The combination of Flight Simulators and photorealistic scenery -- especially in virtual reality with an Oculus Rift and FlyInside -- can be an amazing experience. Being able to jet through your nearby cities and mountain valleys can be exhilirating! But something is still missing: photoreal scenery products for Flight Simulator don't typically come with detailed 3D trees and buildings ("autogen"). The whole world is pretty flat.
Fortunately, the data exists for adding more detail. Governments produce high quality land-cover data to let us know where natural features, such as trees and rivers, are. Open Street Maps is a wikipedia-like community effort to assemble geospatial information around the world, including the location of buildings, rivers, and other features. If you put these two together, you can give Flight Simulator/Prepar3D all the information it needs to place buildings and trees accurately. This is what Fresh Scenery Autogen Supplemenets provide. With Fresh Scenery, if you see forests or buildings, it's because there really are trees or buildings in that area, (small errors in the source data nonwithstanding).
Will this impact my simulator's performance?
Yes. However, it's not as dramatic as you would think. Normal Autogen in Flight Simulator will place thousands of trees and buildings -- just in random locations. Fresh Scenery helps Flight Simulator place buildings and trees in more accurate positions, but the net counts of trees and buildings is not generally increased. In most locations it's still possible to get high framerates on higher-end machines, and you can always adjust your simulator's Autogen sliders to taste.
Do note, however, that some cities such as London and Portland, Oregon, have a huge number of buildings modeled within them (essentially, every real world structure) and this may slow your simulator down above and beyond normal Autogen impact. If you experience these slow downs, we recommend reducing the Autogen Building density slider in the Settings panel of your simulator.
Why do some buildings look hollowed out?
Most buildings are more complicated than simple four-sided structures -- they are many-sided polygons. Flight Simulator and Prepar3D has support for representing polygon buildings, but only if those buildings also have an interior courtyard. As scenery designers, we're faced with a choice: represent polygon buildings with a simple four-sided building, or a full polygon with a courtyard. Currently, we've chosen to use the latter to represent these buildings. But we're working to see if we can minimize the visual impact of this in future iterations.
Why do some buildings look out of place? Buildings in my hometown don't look like that!
Flight Simulator and Prepar3D have a limited library of buildings available for use for Autogen. These building libraries need to work well internationally, and so therefore reflect different types of buildings across the world. For the sake of diversity, Fresh Scenery uses as many of these buildings as possible. In future builds, we'll look to do more to have buildings better reflect the location they are in.
Can I use this product by itself?
No. Fresh Scenery is designed to complement other third party photoreal scenery products, like MegaSceneryEarth or JustFlight VFR Real Scenery, which don't come with Autogen by themselves. It's a bummer that these products aren't inexpensive or free, but acquiring and offering high quality satellite imagery isn't cheap for these providers.
Why do you not have my area?
We're looking to add more areas. Please drop us a line if you have a request.
Fresh Scenery Autogen is made possible via public domain government data sources and open data contributions. For anyone involved in the creation of these wonderful data sources, including taxpayers of the respective countries, thank you!
Microsoft Flight Simulator X is a copyrighted trademark of Microsoft Corporation. PREPAR3D is a registered trademark of Lockheed Martin Corporation. MegaScenery and MegaSceneryEarth are trademarks of PC Aviator Inc. Microsoft, PC Aviator, JustFlight and Lockheed Martin have no affiliation with this product.
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