Comet 4c - Optimisation, Speed Check and 3D Lighting

X-Plane 9 Upgrade - Optimisation, Speed Check, and 3D Panel Lights

One of my greatest fears is that I have loaded so much detail into the Comet that some people won’t be able to fly it without hitting the 19.00 FPS brick wall. I’ve spent the last few weeks optimising the cockpit. That involved changing the order of all the object files so components load in the order the graphics card wants to see them. It was an unbelievably boring, tedious task!

At last I have been able to compare frame rates with my original Comet project, built using X-Plane v8. Amazingly, after adding so much more detail, including new and detailed Flight Engineer’s and Navigator’s stations, and more than doubling the number of gauges and switches, the overall drop in frame rates is only 2.0 FPS on my system, or 5.6%.

Of course, the actual frame rates will be different on everyone’s own system, and depends on the way you like your render settings, weather, and which airport you’re flying from. My own computer is 2 years old, with, as someone told me the other day, a “rubbish” graphics card. Bad for me, but if I can fly it, anyone with a newer computer will do even better. I carried out a further test, comparing figures when flying the stock Boeing 777 that comes with X-Plane under identical conditions:

Boeing 777, 2D v8 cockpit: 64.0 FPS
Comet 4c, full 3D cockpit: 34.0 FPS (53%).

This proportion is a rough guide to whether your own system will handle the Comet in 3D. In any case, I have made a conventional 2D cockpit as well – lots of people prefer them. Not just for speed.

My next job is LIT textures. Gauges, labels and legends are straight forward; but because I have used all the available pixels to make them as clear as possible, I can not create false highlight and shadow effects for the cockpit structure by “burning the PNG”. It has to be with lighting effects in the sim. Today’s experiements with the new 3D spot lights are shown in these screen shots. It looks really good. The disadvantage is a whopping hit on frame rates. However, by dimming the lights to zero, frame rates are fully restored, as if I had not used the 3D lighting system at all. I think that gives plenty of scope, so I’m pushing on ...

GMM-P (15/10/2009)
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