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Archive for the ‘FSX’ Category

It’s been a while since any FSDSxTweak traffic – mostly because it is stable and we have pushed things about as far as we can. But here is a helpful hint.

Some users have reported that compiling small models under FSDSxTweak v2.81 can lead to very large MDL files. For example – compile a model with FSDS only and you have a 150kb MDL file; tweak and compile with FSDSxTweak, and you end up with a 3MB file. After much digging into this problem (which only occurs for some users, making it even harder to narrow down), Free Flight Design Forum user Hunter10 narrowed down the problem to old temp files left behind in the FSDS folder by older compiles (read the thread of how he came to this conclusion).

The obvious solution is to have FSDSxTweak clean up all temp files after it compiles and tweaks a model. Luckily, on a cloudy day in 2008, I added a feature into FSDSxTweak_plugin that easily allows you to do this. You may have noticed (probably not), that FSDSxTweak_plugin allows you to inject DOS batch files into the compilation pipeline for exotic tasks. You can inject at three stages:

  1. Pre-build: Before any tweaking or compilation happens
  2. Mid-build: After tweaking, but before compilation with xtomdl
  3. Post build: After tweaking and compilation.

Obviously the post-build step is where we want to do this clean up task. You inject into the exterior and interior model pipelines separately, so if you are building a model with VC, you will need to set up the following for both of these.

Step 1: Create a batch file to clean up the temp files

This is a simple DOS batch file. The only thing to notice is that the batch file will be run from from the [your fsds location]\plugins folder, and all the temp files live in [your fsds location] folder. Other than that, nothing special. Here is one that will work for exterior models (you can cut and paste this into a cleat text file, name it exterior_cleanup.bat, and save it to your FSDS folder:

del ..\_temp.x
del ..\_temp.xml
del ..\_temp.mdl
del ..\_temp.xanim
del ..\_matTemp.txt
del ..\_nrmTemp.txt
del ..\_exterior.x
del ..\_exterior.xml
del ..\_exterior.mdl
del ..\_exterior.xanim

Here is the equivalent file for interior models (VCs). Name it interior_cleanup.bat, and save it to your FSDS folder:

del ..\_temp_interior.x
del ..\_temp_interior.xml
del ..\_temp_interior.mdl
del ..\_temp_interior.xanim
del ..\_matTemp_interior.txt
del ..\_nrmTemp_interior.txt
del ..\_interior.x
del ..\_interior.xml
del ..\_interior.mdl
del ..\_interior.xanim

Step 2: Get FSDSxTweak_plugin to run your batch file after tweak and compile

Now we are ready to tell FSDSxTweak_plugin to use these batch files. Start up FSDSxTweak_plugin, and hit the Advanced button in the exterior model group of controls:

Now in the pop-up window, enter the full path to your cleanup batch file in the post build batch file text box (or browse to it using the Browse button):

Now close the pop-up window. Repeat this step with the interior model if necessary. From now on, whenever you build the model, the temp files will be deleted after tweaking and compilation.

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Paul Clawson found an interesting bug in fsdsxtweak.exe – when tweaking VC materials which follow a particular naming pattern (e.g. $vcpanel1, $vcpanel2, $vcpanel3), you will have the tweak of the material wiith the shortest texture name applied to all those materials (due to the way I was using substring matches in the code).

You can get a fix for this issue here fsdsxtweak.exe v2.81 download. This patch should be applied only over version 2.8. If you have not hit this particular bug, there is no need to upgrade. Installation is simple – go to your FSDS folder, and overwrite the fsdsxtweak.exe file there with the one in this zip file.

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Well, it’s time for another update to the tweaking suite. A big one this time. Updated all three of the tools with some cool new features.

First off, thanks to a scenery project that Scott Hendricks was working on, we discovered that we were missing a couple of material parameters:

BlendDiffuseByInverseSpecularMapAlpha
BlendDiffuseByBaseAlpha
ForceTextureAddressWrapSetting
ForceTextureAddressClamp

And the whole alpha block!

ZTestAlpha
AlphaTestValue
AlphaTestFunction
FinalAlphaWrite
FinalAlphaWriteValue

Of course, adding those meant I had to update the material pane in FSDSxTweak_Edit. So I did a couple more things there too:

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  • Added the new material properties to the material pane
  • Changed the order of tweak categories so that materials come up first (that is what people use the most, after all)
  • Double clicking a tweak in a list now brings it into edit mode
  • A button to clone a material – now if you spend ages setting up one material, you can quickly transfer those settings to another by cloning it and changing only the material identifier for the clone
  • Removed the pesky project stats window and replaced it with a status strip at the bottom of the window which auto updates itself (once a second).

And while I was at it, may as well add some new stuff to the plugin:

Click for full size

  • The plugin auto-detects if you have good values for the dictionaries (modeldef.xml files) and the KFG files, and marks the fields which have errors.
  • Added a status strip at the bottom of the window to give better feedback on what is happening
  • Finally fixed the check for updates feature. It is now reliable.

Finally, I updated the docs with the new info, and also updated some of the tutorial’s screenshots (the editor window has changed enough that people might find it confusing).

You can download the manual (for free) from Lulu here.

The file can be downloaded from AVSIM here. (LINK UPDATED 3/8/2011)

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Congratulations to the good folks at Eaglesoft on the Avsim Gold Star award for their Citation X! Read the full review here.

This is an oddly proud moment for me also – head 3D artist and VP of Eaglesoft, Bobby Hayes (Polyplaner), is an all-around nice guy and hard-core FSDS user. He made extensive use of FSDSxTweak during development of the Citation X – in fact, a couple of features were added to support his work.

Visit the Eaglesoft product site for more info

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FSDS aircraft virtuoso Rick Piper is back in the freeware saddle after releasing his payware Hawk for Skysim. This time he is also doing a British classic – the Hadley-Page Jetstream T. Mk 1 / T.Mk 2. Rick is going all out – 3D gauges in the VC, bump mapping, you name it. I was lucky enough to get a very early build to mess with, and even in this early form it is looking great. If you have any doubts about the power of FSDS and FSDSxTweak, this should convince you! Click on each image for a full-sized version.

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Let’s hope he releases soon!

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Well, just when you thought all was well, the bugs show up… I had some issues with child parts and a few other things which I only discovered after the upload, so patch time. Here is the readme for this patch:

FsdsxTweak v2.71 patch for version 2.7
Dave Nunez (dave.nunez.za@gmail.com or https://davenunez.wordpress.com)

This is a patch to be applied ONLY over version 2.7 of the FSDSxTweak suite (available at AVSIM.com). It fixes three bugs:

1. There was an error with the way child parts were processed, so that you could not have, for example, an effect as a child of a visibility node.

2. I ignored the way FSDS renames parts with the same names so that you could not have multiple of the same effects or special parts attached. For example, if you have two parts named _attacheffect_fx_landing, FSDS will rename one of them to _attacheffect_fx_landing.1, which would break the effect. This has now been fixed so that I ignore any part ending that has _[number] or .[number] – so you can safely have _attacheffect_fx_landing.23 or _attacheffect_fx_landing_21 in your FSDS models now without it breaking the effects.

3. A typo was causing the _nocrash nodes to never appear.

Installation: Locate the file fsdsxtweak.exe on your system (by default they should be in the FSDS install directory), and overwrite it with this newer one. Double click fsdsxtweak.exe to ensure you now have version 2.71 installed.

There you go folks – be sure to patch if you are seeing some of your effects not appearing or similar issues. Download from AVSIM here.

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Long time since I last had an update, but I think this one is worth it. The changes are all in the fsdsxtweak.exe central engine.

Here is what you can do in the new version:

  1. Attach landable platforms to your models by adding a single specially named part
  2. Attach effects (like the pic above!) by adding a single specially named part. This allows you to easily add landing lights, nav lights and smoke effects to animated parts, and lots of other things too.
  3. Attach special SDK parts to your models – such as the aircraft carrier arresting wires and catapults (again, by adding a single specially named part). This is actually the only way to make an Acceleration aircraft carrier with FSDS at the moment.
  4. Create new MouseRect parts in the models for your VC (again, by adding a single specially named part).
  5. Create Visibility nodes in your models to control visibility of parts via custom variables (again, by adding a single specially named part).
  6. Create NoCrash nodes for your scenery.
  7. Attach library objects (defined by their GUIDs) to your scenery (for marinas etc.)

I have also added three tutorials to the manual to show you how to use everything. Download from AVSIM via this link.

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