New files are being released at a good clip as the Christmas mega-season approaches, and along with Short Final Design’s KABQ, we now have GloballArt releasing their CYYZ Toronto-Pearson on Thanksgiving Day (here in the US, at least), and a big sale going on at the Org on Drzewiecki Design’s scenery files. There’ve been a few interesting ‘skins’ – or textures – released this week too, so we’ll post a few screenies of what we’re currently working on later this weekend. Also, we have word that a new payware for KTEX Telluride, Colorado is in the works (complete with ski area), from X-Codr (who recently released the very detailed Sedona, Arizona file), as well as another new freeware for LFBD – Bordeaux Mérignac. More on those later this weekend, so let’s get going!
Now – GloballArt’s CYYZ + Toronto
Released with little warning, this hotly anticipated file comes at an auspicious time for Canadian enthusiasts. There’ve been a bunch of good freeware files of smaller Canadian airports, mainly in BC, released lately, but so far no up-to-date payware files of the Canadian biggies – Toronto, Quebec, Montreal and Vancouver – files that take full advantage of XP 11s new feature set. So, GloballArt is first out the door for Canada, and hopes have been running high this will be a really good one.
Well, after working around the file for a few hours we can report this is indeed an extremely well-executed effort, an airport you should really enjoy flying in and out of. The first thing that struck me as ‘out as out of the ordinary,’ and worthy of note, is how crisply executed the textures on terminal buildings are:
In the image above, I’ll point your attention to the green wall above the jetway first. Notice none of the walls or windows are “smeary” looking? Well, I did, and the Jetway is as crisply rendered.
Yup, I got some jaggies at these settings, especially in shadow details, but this file is huge and it was finicky. The IXEG 733 and the Laminar 744 operated smoothly at higher settings than these, but the FF757-200RR gave me fits and I had to dial it back more than what you see here, as frames dropped into the low teens (and lower than that once or twice when I turned towards more complex, detailed parts of the file). Short Final’s KABQ is as big a file as this one in some important ways – mainly that the airports modeled in each are, simply stated, huge, and extremely well detailed. KABQ’s terminal building is nowhere near as big as Toronto’s, however.
And this takes us back to a point I was trying to make a few posts back, namely, we’re forever running out of headroom on our GPUs! Not long ago we were wishing for 1 GB GPUs…and we got them and soon enough 2Gb seemed to be what we needed. Next, 4Gb was the norm but we’re already pushing those cards to their limits with files like KABQ and this CYYZ, and so it looks like 8Gb will soon be the norm. 11Gb cards are already appearing on the market, but for the life of me, this is beginning to feel more and more like an arms race! Or…The Field of Dreams!
“If you build it, he will come.”
In other words, if we soon have a Radeon GPU with 20 Gb on it (and it looks like we’ll need that, and, like, tomorrow), pretty soon that won’t be enough! To say, ‘oh well, that’s just the nature of the beast’ is hardly comforting, either, but there’s no mistaking the beauty such cards reveal. This, then, is the gateway to immersive realism. Open wallet and say ahh.
So, let’s take a look around…starting at night.
There are some big black holes where terminal buildings are, so my guess is some work remains to be done getting terminals better illuminated. Or not. It’s always hard to know how far to go on these night textures…
…because some areas, like the concourse shown above, look just fine, while the main terminal building, below, looks a little anemic…
Then, from an oblique, side angle, parts aren’t too far off the mark (and note the busy traffic on the road leading into the airport. There’s Austin’s plausible world again!).
The Sheraton hotel signage is clearly visible from a good distance. Again, good, hi-res texture quality helps bring this world to life.
We can also see (below) that there’s a fair amount of clutter on some of the ramps.
And in the parking areas, too (though the main terminal building is in the middle-left of this image (below) and once again I feel it’s just too dark).
Below, I only found a few smeary textures when poking around, and these upper windows aren’t all that bad considering where we were just a few years ago.
So… HDR rendering is “a must” at night, as you won’t get the kind of detail you see here with it set to “off.”
Once HDR is off, as below, lights lose their starburst effect and subtle shading is lost on buildings and ramps.
Turn it back on! Cut it off when it’s time to taxi!
XP 11 is such a drastic improvement over v9 & 10. These images (above and below) show the tremendous range of improvements in XP11, from cars in lots to streetlights and other lighting effects on buildings.
Also, without HDR set to the “ON” position, all those amber streetlights just kind of fade away into obscurity.
And speaking of lights, taxiways and ramps are fairly well lit, but this is another area I see room for improvement.
All in all, ramp detail is adequate, but it just lacks a little by not displaying the chaotic visual nature of these places. There’s enough to make it look “okay” – but not so much that framerates take a big hit – so maybe this was a compromise?
You can see what I mean a little better in daylight. There’s “stuff” down there, but not too much. My question: is it enough?
Again, below, there’s stuff out there, but not a lot.
No people running around, either. Just a car or cart here and there. Not quite chaotic. To my eye it’s a little too quiet down there.
But those textures are mighty good.
(below) Here’s a mix of static elements, stairs and carts from the FF752 ground services plug-in. Is this a good enough strategy? I kind of think so, because it can be added on the fly, and perhaps the impact on framerates isn’t too adverse? Yet that solution only works on one .acf, no?
Again, you’ll find moving trucks and baggage trains, but not very many.
So, it looks like a series of compromises was made to keep performance reasonable. Textures on buildings are superb, and the roadway network leading into the airport is beyond outstanding. As long as HDR is ON the buildings and ramps look decent at night, but they’re not as busy looking as I’d like. That said, we get back to the issue of compromising, as that kind of additional detail might blow out even a 4Gb GPU.
Trying to keep these files marketable to people running along with 1-2Gb GPUs is going to become harder and harder going forward, and my advice to scenery developers is simple. You have two options. Make one file and really strut your stuff, bring your airport to life and be honest when you declare that a 4GB GPU is the entry level.
Make a “normal” file, one really detailed, and offer a “lite” version too, a cut-down file that will run on a 1-2Gb machine.
Again, with moderate settings I ran the IXEG 733 with no problem here, the Laminar 744 too. I had to dial back settings to get smooth framerate for the FF752, as I suspect I would have for the Rotate MD80 or the Carenado Beech 1900D.
Coming up in our next post, we’re headed east…to Warsaw, Riga and Tallinn, to be more specific. We’ll see you there, but for now our conclusion on Toronto is:
- this is a good file, with excellent textures;
- ramps are a little too quiet for my taste;
- Some terminal buildings are fine at night, while others, especially the main terminal building, are just too dark – even with HDR active.
- Easy installation – and the file includes a WINTER texture package. I’m waiting to see what John over at MAXXsoftware comes out with, as they’re reportedly working on a winter weather generator that will finally give XP real winter weather.
So, is this file a winner?
Yes, it is. But be honest with yourself, too. If you have an older PC with a low-end GPU, this file probably is going to disappoint. If you run big, complex aircraft like the 752 or 763, or, God forbid, the FF A320 Ultimate, you’re going to find it hard going here unless you dial settings way back. Then…what’s the point?
Then again, it’s Christmas time, isn’t it? Maybe Santa will bring you a shiny new 120Gb GPU this year! Then all your scenery woes will be over…for a few months, anyway.
That said, if you have at least 4Gb onboard you’ll be able to run this file at moderate settings. I have 5.5Gb and still had trouble with a few .acf so your mileage may vary, but I’d be willing to go out on a limb and say that 8Gb may be needed to get the most out of this file. If you’ve got that much then hang on to your hat, ’cause this one’s going to blow you away.
4Gb will work, though. Just fiddle with settings until you hit the best compromise that works for you. I did not once try World Objects at Max. A big city like Toronto would meld my GPU…
So, we’ll see you soon.