x+s+r // A Baltic Excursion, part 1 // EPWA

As we mentioned in our last post, we’re headed east over the next few posts…with multiple stops planned for Poland, then on to Latvia and, finally, Estonia. Sorry, but we’re covering a lot of ground today, so strap in and hang on, ’cause we got a lot of ground to cover and we’re gonna go fast. First up, Warsaw, Poland, where we’ll begin our journey with a truly amazing, not to mention innovative airport file by Drzewiecki Design.

EPWA hdr

XP 11 is allowing designers to experiment with some interesting texture options that just weren’t available a few years ago. Most of the more dramatic options come into play at night, but XP11s optimization routines are allowing designers to create some truly unusual effects – and in broad daylight, too. We looked at the crisp textures developed by GloballArt at their CYYZ Toronto Pearson in our last post, so let’s keep this image from Toronto in mind while we look over Drzewiecki’s EPWA. First, for reference, here’s a texture from Toronto:

cyyz 757 First image

Recall the green window wall? This is as good as any texturing we’ve found in XP, ever, so let’s use that as a benchmark while we look around here in Warsaw. First up, a view of the main passenger concourse, as well as a control tower…

EPWA 1

Now, let’s zoom in bit…

EPWA 2

Note the clarity on the louvered overlay surrounding the tower. Then check the clarity on the metal roofing. Impressed yet? Well, if not, let’s move down to ground level…

EPWA 3

…and turn our attention to the main terminal again. See anything unusual? Like truly transparent glazing? And…people?

EPWA 4

Welcome to a point of view that’s been almost the exclusive domain of FsX/P3D users, until now, that is. Welcome to the view from the inside, out.

EPWA 5 int 1

Because this airport file is filled with such scenes – everywhere you look.

EPWA 6 int2

Take, for instance, pulling up to a gate in your trusty 738. You’re concentrating on cues from the AutoGate when you look up, maybe see a little kid waving at you…?

EPWA 7

It’s kind of a “Holy Cow!” moment, too, because not only are you looking at the people in the terminal, you suddenly realize they (such as they are) are looking at you, too.

EPWA 8

It’s the little things that pull you in.

Deeper.

Than.

You’ve.

Been.

Before.

Say, for instance, you just noticed there’s interesting indirect lighting deep within the interior ceiling…

EPWA 9

Then you note you can see those lights from outside the building. Totally transparent windows, and on a large scale, so take note: only a few years ago this would have killed any GPU known to XP – if only because this much interior detail was impossible for then current GPUs to handle.

EPWA 10

So, look at the glass curtain walls lining this airport terminal once again.

EPWA 11

Not so long ago all you’d have seen was a smeary texture that portrayed people as smudged outlines, and those scenes repeated every hundred feet or so. Look at early v10 files for MIA & ORD and you’ll see what we mean.

EPWA 12

Well, that was then and Drzewiecki Design’s EPWA is now, as in state of the art.

EPWA 13

XP 11 almost becomes an architecture simulator at this point, which brings up an interesting question. If this is a flight simulator, do we need fully modeled interiors complimenting gorgeous exterior modeling? Indeed, do we?

EPWA 14

Well, as we’ve been preaching – for the last ten or so years, too – the success of any given file is contingent on it’s weakest design element. In other words, you can create a truly wonderful scenery file, then, to save time or cut corners, you put something dreadful right in the middle of an otherwise perfect creation…and you ruin the effect you were aiming for.

EPWA 15

We’d say, after spending a few hours poking around Drzewiecki Design’s EPWA, that no corners were cut. This is a great file, period, with neat details everywhere you look…and often where you can’t look!!!

So. Do we need this level of perfection?

I’d say…YES, WE DO. Not simply to keep up with what’s going on in FsX or P3D, but because it truly adds something to the experience of flying into an airport like this. In other words, this extreme level of detail not only looks great, it adds to the immersive nature of the Sim. Is that BAD?

EPWA 16

The notes from Drzewiecki Design state they’ve been able to optimize this design through the use of in-house scenery libraries, and I was able to squeeze decent performance out of this file simply by dialing back World Objects. During daylight OPS you can dial back out of HDR rendering and get even better framerates – while preserving the integrity of these super sharp textures.

EPWA comp 2

What’s not so good here? Well, like most huge airport files, EPWA’s ramps and aprons are a little lifeless. They are much busier than AeroSOFT’s most recent files, and even better than GloballArts Toronto. Short Final’s KABQ remains more immersive up close, while the vivid, in-your-face interiors here in Warsaw are a tough act to follow.

EPWA comp 1

Yes, EPWA includes tons of surrounding details (note the track/soccer field in the mesh below?), but this file has another trick up it’s sleeve, too.

EPWAover 1

So, aside from the truly spectacular terminal building…

EPWAover 2

…Drzewiecki Design also has a companion file available…for the city of Warsaw, so let’s take a short sight-seeing hop around town.

warsaw 1

First on the VFR landmarks checklist, the Siekierki powerplant, located about 5nmi East of the airport.

warsaw 2

The Siekierkowski Bridge, above, and the Narodowy stadium below.

warsaw 3

And last up, the downtown area, dominated by the Palace of Culture and Science.

warsaw 4

It looks like a low-res mesh was used here, and so it breaks down visually at lower altitudes. Alas, there are only a few landmarks that really stand out to me on first use, so I’d say this file is of limited interest. First, to those who live and fly in and around the Warsaw area, or to those who use XP to fly in and out of EPWA Chopin on a regular basis.

And a word about the aircraft used above. This is the newest FsX crossover, the Piper PA-28R Arrow III, by Just Flight / Thranda, and it’s a framerate bruising 4k file. By that I mean simply that the textures are 4k x 4k, and the most relevant end result of this is simple enough to state: this file will eat framerates like nothing you’ve ever seen. The panel is flat out gorgeous, and if your machine can handle it, get it, but when I opened this file at EPWA with World Objects set to high (not MAX, mind you, but right below that) my framerates dropped to 0.9. As in…less than one. So, be warned. If you use a file like this around Warsaw, please have a powerful GPU on hand… My poor Mac was acting like Linda Blair in the Exorcist, spinning and flopping around all over the place while green goo spewed out the keyboard. Ugly…I mean ugly.

But this acf is anything but ugly:

Piper warsaw.jpg

So, to conclude this first part of our Baltic Airports review, let’s re-examine the high points here in Warsaw…

warsaw end 2

  1. The textures here are without fault, as good as any in XP;

warsaw end 12. The facility is faithfully reproduced, and the available Warsaw City file adds to the interest, as well as providing some important VFR landmarks.

warsaw end 3

3. And then there’s that terminal interior, adding another immersive layer that pulls you in deep.

warsaw end 4

And the control tower may be the most interesting I’ve ever seen, and it’s faultlessly rendered, too.

warsaw end 5

I picked up my copy here, by the way, in case you decide to give it a try. It’s a full-featured download, with PDFs for installation, airport background, as well as charts. All in all, an A+ effort.

We’ll continue our Baltic journey in a few days, and thanks for coming along. – A

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