purchases add-ons.

Again, thanks for your blog which provides the rest of us insights into the "pretty long journey" to get something like this to market.

Lotus / Ramasurinen said...

@Thomas.

Very cool stuff. I think I've seen videos of your team online, and what I saw was pretty amazing.

As for the performance, FSX just can't compete with FS2004 that way, there's just so much more data involved, but I've done my best to keep the performance as high as possible on all versions.

Hopefully the formation team model will work well for you and possibly your team.

@Profligator

Thanks mate. Don't worry about the weathering, it's going to be very subtle and realistic. Like I mentioned once before, I'm making a look that is restored and well loved, but also regularly used for hard flying and not just polished every day. ;) I'd like to do a perfectly clean jet, it would be a ton less work actually, but the youngest L-39C in existence is 21 years old now and I have to factor that in.

I'm glad you enjoy my ramblings at any rate! :)

I hadn't heard of airhauler, I'll check it out.

Cheers guys.

Cody said...

Awesome picture. I can see lots of progress. Also, I did ride on the B-17! Sat on the cockpit for takeoff and then moved to the bombadier spot for flight. It was really loud.

Anonymous said...

Lotus,
you know how the external model of fsx aircraft have a sort of "reflection" to them? I think its called specular map, anyway, ive noticed in real life, that reflection is much much brighter, in fact on a sunny day there is much more glint coming from the reflection of the sun than it looks like on fsx. Is it possible for a developer like yourself to double back on that? Im not suggesting that you do it on your l-39, im just asking is it possible? Bc it seems to me, it would be more realistic to have the aircraft reflect more sun like in real life. thanks

Anonymous said...

lol it's called light bloom....

Lotus / Ramasurinen said...

It actually is possible to achieve the effect you're talking about, that blinding and very opaque specular highlight, without bloom, and it's what I've done on the canopy, but it would essentially mean doubling the polycount of the entire plane. It also just doesn't play nicely with bump maps. Crank it too high and it ends up looking like a plastic toy, especially on low poly or flat surfaces like the wings. If FSX could calculate light refraction and reflection properly then this would be doable without any tricks, but it can't.

Bottom line, it's an FSX limitation, and the only realistic looking way around it that I know of would be a major headache to implement and cause a substantial loss of performance. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lotus

Thank you for this wonderful work. I am fascinated very much. I have 2 questions.

1. Do you plan (may be in the future) to model "original" cockpit, with USSR-style radio communication and radionavigation gauges? We still use NDBs in the ex-USSR and we really need at least sn ADF needle:))

2. When I fly such planes in MSFS, I turn my monitor screen at an angle of 90 degree (pivot function. This helps me to see all the gauges in the main panel, including Radio Altimeter, in one glance. But with default models it works not good - they have very "optimized" cockpits, a lot of cabine parts (like cabine walls, cockpit frames) simply absent, especially if I scale a view down and look to the rear(up)-left or to the rear(up)-right. If I do this way with your model, will I see the cabine as it is in a real life, wth all her parts and "walls"?

Tory

Lotus / Ramasurinen said...

Hi Tory, thanks for your comments. Those are two good questions you asked.

1. Yes there is an ADF receiver and needle in the aircraft. The ADF radio is at the bottom of the radio stack on the right console, and the needle is on the main HSI gauge underneath the artificial horizon. You will have no trouble navigating by NDB with this plane. Also because the control stick blocks the HSI partly you can click on the leather boot at the bottom of the stick to hide it if you find it to be in the way during IFR flight.

I don't plan to include a version with old style radios, though I have given it a lot of thought. Unfortunately developing 3D radios like I have done is a LOT of work and I would really prefer not to do it all over again. That is not to say that I won't, but I think it is unlikely. The digital ones are just easier, and they are very quick to use: you just use your mousewheel over the numbers themselves to change them, much like the default 2D radio stack you find in the standard aircraft FSX comes with.

2. Your monitor question is very interesting, I have never considered turning the monitor on its side in FSX. I didn't even know FSX could handle that. That's pretty cool. Don't worry at all about missing parts or holes in the cockpit, there are absolutely *none*. One of my goals in building this plane was to cater it to track-ir users and that means there can be no holes or cut away geometry because they always find them! Track-ir users are like babies in a crib, they always find a way out. :) In fact you can stick your head outside the cockpit about 1 metre before you see any missing parts at the very back of the aircraft. I don't think you will have any problems at all using the virtual cockpit with a tilted monitor.

As you know though the instrument panel is offset slightly to the right in the L-39, so the engine instruments and fuel gauge might be a bit off the side of your screen, but you can fix that with wider zoom or shifting your view a bit I guess.

Thanks Tory.

-Mike