In the last days there has been a lot of discussion on the FSDeveloper forum about converting COLLADA objects for use in FSX. One of the issues the users are facing is that many COLLADA models use textures in formats that FSX can not read, for example JPG files. So there is clearly a need to address this during the conversion.
I have not finished it, but I am working on adding support for texture conversions to ModelConverterX. In the next development release you will find a texture converter tool in the special tools menu. Although I made it more as a test tool to see if saving textures is working, I think it can also have practical use when converting your models. For example when you model still uses R8 textures that you want to convert to BMP or DDS. I should say directly that saving to DDS or extended BMP formats is not yet working, but I hope to have that feature very soon as well. So below you see a screenshot of the converter with a texture loaded.
Using the radio buttons you can select which channel you want to see. Another interesting feature, especially if your model using the BitmapMode command to determine which colour should be transparent, is that you can set the alpha channel based on a colour. So in this case if I would select black as the transparent colour you would get the alpha channel as shown below.
As I said, I hope to add support for DDS and extended BMP textures soon, since these are the primary formats used by FS. After that I am also planning to add another tool to ModelConverterX that allows you to easily rename, convert or resize multiple textures at once. Because this texture converter tool I added now is not really of assistance when you have a COLLADA model with a few dozen of textures. I’ll keep you informed about the progress on these other features I have in mind.
Today I have been making some progress on gPoly again, so time for another status update. The first part I worked on is the user interface, especially the texture library that contains the texture you can use on your polygons. And also other improvements like the interface used to define new projects.
But most of the time I spend on functionality to import shapefiles. Initially I had not planned this for the first version, but since I had some accurate vector data and imagery of the same airport, this would allow me to verify that the imagery is positioned correctly. As you can see on the screenshot below I think it is quite accurate, since the markings line up very well. So I am happy with that and can move on to some other features tomorrow.
It’s a little bit ironic, after all the effort I put in the LOD Creator functionality of ModelConverterX. But today I found out that the LODs were not really working in FSX SP2 when you exported the FSX MDL files. This is because of the drawcall batching functionality that I wrote about in the previous post. There is a solution for this that breaks the drawcall batching.
So I have now added a new option in ModelConverterX that allows you to specify if you prefer the drawcall batching or working LODs. By default the LODs will be working. If the object has only one level of detail the setting has no influence, in that case the drawcall batching will always work. If the object has animations the setting also has no influence, since these prevent the drawcall batching in any case (and thus the LODs will work).
This fix will be available in the development release of tomorrow. So enjoy your LODs even more from now on!
The ModelConverterX tutorial I gave this evening on the FSDeveloper LiveStream channel, has also been uploaded to the Wiki now. So on both of these places you can now review this tutorial.
Unfortunately I had a few bandwidth problems while recording the tutorial, so I had to restart two times. Sorry for the inconvenience for those who were following the tutorial live. Luckily it seemed there were not so many people watching live. When you watch the tutorial on the Wiki you won’t notice these trouble of course. Another comment I got from Nick halfway through is that the sound volume was maybe a little bit low, I will try to fix that for the next tutorial on Friday, when I will be talking about performance related issues (drawcalls, texture vertices, DXT compression).
Just a little reminder that in two days there will be an online video tutorial about ModelConverterX. I think tutorial I will give a quick introduction to the tool and after that I will show how you can use it to convert old API macros into FSX MDL files or how to import them into GMax for further editing.
So you are all invited to join this tutorial on Saturday 2nd of January at 20:00 CET on the FSDeveloper Livestream channel. See you there! And if you can’t make it the tutorial will be available on the Wiki afterwards as well.
For today I made a little teaser video of gPoly to show the progress. As you can see the adding and editing of the polygons it getting there, so it seems I can move to the export functionality soon. Enjoy!
Time for another gPoly status update, today I have made some good progress on the tool again. The first part I have finished is the display of the GeoTIFF background image, this code seems to be quite optimal now, so that even with big images you can pan and zoom without too much delay. What I still have to do is verify the accuracy of the geo position, I think I need to render some reference information (of which I know the position) over it to do this. Another related feature on the todo list is the ability to make images georeferenced when they are not yet.
Today I also worked quite a bit on the user interface, especially the part that allows you to manipulate the layers in the project. Each layer can hold a background image or a set of features (polygons, lines, etc). Below is the screenshot of the current status.
This evening I continued on the gPoly tool. The focus was again on the display of the background images, since they are a very important feature when drawing ground features or when checking if they are in the right location. I made some good progress and for small to medium sized airports it is working fine now.
But when I try to load the high resolution background image I have of Schiphol things go less smooth, especially when you zoom in far and the highest resolution needs to be loaded. So there is still some work to be done when selecting the resolution that should be displayed, but progress is being made. I should note that the background image of Schiphol is a GeoTIFF of almost 4 GB in size, so it should be expected that things will never be super smooth when working with such a big file.
Tonight I have added a nice little feature to ModelConverterX again (it will be in the 1.2 development release tomorrow). You might wonder what it is? You can now choose to render your object in day or night view. The night view allows you to preview the night textures. Here is a little screenshot of one of the default objects.
It is not yet finished, since I just display the night texture now. Whether it is a nightmap or a lightmap is not yet taken into consideration. So that gives some room for future improvement. But this will allow you to check how the object would look during the night.
Just a quick note that a new stable version of ModelConverterX is available. If you have been using the development release lately there is not so much changed, but compared to the last stable release there are loads of improvements. I have also updated the user manual.
For the coming time the development of ModelConverterX will be slowed down a bit, since I plan to focus more on the gPoly tool.