QUOTE (jeansy @ Dec 18 2011,10:31 AM)
for the locals perspective
is this work getting?
I'm a local, and I'll give my initial opinion, even though I do sell a 'competing' product -- Vector Land Class -- through my website...
Going from default FSX to NZSI is a huge improvement, of course. Going via VLC to NZSI is the tricky bit, where both have strengths, and both have weaknesses. So there are three groups of people that this is aimed at -- those who have used Vector Land Class for a while, those who have lived in the South Island, that those who both live here and use VLC:)
Summer in NZSI is lovely -- I live in Lyttelton, so this was the first place I checked. Most of my initial flights were via saved flights, which are designed to show off various areas of NZ, and Lyttelton is one of these, because anyone who visits me has automatically been to Lyttelton... Flying over NZSI Banks Peninsula in summer is great. This isn't the same in the other months, because I no longer get that instant recognition that I'm looking for. The other seasons just go too green, and I don't mean a nice green.
The trouble, I think, relates to how the seasonal texture are produced. Most aerial photos in New Zealand are flown in December/January, which is the beginning of summer, so of course they represent that time of the year perfectly. In reality, though, this is more a spring/summer look, the real summer in similar areas and landclasses is a lot drier. Banks Peninsula at the moment is at its greenest, which isn't very green at all, but this usually just lasts a few weeks while the grasses are sprouting. Think of tussock, the natural colour is far from green, although in the early spring it does get some green growth.
So to create the other seasons, simply greening them up doesn't work well for many landclasses in NZ, for a few reasons. The result is that there is a lot less seasonal variation in New Zealand than in other parts of the world. Here, green farmland is kept pretty much the same throughout the year with the help of irrigation. In the winter everything here dies so there is almost no green at all. In native areas there's less variation -- these just stay green all year.
One solution for NZ scenery developers is to reduce the number of seasons for some landclasses in NZ, and flip summer and winter for a few. I think that Christian Stock did something similar for FS2004 topo, and VLC works this way as well.
But using NZSI in summer, as I said, is great. Banks Peninsula looks great, and I love the Akaroa lighthouse, which is one of the many accurate lighthouses provided. Further south the summer is great as well, but the greens are just as jarring in the other seasons. Marlborough is another area which is really well represented in summer. However I was disappointed with the West Coast overall. There is plenty I've yet to explore in the South Island, so this is still early days.
Speaking of Akaroa and early days, I'm aware that a lot of small towns are missing due to a bug in this release. Hokitika township doesn't exist, the northern side of Greymouth is missing, and Akaroa township isn't there. I understand that this will be fixed, so some locals might want to wait until this is released.
I won't comment too much on the 'flow' features, I know that people love these, and they are all there -- this was my first Orbx scenery, so I haven't seen these before, the wavy grass and the people walking about airports. Great ambiance from a distance, kind of corny up close. I've yet to see a sheep...
One of the strengths of Orbx scenery is the vegetation, and there's plenty here. I was expecting something a bit more NZ, though -- the vegetation is very generic, although attractive enough. One feature of Orbx scenery is the lack of any real variation in trees, which gives a nice tidy effect, but doesn't look right in New Zealand cites, for instance. From ground-level the little airfields are beautiful with the dense tree backdrops. I was most interested in the rural airfields, of course, as these have the most scope to represent the real South Island, and these are all customised to a nice level, not too overdone -- the developers didn't feel the need to cram in hundreds of objects into an airfield which is in reality just a couple of hangars, a water tank, and some wire fencing to keep the sheep out...
Some issues which I've noticed:
The textures overall are very, very dark, so dark in fact that using them with my normal ENBseries settings makes them go almost completely black. This also means that they don't blend well with any existing photoscenery, not just mine but all of them. I had my FSX looking brilliant with recent atmospheric improvements, but I would really need to rethink these if I was to use NZSI permanently. Orbx has suggested that developers redo photoscenery to match, but this doesn't make sense to me -- I don't think that over-adjusting aerial images gives good photoscenery.
The shelterbelts were of interest to a lot of locals, mainly because this was something which some didn't like in VLC. Orbx has dealt with these a completely different way, as I knew they would, but they haven't managed to get them to work 100% either. They are made up of rows of cross-plane 'blocks', which together make a hedgerow, and this is great in that it allows a nice shelterbelt to follow the contours of the land. Unfortunately they only really work when autogen is set to super-dense, overwise they turn into single boxes in a row. They do say that autogen should be set this way, but for some of us this just isn't possible.
For any photoscenery which uses autogen, there will be issues, as installing Orbx NZSI seems to damage some autogen textures, giving a picture of eaves where roofs should be. Weird, but maybe fixable.