Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Road by Any Other Name

In X-Plane 9, road networks can be in DSF overlays. And in X-Plane 8 or 9, road types can be customized using a file.

Within the road definition file, each road type can contain:
  • "Segments" (textured quads that make the roads)
  • Objects (placed along the road)
  • Wires (for powerlines)
  • Car lanes (that vehicles drive along)
The interesting thing is: none of these types are mandatory. So you can use any of these features without the others.

"Cars" are just objects too. So one way to make a vehicle drive around an airport would be:
  1. Create a road definition file with a new road type. That road type only has a car lane which references your vehicles OBJ model.
  2. Make an overlay DSF with this new road type, drawing the path the vehicle OBJ will randomly take.
  3. Package the overlay, .net file, and OBJ all together and you've got randomly generated vehicles moving around.
As Marginal pointed out on the .org forums, roads are currently not draped, so using them in overlays is a total PITA. This is something I hope to address in the 9.1 time-frame...draped roads are an important feature, but a little bit too invasive for the v9 betas.


david said...

and do u have an idea when we could try out that new feature in OverlayEditor?

Anonymous said...

What I don't understand is how can small 3rd party commercial (and actually freeware) develpers bring real world roads to MSFS without any major hassle or insvestment but the same thing in x-plane is such a dilemma. It can't be the cost aspect as freeware developers bring real world roads to MSFS.

Roads are of course so important to us VFR piolots so I really hope they find their way to X-plane as they have to MSFS.


Benjamin Supnik said...

Mike, I can imagine a few possible scenarios:

1. Commercial add-on uses commercial data. I know that this exists for at least some MSFS add-ons, and there are reasons why this can be viable or an add-on but not the main sim. I cannot discuss the pricing policies of any specific data providers; you could query them directly but I'm not sure they will talk price without an NDA.

2. Freeware data for small-region sources. Freeware add-ons can use free databases that cover small geographic areas..this is about labor and falls into the general bucket of "why doesn't Laminar use XXX free data" in the global scenery, where XXX is a free source of data whose coverage is small enough that we can't spend the time.

This must be the domain of third parties; Laminar cannot replicate the man-hours of a huge number of individual groups working on small areas.

3. It is possible that some free-ware add-ons are using commercial data illegally. I don't have any information on whether their sources are legal or not, but I would not assume that the existence of the package indicates an above-board license.

If you do find a datasource that is priced reasonably or free, has consistent data quality, and covers a LARGE area, let me know, I am all ears.