New Zealand and X-Plane

An effort to collaborate all freeware New Zealand scenery addons. Discuss the creation and management of the project here.

New Zealand and X-Plane

Postby kiwi_the_iwik » Sun Jul 31, 2016 10:22 am

Hi everyone,

(First-time poster, long-time reader…!)

I’ve been a big fan of flight simulators, from my very first simulator on the ZX81, over 35 years ago. Even though it was in black and white, and used ASCII characters to create the cockpit, I remember being completely immersed in the game.

Thanks to the necessity for me to have an Apple computer (firstly an Apple IIe, then a 512KE Mac) whilst studying Engineering at University, my sim experiences were very limited. I had MS Flight Simulator for Mac - which was groundbreaking compared to my ZX81 - but nothing in the league of what PC owners had. Eventually, Microsoft ceased production on their Mac version after 4.0, and the divide widened. FS95 graduated to FS98, then FS2004, and then FSX and P3D - but all on the PC.

Then, X-Plane came along. Finally, a flight simulator which could satisfy the needs of Mac simmers everywhere. And although initially the scenery wasn’t nearly as varied as FSX, the flight model was superb. Soon enough, a very strong community was born on http://www.x-plane.org - with contributors submitting amazing aircraft and accurate scenery to populate the sparse landscape.

Fast forward a number of years, and I still have a Mac. And I still have X-Plane. Now at Version 10.45, it’s matured into a completely new and revolutionary simulator. And, with some very skilled programmers within the community, it’s now possible to convert FSX scenery to X-Plane (with permission, of course!). Added to this, accurate topography, overlayed with orthographic photos and OSM data actually creates a level of realism which is quite simply incredible. Funnily enough, I’ve succumbed to building a Quad-Core i7 PC for my son, who wants to be a pilot. It just so happens that X-Plane works much faster on a PC than a Mac!

I’ve not intended this to be an advert for X-Plane, but I think it’s had a bit of a bad press over the years from a lot of dedicated FSX/P3D fans, and hasn’t had the exposure it deserves. I really understand those so passionate about the sim, and I totally respect that. I do feel that there’s more than enough room for every simulation, though. Competition breeds success, and a continuing drive for realism and complete immersion. If you do get the chance, please take a look at what it can offer now - there’s some great links on YouTube (search for World2XPlane and Ortho4XP as two great add-ons for the sim).

Why am I posting on this site? Well, I’m an ex-pat New Zealander who has been living in the UK for many years. And yes, I do find myself missing my homeland. And even though X-Plane does have some great NZ scenery and aircraft, it’s missing some of the magical places that only FSX/P3D have available. And I really do hope that changes soon.

Companies such as Aerosoft, Virtavia and Carenado have made huge commitments to the simulator by making some amazing additions, and even I’m playing my part and have created an A-4K Kahu Skyhawk for X-Plane 10 (see attached image).

Image

What can we do? Well - for starters, I would love to see a dedicated area for NZ X-Plane users to connect on the NZFF website. And ultimately, this will undoubtedly give us a launchpad needed to encourage each other, and to collaborate on some great projects.

I know that together we can make a difference.

Thanks for reading - and I really look forward to hearing from you all.

Cheers!


Aaron.

:)
Last edited by kiwi_the_iwik on Tue Dec 19, 2017 9:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
kiwi_the_iwik
Member
 
Topic author
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2016 7:59 pm
Posts: 49

Re: New Zealand and X-Plane 10

Postby Ian Warren » Sun Jul 31, 2016 10:38 am

Good Morning this evening Aaron :) First Post and what a start, I do see a huge build for X-plane files and still growing at flightsim.com and the library is continuously, I do see many scenery area's done, it is a strange transition or time, you have been through the simulator history very much like myself so you recall the mid 1990 influx from others such as Flight Unlimited and Fly and others, they fizzled but it seem X-plane is getting a foothold so its another choice for the shoppers. Your A-4 , that is looking smooth and its a good start, want to see more and more screens, may generate extra interest.
Image
User avatar
Ian Warren
NZFF Pro
 
Joined: Fri May 05, 2006 5:23 pm
Posts: 41205
Location: AREA 51

Re: New Zealand and X-Plane 10

Postby kiwi_the_iwik » Sun Jul 31, 2016 11:19 am

Hi Ian,

Thanks for the feedback!

I used FS2XP (a utility to adapt FSX scenery to X-Plane, and really only to be used with consent), and run test conversions with some FSX scenery (and Virtavia's C17) to show some examples of X-Plane's potential:

Image

Image

My current PC's specs are i7 4790K/4.0GHz/16GB RAM - and am only using the stock Intel graphics chip. However, I'll eventually get around to buying a GTX980Ti which will boost my frame rates up from @ 30fps with medium resolution to well over 120fps with photorealistic textures (and give me the option for 4K resolutions...).

As I'd mentioned in my first post, two amazing add-ons are World2XPlane and Ortho4XP. W2XP takes readily-accessible OSM information and converts it to object and land usage data. They turn barren, uninspiring scenery into images like this:

Image

I've done some tests with Auckland's OSM data and it's incredibly populated, with little (if any) hit on frame rates. It's a start, but a very promising one...

Now, I'm actively seeking communication with the original developers of the FSX scenery for advice, assistance and/or permission to move forward with development.

Cheers,


Aaron.
User avatar
kiwi_the_iwik
Member
 
Topic author
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2016 7:59 pm
Posts: 49

Re: New Zealand and X-Plane 10

Postby toprob » Sun Jul 31, 2016 11:55 am

Hi Aaron
First, another apology for the late reply to your message.
The original layout of the sub-forums here was designed to be mainly non-sim-specific, so I'd suggest that you use the main sub-forums for any discussions -- certainly the first 7 subforums, General to Videos, could be used for Xplane threads, and as you'll see, there is little danger of any of these threads being lost amongst the chatter -- some of these forums can go for weeks without a post.
So I would think that the first step would be to post as much as you can, invite any other Xplane users onboard, and see what happens.
Good to have you here!
Image
OnlineUser avatar
toprob
NZFF Pro
 
Joined: Sat Apr 29, 2006 4:56 pm
Posts: 5366
Location: Diamond Harbour

Re: New Zealand and X-Plane 10

Postby kiwi_the_iwik » Sun Jul 31, 2016 7:24 pm

Hi Robin,

Thanks so much for the post (& the PM) - I really appreciate it!

What I find so wonderful is the sense that simmers all over the world want the same realism and experience, with whatever platform they work on, and on whatever sim they've gravitated towards. Thanks to your work, the realism that MS users have been given is second-to-none. And hopefully I've shown that with a little adaptation, a whole new world awaits those flying on X-Plane...

I'll message the folks at www.x-plane.org and ask them to be proactive in bringing us all closer together, collaborating and sharing ideas - as well as providing links to all things NZ on X-Plane, as it's submitted to their download area.

Cheers,


Aaron.
User avatar
kiwi_the_iwik
Member
 
Topic author
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2016 7:59 pm
Posts: 49

Re: New Zealand and X-Plane 10

Postby kiwi_the_iwik » Tue Aug 02, 2016 9:40 am

Hi all,

I'd like to update you all on what's been happening over on X-Plane.org:

I've started a post to bring those interested in creating an NZ X-Plane environment together - to increase interest and help promote development.

Please take the time to look here:
http://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/fo ... d-scenery/

Amazingly, in the short time since I put the post online, tonywob (the incredibly talented developer of World2XPlane) has created building coverage for large swathes of NZ's landscape - thanks to downloadable content from LINZ and some additional shapefile data from Auckland Council - and posted some preliminary images of his work so far.

I'll try to keep you updated regularly - but please feel free to add your support with advice or assistance in any way you can, by following the link or posting on this site...

Cheers,


Aaron.
User avatar
kiwi_the_iwik
Member
 
Topic author
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2016 7:59 pm
Posts: 49

Re: New Zealand and X-Plane 10

Postby toprob » Tue Aug 02, 2016 12:18 pm

That does look great -- a couple of things stand out, first the 'autogen' created from the footprint data seems to use the actual shape, rather than a rectangle in FSX. The commercial buildings also look better in the landscape than FSX, as the building height is more consistent.
I've always thought that scenery-wise Xplane does two things very well -- water and lights. You never know, I might switch when I retire...
Image
OnlineUser avatar
toprob
NZFF Pro
 
Joined: Sat Apr 29, 2006 4:56 pm
Posts: 5366
Location: Diamond Harbour

Re: New Zealand and X-Plane 10

Postby kiwi_the_iwik » Tue Aug 02, 2016 7:01 pm

That's a wonderful response, Robin - we all hope for you to be the master of yet another simulator, too!

I agree that Tony's done a magnificent job in a limited timeframe to generate such intricate data. Honestly - he's an absolute legend! He's also signed up to NZFF, and will no doubt be directly posting here when he's been accepted by the Admins - then you can converse with him directly.

So - the next step is to create bespoke generic housing objects for the region, which will populate the landscape with authentic houses, farms and factories, and then to build specific easily identifiable 3D objects and landmarks to be placed in their correct positions. The XP community are very good at coming together and adding to the World Master Library for the World2XPlane data, but if anyone within the NZFF community have any generic structures available that they wouldn't mind being utilised for the project (be it facades, textures or 3D objects), then we would be very grateful for the assistance!

Cheers,


Aaron.
User avatar
kiwi_the_iwik
Member
 
Topic author
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2016 7:59 pm
Posts: 49

Re: New Zealand and X-Plane 10

Postby tonywob » Wed Aug 03, 2016 9:22 am

Hi All

I'm the author or World2XPlane and the several country wide sceneries for X-Plane 10. New Zealand is an area I'd like to improve inside X-Plane by adding realistic autogen, forests, roads and landmarks. Here are a couple of early shots taken around Wellington:

Image

Image

I use as much data as I can from LINZ, OpenStreetMap and some other sources and then fill in the gaps using autogen generated from cadastral data. The generator works by finding buildings that best match specific footprints and rotate them into place, if no object is found, it will build up a basic building (which looks uglier, but fits the shape exactly). If there is no building footprint data in any of the data sources, it will make a guess by looking at nearby roads and the cadastral boundaries. It can use height information, roof colours from Ortho Imagery amongst other things. However, as you can imagine, it's a large amount of work to create a good artwork for the generator (I'm currently using the set I did for New England). If anyone could help out producing models or textures then this would be greatly appreciated (We can use anything, but what are badly needed are houses, supermarkets and industrial buildings). We also need landmark buildings for the major cities and more realistic tree textures. The project will be completely free like all my other sceneries, and will cover the entire country (and will be improved as and when LINZ release new data). The scenery works with or without Ortho imagery which is unfortunately quite hit & miss at the moment.

If anyone is interested in helping out then please let me know :)
tonywob
Newbie
 
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2016 5:27 am
Posts: 2

Re: New Zealand and X-Plane 10

Postby Ian Warren » Wed Aug 03, 2016 9:52 am

The AGN and the scenery certainly dose look different.
Image
User avatar
Ian Warren
NZFF Pro
 
Joined: Fri May 05, 2006 5:23 pm
Posts: 41205
Location: AREA 51

Re: New Zealand and X-Plane 10

Postby NZ255 » Wed Aug 03, 2016 6:53 pm

tonywob wrote:If anyone is interested in helping out then please let me know :)

Hey mate, that looks pretty amazing.

"Gets roof colours from orthoimagery"
Nice thinking.

I'm sure you've seen the 1m Wellington DEM available from Linz... or is it Koordinates? anyway is it possible for xplane to use all this data?
I had a go trying to wrap my head around xplane scenery dev a while ago but gave up. I know you have to output an entire 1x1 degree file that contains everything which I'm not interested in making because I don't have all that data.

People wonder why not many people develop for xplane? :D
Image
User avatar
NZ255
NZFF Pro
 
Joined: Wed Jun 20, 2007 12:57 pm
Posts: 2343

Re: New Zealand and X-Plane 10

Postby tonywob » Wed Aug 03, 2016 7:28 pm

Thanks Nick

You can pretty much convert and use any data you can find if you have the right tools. The ortho imagery application Ortho4XP which generates photoimagery along with a mesh can use most DEM data as long as it is tile aligned. There are also other tools such as MeshTool (Which I have to admit isn't the best, but the source can be edited, and I did this for my Norway Mesh to good effect). There is already a very nice detailed mesh available from alpilotx.net that makes extensive use of the LINZ data to create the landscape.

As you've pointed out, mesh changes in X-Plane are limited to 1x1 degree tiles, so if you want to make local changes to a mesh it's very difficult to do. This is my biggest complaint about the scenery system in X-Plane because it can cause headaches when two developers release a mesh to correct airport problems. However, for overlay (objects, trees, buildings, roads, airports) scenery, we can create scenery of any size. Laminar Research are well aware of the problem and hopefully will provide a solution in XP11. For local ortho imagery, e.g. for a city or airport, you can just drape textures over the existing terrain on a local basis.

One big advantage of X-Plane is the way it handles huge amounts of objects. I did a scenery called GB Pro for the UK which basically puts a building, forest or hedgerow where there is one in real life. The amount of data and objects would quickly cause an OOM in FSX, whereas X-Plane handles this nicely. The other major difference is that tiles are loaded completely into memory instead of being generated as you fly from various data, this does have disadvantages as well, but means there is no autogen popping up and blurry ground textures. Basically you pre-generate the entire mesh and the textures that go with it, and this is the final mesh you have (it isn't further tessellated).

Also Laminar Research are quite happy to help out when you have issues doing something. They will either give you pointers on what to do, or add the feature you need if isn't big to do. This in my book is a huge plus, and one of the things that attracts me to the platform.
tonywob
Newbie
 
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2016 5:27 am
Posts: 2

Re: New Zealand and X-Plane 10

Postby cowpatz » Wed Aug 03, 2016 9:58 pm

....as well as 64 bit :)
User avatar
cowpatz
NZFF Pro
 
Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2007 3:28 pm
Posts: 2430

Re: New Zealand and X-Plane 10

Postby kiwi_the_iwik » Thu Aug 04, 2016 7:53 pm

It's so fantastic to see such an interest in X-Plane from the NZFF community! I'm grateful for all of your comments.

Yes - X-Plane has changed dramatically over the years. A great flight model, highly detailed aircraft, real weather, photorealistic scenery and accurate topography all give an amazingly immersive flying experience. All of this, and it's cross-platform, too (Windows/Mac/Linux). That means a larger demographic to share their work and ideas amongst - created with X-Plane's aircraft and scenery building tools.

There are still a few areas to improve upon (such as ATC, but that is being rectified with add-ons like the amazing WorldTraffic - and the up-coming V3.0 looks to implement real-time flight plans downloadable from the internet with little effect on frame-rates). But without the support of the community, none of these improvements would have been possible, and the simulator may have fallen into obscurity...

With a little bit of work, it's relatively easy to convert objects and textures from FSX/P3D and then place them into X-Plane's landscape. Many FSX scenery developers have done this, and opened doors for X-Plane enthusiasts to whole new worlds once only accessible to FSX/P3D users. So, if you wanted to, you too can create scenery for X-Plane from your existing FSX projects for others to enjoy. Your scenery now needn't be limited to one platform, meaning that your work can reach further than it could ever do before...

If you have experienced X-Plane, do post your findings here (good and not-so-good!). The developers of X-Plane, Laminar Research, are always keen to hear of issues or problems that they can rectify. They listen to the community, reply to emails, and regularly implement changes to improve the simulator. I've even had fantastic email conversations with Austin Meyer, the man who started it all - a very approachable and creative man, who is passionate about his product. And I really think that level of customer service is spectacular!

Anyway, I guess that's why I wanted to reach out to you all here at NZFF - we share a common goal and a love of simulation (especially in New Zealand!), and it's amazing to see what the power of community can offer.

Please keep the comments (and screen images!) coming...

Cheers,


Aaron
User avatar
kiwi_the_iwik
Member
 
Topic author
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2016 7:59 pm
Posts: 49

Re: New Zealand and X-Plane 10

Postby toprob » Thu Aug 04, 2016 8:17 pm

Just while I remember, I don't have any contact details for Mike Allen-Andrews, and I'm not sure anyone else has been in contact recently. Sorry about that.
Image
OnlineUser avatar
toprob
NZFF Pro
 
Joined: Sat Apr 29, 2006 4:56 pm
Posts: 5366
Location: Diamond Harbour

Re: New Zealand and X-Plane 10

Postby Ian Warren » Thu Aug 04, 2016 8:54 pm

Checking out scenery , be interesting to see Che work go in.
Image
User avatar
Ian Warren
NZFF Pro
 
Joined: Fri May 05, 2006 5:23 pm
Posts: 41205
Location: AREA 51

Re: New Zealand and X-Plane 10

Postby kiwi_the_iwik » Mon Aug 08, 2016 5:43 am

toprob wrote:Just while I remember, I don't have any contact details for Mike Allen-Andrews, and I'm not sure anyone else has been in contact recently. Sorry about that.


No problem, Robin - I'll try emailing him directly to see if I get a response.

Failing that, anything that can be built in Sketchup can be converted to X-Plane anyway - and as a contingency, over the last few days I've been busy creating a few landmarks to go into the project - just in case...

Not finished yet (but only took me a few hours...)

Image


Cheers,


Aaron.
User avatar
kiwi_the_iwik
Member
 
Topic author
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2016 7:59 pm
Posts: 49

Re: New Zealand and X-Plane 10

Postby Ian Warren » Sat Aug 27, 2016 11:09 pm

I was going to have a further look today , some reason , just a flat day , I archived one thing in getting the FlightOne wrapper half pie working with my BAe-146 .. I really HATE the FLIGHTONE WRAPPER .. to impersonal and full off Bug and Muck no personal contact ! .......

X-Plane , Hmmm I may look into this tomorrow ... to me ... first glance looks so ten PLUS years ago and more style ... PLUS ... not sure about it ... I'll spend a Sunday or if I last that long with it , simply see what it may have to offer , one thing I noticed is the huge influx of file at flightsim.com over the last 18 months .. lotta NZ scenery is just 'noddy land, scenery style' .. every one raves about flight dynamics.

Frankly I would return to FSX in the A2A s Cessna and Piper ... (everyone knows me calling them GAY planes) , biggest thing is I'm I don't believe X-plane could have nailed the types like how I felt and compared to actually flying the types , I preferred the Piper , thing is A2A nailed the PC feel so what dose X-plane have to offer.

Thing is , is it going to offer something more than what appears to be very outdated graphic regard to cockpit and ground scenery .. course the weather engine will be something else.

One reason .. is why did PMDG put a superb DC-6 into X for starters .. I do wonder how many have sold.
Image
User avatar
Ian Warren
NZFF Pro
 
Joined: Fri May 05, 2006 5:23 pm
Posts: 41205
Location: AREA 51

Re: New Zealand and X-Plane 10

Postby kiwi_the_iwik » Sun Aug 28, 2016 10:31 pm

Hi Ian (and everyone else!)

I hope you managed to get a look at X-Plane over the past few days - it's just been updated to 10.50, which is definitely worth the upgrade. Rumour has it that it'll be the last major update before X-Plane 11...

Anyway - to help you (and others) along, I've put together an interactive map of some available NZ Scenery for X-Plane (as at August 2016), and have posted it to my Google Drive (you’ll need a free account to log on and access…)

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid= ... T5Q8c0Jh-w

Each clickable location has a link to the relevant scenery packages as well.

If you don’t have a Google account, I have created a KMZ file of the above map that you can use via the Google Earth App. I’ve uploaded it to Dropbox which you can access via this link:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/tarvf0j0kagp ... i_exa?dl=0

Hopefully, I'll regularly update it as more packages are added to the X-Plane archives.

I've also included a link to the Global X-Plane Scenery Gateway (http://x-plane.cleverest.eu/#) a much more comprehensive catalogue of scenery for X-Plane, with direct links to the packages.

Cheers,


Aaron.

Image
User avatar
kiwi_the_iwik
Member
 
Topic author
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2016 7:59 pm
Posts: 49

Re: New Zealand and X-Plane 10

Postby kiwi_the_iwik » Mon Sep 12, 2016 7:52 pm

Hi all,

I can see there's been a lot of interest with X-Plane, watching the view counter go up on this post - that's really encouraging news. Please don't be shy in giving your input to the forum, though. It's always great to hear your views.

I've been a little busy at work, but in my down-time during the evenings over the past week I've started work on a new NZAA International Terminal. The majority of the other buildings are in place, but this one has always needed an update.

My plan is to add moving support vehicles airside using Jonathan Harris's (aka. Marginal's) GroundTraffic plugin (much the same as how I've put moving traffic across the Auckland Harbour Bridge), lighting towers with particle spill to create pools of light on the tarmac - a standard feature on X-Plane - and to incorporate another fantastic plug-in by Jonathan called AutoGate, where the gantry actually moves to the side of the plane as you park at the terminal, automatically adjusting height according to the make of your aircraft!

Here's some images of my work-in-progress - there's still a lot to do, including a huge amount of texturing. But I've managed to reduce a ton of vertices to speed up redraw, and it has negligible hit to frame rates.

And all of this done in less than a week..

Image

Image

Image

Image

Cheers,


Aaron.
User avatar
kiwi_the_iwik
Member
 
Topic author
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2016 7:59 pm
Posts: 49

Next

Return to NZ Scenery Project

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests