A few weeks ago FsX has been announced and now and then new screenshots appear. And until now I haven’t even mentioned this great news on my blog. But I do not want to discuss the released screenshots here, there is enough discussion going on about that on general FS forums. And I think most people will agree that they look great.
Since the announcement of FsX I have already seen a few discussion about the backwards compatibility of scenery. And on that subject I would like to give my opinion. The question is always will my old addons still work? Of course it is a good thing that we have some backwards compatibility, because we don’t want to redesign everything for each new version of FS. But I think now is a good time to clean up some of the compatibility for really old code.
Almost each addon scenery designed since Fs5 does still work in Fs2004. It is really surprising to see that most of these old commands still work, although not all. If all those commands worked fine together, this would not be a problem of course. But in reality that is not the case. Quite often you see people that have created an apron in a tool like FSSC or Airport for Windows and they are looking for a way to get it below their AFCAD created runway. Unfortunately for them the answer is that that is not possible. This is just one example where the Fs2004 scenery code and the pre-Fs2004 code does not really work together that well.
For a new scenery designer this is also very confusing. He finds a load of tools he can use, but he has no idea if and how they work together. Quite often this results in new people making the wrong choices (for example EOD, Airport for Windows, etc). I am sure this is a big frustration for a lot of them and makes them give up scenery design, while it should be fun to do.
So although it might mean some extra work for us, I really hope that MS is going to clean up the supported commands. Please stop supporting all those Fs5, Fs98 or Fs2000 commands, as in general trying to use them together with Fs2004 gives more trouble than it solves. This would also reduce the jungle of scenery design tools we can use automatically.
There is one exception I want to make here. If we only want to use the Fs2004 techniques for airports (so the XML commands) they need to become a bit more flexible. At the moment these commands are too restricted to make a realistic looking airport. You can’t make markings in different colors than yellow, you can’t use custom apron textures and you can’t control the mapping of these textures. So MS please make the XML format a bit more flexible for users who want to create an airport that does not look like the default scenery and then I am sure nobody will miss those antique Fs5, Fs98, Fs2000 commands.