Comet 4c - Instruments

X-Plane 9 Upgrade - High Resolution Instruments

Whenever there is a discussion about 2D and 3D cockpits, 2D has the advantage of clarity, where 3D instruments look fuzzy and indistinct. That’s because 2D graphics are represented exactly 1:1, where 3D textures are scaled and distorted.

So far, all the screen shots I’ve published of the 3D Comet cockpit have been with instruments that have the same resolution as the original 1024x1024 2D panel. Roughly speaking, 1px represented 1mm. Over the last month, I have completely re-planned the 3D panel, using the separate texture file (../cockpit_3d/-PANELS-/panel.png), and the full 2048x2048 area in X-Plane 9. I’ve also experimented making instruments as 3D objects, with needles as animated 3D components, rather than the whole gauge being a flat surface with a dynamic texture. Test results showed two important advantages:
  • Frame rates are definitely higher using 3D animation, instead of dynamic 2D textures;
  • Texture files only need one copy of each gauge.
Not having to duplicate instruments for each pilot or each engine is more or less irrelevant for a single-engined, single-seater aircraft, but with the crew and systems in a multi-engined airliner, it saves a lot of space. Free space can be used for even greater resolution, and, at last, numerals can be very sharp and clear in 3D. Currently, I’m working with 3px/mm:

This is very much work in progress. I’ve just finished creating every kind of gauge I need around the cockpit, including the flight engineer and navigator’s stations. It was a lot of work. The next step is to install them, and I may change the layout again, or distribute gauges around the various object files, dependent on rendering quality and performance.

Screen shots with these higher resolution graphics will follow. Watch this space ...

GMM-P (07/08/2009)
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