A little knowledge is a dangerous thing!

#1
Ok, after a week on this amazing site I'm beginning to realize that scenery building isn't nearly as simple as I thought it would be. Some of what I believed would be easily done has turned out to be amazingly difficult to accomplish.
Trying to add a stock FS9 terminal to my airport has turned into a daunting task.
Everyone here has been incredible in their efforts to clue me in on what's going on, the problem is that I'm so new at this that every one thing I learn requires several other pieces of knowledge to make it all come together into a coherent whole. I've decided that I obviously need a little 'structure' to my learning.. So I've decided to let everyone know what I think I know so far, and then you guys can tell me my next logical step on the 'stairway of learning'. Please tell me where I've got it wrong.
XML files are basically just editable versions of BGL files. They don't actually create anything but instead place objects in a user definable area or perform other functions such as flattening or excluding etc. They're useless to FSx in themselves until they've been compiled into BGL's.
Objects are stock or user made graphic items that can be placed by XML's where you want them to go, sometimes, except when the object is area specific.(small headache begins here)
Each object has a gooey no. randomly generated that can be used by XML's to call for that object and place it. Each object also has a 'mdl' file that defines the object itself. (tiny miners beginning to excavate my temples, possibly hoping to find a neuron or 2)
Libraries are sets of objects placed together so they can be easily retrieved and used by people who actually know what they're doing. (not me, the miners found nothing and have decided to blast a little deeper)
Some things I don't understand yet are:
Library Creator generates a no. for the object but where do you find the .mdl file to associate with it? Are the no. and the model file connected in some way. This is more of a 'stock' FS9 question.
If you have an API plugin or other second party object and want to put it in a library, how do you separate out the .mdl file for inclusion in the library?
And then thereare .sca files! (the miners still found nothing and decided to remove the top of my head and do open-pit operations)
Jeff
 
#2
Jeff, after 4 years im still learning and tinkering !

Ive used AS&D ( defunct ) FSSC, SCASM, MS Notepad, XML, AFCAD, MS SDK, FSDS , Gmax and Sbuilder.

What ive found to be the best way to start a project is to 1st, put it down on paper ( sketch it out ).

Focusing on FS9, create the airport you want in AFCAD ( rwy's etc) then after studying the SDK, place objects with XML ( this way you learn howto place objects and later your own if you choose to use Gmax ). Then, after you have found your limit with whats available, Move onto FSDS or Gmax, the benefit of Gmax is that you can place the objects with XML as you would the Default Objects.

You can then choose to delve deeper into the source code of either FSDS ( scasm ) or Gmax ( ASM ) to tweak your models for things like rotate to wind etc.

Once you find your next limit, move onto SBuilder or Ground2K4 and start to alter things like coastlines and ground polygons or even Mesh !

Its a gradual process of building a library of Knowledge and sharing of information that only comes with practise and like all things, satisfaction comes with experiance as your skills improve.

There are two types of designers in my opinion, those who only use GUI programs and place ready built objects and those who design an object from scratch ( the model and texture ) and create a unique scenery from thier own efforts.

Another thing to consider is custom textures, they are not to difficult to create from either hand drawn or photo's. Again its a process of learning your image editing program to create an exclusive texture or youcan opt for a default or generic one that is available.

The best thing is, you will find your own method eventually after some frustration and there are plenty to ask advice and assistance from.

I personally look back on my projects from 3 yrs ago or less and shudder but again, thats the learning process.

rgds Jeff
 

arno

Administrator
Staff member
FSDevConf team
Resource contributor
#3
Hi Jeff,

First, what you wrote about how the different scenery parts work together is correct. So you have understood that :).

Jeff said:
Library Creator generates a no. for the object but where do you find the .mdl file to associate with it? Are the no. and the model file connected in some way. This is more of a 'stock' FS9 question.
The library BGL does contain the code of the MDL object. But you only need to MDL if you have designed it yourself (in GMax) and want to add it to an object library.

So for the default objects you don't need the MDL, you just need to know the GUID that has been assigned to it, so that you can place it in your scenery.

Jeff said:
If you have an API plugin or other second party object and want to put it in a library, how do you separate out the .mdl file for inclusion in the library?
And then thereare .sca files! (the miners still found nothing and decided to remove the top of my head and do open-pit operations)
API macros are using the old pre-Fs2004 scenery format. They can therefore not be combined with XML scenery. So this makes your understanding of the scenery a bit more complicated.
SCASM files are used to place these API macros for example. But also when you are using a tool like FSSC or Airport for Windows, a SCASM file is created with the polygons, runways, etc you defined. Most of these things are now made with XML scenery (and using AFCAD as a GUI for example).

If you just started designing and are working for Fs2004 only, I would advice you to focus on XML mainly and try to forget about API macros, they will dissapear in the future.
 
#4
Hi JeffS, Damien & Arno;
JeffS has already helped me with one problem I had and Arno has helped myself and everybody else so many times it's no wonder they call him 'Guru', but just so you know Damien, I agreed to build an airport for CPAir VA on the west coast of Canada here to be used as a hub. Using Afcad, Runway 12 and Arno's Objectplacer along with numerous API macros, the airport has come along pretty well for a first timer like myself.
My first problem Jeff helped me out with and was pretty easily solved. My current problem started when I decided to add a terminal to the 'port. I could possibly have used a program like 'Airport for Windows' to place a terminal, but I was interested in the whole process by now, and I wanted to learn something new instead of just pointing and clicking my way through the rest of the project.
There are no large terminals to be found online as far as I can tell, so I decided 'Why not use a stock FS9 terminal."This brought me into the realm of XML.
The context sensitivity threw me a bit, but the ability to cut and paste sections of code made it seem possible that I could do the work. I would learn as I built, so to speak.
Even though I wasn't designing anything, I was taking the first baby steps.
After searching through the posts here, I chanced upon one by ArchTX (Quick Terminal Buildings) that gave the LibraryObject names for various SA terminals. I was on my way and created a BGL from the following XML -

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<FSData
version="9.0"
xmlns:xsi='http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance'
xsi:noNamespaceSchemaLocation="bglcomp.xsd" >
<SceneryObject
lat="N49 18.6723"
lon="W124 29.5720"
alt="0.0000M"
altitudeIsAgl="TRUE"
pitch="0.00"
bank="0.00"
heading="0.00"
imageComplexity="VERY_SPARSE">
<LibraryObject
name="1db1d8a2de944589832fc9cab54eda7e"
scale="1.00"/>
</SceneryObject>
</FSData>

I placed the BGL in the addon scenery/CPAW/scenery folder (already activated of course), booted up FS9 and prepared to behold the fruits of my labour.
No terminal. As it turned out, objects like this can be region locked. After consulting with Arch, he kindly placed all the SA terminals in a library for me and e-mailed it to me along with the XML.I also followed the thread and found a reply to the post by jvile that seemed to allow any stock FS9 .mdl to be placed anywhere. Bob's My Uncle. Since I only needed one terminal for the one airport, I decompiled the library, picked out the .mdl file for the terminal I wanted and created a new library using Arno's Library Creator with just the one terminal in it with the following result -

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>
<FSData version="9.0" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:noNamespaceSchemaLocation="bglcomp.xsd">
ModelData name="44C2727A74ECD47DD61CC6D7CD555AD8" sourceFile="C:\Documents and Settings\Jeff\Desktop\Library Creator\1db1d8a2de944589832fc9cab54eda7e.mdl"/>
</FSData>

I placed this in the addon scenery/scenery folder and compiled a new BGL to replace the original to go into the CPAW/scenery folder -

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>
<FSData version="9.0" xmlns:xsi='http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance'
xsi:noNamespaceSchemaLocation="bglcomp.xsd" >

<ModelData
name="44C2727A74ECD47DD61CC6D7CD555AD8"
sourceFile="C:\Documents and Settings\Jeff\Desktop\Library Creator\1db1d8a2de944589832fc9cab54eda7e.mdl"
fileOffset="0"/>

<SceneryObject lat="N49 18.6723" lon="W124 29.5720" alt="0.00"
altitudeIsAgl="TRUE" pitch="0.00" bank="0.00" heading="359"
imageComplexity="NORMAL">
<LibraryObject name="44C2727A74ECD47DD61CC6D7CD555AD8" scale="1.00" />
</SceneryObject>

</FSData>

I loaded up FS9 again and slewed the view around so I could hopefully see the terminal placed where only a vast expanse of concrete polygon had existed before.
No go, nada, zip.
I've tried various other BGL's based on the same basic XML code, with no result so far.
That's where I am as of this moment. Is the problem in the syntax, is it the fact that the sourcefile still has the same GUID no. as the original .mdl, or is it the fact that I know just enough to tell that I'm making the 'right moves', but I don't know enough to 'do the Tango'?
Two weeks ago I had never even added an object to the stock FS9 program other than d/l'ed airport upgrades to make the flying experience a bit more enjoyable, available to anyone from every FS site. Since then I've built a completely new airport, populated it with objects and, while it may not be the FS equivilent of a 'Da Vinci' it still looks OK to me.
Two weeks ago I had never used Afcad, or FSTFlatten, or ExclBuilder, or Objectplacer, or Runway 12, or BGLComp, Library Creator, etc. etc. etc.
Three days ago I had an almost complete airport ready for use by CPAir, then I decided to try and add a terminal.
I'm having a great time learning, but for the last 3 days it's been '2 steps forward, 3 steps back' and I'm getting nothing accomplished on the project I originally set out to do. I'm not complaining about it, I've learned a lot of things and I'm eager to learn more.
I just hope I get it completed before they come after me with torches and harvesting forks!!!

Rgds: Jeff

PS: Arno, I actually haven't tried using Objectplacer XML to do the job since I wanted to try and learn some XML coding rather than just pointing and clicking again. I'll try it today to see if it works.



















 
#5
Very impressive Jeff, well done !
I can see your getting very addicted to this design stuff :D

Look forward to the finished project !

Jeff
 
#6
Yes Jeff very impressive. I do have a few questions for you tho. Your control tower, is that glass (opaque material) or an alpha texture for windows at the top? Do you have obslights at the top of it. And lastly did you create all those buildings, hangers, and comm towers yourself?
 
#7
Thanks for the kind comments JeffS & Tachyon.
I believe it IS glass, or at least as close as computer code can possibly make it. The same 'virtual' material was used for windows on the front of the large flat-topped hangars in the second screenshot. The next two screenshots clearly show the transparency, background objects are visible through the 'glass'.





The only article I can actually say I created was the airport layout itself using Afcad. The objects are all designed by others (I'm so new I'm just learning the very beginnings of the barest start of XML). They were placed using a combination of Runway 12 and Arno's own original Objectplacer. The tower does indeed have observation lights and, like the glass fronted hangars, Comm towers and many other wonderful objects I added, were designed by a gentleman named Andrej Urosevic using Easy Object Designer 2.2.4.The textures were created using CorelDRAW 9 Premium Color Edition, painted in Adobe Photoshop 7.0, and adjusted using MS ACS Image Tool.
Since these are the objects you seem most interested in, the only things I can add are that Andrej used SCASM 2.85 to encode them, he is a member of IRD Design Group, and this is the e-mail address for him in his ReadMe's.
He is obviously a Master of design.
Jeff, I AM getting addicted to this :banghead: and every day I seem to be doing and learning something new. Why, just in this post response itself,(Joke Time) I've actually managed to converse online with an elemental particle capable of travelling faster than light!!

:rotfl:

Rgds: Jeff
 
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#8
elemental particle capable of traveling faster than light
grin.. wow you've actually heard of me. I have to explain that name to most. I live about 30 minutes from the Fermi Lab National Acc. Lab in Batavia, IL. Used to go over there bunches when I was younger (and no 9/11 fallout) dressed in a white lab coat and an aluminum clip board and walk around like I owned the place checking everything out... Disney world ain't got anything on this!!
But back to FS9. The reason I ask is that I've created a control tower with real glass in it. However as soon as I added the obslight_fx to three obslights on top a very weird thing happened. My glass got shifted 20` on one axis’s and 90` on another placing it under ground. Intact but underground. And my fx wasn't working. As soon as I place my glass 100% opaque all was well. I've gotten fellow coder to verify my findings. Actually I first noticed it on one of his storage tank mdls. The obs light lens were missing and I accidentally found them inside the tank partially under ground. No one has been able to successively explain nor to a glass and obslight_fx with glass nearby.
Maybe I'll contact him and see whats what.. thanks for the resource.
 
#9
Hi Damien & Tachyon:
Damien, JeffS and I have actually had this same discussion before, even with the 'talking to yourself' included. He even informed me that there is a third Jeff on the site. From there the post devolved (my doing) into comments on cloning and I finally wondered if, after too many brewski's, I had actually done it and asked him if he was really me! :rolleyes:
I can't help but have a little fun with your post first Tach, forgive me.
:teacher: Your problem could have two causes.
Having spent that much time in close proximity to Cyclotrons and other high-energy mass drivers, residual radiation you eminate from collisions between yourself and other highly excited particles could be having an effect on the electrons striking the phosphor on your monitor screen resulting in loss of 'spacial displacement' on the part of your objects.
The other cause could be explained by Physics. While rotating an object 20 deg. out of it's plane of existence would only cause a chronometric anomaly, rotating it 90 deg. causes it to completely disappear and reappear in a separate universe 90 deg. from it's original plane of existance.
:teacher:
Heh heh!! :D
Back to reality (how mundane)!
I know absolutely nothing about how effects like this are constructed, but I DO like to hear myself talk, so I think that what Andrej did was 'smoke and mirrors' in a way. From some angles you can't see closer objects behind the 'glass' while objects and background textures further back are still visible. Is it possible that he perhaps placed two 'panes of glass' at different angles. one behind the other to cancel out the effect you describe?
Easier yet may be that he placed some kind of 'mirror object' to reflect the 'lights' back to their original position
I wouldn't know, it's probably best just to e-mail him and ask him.

Rgds: Jeff
 
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arno

Administrator
Staff member
FSDevConf team
Resource contributor
#10
Tachyon said:
But back to FS9. The reason I ask is that I've created a control tower with real glass in it. However as soon as I added the obslight_fx to three obslights on top a very weird thing happened. My glass got shifted 20` on one axis’s and 90` on another placing it under ground. Intact but underground. And my fx wasn't working. As soon as I place my glass 100% opaque all was well. I've gotten fellow coder to verify my findings. Actually I first noticed it on one of his storage tank mdls. The obs light lens were missing and I accidentally found them inside the tank partially under ground. No one has been able to successively explain nor to a glass and obslight_fx with glass nearby.
Using transparancy makes some changes to the source code, just like adding an attachfile does. In both cases you get extra translations etc. It seems MakeMDL is not able to handle both together, as you get a mess then (animations and transparancy can do the same strange stuff).

If it is possible you could try to put it in two MDL files? Or add the effect in the XML code.
 
#11
Jeff.... wow this is really weird.. that is exactly what I was thinking. Wow.... great minds.... (like, ... you're a stitch eh) :laughing:

Arno ... oh no . :eek: . not the hand coding of XML.... my brain hurts... :banghead: I just wonder how others are doing it. I mean, I'm using gMax to create the mdl you'd think that since MS chose it for mdl creation that they'd make the makemdl compatible with it. Oh yeah ... MS ... never mind.
 
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arno

Administrator
Staff member
FSDevConf team
Resource contributor
#12
Tachyon said:
Arno ... oh no . :eek: . not the hand coding of XML.... my brain hurts... :banghead: I just wonder how others are doing it. I mean, I'm using gMax to create the mdl you'd think that since MS chose it for mdl creation that they'd make the makemdl compatible with it. Oh yeah ... MS ... never mind.
Handcoding the XML would be easy, here we are talking about ASM/BGLC code :D. But I think if you make two MDL files in GMax (one with the the transparancy and one with the attached objects) it might also work.

MS indeed also uses GMax and MakeMDL for their object, but I think we can say that problems only appear when we are making objects that are a lot more complex than the default scenery. We are just seeking the limits of MakeMDL.
 
#13
OMG Tach...the very idea that the two of us might think alike leads me to question your sanity! :rotfl:
Like a mental 'death spiral'! :D
Did you ever by chance meet Enrico whilst you were wandering around the compound in your youth?

Rgds: Jeff
 
#14
Unfortunately his passing some time in the 50's precludes our casual passing in the equipment strewn corridors of the super collider.
the two of us might think alike
ok dialog from our favorite movie....
Hint1
Student1: "What is THIS?"
Student2: "It's called ice. It's what happens to water when it gets to cold!"

Hint2
Student3: "The rules said enter as often as you wish. no purchase necessary. So I did!"

:scratchch
 
#15
Hmm... must be a young one!!! :rotfl:
I've gotta admit, you've got me on the movie.......it sounds familiar though so gimme a little longer. I was originally thinking 'Weird Science' but that doesn't seem right somehow!
 
#18
1985, Real Genius with Val Kilmer as Chris Night. Thats one of those like "The Fifth Element". Everytime I see it on I have to stop and watch.
 
#19
Hmmm....to tell the truth, I can't even remember if I've ever seen the flick.
Of course, short term memory loss is my constant companion.
Ask me what happened two years ago, no problem.
Ask me what happened yesterday and I'll draw a blank! :rotfl:
 
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