Landscape Realism Requests (to Condor devs)

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bluefang
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Landscape Realism Requests (to Condor devs)

Post by bluefang » Mon Jul 06, 2020 4:27 am

There have been several posts in the past about Landscape developers spending the extra effort in making their landscape as realistic as possible.

As a landscape developer, I 100% agree.

However, I feel like us landscape developers are ignored by the Condor devs. It seems like 90% of the devs' effort is spent towards releasing new planes (I mean, this makes sense, as this is where the revenue is) - and 10% is towards new features and bug fixing - to keep the users happy.

Here are some things which would greatly improve the quality of life for us landscape developers (here in the US we need all of the quality of life buffs we can get - we are struggling right now with horrible politics and a crazy pandemic):


  • Landscape Editor Zoom, Pan, and Select - this is honestly not that difficult (and yes, I have developed several Win32 graphical editing tools in my past). There is even a world-wide industry standard to go by. Scroll wheel zooms, and for pan, either right click and hold or you could adopt the Photoshop standard of space-bar and left click. Seriously... having a different "state" or tool to select just to zoom and pan is painful - especially when you want to zoom and pan with another tool selected, like the tree or elevation tool.
  • Better elevation map tools - I may be in the minority here, but many runways in real life are not completely flat. In fact, the runway at my local club has an elevation change of 20 meters. Seriously. It is intimidating to new pilots, and having a way to simulate this in Condor would be absolutely mind-blowingly helpful.
  • Trees - You know, here in the US we may have a president with really short fingers, but at least our trees are really tall - like REALLY tall. The average height of the canopy cover in my local area is 100' (30 meters). I feel like the default trees in Condor are about 1/2 this size. This makes a big difference when teaching students how to land without an altimeter. We are taught to judge our altitude by tree height - and well, the Condor tree height seems be based on a much shorter average tree height. A simple slider to adjust the bXXXX and sXXXX tree scale would be awesome!
  • Make Landscape Editor a 64bit application that does all processing on a separate thread. Application programming 101 says to never do extended processing on the UI thread - yet - try to to do anything in the Landscaper Editor and you will just have to wait - most likely with all our input frozen. This is fixable and should really be addressed. Hopefully this would also fix the issue of Landscape Editor not working with really large scenery files (I believe AA2 had to develop their own method for merging separate sceneries together because of the limitations of Landscape Editor?).
  • Finally, a request that is purely cosmetic - but could be absolutely mind blowing... Add another tree type. I really want to release a "Fall" patch for my scenery that includes 3 differently colored trees. I live in an area known for having a stunning fall foliage explosion - and how cool would it be to be able to simply modify the landscape drevesa.dds file to give the trees 3 different colors.
blueridge-fall.jpg
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dgtfer
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Re: Landscape Realism Requests (to Condor devs)

Post by dgtfer » Mon Jul 06, 2020 10:31 am

bluefang wrote:
Mon Jul 06, 2020 4:27 am
There have been several posts in the past about Landscape developers spending the extra effort in making their landscape as realistic as possible.

As a landscape developer, I 100% agree.

However, I feel like us landscape developers are ignored by the Condor devs. It seems like 90% of the devs' effort is spent towards releasing new planes (I mean, this makes sense, as this is where the revenue is) - and 10% is towards new features and bug fixing - to keep the users happy.

Here are some things which would greatly improve the quality of life for us landscape developers (here in the US we need all of the quality of life buffs we can get - we are struggling right now with horrible politics and a crazy pandemic):


  • Landscape Editor Zoom, Pan, and Select - this is honestly not that difficult (and yes, I have developed several Win32 graphical editing tools in my past). There is even a world-wide industry standard to go by. Scroll wheel zooms, and for pan, either right click and hold or you could adopt the Photoshop standard of space-bar and left click. Seriously... having a different "state" or tool to select just to zoom and pan is painful - especially when you want to zoom and pan with another tool selected, like the tree or elevation tool.
  • Better elevation map tools - I may be in the minority here, but many runways in real life are not completely flat. In fact, the runway at my local club has an elevation change of 20 meters. Seriously. It is intimidating to new pilots, and having a way to simulate this in Condor would be absolutely mind-blowingly helpful.
  • Trees - You know, here in the US we may have a president with really short fingers, but at least our trees are really tall - like REALLY tall. The average height of the canopy cover in my local area is 100' (30 meters). I feel like the default trees in Condor are about 1/2 this size. This makes a big difference when teaching students how to land without an altimeter. We are taught to judge our altitude by tree height - and well, the Condor tree height seems be based on a much shorter average tree height. A simple slider to adjust the bXXXX and sXXXX tree scale would be awesome!
  • Make Landscape Editor a 64bit application that does all processing on a separate thread. Application programming 101 says to never do extended processing on the UI thread - yet - try to to do anything in the Landscaper Editor and you will just have to wait - most likely with all our input frozen. This is fixable and should really be addressed. Hopefully this would also fix the issue of Landscape Editor not working with really large scenery files (I believe AA2 had to develop their own method for merging separate sceneries together because of the limitations of Landscape Editor?).
  • Finally, a request that is purely cosmetic - but could be absolutely mind blowing... Add another tree type. I really want to release a "Fall" patch for my scenery that includes 3 differently colored trees. I live in an area known for having a stunning fall foliage explosion - and how cool would it be to be able to simply modify the landscape drevesa.dds file to give the trees 3 different colors.
blueridge-fall.jpg
Hi Bluefang!
Of course, I do agree with your requests, and I could add a few other features or modifications I would like to see, but Condor developers are one single person for its core, and it's evident that he must concentrate his work on what is the most important for this sim.
Plane development is done by a much numerous team, and even like that, all the requests are not satisfied.
Landscape Editor, though an important tool, is not what you see in flight. Its shortcomings do not seem to prevent abundant scenery production!
But I think, as LE is a totally independent software, and as we have in Condor community a lot of talented software developers that it could be efficient to have a third team, devoted to it's development?
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Andy1248
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Re: Landscape Realism Requests (to Condor devs)

Post by Andy1248 » Mon Jul 06, 2020 11:05 am

Third team, a great idea, I fully support this. :D
Condor CN = E20

vnks
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Re: Landscape Realism Requests (to Condor devs)

Post by vnks » Mon Jul 06, 2020 3:56 pm

How about open-sourcing some of the tools instead? All the formats are reversed-engineered by now anyway, and I'm sure enough people are interested to pretty much take over the development of these if given the option.

Rene Queiroz
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Re: Landscape Realism Requests (to Condor devs)

Post by Rene Queiroz » Mon Jul 06, 2020 7:33 pm

Andy1248 wrote:
Mon Jul 06, 2020 11:05 am
Third team, a great idea, I fully support this. :D
Me too!!!!!!!!! :D
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bluefang
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Re: Landscape Realism Requests (to Condor devs)

Post by bluefang » Tue Jul 07, 2020 4:42 am

dgtfer wrote:
Mon Jul 06, 2020 10:31 am
Landscape Editor, though an important tool, is not what you see in flight. Its shortcomings do not seem to prevent abundant scenery production!

True - however it does produce an unsafe work environment for my family- as they are the one's who have to hear all the obscenities every time (by habit) I try to use the scroll wheel to zoom or hit space & drag to pan - and nothing happens - all before the conscious side of my brain realizes I am in LE and not Photoshop or Blender. :D

I too have a long list of features and additions I would love to see in Condor (real-life weather import from Skysight anyone?, precipitation?) - but I feel like the items I picked out are low effort / low hanging fruit type items that would disproportionately improve our lives vs level of effort.
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solidxsnake
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Re: Landscape Realism Requests (to Condor devs)

Post by solidxsnake » Wed Jul 08, 2020 2:12 am

vnks wrote:
Mon Jul 06, 2020 3:56 pm
How about open-sourcing some of the tools instead? All the formats are reversed-engineered by now anyway, and I'm sure enough people are interested to pretty much take over the development of these if given the option.
This is the right idea. I was (and still am, quite frankly) annoyed at how none of the file formats are documented. None of this stuff is particularly complicated to reverse engineer, and to be honest, there's no reason for them to be so complicated or use proprietary formats in the first place. For example, the .apt file could just as easily be a plaintext serializable file, e.g. JSON. I don't understand the motivation to mildly obfuscate things like the formats of some of the files. Especially since the supplied tools are quite slow and don't facilitate easy maintenance of the landscapes. Take for example that there's no way to modify patches easily without regenerating the entire landscape's worth of forest/texture maps or the hashes.

Publish the formats, and I'm sure some of the developers here would collaborate to make tools to make their lives (and, in turn, the lives of all the other developers) easier.

bluefang
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Re: Landscape Realism Requests (to Condor devs)

Post by bluefang » Wed Jul 08, 2020 4:55 am

solidxsnake wrote:
Wed Jul 08, 2020 2:12 am
vnks wrote:
Mon Jul 06, 2020 3:56 pm
How about open-sourcing some of the tools instead? All the formats are reversed-engineered by now anyway, and I'm sure enough people are interested to pretty much take over the development of these if given the option.
I don't understand the motivation to lazily obfuscate things like the formats of some of the files. Especially since the supplied tools are quite slow and don't facilitate easy maintenance of the landscapes. Take for example that there's no way to modify patches easily without regenerating the entire landscape's worth of forest/texture maps or the hashes.

Publish the formats, and I'm sure some of the developers here would collaborate to make tools to make their lives (and, in turn, the lives of all the other developers) easier.

I imagine (just a guess) that the obfuscation is to ward off any foolery to landscapes used in competitions. In my opinion, this is a fruitless effort. The terrain hash and forest hash are good enough to as it is - the obfuscation of the actual data is not really needed. If someone wants to cheat for an online soaring game - well, that is just sad.

It seems the user base of Condor is divided into two main groups - those who mainly use it for online competitions (the loudest of the two groups for sure - hence the latest effort spent on spectator mode) - and those that use Condor as an educational tool.

The feature set that is of interest to these two groups has some overlap, but I feel like there is more that doesn't overlap. For instance - the competition guys probably couldn't care less about sloped runway support - as they almost always use airborne starts and landing is an afterthought and probably seen as a waste of time. Likewise, they probably couldn't care less about realistic tree height or 3D object level of detail filtering.

The addition of new planes is probably of equal interest to both groups.

I am all for an open spec for the landscape data - as well as open sourcing the Landscape Editor itself - but I view that as a long-term solution. I just wanted to voice my opinion of what I would like to see near-term that could be a quick and easy turn-around.
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congo
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Re: Landscape Realism Requests (to Condor devs)

Post by congo » Wed Jul 08, 2020 6:05 am

Hi Bluefang,

I am going to point out one thing before I voice an opinion of my own, the simulator's title....

Condor, The Complete Soaring Simulator

Ok, that done, I'm a competition pilot.

I am also involved and interested in Condor as a training tool.

I also am an avid supporter of realism in Condor2, to the point where I think it still needs to
be a fun and accesible simulator for online use. Waiting on the runway 40 minutes for your turn
to tow up is a point in fact, nobody wants this in Condor2.

I fully support any notion or motion to make Condor2 tools better and what has been discussed
so far in this thread as for the 3rd party development of those tools, great idea!

However, there is something I'd like to make you very aware of.
I don't play with cheaters. There is no point, it enables them and it makes me feel dirty and competition
is an absolute waste of time and effort in my opinion. If I found out that are cheaters were in my races,
I would not fly Condor2 or support it any longer, over and out.
It would be a devasting blow to myself and the Condor community at large.

Everything must be done to prevent that, or this sim is done as far as a competition tool.
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vnks
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Re: Landscape Realism Requests (to Condor devs)

Post by vnks » Wed Jul 08, 2020 4:12 pm

solidxsnake wrote:
Wed Jul 08, 2020 2:12 am
This is the right idea. I was (and still am, quite frankly) annoyed at how none of the file formats are documented. None of this stuff is particularly complicated to reverse engineer, and to be honest, there's no reason for them to be so complicated or use proprietary formats in the first place. For example, the .apt file could just as easily be a plaintext serializable file, e.g. JSON. I don't understand the motivation to mildly obfuscate things like the formats of some of the files. Especially since the supplied tools are quite slow and don't facilitate easy maintenance of the landscapes. Take for example that there's no way to modify patches easily without regenerating the entire landscape's worth of forest/texture maps or the hashes.

Condor2 is ancient by software standards (taking original Condor into account), that's just how you did things back then, especially on Windows. Binary formats work quite well for single-platform software, you just load them directly into memory without worrying about serialization, it really wasn't about obfuscation. If all of this stuff was open-sourced, we could come up with some intermediate formats and conversion tools, etc - I really hope it comes to that, we'd end up with much better landscape tooling without compromising development time of the simulator itself...

bluefang
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Re: Landscape Realism Requests (to Condor devs)

Post by bluefang » Wed Jul 08, 2020 11:49 pm

congo wrote:
Wed Jul 08, 2020 6:05 am
However, there is something I'd like to make you very aware of.
I don't play with cheaters. There is no point, it enables them and it makes me feel dirty and competition
is an absolute waste of time and effort in my opinion. If I found out that are cheaters were in my races,
I would not fly Condor2 or support it any longer, over and out.
It would be a devasting blow to myself and the Condor community at large.

Everything must be done to prevent that, or this sim is done as far as a competition tool.

:? Whoa...

Not sure where you got the impression from anything in this thread that there is a desire to enable cheaters.

The point I was making was that the use of obfuscated binary formats should not be used as the method for piracy prevention and / or competition integrity - as that can easily be handled with other methods.
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congo
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Re: Landscape Realism Requests (to Condor devs)

Post by congo » Fri Jul 17, 2020 9:03 am

Don't misunderstand me please bluefang.

I was just trying to point out that your suggestion of two distinct groups of Condor pilots and that one group is louder than the other needs to be brought into perspective. The competition pilots are very much interested in realism and not so much interested in arcade settings and airstarts as you suggest, at least not in my experience of flying in Condor for over a decade so far. I fully support any additional and better tools for scenery developers, it's a no brainer.

I was not suggesting that you or anyone else is going to allow cheaters, I was just saying that Condor has it's roots in competition and it needs to be protected.

If the measures you advocate can achieve the desired results without breaching the integrity of the sim, then great.
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