Friday, August 20, 2010

X-Plane 10: What Has Been Posted So Far

There have been a few posts about X-Plane 10 in a few random places; here is a summary of all of the version 10 material that's been previewed so far, and some notes on what is actually being shown.

First we had Paul's Oshkosh 2010 video:

I think this has been made clear already, but:
  • The base simulator shown here is not X-Plane 10, it is X-Plane 9.
  • Many of the airplanes shown here will be released for X-Plane 10.
  • This is not showing the new X-Plane weather system or global lighting.
  • Some of the content shown here are third party add-ons, available today for X-Plane 9.
The main purpose of this video was to show X-Plane off at Oshkosh; at the time we didn't have X-Plane 10 in a state where we could do an exclusive version 10 preview.

Then I accidentally leaked two test videos of global illumination. This was strictly accidental: I was looking for a cheap way to post a large video for Austin and Propsman late at night and didn't think anyone would sift through 191 zip files to find two obscurely named videos. I was wrong, and someone found them on the org. I appreciate that participants in the ensuing discussion withheld judgment; these were early test videos and don't represent the final feature in any useful way. They do, however show off some of what global lighting will mean.
  • This is the Cirrus Jet with landing lights implemented via global illumination. We get two distinct landing lights that cast specular hilights on the fuselage. As the door animates, it opens "into the light".
  • This is the Avanti Piaggio with strobes and beacons implemented via global illumination. The strobes cast light both on the fuselage and on the runway below the plane.
This second movie is typical of the kinds of tests I do: the beacon lighting is just awful - a gross huge red light splatted on the plane for test purposes. When I get the rendering engine code working I usually hand the feature off to Propsman or Sergio to tune the textures and art constants. In this case, the videos are pre-tuning.

Austin has posted three screen-shots of X-Plane 10-related content:
  • This is Javier's new shuttle, which I believe will ship in version 10. I believe this shot may have been taken in X-Plane 9. So this is not the new weather system.

    Some of these screenshots and Paul's video were shot in X-Plane 9. By the time the new airplanes are finished, they will not be usable in version 9 - they will be version 10 only.

  • Propsman has done work on the lighting system. It can be subtle to see what's going on here because the old runway lights looked pretty good too, but most of these billboard lights are actually rebuilt.

  • This night shot shows global illumination in the scenery system. The glow on the highway pavement is not rendered; it comes from the 3-d lamps along the side of the road. Similarly, the car headlights spill light on the pavement and each other as they drive. (Note how the highway lines are visible in the headlight spill even when there is no streetlight.)

    One difficult problem with rendering a lit highway at night is that the lighting from street lamps on a highway tend to spill light on the surrounding terrain, an effect that is impossible to create with a LIT texture. If you look at the right side of the main highway at the bottom of the picture, you'll see that the street light is casting light on the grass to the right of the highway too.

I think that that's all we have posted. At least, it's all I am aware of. I will go into some of the details of global illumination in another post.


Dan said...

Pretty exiting stuff coming in version 10... Will global illumintation/3D-lights be available to scenery developers too?

And is that a "heat blur" effect I'm seeing in the Cirrus Jet video behind the engine outlet? Really cool effect ;-)

Benjamin Supnik said...

3rd parties plus global illumination - ABSOLUTELY - more details tomorrow.

Heat a rough feature, but I'm hoping we can productize it.

Anonymous said...


Awesome stuff. How do you see the new lighting affecting cockpit development? Will it be practical for small and geometrically complex environments like a full 3D flight deck?
It would be useful with any kind of indication if us developers should start reconsidering the way we bake and texture light in our pits today.


Benjamin Supnik said...

Nils - absolutely practical for high geometric complexity environments. The power of deferred rendering is that the cost of lighting is _not_ related to the vertex count of the scene graph -- a light is equally expensive for one big triangle or lots of small ones. (You pay per pixel lit.)

Jack Skieczius said...

Being a new to development, i cant help but worry a little. Will there be any major changes to the way we develop aircraft for the sim? or will it be fairly easy to update our aircraft for X-plane 10?
I don't want to do some major work on my plane if i will have to change it a whole lot to make it work with X-plane 10, ya know.
Tho i am sure, you guys have thought of this already.
Any feedback would be great.

Benjamin Supnik said...

Jack - updating should be straightforward; if you don't update, the airplane should look pretty much like it did in v9...then you can use new features as desired.

A lot of the really time consuming investments (texturing, 3-d animation, panels) should be completely portable.

Jack Skieczius said...

Thanks for the quick reply Ben. I imagine when 10 is out that i, as a plane maker, will be like a kid in a candy store. At least i sure hope so. :)
Best of luck working on getting 10 out to the public. Don't let yourself get to stressed, cause we aren't going nowhere.

GPSDirect said...

The anxiety of "when will version 10.0 come out?" "what will it offer?" "will it be worth the wait?" "is Austin even focusing on it or is he all wrapped up in iPad?" all of that is gone and my heart is calmed and made joyful, with just a few screen shots. Thank you guys! This is very very exciting!

Jim A said...

What are the system specs for x-plane 10? What rendering levels are the posted pictures using?

Benjamin Supnik said...

Hi Jim,

1. Specs: we don't know yet. They haven't been finalized.

2. They vary with the pics, but the question is a little bit moot because (1) the rendering settings for v10 aren't finalized (the settings will be tuned when the art content is finalized) and (2) the settings and feature list haven't been released.