Friday, July 23, 2010

Further FSX Testing

I just did a quick test with real weather taking off from KCHD again, this time using the real weather engine that is included in FSX. Surprisingly I was getting pretty much the same FPS as when using Active Sky Evolution, so ASE doesn’t appear to be a hit on performance any more than the stock weather engine is.


I will run another test still in the KMFR area to see what kind of FPS I get there.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

FSX Addons and Tuning Part 2

I set up a quick flight taking off from the airport in Chandler, AZ (KCHD) and flying over towards Camelback mountain in Phoenix. I used Active Sky Evolution to get the weather data and use it’s weather engine in the game. I also changed the REX water theme, which I think makes it look somewhat better. Before it was something called sparkling, and that it did do. It could use some more tweaking to get it just right.

Anyways, I was flying around the Phoenix area at about 3000 ft. My FPS was 25 for the flight. I figured it would probably be less being in an area like Phoenix with a lot of ground objects, plus the cloudy weather was pushing it some too. I didn’t think it was bad though, and the plane responded just fine, so the 25 FPS wasn’t effecting gameplay for me. For the next test I will have to go up and fly a bit of the trip from KMFR to KPAE with Active Sky Evolution running and see what kind of FPS then.

Here are some pictures:


Here are some shots with the new water setup:

As you can see the ground textures don't look as nice up close as they do at 8000 ft. I don't know if it is a mixture of the landclass stuff for the Phoenix area and the low altitude combined, or if it is just being low that makes it look not as nice. You can see some ugly spots where textures bump up against each other without there being any continuity between them, especially in the shot of Tempe town lake (2nd to last pic). I guess I should get a plane up to a decent altitude and see how the city looks then. I will say that the terrain mesh for Camelback mountain looks really good. I work across the street from there and get to see it every day and the FSGenesis terrain mesh does a nice job of capturing it. I think I will see what the water looks like if I turn off the wave animation stuff in REX as another test to see what changes I can make to the water. The current water textures though don't bother me nearly as much as the sparkling ones did.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Finally made it to KPAE

I finally was able to finish my flight from Medford, Oregon to Everett, Washington for FSEconomy last night. I used the accelerated simulation rate to get me back up to the Seattle area, and then finished flying the rest at regular sim rate. It was a rather uneventful flight, but there were a few pockets of air that threw me around, which is entertaining when simming at 4x. The only scary part was a pocket of air that I ran into on my final approach into KPAE. Luckily it wasn’t that bad and I was able to get through it and land all 5 passengers safely on the ground. I have been doing better with leaning the mixture, and changing the prop to get better performance out of the plane.

Now I need to figure out my next step. My flying partner is up in British Columbia, and I will need to look for jobs at nearby FBOs heading in that direction. We are getting close to our destination of Alaska though. I’m still very impressed with the way FSX looks with the addons, and surprised that it is performing as well as it is.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Cows have arrived in Minecraft land

Keeping up a furious development pace, 1.0.8 was released today. The main thrust of which appears to be the addition of cows:

Tuning FSX

I finally got Flight Simulator X loaded onto my system recently. I had been playing a lot about a year ago, but I had hard drive issues, and had to reinstall XP onto the drive and never got around to reinstalling FSX. Last December I upgraded to Windows 7 64 bit Home Premium. I have been in the flying mood though, so I thought I would get things loaded back up and fly some more on FSEconomy is a small pilot simulation where you take on jobs, rent planes, and fly the jobs from their points of origin to their destinations. You earn money, which you spend on renting planes, fuel, buying fixed based operations or buying planes. A buddy and myself decided to make our way from AZ to AK when playing last year, but I had the drive issue and that brought an end to things. We started up again. He is in British Columbia at the moment, and I am trying to make my way from Oregon (KMFR) to Washington (KPAE).I had Seattle in sight when FSX crashed tonight, which is a rare event. I was messing with simulation rate to hurry up the flight because I was tired, and I was messing with that setting when it crashed. Seattle Center was talking to me at the same time. So who knows what caused it to kick the bucket. All I know is I have to fly 351 miles again. :)

Anyways I wanted to make things look better so I bought some addons, and I wanted FSX to run as smooth as possible while looking nice, so I went on a search for information on tuning systems for FSX. I found the following forum posts which guided me to my settings:

I have the following addons:

FSGenesis terrain mesh for USA
Ultimate Terrain USA - landclass addon
Ground Environment X  - texture addon
Real Environment Xtreme - sky, water texture addon (has weather engine, but I don't use it)
Active Sky Evolution - weather engine addon
Traffic 2005 - AI traffic addon

Here are the settings I ended up with:

Here are some in-game screenshots. Some show the average frames per second, which was anywhere from the 30s into the 40s tonight. I forgot to run Active Sky Evolution which is a weather engine addon, so I don't know how much that would have effected things. I will do another test with it running to see what kind of numbers I get. I should also note that I am running the game in windowed mode so that I can use my flight planner software on the other display. Besides until I upgrade to Eyefinity technology using both monitors for FSX with the Windows 7 display model is a pain. I could use the 2nd display to show other windows, but I can't really use both displays as a single virtual display. Eventually I will move on to Eyefinity technology and will have the virtual cockpit on both displays, and run the flight planner on my laptop.

Just after takeoff from KMFR in Oregon:

Some shots on the way to Portland:

The system specs for the system I did this on:

Intel Q6600 Quad Core CPU
2 ATI 4850 Radeons 512MB RAM in crossfire mode
TrackIR 5
Saitek X52 HOTAS
Saitek Pro Flight Rudder Pedals
Windows 7 64 bit Home Premium
2x Samsung 22" LCD 1680x1050 (FSX is only displaying on one in windowed mode with window maximized)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Watch where you're digging!

My poor little fella died a most horrific death, buried alive by a cave in.

He is under there somewhere:

I finally made it back to base camp after a night lost in the wilderness. Once it was light out I could find my way back.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Minecraft - Gaming goodness for $12.99

Over on the Quarter to Three forums there has been a lot of buzz about a little indie game called Minecraft. It is somewhat like Dwarf Fortress with a graphical interface instead of an obscure ascii one. If you purchase the game, you get all future updates for the price, you get to play survival mode. This pits you against the wilderness. You are in a race to find shelter before nightfall when spiders, zombies, and creepers come out and look to end your life.

So basically it is a quick scramble to find/gather some wood, find/gather some coal, and then either build a shelter or make one out of a small cave. You will need to create a workbench and then some torches. Bad things do not like the light, so make sure your shelter has light. Wall off the structure so nothing can get in and put a door in the entrance. Then you are set to really get started. You can explore the world, dig deeper underground in search of iron, gold, diamonds and other things.

The game has very simplistic graphics, but the gameplay doesn't need eye candy to carry it and the graphical style gives the game some character.

While digging into the depths of the world and extending one of my tunnels, I broke into another cavern system. There I found an underground waterfall, which was pretty neat. Here is a video I shot soon after making this find.

Here are a couple shots of the world right around my home, and the beginnings of my shelter.