• Which the release of FS2020 we see an explosition of activity on the forun and of course we are very happy to see this. But having all questions about FS2020 in one forum becomes a bit messy. So therefore we would like to ask you all to use the following guidelines when posting your questions:

    • Tag FS2020 specific questions with the MSFS2020 tag.
    • Questions about making 3D assets can be posted in the 3D asset design forum. Either post them in the subforum of the modelling tool you use or in the general forum if they are general.
    • Questions about aircraft design can be posted in the Aircraft design forum
    • Questions about airport design can be posted in the FS2020 airport design forum. Once airport development tools have been updated for FS2020 you can post tool speciifc questions in the subforums of those tools as well of course.
    • Questions about terrain design can be posted in the FS2020 terrain design forum.
    • Questions about SimConnect can be posted in the SimConnect forum.

    Any other question that is not specific to an aspect of development or tool can be posted in the General chat forum.

    By following these guidelines we make sure that the forums remain easy to read for everybody and also that the right people can find your post to answer it.

What do you want from an SDK in DTG Flight Simulator (Official Discussion)

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unitedkingdom
Greetings virtual pilots,

Welcome to the content creation/modding thread! When we announced DTG Flight School and DTG Flight Simulator one of the very first questions that we were asked was “Will there be an open, publicly released SDK?” Since that day you have not stopped asking us this question, so we completely understand that being able to create your own content is extremely important to the flight simulation community.

From professional developers producing the well-known add-ons that we all love, to the bedroom developers, there are loads of you who spend your free time creating liveries, missions, aircraft, airports/airfields and other freeware and payware. We recognise that flight simulation would not be what it is today without the hard work and dedication of content creators, and we fully intend to continue this tradition with Dovetail Games Flight Simulator.

We also recognise that technology has advanced substantially since the FSX SDK was released with FSX Deluxe back in 2006. Ten years ago the modding and user generated content (UGC) scene was a lot different from how things are today. Over recent years we have seen modding and UGC move into the mainstream across both PC and consoles. More and more titles are now arriving with comprehensive editors and tools, while services like Steam Workshop make it easier than ever for players to share their content.

We know the needs of livery creators are very different from the needs of sound pack creators; that the requirements of mission designers are not the same as airport creators. Over time, we fully intend to provide content creators with the tools that they need in DFS, however in order to do this to best of our ability, we have a few questions we need you to answer:
  • Why do you want an SDK?
  • What exactly do you currently use the FSX SDK for?
  • What sort of content do you create with it?
  • What does your workflow look like?
  • Are there certain things about the current SDK that annoy you or that you wish were different?
  • Would some sort of scripting tool or editor be more useful to you?
  • What third party tools or software do you use with the SDK? Photoshop, Blender
The more you can tell us, the more we can understand how to make the content creation process more enjoyable for you!

- Martin

PS: I wasn't sure where exactly to put this thread, it doesn't fall under any of the other forums. If I have put it in the wrong place or broken some sort of forum code, then please know that it was not done intentionally. I am learning guys and girls. Please be nice.
 

=rk=

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Thanks for starting this thread. You will find this to be the largest collection of skilled developers for the various versions of the MSFS who are welcoming and enthusiastic about encouraging new talent. This site is an important resource for anyone in the flight sim community and I'm sure the information available here will be valuable.

  • Why do you want an SDK?
I like to add content that is not available, destinations or places of interest.
  • What exactly do you currently use the FSX SDK for?
Scenery, model and effects creation.
  • What sort of content do you create with it?
Immersive scenes.
  • What does your workflow look like?
Usually I find a place, a local airport I can get good images of, or something in the news. Start researching it, start making models, get some photo ground and start putting it together in sim.
  • Are there certain things about the current SDK that annoy you or that you wish were different?
Well it's fairly arcane, the whole thing where an image is locked up into a .bgl once it's compiled is kind of weird, but whatever. If the SDK was too easy, then there would be all sorts of funky scenery, like the models in the SketchUp/Trimble Warehouse. Expressiveness is great, but finding a quality needle in that hay-look-at-me-stack...just saying and mostly kidding, but still.
  • Would some sort of scripting tool or editor be more useful to you?
I don't know. To me that sounds kind of limited, like there will be a selection menu. What if I want to create a grass strip/helipad/airbase/hospital?
  • What third party tools or software do you use with the SDK? Photoshop, Blender
I use SketchUp, 3ds Max, Photoshop, FSDdesignStudio, SBuilderX, ModelConverterX and Instant Scenery3 for object placement.
 
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unitedkingdom
Thanks for starting this thread. You will find this to be the largest collection of skilled developers for the various versions of the MSFS who are welcoming and enthusiastic about encouraging new talent. This site is an important resource for anyone in the flight sim community and I'm sure the information available here will be valuable.

  • Why do you want an SDK?
I like to add content that is not available, destinations or places of interest.
  • What exactly do you currently use the FSX SDK for?
Scenery, model and effects creation.
  • What sort of content do you create with it?
Immersive scenes.
  • What does your workflow look like?
Usually I find a place, a local airport I can get good images of, or something in the news. Start researching it, start making models, get some photo ground and start putting it together in sim.
  • Are there certain things about the current SDK that annoy you or that you wish were different?
Well it's fairly arcane, the whole thing where an image is locked up into a .bgl once it's compiled is kind of weird, but whatever. If the SDK was too easy, then there would be all sorts of funky scenery, like the models in the SketchUp/Trimble Warehouse. Expressiveness is great, but finding a quality needle in that hay-look-at-me-stack...just saying and mostly kidding, but still.
  • Would some sort of scripting tool or editor be more useful to you?
I don't know. To me that sounds kind of limited, like there will be a selection menu. What if I want to create a grass strip/helipad/airbase/hospital?
  • What third party tools or software do you use with the SDK? Photoshop, Blender
I use SketchUp, 3ds Max, Photoshop, FSDdesignStudio, SBuilderX, ModelConverterX and Instant Scenery3 for object placement.

Thank you for the feedback. Really useful things to know.

- Martin
 

Paul Domingue

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Martin,

I'm a hobbyist developer of freeware aircraft. I have always been an aviation enthusiast and with the advent of FS found my other interest in computers now connected.
I began modeling for FS2002 with FSDS then graduated to gMax and now work exclusively in 3ds Max.

What I try to achieve in my models are as accurate a rendition of the aircraft as possible within the confines of the sim for both visual and flight characteristics.

My primary tools are 3ds Max 2015 and Photoshop.

What I would like to see in the SDK?
1. Compatibility with all versions of 3ds Max from at least Max 7 and up as new versions of Max are released.
2. A comprehensive guide on the flight model (.cfg, .air) and all simulation variables as they develop.

Paul
 

hairyspin

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unitedkingdom
Welcome to the hothouse Martin; don't worry about this forum, we're one of the friendliest around.

I'm not going to repost what I already said at AVSim, but have a look around and a browse around the Wiki: you'll get an idea of how involved some jobs in FSX developing can be and how unlikely a simple in-game tool might be for the complex tasks.

The sooner SDK details emerge, the sooner we can start expanding the user's options, but licensing and distribution details will make or break the new sim in many eyes here.

Look forward to hearing from DTG about that before long!
 
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argentina
Oh yes! Here is mine:


[*]Why do you want an SDK?
To make airports and landmarks
[*]What exactly do you currently use the FSX SDK for?
I make Airports and Landmarks
[*]What sort of content do you create with it?
Airports and... landmarks
[*]What does your workflow look like?
I always looking for some reference material and when I collect enough for some detailed project I started it.
[*]Are there certain things about the current SDK that annoy you or that you wish were different?
The whole LOD thing and how modifying a little of the terrain can f*** an entire area
[*]Would some sort of scripting tool or editor be more useful to you?
Oh yes, i'm terrible at typing commands. I love the Visual Interface that the community creates (Thanks Arno and others)
[*]What third party tools or software do you use with the SDK? Photoshop, Blender.
GIMP because it's free and Gmax.
 

Dutcheeseblend

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Hi Martin,

Although I'm fairly new to this discipline ('modding' since 2013 but flying virtual since 2006), I'd like to reply as well. I'm a freeware developer (see some of my threads here), working on my second project, so fairly novice. Back in 2013 I started using Blender for this, and fortunately I was able to get my models to FSX first with ModelConverterX (still thanks Arno) and later on by the specific toolset (thanks to Felix). It's my hobby and I have roughly the same vision and strategy as Paul states above.

Tha questions!
Why do you want an SDK?
Because I like to find modifications one can make, things one can add to a game. An SDK makes this a lot easier. I think from my experiences with the FSX SDK and the resulting free- and payware additions, that the game platform can be ultimately utilized. Some users' FSX setup doesn't even resemble its initial release, thanks to the SDK I think.
Personally, I want an SDK to play with the software and extend it up to the boundaries of my phantasy.

What exactly do you currently use the FSX SDK for?
I use it to create aircraft models, gauges, sounds, etc. It is used as reference, how to work with the various files. It's also used as tool, for example the modeldef.xml. I use the SDK as major guide when creating XML gauges and configuring the aircraft.

What sort of content do you create with it?
I create aircraft models, gauges, sounds, etc, which integrate into a complete aircraft addon. So, in FSX terms, I create SimObjects.

What does your workflow look like?
Getting inspired of getting an aircraft in sim. Gathering info. Gathering info. Gathering info. Gathering info. Gathering info. Gathering info. Gathering info. Gathering info. Setting up the files and folder system. Creating the visual models. Re-configuring the files and the flight behaviour, on a basic level. Creating the textures. Do flight testing. Programming. Testing. Betatesting. Assembling a manual. Releasing. Supporting.
Not any news I guess.

Are there certain things about the current SDK that annoy you or that you wish were different?
Of course, but I can't recall them now. Well, there are of course some things that are entirely caused by the game engine limitations, so that's hard to separate. What I hate is the badly documented Flight Dynamics, although we now have achieved a good knowledge of it at this site.
Would some sort of scripting tool or editor be more useful to you?
Probably an XML scripting tool can be useful, especially when you're still getting started on this. Three years ago I'd have said: "Some free, integrated, modern 3D tool" but that's not applicable anymore. A good Flight Dynamics editor, SDK native, would be useful, but now we have Aircraft Airfile Manager.

What third party tools or software do you use with the SDK? Photoshop, Blender
GIMP, Blender, Aircraft Airfile Manager, AirEd, AFSD, ModelConverterX, FXEditor. Probably a lot more.
Do not focus on single proggies!

Good luck!

Daan
 
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  • What exactly do you currently use the FSX SDK for?
  • What sort of content do you create with it?
Creating scenery, specifically complete airport environments from structures to terrain and airport surfaces.

  • What does your workflow look like?

Determine the airport/project, research it, get pictures, etc. Establish a "base" using satellite imagery for the ground via resample. I then prepare the "ground poly" which is essentially a model of the entire airport's surfaces (runways, taxiways, ramps, etc.) and have to export that into ModelConvertorX to prevent flickering and ensure everything is layered properly. Once this is complete, I move to making the airport structures.
  • Are there certain things about the current SDK that annoy you or that you wish were different?
  • What third party tools or software do you use with the SDK? Photoshop, Blender
There needs to be a friendlier way of making high quality airport surfaces and making them lay flat on the ground without flickering. The current process works, but is a huge pain and has many limitations.

I use Photoshop and 3DSMax for nearly everything.
 

arno

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Hi Martin,

Great to see this question being asked to developers! I'll first try to answer your questions and then give some other thoughts I have in my mind.

Why do you want an SDK?
To be able to customize the content of a flight simulator and add more realistic sceneries and aircraft. A default scenery covering the entire world can never provide the amount of detail that a simmer wants for their local home airport. So therefore an SDK should be there to customize content. And for many people making this new content is just as much fun as flying (or even more, ask the developers here they probably spend more time designing than flying)

What exactly do you currently use the FSX SDK for?
I used to be a scenery developer making scenery of airports and other objects. But nowadays I'm more a tool developer. So I make easy to use tools are the SDK tools to make it easier for other developers to create their addons. I still mainly focus on scenery, for example autogen creation with scenProc and 3D objects with ModelConverterX.

What sort of content do you create with it?
See my answer to the previous question, I make tools :)

What does your workflow look like?
Programming easier to use interfaces around the SDK tools. For many developers command line tools are not easy to use (but I love them). They need a graphical user interface. Or I try to automate manual tasks that take a lot of effort from developers.

Are there certain things about the current SDK that annoy you or that you wish were different?
Please get yourself a cup of coffee first, this list might get long :)

Let me start with something positive. I started back in the days of FS5 making addons and at that time there was hardly an SDK. FSX was the first time we got a well documented SDK with a lot of tools. So although we like to complain about this we miss, actually the FSX/P3D SDK is the best we ever had.

I find it hard to say what I miss in the SDK only, because many things we developers would like to have in the SDK are also driven by how the scenery engine is designed and works. So some of the feature I list here will not only be a change to the SDK, but to the whole engine of the flight simulator.

Here is a random order list of my suggestions:
  • Please keep provided command line tools as part of the SDK. Although not user friendly they are great for running tasks in batch or for automating things. So do not only offer user friendly tools that require a lot of input from the user to run, but can't be run in batch.
  • Different addon sceneries should be more independant of each other. So the terrain.cfg file and autogen configuration files should not be global, but local for each addon. In other words the developer should not have to take care of merging these things, the flight simulator should do that work.
  • We need a proper way to make ground polygons, to be able to make custom textured taxiways, runways, markings, etc. The current use of FS2002 style ground polygons or MDL files is clumsy, especially when you need to take care of the curve of the earth as well. So the developer should be able to provide these polygons easily (for example just geodetic coordinates of each vertex with texture mapping). The scenery engine should take care of projecting those on the terrain and stuff like that.
  • Gamepacks should be provided for free modelling tools as well, not only for 3DS Max. Starting and freeware developers need to be able to use free tools like Blender, SketchUp, etc.
  • An easier way to have conditional display of scenery objects would be useful. Now this is quite complex (in FS2004 it was much easier), since you need to use a SimConnect module, etc. I feel a developer should from his modelling tool be able to set conditios on the display of parts of this objects. For example for seasonal variations, docking systems, etc
  • Autogen buildings should be improved. Currently roofs and walls are randomized independantly, which makes it harder to make realistic looking houses. It should be possible to match the wall of a gabbled roof to the wall of the house.
  • Don't use a GUID for everything, this is quite confusing for some developers. Objects get a guid, autogen library classes get a guid, animations get a guid, terrain vector classes have a guid. You often see people are mixing these things up and can't get it to work. Although from a programmer point of view it is logical, it's not good to expose it all to every developer.
  • Modify the SDK so that it can also run on computers that have the comma set as decimal character, this is very common in many countries. For example XtoMDL now requires the dot as decimal character.
  • Make sure all SDK tools can run without admin rights, it should not be needed to have admin rights to run such tools. For many developers this gives troubles and unexpected results.

Would some sort of scripting tool or editor be more useful to you?
Probably not a good question to ask me, if I would like some tool or editor to make things easier I'll create it :)

What third party tools or software do you use with the SDK? Photoshop, Blender
GIMP, SketchUp sometimes, and of course my own tools like ModelConverterX, scenProc, etc. And GIS tools like QGIS.

On a final note, if needed for progress, please drop backwards compatibility. Some old techniques have been in use for too long already and hinder progress. But make you offer us a proper alternative for the things that are no longer possible. Or even better offer us something better :)

And if you have other questions or would like to discuss the ideas I have posted here, feel free to contact me.
 

Heretic

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Why do you want an SDK?

An A+ question for a developer forum. *Cough*

The better the SDK, the more additional content, the more copies sold of the base simulator. You win, we win, everybody wins.

This also includes a EULA that allows as much simulator development as possible, especially when dealing with third party payware add-ons.

What exactly do you currently use the FSX SDK for?

Wasting my free time trying to make other simmers happy.
What sort of content do you create with it?

Everything but terrain mesh; mostly gauges and airport layouts.
What does your workflow look like?

Open Notepad, edit XML gauges, use the online help for simulation variable references.
Are there certain things about the current SDK that annoy you or that you wish were different?

  • The offline documentation is a PITA to use and simply out of date with its .chm format.
  • Some explanations about aircraft.cfg parameters are missing in the SDK documentation.
  • There are some minor errors regarding read and write variables in the documentation.
  • No official flight model documentation.
  • No exporters for newer versions of 3ds Max.
  • No official exporter for Blender.
  • A lot of third party development tools are required (Airport Design Editor, SBuilderX, Aircraft Airfile Manager, ModelConverterX, etc...)
  • Imagetool for converting textures has only limited functionality, e.g. you can't create bump maps from within the UI.
  • No sable examples in the XML reference documents. Working code blocks and examples have to be obtained by reverse-engineering existing, working XML scripts.
Would some sort of scripting tool or editor be more useful to you?

Define "editor". A GUI-based tool dealing with everything related to aircraft or scenery creation would of course make things easier.
More important is, however, having some degree of real-time editing capability in the simulator itself. Such as:
  • Reloading aircraft textures from disk instead of the page file or memory whenever the "reload aircraft" function is used
  • Placing scenery objects directly in the simulator
  • Automatically amending save files for flight situations with user-defined variables used in the current aircraft
And since you're asking and in case you're retaining MSFS' XML script language, a comprehensive script editor that helps with gauge creation would especially help newbies, as one of the major stumbling blocks is the use of reverse polish notation in the scripts.

And since you're asking about scripts, make sure that any gauge or aircraft system scripts in DTFS run at simulator framerate. The current limit for XML-based gauges is 18 updates per second (corresponding to 18 FPS), which is too low for some uses.

In any case, you might need to provide a wiki to have a centralized knowledge base, accessible to, and editable by, third party developers for sharing knowledge and moderated by DTG devs.
What third party tools or software do you use with the SDK? Photoshop, Blender
A lot, most of them free or open-source or specifically written for content creation for FSX.
If you can't provide a full fledged editor, at least make sure that you support freeware tools. Not every developer can afford a 3ds Max or Photoshop subscription.


P.S:

Thanks for asking us.

I, however, need to ask if you have people with MSFS development experience on your team since it might be hard to understand our feedback if no one at DTG has ever dealt with the workflows and especially the peculiarities of the FSX SDKs.
 
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  • Why do you want an SDK?
I design visual effects, honestly I don't need "tools" that much. What I need is a permissive particles system and a text file to control it.
  • What exactly do you currently use the FSX SDK for?
I use the "VisualFXTool" to load my effects in the sim and check the changes I made. I'm in the process of making my own tool to replace the SDK's one.
  • What sort of content do you create with it?
I create complex visual effects like volumetric lighting and wing condensation for aircraft
  • What does your workflow look like?
I created my own tools to batch process parameters into effect files. The tools provided in the SDK aren't up to the level I needed.
  • Are there certain things about the current SDK that annoy you or that you wish were different?
Bug-free tools is a good start. There are many areas in VisualFXTool that are flawed and haven't been fixed, even in the latest build on P3D.
  • Would some sort of scripting tool or editor be more useful to you?
Yes it would be, a more visual and intuitive VisualFXTool would certainly help. Having better controls on where to place the effects and in which conditions would be great! Currently, we have to do some wizardry in the sim to simply get the ambient dew point. So we're clearly missing some data in the APIs.
  • What third party tools or software do you use with the SDK? Photoshop, Blender
Photoshop and our internal tools are made with JS and PHP
 
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Not sure if my post on the Reddit thread was seen or not (it got no response), but I'll repost it here for the sake of discussion.

I am the Lead Graphic Artist/UI Programmer at TFDi Design. I'm very happy to offer my feedback on the current SDK and what I think needs to be improved upon.
  • Why do you want an SDK? Making content is exciting! Being able to give players more content to use is something I very much enjoy.
  • What exactly do you currently use the FSX SDK for? I use the tools and 3ds Max plugins to create and compile models and textures.
  • What sort of content do you create with it? Aircraft.
  • What does your workflow look like? Please see my requests below.
  • Are there certain things about the current SDK that annoy you or that you wish were different? Please see my requests below.
  • Would some sort of scripting tool or editor be more useful to you? An editor, yes. Please see more below.
  • What third party tools or software do you use with the SDK? 3ds Max 2015, Photoshop CC 2015, Substance Painter 2, Quixel SUITE 2.0, Visual Studio 2015

With that out of the way, I'll list some of my particular requests below.

I would like to see tools similar to the internal tools that Microsoft Flight had (check the demo reels). There were some really useful 3ds Max and Photoshop tools (primarily the mirror tool for 3ds Max to mirror animated objects).

I would like to see an in-game material editor. Currently, having to export your object and wait for the lengthy compilation process just to see one change is very time consuming (it can be 2-3 minutes at times). It would be nice to have a way of tweaking materials in real time, especially with the addition of PBR since the days of FSX.

I would like tools that make my job quicker and more automated. Right now, I have to create batch files to convert multiple PSDs to DDSs, and in many cases, numerous folders with additional batch files to save specific files with specific compression settings. Additionally, I've had to build a GUI for the XtoMDL.exe tool to make compiling models easier (as I work on multiple projects at two different companies, being able to switch between configurations really helps. Perhaps we need some sort of "Source 2 Sim" tool where we can set up all of our model and texture source files for each project and define specific properties for how they are saved. You'd just have to click a single button and the entire project is exported.

I would like a feature where you can have the simulator reload all content reliably and quickly. FSX allows reloading of aircraft, and it sort of works, but many times textures aren't reloaded and it seems to eventually stop working. Any content besides aircraft requires a complete restart to see changes (or in the case of scenery, you have to unload the scenery in the scenery library, wait for it to rebuild library, makes your changes, re-load the scenery, and wait for the library to build again. Microsoft Flight had a system in place for this and it was a nearly instant reload.

I would like to see a sound configuration editor come with the SDK. I don't do a lot of sound editing, but in my little experience with it, either doing it by hand or having to buy a tool from a third party are not good solutions IMO. Of course, first and foremost I would like to see the sound engine overhauled to begin with. The current engine is glitchy, limited, and dated.

I would like to see a method of doing dynamic cockpit lighting. There are currently no (supported) ways of having lights that are anything other than on or off. Knobs that vary the brightness (along with multiple lights) exist in real aircraft.

I would like to see either the camera access through SimConnect opened up or a camera tool created. Currently, to make cinematic videos/trailers (or even just to take screenshots in general) you need either third party tools, or need to take a lot of time to move a camera around by hand. Additionally, it is nearly impossible to capture stutter-free footage. You either have to record at half frame rate or use FSRecorder to tell the sim to render at a specific frame rate. Both of these lose sound, so it would be nice to have an in-sim tool for this (not necessarily part of the SDK, but it has been lacking in most sims. Even a game such as Grand Theft Auto V has a quite useful video editor).

Thank you guys so much for reaching out to the community! I love seeing the community involvement and I hope everyones' feedback is of use to you guys.
 

rhumbaflappy

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Hi Martin.

One of the problems we've had with the FS series is, as Arno indicated, terrain CFG and lclookup are global in nature. One of the best features of MS Flight was the ability of each scenery 'pak' to have it's own designation of landclass and vector textures. The addon folder was then either local, global or a mixture. very powerful. I know this isn't an SDK feature, but if this is possible in the core design it would be very good for scenery designers... that and conditional display of objects as my top 2 wishes.

Again, as far as the SDK goes, as much info relating to file structures as possible. FSX/P3d has a great SDK that can serve as a basic model, but we really would like to look under the hood a bit.

I'm definitely waiting for Flight Simulator with much anticipation! Meanwhile I've been tinkering with creating OSM-based vector scenery for Combat Flight Simulator 2, and occasionally making mesh and land-water masks for planet Rhumba in FSX, by generating planetary elevations by a C# program. It works, but I need a Cray computer, or some other hobby.
 
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Like so many others, I have been producing and distributing stuff for many years...almost 20 years now!

The better an SDK is, and the more tools that are provided, the longer the lifespan of your product, and the more people will purchase it: more revenue.

I've don't scenery, aircraft, missions, gauges and more for FS-98 - FSX and P3D, so I've seen a great many tools come and go, some which were more backward engineered, others really used the SDKs.

I make use of a number of tools, such as FSDesignStudio (my main one for modelling anything) Paint Shop Pro, Airport Design Editor, SBuilderX, DXTBMP, Model Converter X, even Sketchup on occasion.
 
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Thanks Martin, appreciate you joining our party ....

Why do you want an SDK?
Well, if you can provide everything that a user wants and needs in a flight simulator (not a game) then we don't need one. But you can't possibly provide that, and making the sim extensible will allow users to tune the sim to their requirements as you have said in your initial post. The SDK should provide a basic set of tools and extensive documentation on how to modify the sim. The SDK should provide best practices documentation involving performance issues for sim object model files, terrain mesh, photo scenery, AI control, landclass, buildings roads infrastructure, seasonal variation, textures, autogen, earth curvature and weather. (I've probably missed some)

What exactly do you currently use the FSX SDK for?
I use the sim to introduce AI Sim objects into the sim via my own program using the simconnect interface. I modify weather themes through a program. I have dabled in most of the tools in the current FSX SDK. I use the aircraft configuration to modify the flight characteristics of third party aircraft so that they represent the aircraft I am familiar with.

What sort of content do you create with it?
I build SimObject model MDL files. I have created landclass bgl files. I have created terrain mesh files from government DEM sources. I have created photo scenery bgls. I mostly work on simconnect programs to interface with the sim for mission and scenario programming.

What does your workflow look like?
Yeah, Honestly, it's a hobby so anything shiny catches my attention. So it's tinker here tinker there. I mostly try to dive deep into the SDK documentation and Google online and see how other's solve their issues by coming to FSDeveloper.

Are there certain things about the current SDK that annoy you or that you wish were different?
The documentation is either in error or incomplete. The examples are very basic and are not representative of a real project. Agree with other posts on this thread. It should be online and my personal opinion is hire a technical writer, even a student summer intern to keep the documentation up to date and correct. Someone reports an error or suggests an example fixit, add it right away (after some vetting)

Would some sort of scripting tool or editor be more useful to you?
Don't know how to answer this. Open the sim up and let the great developers out in the wild create the tools. I think it's working ok for FSX.

What third party tools or software do you use with the SDK? Photoshop, Blender
I use Blender, GIMP, Weather maker, VS 2010, VS 2013, VS 2015, ModelConverterX, ADE, SODE and SbuilderX. Gmax not so much anymore.

As a final concern.
Please don't use Scaleform like LM has with P3D, Just can't afford $Adobe$ programs to create the flash content (someone point me to a flash content program) I have installed and seen all the Scaleform creation tools, but you need the proprietary flash files.

Thanks again.
 
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JB3DG

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I would like to see a sound configuration editor come with the SDK. I don't do a lot of sound editing, but in my little experience with it, either doing it by hand or having to buy a tool from a third party are not good solutions IMO. Of course, first and foremost I would like to see the sound engine overhauled to begin with. The current engine is glitchy, limited, and dated.

I would like to see a method of doing dynamic cockpit lighting. There are currently no (supported) ways of having lights that are anything other than on or off. Knobs that vary the brightness (along with multiple lights) exist in real aircraft.

I would like to see either the camera access through SimConnect opened up or a camera tool created. Currently, to make cinematic videos/trailers (or even just to take screenshots in general) you need either third party tools, or need to take a lot of time to move a camera around by hand. Additionally, it is nearly impossible to capture stutter-free footage. You either have to record at half frame rate or use FSRecorder to tell the sim to render at a specific frame rate. Both of these lose sound, so it would be nice to have an in-sim tool for this (not necessarily part of the SDK, but it has been lacking in most sims. Even a game such as Grand Theft Auto V has a quite useful video editor).

Thank you guys so much for reaching out to the community! I love seeing the community involvement and I hope everyones' feedback is of use to you guys.

This (from a programmer's perspective). More access to control sounds loaded by the simulator engine as well as more freedom with cockpit lighting, especially spotlights.
Read access to cameras is another lacking point in the FSX SDK.
 

Bambi_007

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908
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germany
Hello Martin, thanks for asking us of the behavior of a SDK for the FSX SE.

The writer before me has all say what I want to have in a SDK.

My special Point is:
Better Handling of AI Traffic.
I want to have more Options to steering the AI Traffic.
 

ddawson

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862
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Martin,

I'm a gauge programmer. Most of the stuff I've done (that anyone has made use of) has been shims and patches that let XML programmers do stuff that they would not be able to do with XML alone. While it is an interesting little niche, my thought is that it really shouldn't be necessary. I would hope that the SDK would have completely and accurately documented variables and commands, with equal access to both through all supported API's (In FSX - SimConnect, XML, C++ gauges, etc.)

As I skim through some of the other posts in this thread, I see a number of references to documentation. This doesn't surprise me at all. As you consider documentation for the SDK, it will be important to remember that a large number of the people that will use it will be hobbyists. If it is to be truly useful to the community as a whole, the SDK must not presume expert level knowledge on the part of the content developer. If you search the word "tutorial" in these forums, you will see what I mean - people are constantly looking for entry level documentation for various aspects of FS development. You might consider including all of the source code for one aircraft and one airport, both with completely over the top commentary explaining the code.

Something else we see frequently in the specific area of gauge development is people wanting to do stuff with Visual Basic or C#. The gauge and SimConnect header files are only available for C++. I'm happy with that, but lots of folks are not.

Microsoft has always been squeamish about releasing detailed information on the .air and .bgl file structures. As a result, guesswork goes on, reverse engineering takes place, and people aren't always able to get everything out of them that they would like. Please don't be shy about this stuff. It's just data that describes how the simulation should behave. If we understand it better, we can create better add-ons.

Thank-you for taking the interest in what we have to say.

Doug Dawson
 
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us-florida
Why do you want an SDK?
Because I believe that it's very difficult to create a flight simulator that is all things for all people. Therefore I think that addon modifications allow for the user to create a flight simulator that does or shows what he or she is most interested in. I want an SDK so that I can create content that allows the user to add to his or her immersive experience.
What exactly do you currently use the FSX SDK for?
I use the SDK to provide the knowledge and programs that allow me to create detailed content and place it into the flight simulator.
What sort of content do you create with it?
Primarily I'm an airport creator. But I also use it for other purposes.
What does your workflow look like?
I decide on an airport to create or modify based on it's potential marketability and it's need to be updated. IE how much it has changed since FSX was released. Then I start from the ground up literally.
Are there certain things about the current SDK that annoy you or that you wish were different?
The one comment that I have is that much of the FSX SDK was written for professional developers and frequently provides only a partial amount of information that you actually need in order to make the modification that you are trying to make.
Would some sort of scripting tool or editor be more useful to you?
No, as I believe that this would limit the modifications that were possible. The more unlimited the addon modifications can be the more potential customers for the basic flight simulator.
What third party tools or software do you use with the SDK? Photoshop, Blender
ADE, MCX, Sketchup, Blender, Gimp, SBuilder, QGIS, AIFP, SAMM, AirEd, and others.
As a final concern.
Addon content creators are not competitors. We are partners. Together we can create the biggest, baddest flight simulator with the broadest reach.

Thank you for listening to my thoughts.
Ed Phipps
 
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Messages
553
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us-california
Hello Martin,

Rather than add too much to the many specifics above, I might simply ask "Are you a user of flight simulations?" And if so, what did you find lacking, what would you have liked to have seen better represented in a flight simulator? You might say nothing, but a quick look through the addons offered at AVSIM et al, will show you what the rank and file users of previous versions of FS wanted*, made on their own, and shared with the community, along with their knowledge gained in the process.
*You can also see how many other users agreed and downloaded it for themselves.

That has always been the reason for an SDK, because everyone has their own thoughts as to what needed improvements, and pretty much every aspect of flight simulation, environment, aircraft, and performance have been improved upon by both freeware and payware 3rd party developers. As has been mentioned before, a great deal of development work is in the tools and utilities which are designed by developers for developers.

I have in the past clashed with the concept of payware addons, but in the end it must be noted that those who are involved in payware are gambling their long hours and hard work on the possibility of making a living doing what they like, and probably all too often come up short of their expected earnings. At the same time they are pushing the boundaries of development and sharing their knowledge with others who are often freeware developers, so it is in the interest of any new flight simulator franchise to give all developers the best possible access to the nuts and bolts of the sim.

You might do like Microsoft, and have two versions of the DTG FS, one with the SDK for those who wish to get involved with development, and one without. I am sure they made extra profits when users paid again for the SDK version down the road, and DTG would not even incur the cost of the DVDs and packaging.

I liked helicopters and wanted more challenging places to land them, so I became involved in designing helipads and towers with hardened platforms which were originally difficult to place until object placement utilities such as Rwy12, EZ Scenery, and Instant Scenery came along, so I would like to see continued SDK support for hardened platforms, and an updated Object Placement tool (that works).

Cheers
Gman
 
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