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Comparing the 3 ways to texture the ground...

There are pro's and cons for every method of ground texturing.

Firstly I put all three options side by side (for what it's worth this is just a flat plane textured in Substance).


Right off the bat we can see how awesome the Scenery object renders in the game's engine. If only the other 2 where this awesome. Unfortunately, unless you are completely flat on your apron area (with a polygon that's terraforming flat) this is useless (especially when far away do to flickering). Runways that have the slightest of slopes will just eat through it.

The other 2 options are fast and easily editable however no matter what you do, you will always ALWAYS see some sort of default normal map when close up and it just doesn't do justice. You lose a ton of beautiful detail. See close ups...

Close up of Apron Element with Albedo and Manual Comps done in PS:


Close up of Projected Mesh with Albedo, O/M/R + Normals


Scenery Element with O/M/R + Normals


Given this comparison I think its worth the flattening of the tarmac, dropping down nice custom scenery element (if its a big tarmac you will have to unwrap with multiple texture sets so you stay nice and HQ). Super super time consuming but the results may be worth it. The other 2 however are great for sloped runways. This is how each react when terraformed:


Has anyone maybe figured out the holy grail and somehow been able to remove that bumpy normal map when close up to your apron or projected mesh? I still have not decided FULLY on a workflow given all these variables.


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The default normal map is used for interactions with the rain (at least). I am sure you've noticed that with scenery objects you do not have any wet effects on them when it's raining. Remove the normal map and a ton of users will whine that their custom ground does not get wet. A better way out would be to "teach" the sim to interact with all normal maps, but that's probably a long development story to be wrtitten by Asobo...