Night Lighting in X-Plane 10

Just reading one of the latest posts on the absolutely excellent XPlane10’s Blog, they mention ‘glowing buildings’ at night on one of their scenery package reviews.

So, just a quick note about glowing buildings in OpenSceneryX – now that we’re firmly in X-Plane 10 world, more OpenSceneryX QA time is being spent ensuring our LIT textures look good with the new lighting model. A lot of older objects have slightly ‘glowing’ night textures, which were used in X-Plane 9 and earlier to try to simulate spill lighting from floodlights. These are now outlawed, and a further audit of all night textures will be done to remove any night textures that glow. Unfortunately, sometimes this means that legitimate lighting effects (e.g. illuminated window panes) may have to be removed, but for an overall improvement in the look of our objects at night.

OpenSceneryX and X-Plane® 10

The buzz is building over X-Plane® 10 and we’re all eagerly looking forward to its new features. One of these looks like it is going to affect the OpenSceneryX library in a big way: The new X-Plane® global lighting model. When global lighting is enabled, X-Plane® will dynamically shed light, not just from the sun and landing lights (as X-Plane® 9) but also from other light sources. In addition, it will also generate dynamic shadows from all these light sources.

This affects OpenSceneryX in two ways: Firstly, a lot of the existing objects in the library include faked shadows, created by flat surfaces placed on the ground with a texture that looks like a shadow. Secondly, a number of objects have LIT (night) textures that contain simulated spill lighting effects as if there was a light shining on the texture.

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Optimisation is always going to be a continual process with a library like OpenSceneryX, having so many contributions from so many different authors inevitably means that the library puts a load on many people’s machines.

The biggest wins are:

  1. Reducing texture size
  2. Sharing textures
  3. Reducing object complexity (polygon count)

The third one is becoming less critical as graphics cards become more powerful, but the first two give big improvements, and aren’t that hard to do.  Just before you submit your objects, have a quick think about how well optimised your work is, and whether a few minutes spent improving it would benefit everyone.

On the same theme, it would be really cool if someone would volunteer to be ‘library optimisation guru’ and take the job of auditing all contributions for efficiency, perhaps scaling down large textures where appropriate, or even combining textures to produce shared textures for objects that are likely to be used together.