Sunday, September 19, 2010

Feature Requests for Reality

With X-Plane 10 on the way, it seems that the various X-Plane forums are just filled with users listing off their favorite feature requests. If there is one uniting theme for these requests, it is this: they are pretty much all requests for X-Plane to more accurately model some neglected aspect of reality.

I would like this relationship to be two-way, with give-and-take. It doesn't seem fair that in every case, we should have to change X-Plane to model reality. So I humbly submit to the X-Plane user community: my requests for changes to reality to ease X-Plane development.

No Wind Near Water

My first request is a simple one: can we simply not have any more wind over the ocean? Ocean waves are hard to model. They are non-sinusoidal, they don't repeat, they're refractive, and they go for miles. If we could simply eliminate the wind, then we could model the ocean as a nice calm glassy lake, which would be quite a bit simpler to get right.

Only One Building

My second request is a modest one: from now on, I would like everyone to live in the same type of uniform house. It can be a nice house (several stories, with a pool in the house), but everyone's house should be the same. We have some new instancing technology for version 10; it reaches peak efficiency when a single building is repeated ad infinitum. So if you could all agree on a single house type, it would be good for everyone framerate wise.

(I realize that some of you in subdivisions in the US that already do this; hopefully the rest of the world can take a hint.)

No More Intersecting Roads

Alex and I have spent just a crazy amount of time trying to cope with what to do when two roads intersect. So my third request is: no more intersecting roads. I would like all roads to cross each other by some kind of overpass. This will eliminate a lot of artifacts.

In fact, for extra credit, if all roads could be aligned to be precisely north-south or east-west in a grid, that would be good for RAM use.

No Variation in Climate

This one isn't so important for me, but I think the art team might appreciate it. It turns out that different parts of the world have different temperature variations and rainfall, and that in turns makes the local color of grass, trees, etc. a bit different. This just makes work for our artists - they have to draw everything several times for the different climates. It would help us out a lot if you could all live in places with the same annual rainfall and temperature variation.

(Just in case this climate thing turns out to be true, I suggest everyone settle on the "hot dry" climate pattern - we have pretty good textures for that.)

Pave the Bay

Finally, when in doubt, use asphalt. We have some new shaders in version 10 that will make asphalt look pretty good.

Anyway, this is my list - I am sure the other X-Plane developers will have other requests. (I suspect Austin's life would be made easier if weather was always CAVOK, and Chris's life would be greatly simplified if there weren't any other airplanes in the sky.)

Do you have any hints as to when this new version of reality might be released, or what its minimum system requirements are?


Anonymous said...

Sounds like instancing will be good for forests.

Can instancing scale a tree model smaller/larger without penalty? Uniform tree height doesn't look that great.

How about WIP some screen shots of what you're working on? Would make the community very happy!

Jack Skieczius said...

Now i know Austin has you working to hard. The fact you need to come and have some fun joking around tells me you are really really working to hard.
maybe Austin will give you all a vacation once XP10 is out eh?

Thanks for the laughs

vonhinx said...

It feels good to blow off once in a while. This was very refreshing to read. (More!)

That said, I never thought about the road intersection problem. If you are considering lights and bunching — or waiting — or synchronizin à la Marching Bandg (with or without slowing or queuing) then you'll need more than an epithet or two to blow that off.

And if you're considering climate change....

Anonymous said...

Humanity is working hard on the problem. Particularly climate change is a very slow process. Asphalting and unification of the buildings make great progress. But there are groups that provide resistance.

It looks as though you have to take reality as it is.

simmo said...

Ben I'll get the bug spray and weedkiller out to remove any butterfly effect and all grass textures/blades from reality! oh and poke everyones left eye out so we only have a 2d world! Funny post :-)


Steve in Tucson said...

Ben....I feel your pain. Austin opens the lid a crack and out comes the herd of worms. Thanks for even taking the time to read the forums and for participating in the feedback. The truth that most may not realize in their enthusiastic fervor is that you fellows have been listening to users for years. One just can't have everything all at the same time. Thanks for that, and thanks for the laugh...and hang in there. January is coming!

Anonymous said...

lol ,, very good & agree whole heartedly with your post - as someone who works in IT ,, bravo !

Anonymous said...

Plunio ( How about to resolve the fighters fluttering over Mach 1,0? :)

Benjamin Supnik said...

Plunio, I would like to request that the speed of sound be increased to perhaps 50,000 m/s. :-)

pauli said...

no all that informations are scaring me:

we are going back into uniformity nobody wants. The quality of X-PLANE is the best of all in reality performance. That seems to be an April-choke to simplify the world as you like it.
If this will be done I really stay with your old Version 9... which is very flexible in all scenery and airplane design.
Only three problems are really not solved
- Weather more realistic
- Satellite Scenery
- Roads to be altered by designers

Ben if you will continue like you proposed you will loose the value of a super realistic flight simulator and not only that, you will loose all your additional facilities like car and train simulators. Perhaps to use these ideas for i-phones I do not scare, but please not for the use in normal computers.

your friend pauli

Arista said...

O boy, of course this post was meant as a joke. Nobody can make such changes to the laws of nature of the real world, like Ben proposed (although humanity is indeed working hard to prove otherwise)...

Ben, thanks for a good laugh! :-)


Geoff said...

Just one question regarding XP10... are runway markings separate from the asphalt/concrete/etc. textures, so that they can be scaled accurately at different runway sizes now?