Tuesday, February 16, 2010

F-35 Lightning II - project update and some screenshots

F-35 AA-1 climbing nearby Edwards AFB (photoscenery made with FSET). Fuselage textures are now slightly more detailed - and for AA-1 I've added a "scorched" effect to the paint nearby the APU exhaust (as happened in the real AA-1 - AFAIK, exhaust has been moved to the lower side on all models except the -C for deck crew safety concerns...)

Testing low speed flight characteristics neaby Edwards AFB. So far so good. Most, if not all, of the issues in the Alpha build are solved and the plane flies smoothly and it is easy to fly (with thanks to Roberto Leonardo's tweaks especially in the tight turns department).

On of the major areas of improvement is the MFD which is now truly multifunctional, and allocates fewer texture sheets. Some of the MFD pages will be accurate to their real counterparts - some others will be less accurate but I'm confident that the final layout will be a reasonable compromise.

The general cockpit layout is accurate, with some exceptions and artistic licences here and there. For example the canopy frame is the "weight optimized" version - somewhat different from the actual AA-1. Another example is the lights panel, which sits where an emergency electrical panel should be. In geneal I've tried to balance accuracy, useability, graphics and...fun. Yes, I am one of those who still thinks that, afterall, it's just a videogame :-)

Last, but definitely not least, there is the new HMD by Jivko Rusev and Scott Printz. Basically Jivko has taken Scott's excellent F/A-18 HUD code and adapted it to the F-35. This new HMD gauge is as close as possible to real one (given the information publicly available) and it is a huge step forward in cockpit useability. Scott and Jivko have kindly provided the authorization to include it in the package - and looking at the screenshot I took I realize it does not do justice to their work... It looks awesome. Trust me.
Well... Above are some screens - as promised. I did not have much time to work on the F-35 lately, so the Beta is 10 days late... and the chances that I will be able to complete it before the next weekend are pretty small. I do not think I've much to add to what I wrote below the screenshots... but in short: the visual model is even more accurate, the flight model is better, the VC has more functionality and there is a great new HMD by Jivko Rusev and Scott Printz.
Now, I just hope I will find the time needed to complete it in the next weeks...


SpazSinbad said...

Great work on the aircraft, the HMD looks to be excellent, Dino (& team).

schmooze13 said...

Wow, looks really good. Just wonderin wats FSET?

ScimmiaSpaziale said...

Thanks for the appreciation.

FSET stands for Flight Simulator Earth Tiles which is a freeware application that automatically creates photoreal scenery by extracting tiles from Virtual Earth, Google maps and similar services. The only thing it does not do automatically is water mask generation. Most freeware photosceneries are done with this application.

It is different from TileProxy as it does not generate scenery on the fly -but instead it creates permanent scenery on your HD (which is not exactly within the terms of usage of such services).

It is not very popular because, due to the violation I mentioned, it is not ready-to-go when you download it (the author deleted some essential entries in the .cfg). It is not that hard to make it work, but it is hard enough to block several users.

Provided that the source image is good and uniform in color, sceneries can be spactacular (although with no autogen). Italy, for example, is almost entirely covered by good images. And if your HD is big and fast enough, you can even go down below the 1m/pixel (I downloaded the Edwards AFB and surrounding area at 0.50m/pixel - and then 60Nmx60Nm area at 1m/pixel)

ashley said...

Is the HUD stationary/part of the VC or is it a 2D panel, so you can flash it up in the VC and look around with it on screen.

ScimmiaSpaziale said...

@ Ashley

It is stationary (but collimated). The Alpha build was using a "mixed" HUD (part was fixed in space and part was superimposed 2D) but I dropped it since:

- My understanding is that in the real F-35 only tactical/weapons data follow the pilot's head. Flight data is shown as in a regular HUD with exceptionally big FOV.
- 2D pop-up was not permanent (you had to switch that on whenever you changed views)
- It was a bit confusing for some users...
...and the new HMD looks far superior :-)

I will probably include some sort of 2D superimposition for those (mock weapons info and/or other data) who may like it...

ashley said...

Superimposed would also suit TrackIR users better. I guess :P

Anonymous said...

@Dino Cattaneo,

Its coming along quite nicely. 8)

Is it possible to make the model change its weight (and therefore flight characteristics) based on the Fuel and/or Weapons quantity, jettison, or releases?

For the whole team: Keep up the good job.
Ciao! :)

ScimmiaSpaziale said...

@ Ashley

Yes, TrackIR (or Freetrack in my case) users are likely to appreciate superimposed information... but having lots of information moving with your head can be confusing (e.g. when reading/operating the MFD). I think it is better to keep the data fixed in space (and collimated) - and possibly provide additional fake weapon information as superimposed pop-up. By the way I think it is the way it works in the real thing.

FSX (at least at high realism settings) already takes in account the changes of flight characteristics with loads (e.g. try to land my Tomcat on a carrier with different fuel quantities and you will see).
Still, in the F-35 flight model, some of those changes have been "neutralized" on purpose to "emulate" the FCC.

It is also possible to create a visual dependant on the load (i.e. you type-in the weight of a sidewinder on station 1 in the "fuel and payload" and have flight and visual model accordingly) but this is not implemented in the F-35. I'll consider the introduction of such features after the Beta, but I'll most likely leave them out for time constraints.

ashley said...

Is freetrack actually any good Dino?

ScimmiaSpaziale said...

@ Ashley

Well... it is surely fun to make, and it is almost free if you have a webcam. Works quite well in 2 degrees of freedom. 3 to 6 DOF modes require an accurate setup to work properly - but IMHO it works amazingly well for being a freeware application. Still, on my machine, seems to work only in Win XP 32. I do not use it very often, but it is worth trying.

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