Welcome to the forum

#1
Welcome to the support forum for my new Autogen Creation/Editing program. Hopefully I'll be able to do a good job of keeping up with any questions, concerns, and comments that end up here.

I've decided to release this program free to the public as a payback for all the marvelous freeware utilities, scenery, and airplanes I've played with since I got back into the marvelous world of Microsoft Flight Simulator late last year. I got curious after seeing all the richly detailed user-designed scenery available, just how difficult it would be to enhance the flying experience around the Phoenix area where I live. Found marvelous aerial photos on a governmental website, laid down a few areas, and I was hooked. Suddenly I was zooming over the real world and landmarks familiar to me with incredible details. The only drawback was that once you got down close to the ground, those details faded away and the ground was flat and boring. Enter the world of autogen objects which got covered up by my photoreal tiles.

I got pointed to the Microsoft Autogen SDK and got my first taste of Microsoft's Annotator program for defining autogen objects on each of my thousands of scenery tiles. Even though the program was functional, I found it to be extremely hard to use and time consuming especially in areas where there were large subdivisions and one had to put in row upon row of strangely aligned homes. Vegetation areas were all rectangular boxes even though the real world rarely laid down trees and bushes in square patterns. As I began asking about alternatives to Annotator on flightsim forums, it became apparent that the need for a new program was huge.

I found out quickly that Microsoft never released the format of their autogen files (.agn) but that others had successfully "hacked" the file and posted it's basic secrets. Without their dilligence any programming would've been impossible. I found out a few places they missed and started coding.

In spite of some disastrous first attempts to distribute the beta version of the program, I've received some wonderful comments and recommendations and we've worked through many of the early bugs. The program is now hosted at a number of sites and I expect the beta to end soon and a full production release to be posted.

The latest version should always be posted at the following link. My eternal thanks to the giving folks at the Visual Flight site.

Autogen Creation Program

If you try the program, please report any problems, comments, suggestions here in this forum so all can share in the dialog.

Thanks,
Art Martin
 

nickw

Administrator
Staff member
#2
Thanks Art!

OK, here is a quick question... For people like me, who cannot get hold of decent overhead images, is it possible with your tool to place autogen anyway?

I would love that! A drop and place in FS :)
 
#3
Nick, not at this time. The whole program was built around the whole necessity to add autogen back after putting in the photoreal stuff so the file selection process is dictated by those .bmp tiles.

I get my eyes opened daily by unusual ways people use autogen. I had a very narrow view of what it was used for as I got into my project. Here's a thought as to how you could get around having true photoreal tiles to place your autogen:

Go to the NASA site (don't remember the exact name or URL) and get satellite images of your area. They're free as far as I know. They'll probably be in B/W and won't be detailed enough for low level photoreal scenery but you can cut the tiles and use them for reference for your projects using any of the photoreal freeware programs out there. I like the FSResample tool by Elrond Elvish. Very easy to use, fast, and you don't need to know the exact corners of your image. Create your DXT tiles in a texture folder with FSTextConvert and then use my program or Annotator on the images in that folder. When you're done, simply extract the .agn files and install them into FS addon scenery or the scenery area where they best fit.

I guess that would work. Sure seems like it should. The other alternative is to buy or rent a plane of your own and a great camera system and take the photos you need. lol.

Art
 

arno

Administrator
Staff member
FSDevConf team
Resource contributor
#4
Hi Art and Nick,

Nick, how did you want to place the autogen without photos? Do you want to change the autogen on the default landclass textures (I guess that is perfectly possible with Art's tool already).

Or do you want to place custom objects, like the autogen on photos, but then without photos. I have read a thread about this on AvSim once. I think it is possible, but you need to make a VTP BGL that places these photo tiles. And if I remember correct, you need to place a transparant texture. In that case only the autogen shows. But if you really want to do this, you can better have a look at AvSim and see what the results of the discussion there were.
 

nickw

Administrator
Staff member
#5
What I would like to do is this (In the perfect world)....

Open FS, click and drag, have my autogen :) You never know... one day this may be possible.

What I would like for the moment is a way to give some co-ordinates to a program, the program to then give me a top down view of the default FS ground and autogen. Then, to edit that to place autogen correctly.

For me, this would be wonderful... Imagine... you design an airport, place all the objects, then "this tool" would show me everything from a top down perspective and allow me to put autogen trees around buildings etc etc etc...

I do somehow doubt this is even possible with the current FS engine.
 

rhumbaflappy

Moderator
Staff member
Resource contributor
#6
Hi all.

If you take a bitmap image from LWMViewer, you can resample that as a reference to place autogen.

Then you can place the autogen by using VTP polys ( value 252? ). Make sure the polys are the highest layer.

The placement BGL can be in a local scenery folder, but the autogen needs to be in the world/scenery folder. The actual LOD13 tiles can be discarded, as the autogen should show without the need for textures.

It's been a while since I did this, but I don't think the texture is needed at all for the autogen to show.

Dick
 
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