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Aerosoft developers, the truth of mipmaps

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I have seen it mentioned by some of the in house Aerosoft developers that they do not use mipmaps because it dulls the appearance of the said textures that were mipmapped. This was mentioned in some of the threads concerning Monastair X and Nice X. While, I have never noticed that mipmaps have dulled textures, they only seem to improve the look by reducing the shimmers and taking some of the load off the video card when it trys to render an object from a far distance.

Here is a quote from NickN regarding the use of mipmaps that may help to understand. Although this quote was taken from a thread regarding AI, he mentions that this applies to aircraft and scenery. The quote was taken from here: http://ultimatetraffic.flight1.net/forums/forum_posts.asp?TID=6372

"I have seen stutters in systems caused by the card trying to deal with textures that are not mipped in the distance. I have also seen shimmers and strange texture disappearing problems from lack of mips in scenery/aircraft

As for quality.. lets think about that. You always see the top mip level full res image when close to the aircraft.. what mip mapping does is use the REDUCED scale image in steps based on the distance from the aircraft or scenery being displayed so this deal about mip mapping causing lower visual quality is actually a bunch of baloney. If a developer makes a texture correctly its quality will be displayed. The issue is developers cut corners on texture quality and then dont mip them to hide it and many of them actually believe in complete ignorance mip maps are performance killers

In the case of AI where we are talking about many aircraft in a scene and we are not talking about 32bit ultra hi-res textures that show nuts and bolts up close, mip maps are fine and essential and even with those hi res aircraft out there such as the F1 Mustang, mips do not reduce image quality, the paint developer does."

Although the developers here are working on patches for Nice and Monastir to add the mipmaps, I hope this will help them to understand the importance of mipmaps for projects in the future.

Regards

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Well said...

And thanks for finding that statement... I knew I had read this before...

I have never noticed a loss in quality or "dullness" as a result of mips being present. What I do see is a stutter of 3-5 seconds when loading certain sceneries as soon as they come into view, and funnily enough those textures are not mipped...

Thanks once again

Andrew

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Hello Folks,

We spoke to the GAP developers the weekend and they assured us that the latest version of nHancer resolves the shimmering issues.

They said they would be happy to send us a pictorial on settings etc, so when we get it we will try it.

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Thats good, however the version and the drivers I am currently using are set correctly and eliminate shimmering. The problem still lies with the lack of mipmaps. I have spoken in private to other developers about this, as well as observed other conversations regarding mipmaps, and they are they are not a performance killer. In fact they can take some load off the video card by rendering a stepped down smaller image from a distance, rather than trying to render the same full size image from far away. Take a look at FlyTampa Hong Kong for example. That scenery with all those buildings doesn't have a shimmer in it and gets above 20 FPS no problem.

FlyTampa and FSDreateam, as well as others use mipmapping in their sceneries. I have no other sceneries that perform as well as the ones produced by those teams.

I understand Aerosoft pumps out a lot of scenery at a rapid pace, but I would rather they slow down and start using some better techniques like the said developers use. If the devs here don't have copies of some of their work, they should get some, open them up and take a look at how they do it.

I'm not bashing the Aerosoft guys, so don't get me wrong, all I can do is repaints of a/c, make photo scenery, and make AFCADS/ADE's, much less models buildings. However, after speaking to others in the developement community, the scenery guys here could probably do much more in terms of performance and quality, if they were given the time to do so. I understand the need to produce quickly and make profit, but after the latest experience with the product I bought, I and others that I have talked to in private, will be very hesitant to purchase more in the future. Although, that could change once Peter finishes with the Nice patch and the issues are resolved.

Regards

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Given the fact that the latest version of nHancer has issues with 190 series forceware I do not understand how it can be claimed that it now (all of a sudden) sorts things out? Furthermore there is already a comprehensive guide on how to set up nHancer for FSX - what could another guide give us? Use 8xAA instead of 16xAA?

Customers are talking about mipmaps (or a lack thereof) and Aerosoft is talking about everything but mipmaps... :unsure:

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Thats exactly what I am trying to get at Konrad. I'm not sure why the best scenery developers use them, but Aerosoft has such a strong distain for mipping textures. I have been asking around, and any good developer or texture guy, will say the same that mipping is the proper way to go. Maybe back in FS9 this wasn't the case, but for FSX all the good stuff comes mipped. All, I want is for Aerosoft to get better. I'm not asking for them to say ok, we were wrong, I don't care about that. I just want them to realize the potential that they have if they improved a few of the existing products and did the same going forward for new products.

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My apologies if you mentioned this in your other post but I presume you have tried:

1. Rolling back to the last pre-19x WHQL forceware with Nhancer set up as usual?

2. If you are on 190's or 191's have you tried disabling Nhancer altogether and setting up the (rough) eqivalent in the forecware control panel?

3. Can you be 100% sure that other addon airports which were fine before are still actually fine? Clearly one flies where you have some or other new scenery to check out so perhaps this issue is more widespread? Someone mentioned Brussels... Sorry for the dumb point but better to ask anyway.

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Hello Folks,

If I remember correctly this all started off about "Shimmering" at airports, then mip-mapping was brought into it.

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But the shimmering is a direct result of the textures not having mipmaps... at least that is my understanding of the issue.

As soon as the airport is loaded and comes into view, there is shimmering visible. The highest detail level is being portrayed from the outset of the airport coming into view...

Shimmering of the textures at distance and a short term but measurbale performance hit in the form of a 2-3 second stutter is noticeable as a result in Lübeck.

When I get around to it (time is a real issue currently), I will mip the all the Lübeck textures (of course with a back up of the originals)... and test the difference

Andrew

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Thats exactly what I am trying to get at Konrad. I'm not sure why the best scenery developers use them, but Aerosoft has such a strong distain for mipping textures.

I think you hit the nail on the head in your previous post.. The policy at the moment seems to be to release stuff as if the end of the world is around the corner.. Speed seems to be the essence, rather than quality.

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I have asked for the services of FS-GS... We'll see if that changes something with Nice and Bruxelles... I cross my fingers :P

But it seems I haven't set my GTX up correctly.

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But the shimmering is a direct result of the textures not having mipmaps... at least that is my understanding of the issue.

As soon as the airport is loaded and comes into view, there is shimmering visible. The highest detail level is being portrayed from the outset of the airport coming into view...

Shimmering of the textures at distance and a short term but measurbale performance hit in the form of a 2-3 second stutter is noticeable as a result in Lübeck.

When I get around to it (time is a real issue currently), I will mip the all the Lübeck textures (of course with a back up of the originals)... and test the difference

Andrew

There is a little more that can be said about this. Although very important, mipmaps are not the Holy Grail when it comes to solving shimmers or improving performance. Because nowadays hardware can handle large amounts of textures (and sizes) relatively easy, developers are convenient with the use of big textures (1024x1024 or even larger) to improve detail and quality of their creations. The outcome of this is that there is no monitor screen resolution (not even HD) that can resolve this image (or mip!!) resolution. A distant mip of a 1024x1024 has still too much resolution detail for current digital screens. This is no problem when the texture contains no contrasting straight lines, but if it does: The shimmering starts. The use of small textures for structures that contain a lot of straight lining would be the key solution here.

Furtheron, developers should not step in the ease of creating structures with alpha channel bitmaps. This will most certainly cause shimmers, as AA doesn't smooth texture edges, but model edges only. I agree, to build a fence completely 3d is'nt realistic, so some exceptions remain ;)

Thanks, Gerrit

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Good post Gerrit. I agree, mips aren't the solution to everything, but it would be a start if they would start using them.

Like ightenhill said in his post above "Speed seems to be the essence, rather than quality.", this is what I am afraid of also. I know that simmers are sometimes an impatient group and want a lot of sceneries now and quick, but I would rather wait a while for a scenery and have it done in better quality. A lot of the good stuff by FlyTampa and FSDT takes months to develope. In the case of FlyTampa, its probably because they only have 2 people working, but I would still rather wait and have a great product than a mediocre product that doesn't perform well or look good.

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I have asked for the services of FS-GS... We'll see if that changes something with Nice and Bruxelles... I cross my fingers tongue.gif

But it seems I haven't set my GTX up correctly.

You will be happy with the service. You may have read the post about them over at the FSDT site. Umberto the main man there also recommended them. Here's the link if you want to read more. http://www.fsdreamteam.com/forum/index.php?topic=2185.0 and go to page 3,4, and 5.

Unfortunately though I have talked to them since Nice X came out, and there isn't anything they can do to fix the Nice issues. The root of the problem is still in the scenery and not the set up. Although, having them set up your system will still help you in the rest of your FSX world. It was the best money I have ever spent.

PM me if you need their contact info for the lead tech.

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No problem, I already talked to the lead tech the other evening ;)

I learned some interesting stuff. I will be preparing my system this weekend and hope to be flying next week ;)

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There is one problem with MipMaps, that is out of the designers hand. Which Mip map is used is neither decided by the designer, nor by FSX, but by the grafics driver. You can see this clearly when using full screen mode, mips switch much earlier than in windowed mode. The reason behind this is the race of the card developpers to have the fastest cards - it is so much easier to move the mip map point nearer to the observer than to increase the memory bandwidth of texture memory.

So, how the mip mapping is handled is given into the hands of the marketing departments at NVIDIA and AIT - I understand developpers to be unhappy about this.

A way out of this is to use explicit mip mapping, as I do it with all MyTraffic 2010 models. As soon as the model goes from a higher LOD ( LOD=100) to LOD=50, I load a smaller texture. This ensures the handling to be in better control, speeds up the loading process when approaching an airport, reduces stuttering, but the price is that during this explicit switch the aircraft are gray for a frame or two.

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