This text was supplied by by Hans van Kampen <intermedia@mail.com>

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X-Plane Texture Definitions
... a different approach

by Hans van Kampen <intermedia@mail.com>


1. Preface
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X-Plane’s ‘aerodynamical design system’ -comprising several interacting software packages- supposes to be an ‘open ended’ flight simulation system.
The most intriguing part of the package is its ‘flight simulator’, where aerodynamical designs can be tested. Since arodynamical forces and airflow form the basis of the simulation the designs can be tested with next to true realism. Apart from this X-Plane has gradually transformed into a true flight simulator in its own right! Many people only use X-Plane to fly around in their part of the world. From a package design perspective this has never been the objective or intention for what now is known as ‘X-Plane v.5.03/5.1’.

‘Open ended’ as the package claims to be, capable of satisfying very personal needs, the flaw in its design is lack of graphical standardization. This may seem strange at first glance, since X-Plane obeys the guidelines for the OpenGL library and can be used across various platforms, like Apple’s Macintosh or Wintel PC’s. By utilizing a domestic 3D-to-2D engine -instead of a clearcut standard, professional 3D Game Engine, widely available at royalty basis- X-Plane has stayed out of complex graphical design and compiler problems. Anybody with a regular wordprocessor can ‘programme’ or modify X-Plane this way. Although other competing simulators have particular ‘editors’ to modify parts currently no single different product offers the vast array of flexibility X-Plane offers.

That this has a price has surfaced the last several months!
It now appears that many users tend to focus on the outside view projected by the X-Plane simulator (hereafter: XP), instead of using the full package as an aerodynamical design package; its original intention! XP thus has become an entity in its own right, but lacks guidelines for standardization of its ‘world’ and other custom designable textures (like displays, airframes etc.). XP also lacks mathematical precision to be used (at this moment) as a ‘whole world comprising’ flight simulator... Its graphical world comprises thousands of environmental files (ENVs), ingeniously glued together in a flat on-screen world. By utilizing data derived from digital elevation maps produced by satellites (landscapes) and GPS/AIP data for aeronautical objects (airports, navigation aids) a rather complete world is already offered to the users.

But what is a ‘world’ without visual markings, like cities, woodlands, roads and other obstacles? The X-Plane package offers ‘World-Maker’ to assign or modify these markings and aeronautical objects. It complies nearly fully to the current AGA/MAP definitions from Air Information Publications. Various aspects can be taken into account, if a user has access to these data. Nevertheless ‘we want more’ seems to be the current adagium... It becomes clear however, that any user can produce his/her interpretation of the world, and we do see a tendency to move toward a +world-wide chaos+ of good, false, fast, slow, beautiful and ugly textures, incorrect or defect ENV-files, as well as well-or misplaced obstacles, navaids and airports.

This document deals with +aspects of textures+ and wants to be part of the discussion about a certain standardization of textures for XP.

Various demo.BMPs are available to test several colours and patterns.
The demo’s must be in the ‘custom terrain textures’ folder, which is in the ‘additional nav data’ folder of X-Plane and should be assigned with World-Maker.


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