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akriesman View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote akriesman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: New Product ‘X’
    Posted: April-11-2009 at 11:47pm

For the last few years we have been listening to some of the things our users have been requesting.   Mainly, these are things that will greatly improve VFR flight in FSX and allow users to more readily recognize local landmarks (i.e. shopping malls,  strip centers, schools, etc).  And, we have long heard requests to actually have houses that follow accurate roads, instead of having housing autogen in FSX that follows the “fake” roads in the landclass textures.

A lot of people have been wondering what we could possibly be up to for the last 6 months.  Well, we have been very, very busy working on a new product development system (internal software).   This system will allow us to create large, semi-detailed scenery areas with a reasonable amount of manual work.

Each scenery area that we will release will provide:

1) Semi-Custom objects that are accurately sized, shaped and positioned according to there real world positions.   We call them semi-custom because the textures are generic, even though the building shapes and locations are accurate (generic textures will help performance).

2) Generic buildings from TeleAtlas POI (Point-Of-Interest) data.   These are buildings that are placed using POI data and oriented to face the accurately positioned roads.  So, you will see a generic "Auto Parts" building where one exists in real-life (or close to it).  Same for churches, restaurants, etc.

3) Finally, you will get housing terrain imprints and actual housing objects that follow accurate roads.    Urban landclass is completely removed.  So, you will no longer see the "fake" roads that are embedded in the landclass textures.  The only roads you will see are accurately positioned ones.

For years we have been discussing this potential product line.  Internally, we called it Ultimate Objects.  Since the project does not have an official name right now, I am just calling it project ‘X’ in this thread.

The goal of scenery packages we create with our new system is not to provide incredibly detailed buildings at close range.   Instead, we are going for "perception of reality" from VFR flights.   So, users familiar with an area will see something that looks very close to reality, without completely hammering frame rates.   Things like large shopping malls, universities, high schools will all be custom drawn in a very efficient manner.   Other areas based on the POI data used will have appropriate generic buildings placed.   In residential areas, you will finally be able to locate your street and see houses following it, although the houses are generic and not spaced like they would be in the real-world.

At this time, there is no information available as to when products will be released with this new system, how they will be packaged or how they will be priced.    One very probable situation is that we include the technology in our upcoming Ultimate Terrain X Alaska package as a kind of a demo.   Alaska might work well because there will be very few urban areas.   So, there would be no need for a separate Alaska product using this new technology.

The new product series will work terrific with Ultimate Terrain X.  Although, Ultimate Terrain is not necessary.   This new product is kind of like an Ultimate Terrain for buildings.   Ultimate Terrain provides the ground terrain features.   This new product provides the 3D objects to work with the accurate terrain in Ultimate Terrain.

Our internal test scenery area is a 2,500sq kilometer area around Tyler, Texas.  I will post a couple comparison shots showing the new technology.  But, please remember that while the system is in place, a lot of the textures and building repetitions need to be improved upon.    I just wanted to show you guys what has been going on to build some excitement.

Enjoy !   Screen shots to follow (hopefully they will post today).

 

Allen

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akriesman View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote akriesman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-11-2009 at 11:50pm

OK.  Here is the default Tyler, Texas.   Tyler is a 100,000+ population city.  As with most cities in FSX, Tyler has been largely forgotten.    Here is the FSX version of Tyler.

Allen

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote akriesman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-11-2009 at 11:54pm

Here is our version of Tyler, Texas.   You will notice a noticably present downtown area, stadiums, storage tanks, businesses, schools and accurately placed residential roads with houses.

Allen

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote akriesman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-12-2009 at 12:06am

Here is a shot that demonstrates what we call "Semi-Custom" buildings.   These are buildings that can be quickly drawn using our new development system, but still provide objects in the correct size, shape and positioning using generic textures.   So, from the air, they should look very accurate.

With our new software, we can create and position about 150-180 of these objects an hour, which makes this kind of product feasible.

Allen

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akriesman View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote akriesman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-12-2009 at 12:11am

Our new development system has a feature called “dynamic object positioning”.    This allows us to create things like apartment complexes, warehouse districts and even downtown areas without having to draw out each object by hand.   Instead, we mark off an area and the software populates it with appropriate buildings aligning the roads.   This will allow us to included city centers for even the smallest cities and include them in a product covering a very large area.

Here we have a couple of apartment complexes using the dynamic object technology.

Allen

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote egntpilot Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-12-2009 at 3:29am
Hi,

that looks very impressive, will look out with interest for more details.


Steve
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Axelb9 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-12-2009 at 11:03am

Hi,

This is nothing short of revolutionary! Been thinking about this idea for a long time - obviously I have zero skills to actually pull it through so it is great to see that you are working on it. The screenshots demonstrate excellently the difference - finally cities might actually take shape replacing the current blob of buildings and the archaic landclass system at least for towns.

Finally also a tool that could solve the issue of autogenless photoscenery. BTW how are the green areas addressed inside a city such as parks, greens and trees alongside the roads?

I am really looking forward to see the demonstration of the technology in UTX Alaska.

Thank you,

Alex

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akriesman View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote akriesman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-12-2009 at 12:50pm
Originally posted by Axelb9 Axelb9 wrote:

Finally also a tool that could solve the issue of autogenless photoscenery. BTW how are the green areas addressed inside a city such as parks, greens and trees alongside the roads?

Thanks Alex.   I am glad that you understand what it is we are trying to accomplish.

I actually started looking into this type of thing several years ago.   But, it has taken that long to work out a system that looks good, can be accomplished with reasonable amount of manual labor, and won't just kill frame rates.

City parks will mostly be provided by UTX, as they are now.   As we work on individual areas, we will add more detailed ground polygons as necessary (like we do with the parking lots here and other underlying terrain areas).    More or less trees could be added by changing a vector autogen entry associated with the houses.

Yes, this should work very well with photoscenery also.  Dean Mountford (FS Dreamscapes) and I are in touch often.   So, I can see a lot of our stuff working well with photoscenery.   Exept for the semi-custom drawn buildings, most other buildings won't overlay the photoscenery perfectly in most cases, because the precision of what we are providing won't be exact (but it is a big improvement over urban landclass).

This system is highly configurable from the users end.   So, you can do a lot of tuning for frame rates if necessary.

Allen

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote David Wooddell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-12-2009 at 4:32pm

Way to go team.

My areas to fly in FS are Alaska from Southcentral north and west, Upstate NY, Montana, and East Texas. After all, I live within 10 minutes of Tyler, TX. I have a reworked version of Tyler Pounds Field with the new terminal and AFCAD for UTX if this doesn't address that.

Mine also includes the Air Museum static display by the old terminal, control tower.

Keep up the good work, and I'm looking forward to this and UTX Alaska so I can update several sceneries to work with it.

David

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Brian W Keske Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-12-2009 at 10:06pm
Very interesting Allen. It looks great.

And as above....Alaska can not come soon enough for me Wink

You guys have spoiled me to the point that I cannot fly outside UT areas....and I have been missing my trips up to Alaska since FS9.....or....many moons ago.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote c152flyboy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-12-2009 at 10:12pm

Yes, this is great news Allen.  i have been waiting for some information on this and it looks and sounds even better then i expected.  i lok forward to some more information as it becomes available, the screen shots are great to see as well.  I have to start saing up for this.  Tongue

Kyle

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kenthansen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-13-2009 at 7:11am
Allen that looks awesomeClap

Nice not having the fake roads, makes it look a lot cleaner. Some of the major roads in my home town are incomplete without residential turned on, this will eliminate the clutter.

Have a few questions:

You mentioned you eliminated the urban landclass, what lc textures will be used in place of them as a base? And how will they blend into the surroudings? Maybe youn could post a pic of the border area of your test area.

How will this effect 3rd party landclass? Will Poject X override other landclass in urban areas?

How will this effect 3rd party textures such a GEX?

I noticed a lack of vegetation autogen will this be corrected?

I Know this is still in the production stage but looks very promising.



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JimC1702 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-13-2009 at 10:55am

This looks very exciting!  I'll be keeping an eye on it for sure.

Thanks Allen.

Jim

 

 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote vwest Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-13-2009 at 5:19pm
It does look great. Smile
Victor
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote akriesman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-13-2009 at 5:28pm

"You mentioned you eliminated the urban landclass, what lc textures will be used in place of them as a base?"

We will use the most appropriate vegetative landclass textures that available as background images.   In this particular area, the best textures are forest textures or forest/field textures without any structures embedded in them (like farms).

"And how will they blend into the surroudings? Maybe youn could post a pic of the border area of your test area."

This should blend in perfectly with UTX and pretty well with FSX (withoug UTX).  The roads with houses will directly replace the urban/residential roads in UTX (which most people turn off now anyway).   So, most roads that are tagged as urban/minor roads in UTX will have houses with this product.   Since the urban/rural classifications in the commercial road data are not perfect, there will be some roads that have houses when they should not and vice-versa.  But, the overall improvement in accuracy over landclass will be huge.

Some day, we might reclassify all roads by hand to be urban or rural.  But, this is a huge project.  So, for now we just have to rely on the commercial source data classifications.

"How will this effect 3rd party landclass? Will Poject X override other landclass in urban areas?"

Yes, it will override other landclass packages.   If you have UTX, then you just turn off the city landclass layer (no need for the extra overhead).

"How will this effect 3rd party textures such a GEX?"

It won't.

"I noticed a lack of vegetation autogen will this be corrected?"

The replacement landclass logic was just recently added.   I believe the texture that I chose for some areas was missing autogen definitions.   You will notice that the forested landclass textures used around the city have a lot of vegetation.

There is also a slight possibility that the maximum number of autogen objects in FSX are being displayed (6,000 ?).   But, I don't think this is the case.

We still have a lot of work planned for the texturing.    So, while this is pretty close to what the finished product will look like, there is a lot of polishing to do.

Allen

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kenthansen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-13-2009 at 7:03pm
Thanx for you explanation Allen.

I was just trying to get a idea of how this would integrate with existing adds.

Can't wait to try it out.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TomG Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-13-2009 at 9:38pm
Wow!!
I just posted to AVSIM about this same problem - buildings all over the wrong places in FSX with my correct housing development vector streets over these tiles. One response pointed me to this post. I just installed UTX, GEX, and FSGenesis Landclass. Here is an image of what I get in FSX. Those diagonal streets and buildings don't exist in my area. The actual streets are the ones I pointed out in the picture. Hopefully your product will solve my problem. It can't come soon enough! Thanks for the good news. Tom
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote c152flyboy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-14-2009 at 8:35am

Tom, i have the same issue with the GEX textures showing some real nice looking but unrealisitc areas, especially if i enabled the rural roads with UTX. that is why i dont use them, i would love to be able to see my street, but i cant stand the look of photorealistic scenery, it's way too 2 dementional looking for my taste.

Product X looks to eliminate this issue.  I sent NickN a e-mail seeing if he thinks product X will play nice with GEX.  sounds like he has been in touch with Allen about it but it is way too early to know from what Nick said.  I hope it does because if it does not i would think i would have to go back to the default FSX textures and that means i would have no more use for GEX.  Cry

Allen, can you offer any insight into this?   looking forward to futue information.

kyle

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dmountford Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-14-2009 at 8:54am
Allen, that looks great!!! You are a genius!!! I can't wait to see what else can be accomplished with this approach :-)   
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NickN Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-14-2009 at 10:06am
Originally posted by c152flyboy c152flyboy wrote:

 

I sent NickN a e-mail seeing if he thinks product X will play nice with GEX.  sounds like he has been in touch with Allen about it but it is way too early to know from what Nick said. 

 

What I said is we have not evaluated the design and that since we have never looked this over I have no direct frame of reference to comment on it.

From the description this would overlay default and therefore overlay GEX because GEX simply replaces the default textures and autogen files for those textures. Since GEX is textures only which rely on landclass to call them and this replaces the UTX Urban LC then it would overlay GEX in the area it is used, I assume, by providing a base tile system or calling a series of veg tiles the roads and buildings will overlay so the GEX urban/suburb tile underneath would not be visible and therefore roads would not appear out of alignment.

Also, if I understand Allen correctly they are still in the design phase with this so how that all comes together is still in the works. What was presented here is an 'overview' demo with specifics still to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dharris Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-14-2009 at 12:58pm
Just when you thought it could not get any better, you guys keep on bringing out more things to spend money on I don't have!  Oh well, I will have to get up earlier now , to walk along the roads and pick up extra bottles for the refund.  Keep up the good work, and with all the helpful folks on these forums and the great products you bring to the table, I can hardly wait for these to come out.  Thanks again for all your hard work.TongueTongue
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BaronKen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-14-2009 at 3:07pm
This looks great Allen, will be watching for further developments.
Ken
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote akriesman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-14-2009 at 5:42pm

FWIW, I have no doubt that GEX will further enhance project 'X'.   And, as Nick says, we are still a long way from actually having a released product using this technology (except for maybe Alaska as a demo).

What we do know, is that there is interest in what we are doing, it looks good even in the current state, and will not slaughter frame rates.

I will keep you guys updated and try and provide a few new screenshots at times.   I would like to come up with an official name for the product ASAP, instead of calling it project 'X'.    One possible, but some boring name would be "Ultimate Cityscapes", which would play off our Ultimate Terrain product line.

 

Allen

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NickN Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-14-2009 at 6:57pm

 

 

You guys know we always work to try and keep things seamless.. As Allen and Jeff develop they will keep us in the loop as they always have.

So please dont jump the gun on what will work and wont..   Allen just wants everyone to see this which addresses a very primary restriction about how vector scenery works. Their solution looks very promising Smile

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote barnicles Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-14-2009 at 7:41pm
Project X sounds like a good name. Im very bored with FSX scenery mainly because of the problems you show in your first default screenshot{generic objects just scattered everywhere} The ProjectX screens look very good, put me down for that , will it be out in under another 4 months?
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Looks like I'll be spending some money!!!!  Smile
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going to have to ask the wife for a raise in my allowance.  Wink
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote empeck Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-15-2009 at 5:26pm
This is one of the best FSX projects I've seen lately.

Are you considering Europe version too?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote akriesman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-17-2009 at 12:25am

Originally posted by empeck empeck wrote:

This is one of the best FSX projects I've seen lately.

Are you considering Europe version too?

Absolutely.    Europe is going to take some additional work because of the different textures and the diagonal "block buildings" in the larger cities (I don't know what they are called officially).

This new product is going to require us to expand our development team in order to get the products out in a reasonable time.    Even though we have highly automated the process, there is still a significant amount of manual work that must be done in each area (depending on how many semi-custom areas are present).

At this time, I am pretty sure that we are going to have to break the products up into smaller regions than UTX, if we provide a significant number of semi-custom objects.  The size of the product regions will also depend on the amount of urban areas present.   Since Canada is fairly rural, I can see it being a unique product.  But, the USA and Europe will probably have to be broken up a bit.    I will have more details as time goes on.  

What I am doing right now is creating test areas with the development system and trying to see how long it takes to work a region.   When the development system has been tweaked to the max for developer efficiency (speed of development), then it will be time to decide how the products will be packaged and how large the development staff will need to be.  At some point I will probably ask for some user feedback on the packaging.

 

Allen

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I understand.

I hope you won't forget Poland ;)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pwheeler Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-17-2009 at 6:50am
This looks very promising!

One question - will you be adding a small area of concrete around each building? It might help them to blend in with the underlying vegitative texture. In your appartment complex example the buildings look a little stuck on. With a small surround of concrete they would blend much better.

Are the buildings attached to the road network by following the vectors, kind of like your encasements from UTX?

This really would be a great advance in the current technology. For me, it addresses one of the major issues with the current landclass system.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dmountford Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-17-2009 at 6:53am
Hey Allen,

I'll email you over the weekend :-)

Dean.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote daveEM Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-17-2009 at 8:40am
Well it's been a year since the Canada update and I was just about to spend the weekend compiling a whole raft of parking lot requests for Edmonton... and maybe a road extension, but I realize the road is too much work so I wouldn't have bothered with it.

Now this Clap.

Best you send me some tools and I'll compile Alberta for you this weekend. Big%20smile

A couple more guys like me and the product can be done before you have a name for it.

Any way the product sounds great and something I'd sure like.  The generic buildings look just fine as I've fixed up my city not bad with oil tanks, hospitals, my one shopping center complete with a requested parking lot, etc.

Looking forward to it.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote larryisenor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-17-2009 at 11:13am
Allen:

Perhaps in the future this could be applied to rural areas as well. Currently the farming areas of Western Canada have correctly placed roads but the underlying tiles also have roads as well as farm buildings. By using a generic field pasture scenery and attaching the farm buildings to the road grid it would provide a better representation of the area.

Larry
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kiwikat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-17-2009 at 2:39pm
This is just incredible!!!  The magnitude of difference this will make is staggering.  Sounds like quite the project though.

Allen your PM inbox is full.  If you don't mind could you PM me with another means of contacting you?  Thanks. Smile

Keep it up guys.  This will be the biggest thing to happen to MSFS yet! Clap
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote akriesman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-18-2009 at 11:50pm



"One question - will you be adding a small area of concrete around each building?"

Paul. Yes, more recent versions already have this kind of thing as an option.  But, everything is a balancing act with framerates, etc.    I am trying not to go overboard with ground polys.   There are a lot of developer options when it comes to the underlying textures.   This demo is very basic.

"Are the buildings attached to the road network by following the vectors, kind of like your encasements from UTX?"

Only the houses are tied to vector roads.   The other buildngs are a complete different story and based on different logic.   The feature in our software that will probably be used most often is something called "dynamic object creation".   With this option, you select a large area using a ground polygon.   Then, the software adds buildings of the appropriate types inside the ground polygon, aligned with the roads.   As you can imagine, this piece has take a LONG time to develop and work out the kinks.   BTW, when I mean dynamic, I mean that the objects are created automatically at compile time, not runtime in FSX.  But, they are dynamic in that they are not manually positioned based user placement or set coordinate positions (like POI's).


Allen

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote akriesman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-18-2009 at 11:52pm

Originally posted by kiwikat kiwikat wrote:

This is just incredible!!!  The magnitude of difference this will make is staggering.  Sounds like quite the project though.

Allen your PM inbox is full.  If you don't mind could you PM me with another means of contacting you?  Thanks. Smile

Keep it up guys.  This will be the biggest thing to happen to MSFS yet! Clap

I cleared out my mailbox a bit.  So, you can PM me if you want....

"Sounds like quite the project though."

Yes, the software development has been very challenging.   A few of the base ideas came from a Terramodels development system that I did for Fly! several years ago.    But, this system probably has 20x the functionality.   The goal is to speed up object placement as fast as humanly possible, cutting corners where applicable.   For example, instead of modeling the entire downtown area for Tyler above, an area is marked off using satellite imagery, a category is selected using my software (medium sized city) and then the software populates all areas along the roads in the marked off area with appropriate objects (from the selected category).    So, the downtown area is the exact size as real-life.  But, the buildings placed are semi-random.   I don't know if that explaination made sense :)

I have been buried in code for at least the last 6 months on this, which is why I have not had much of a forum presence lately.   

I am hoping that this product can breath new life into FSX.  But, it is being developed with other simulator platforms in mind also just in case :)

 

Allen

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ldmax Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-19-2009 at 1:30pm
Allen, this is nothing short of revolutionary!  Another great leap forward in the history of flight simulation.  I am in awe at your dedication and hard work. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote c152flyboy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-19-2009 at 11:43pm

Allen, i thought your comment about breathing new life into FSX was dead on.  if FSX is the last of the breed, then developers like yourself are the ones who can make it a whole new sim again.  i think the project looks amazing and cant wait for more info.

kyle

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kiwikat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April-20-2009 at 12:03am
Thanks for the small insight Allen. I'm just fascinated by it all.  I can't say I have ever been this excited about flight simulator before! Embarrassed LOL

I sent you a PM too Tongue
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