This is the second most asked question, just behind 'what are the framerates like?'
One of the goals of the Godzone Photoscenery Subscription is to produce scenery which works well with the currently available landclass/topo bases:
- Default FSX/Prepar3D;
- Vector Land Class;
- Orbx NZSI/NZNI;
- Orbx Global.
'Works well' is quite vague, as is 'compatible with', so I'll explain this is a bit more detail.
Most of my scenery projects involve at least some aerial photo base, and the Subscription takes this to the extreme -- depending on what gets included by the time the subscription finishes, the main feature is going to be photo scenery; it's right there in the name:)
Ideally, I'd love to have a simulator which had nothing but photoscenery, but that isn't going to happen any time soon, for a few reasons -- the photo coverage of New Zealand is patchy at best, takes up a lot of disc space, and is restricted to the available seasonal coverage -- basically summer-only.
Plus not everyone likes photo scenery as much as I do. But that's what I do, if it wasn't for photo scenery, I probably wouldn't have ever become interested in the simulator.
The photo scenery available here is based on images sourced from the Land Information New Zealand Data Service. These images are almost always taken in summer, as this gives the clearest weather for this type of photography. The LINZ imagery is compiled from a huge number of images taken at different times, sometimes years apart. It is colour-corrected to a limited degree within regions, but not always between regions.
Just a bit more detail about colour-correction. I am asked quite often why I don't just change the photo scenery to match the landclass scenery perfectly. Some people see the difference between photo scenery and landclass as a problem with the photo scenery. I don't see it this way. The photos are actual photos of the real New Zealand, whereas the landclass textures are at best based on a single location within New Zealand (in the case of Orbx -- for the default textures there is normally a single landclass texture for use world-wide.)
While this is the real New Zealand being depicted in the aerial photos, the actually quality, detail and resolution may vary a lot compared to landclass textures, though, as with landclass textures, you can pick and choose the best representation of any landclass, from all the available aerial photos, and even make your own if nothing is available.
Some people find the variable nature of photo scenery a real problem, others prefer the realism of seeing the actual location as it was photographed, even if that photography only represents a single point in time, and was grabbed from a great height between cloud cover.
Anyway, back to the question. There are some limitations with combining photoscenery with any landclass scenery, including Orbx. Orbx is particularly tricky, because the actual colours and tones of their landclass textures, while pretty, don't really represent what we have here in New Zealand.
So you will notice the point at which the landclass switches to photoscenery, to a lesser or greater extend, depending on where you are and when you are flying.
However the photoscenery is generally 'blended', so that you won't see a sharp division. Note that some parts of the Subscription scenery are not blended, as these don't represent the final edge of the scenery -- however the final scenery will have the edges blended.
Here's some screenshots showing the blend at a couple of points in the Subscription scenery. The first is the current north edge of the Wellington photoscenery, (this is in fact blended even though the scenery will extend further north), and the second is the Alps, showing Mt Cook.
As you can see, you don't really notice the point at which the photoscenery gives way to the landclass scenery; however you will notice a change in colouring/tones in some cases.
The most noticeable change in tones occurs with the Orbx scenery,as Orbx use very dark, very saturated colours. I'm not entirely sure why Orbx use dark textures, but I would guess that this is to give a better illusion of light/dark balance when flying -- however these days there are some addons which better handle this, such as ENBseries in FSX, and the included High Dynamic Range lighting in Prepar3D.
Vector Land Class uses default textures in general (apart from some forest and bush textures), but these textures are carefully chosen to match the tonal range of New Zealand better -- so the blend to Vector Land Class is generally going to be better than Orbx.
(You can click on these pics to see a larger version.)
There are other aspects of compatibility, which I'll mention briefly as I have gone on a bit about the landclass blend...
- The Subscription scenery does not include any custom Orbx library objects or autogen, as these are not available for use in third party scenery;
- However it does include some Vector Land Class library objects and autogen textures, as these are freely available for use in New Zealand scenery;
- Where there is a difference in airport/airfield elevations between Orbx and other base scenery, I will include a fix for any airports/airfields I customise;
- Generally Orbx objects around airports and other areas will be excluded from the Subscription scenery, but sometimes I will leave them unexcluded -- so you may see some Orbx objects in Subscription scenery, although I haven't placed it there, I've just left it there.
- You generally won't see a lot of Orbx people-flow folk around Subscription scenery;
- You also won't see a lot of the very nice custom-made trees which are part of Orbx -- which is a shame, as Orbx make very nice trees, but should the Subscription be successful, I would like to release my own custom NZ tree autogen at some stage.
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