For all of the problems with the road system, I think the architecture makes sense: DSFs contain directed networks of roads, graphic resources describe how to draw them as scenery, and cars are generated on that road network dynamically. I don't see the system fundamentally changing - rather, we'll have extensions to the rendering definitions, more advanced car behavior, and other additions within the existing framework.
(I think this is true for most v8 scenery technology - we have a lot of room to grow without a huge rewrite.)
2. Default Road Data
This is the weakest part of the road system - the data in Europe comes from horribly old sources (VMAP0) and even the US data (from TIGER) doesn't contain accurate enough flow information to really draw a nice detailed road grid. I don't see this getting a lot better any time soon...but I think there are three ways this could get better:
- We'll keep improving how we process the data in the default scenery. (But to some extent, junk data going in is going to produce poor results no matter what.)
- If we can ship overlay roads in v9, users will be able to customize road data. This would be the source of the best road data possible, at least for the relatively small* area where users customize roads.
- Some one (us or a third party) could build an add-on pack that uses commercial navigation-quality roads. I do not think we will ever have this in the sim itself - the pricing of commercial data makes this impossible. (This is not about LR being cheap - this is about not losing money on every sale of X-Plane.)
I believe that while road rendering leaves a lot to be improved right now, it is appropriate to the level of data we have. That is, we don't have nicely rendered intersections, but with such weird intersection data in the global scenery, even nicely rendered intersections would look absurd.
Once we have better road data (via better generation, or more likely, user-modified data) we'll incrementally provide improvements in the way roads look, probably including extensions to the .net format that defines their look.
4. Car Brains
Right now the AI for the generated traffic is very simple, and the way the cars drive is crude. But here again I think we need to crawl before we can walk - without nicely rendered intersections (from well-formed data), there's not a lot of point in working on this.
The road system will grow incrementally, first by allowing users to insert customized data, then by providing tools to make that data, and then by improving the way the sim draws and drives on this data. It will be an incremental process, and when it comes to roads, version 9.0 will have some evolutionary steps but nothing revolutionary.
* I think in terms of the whole world (14,000 DSFs), so user-contributed data represents a small fraction of the total scenery system. On the other hand, human beings live in clustered areas, so the numerically small number of contributions we receive will have an outsized benefit by being in "important" areas.