LOD problems - Trees Fix Revisited

Can you let me know where this file is located please. Thank you.

For Steam it’s
[Installation Drive]\Users\ [User Name]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft Flight Simulator\Packages\Official\Steam\bf-pgg\PGG\

The file distribution.toml is there as well where you can mess around with building generation. However if you have Japan installed you have to make the same changes in …\Packages\Official\Steam\microsoft-pgg-japan\PGG\distribution.toml

There is a way to turn off trees completely. If you have the Steam version, go to:
App Data/Roaming/Microsoft Flight/Simulator/Packages/Official/Steam/fs-base/vegetation

Within the vegetation folder is a file named “10-asobo_species”. Just change the name of the file to something like, “10-asobo_species_remove” and you will see no trees.
To see trees again, change the file name back to “10-asobo_species”.

Please note that you can change the file name either if you are not in the game or if you are on the Welcome screen and not in a flight. Let me know if you have questions.

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I’ve just read today’s update and this discussion is missing at least 50 more votes to be even in the list!

Now on the bright side, I’ve been reviewing my Zendesk submission this afternoon and although the status didn’t change (SOLVED) the Last Activity field was changed (as of this writing it has been updated 4H ago)!

I believe they are actually reviewing this right now internally then, which is a good news for us all!!

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excellent work captain thanks

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Voted!

It seems to have gotten the worse after the last update. Barren naked ground textures all around me… Makes MSFS look like MS Flight…! The water is looking worse than before, the mountains are looking worse than before… MSFS is getting worse with every update… :face_with_head_bandage:

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[16OCT2020 Update]

I’ve been conducting a few more experiments so that I can better understand the issue (and see if there is any chance we can do something on our end while waiting for an official fix), as well as for documenting the issue so that it might help Asobo solving this faster.

There is definitely a bug in the way LOD and/or Terrain are actually handled. I’m not convinced it is a shader problem either, at least, not just a shader problem if any. The issue seems deeply rooted in more than just computing an Euclidian distance too but this might be a contributing factor, see conclusions after the screenshots.

Description

This test is the follow up on the problem I’m describing in a previous post above when the closer you get, the more trees are rendering until a point where they are disappearing, only to reaper when you are closing in further.

I’ve been trying to find whether any of Render scaling and Terrain LOD would have any influence to the rendering of the trees. For this I’ve made a series of screenshots varying only these two, after setting the Trees LOD to ULTRA.

First and foremost, Render scaling has no noticeable influence on this specific problem. I could post all screenshots for comparing Render Scaling 50/100/200 but this will add clutter.

However, Terrain LOD has a noticeable and unexpected influence. Well it is unexpected if you’re considering how this is supposed to work, but it is expected if you’re aware of the bug. All in all, Terrain LOD is not just the setting which is affecting ground LOD ring distances and texture resolution, it is also affecting Trees and Buildings LOD ring distance directly.

So here are the screenshots (compare the trees near the center of the image):

Terrain 50%

Terrain 100%

Terrain 200%

You can see something which is unexpected: the higher the Terrain LOD, the shorter the Tree LOD distance! This is corroborating my previous findings making trees disappearing as you’re getting closer.

But look a this one now, this the same position but at a lower altitude:
Terrain 100% (lower altitude)

This is surprising! Let me explain: with Terrain 200 at a higher altitude, or Terrain 100 at a lower altitude, in both cases trees are disappearing.

This tells me a few things:

  1. Because rendering changes with altitude or horizontal distance the same way, rendering based on LOD distance is supposedly using slanted range (i.e. Euclidian with horizontal and vertical distances) and not just horizontal distance. This is meant to also used simpler LOD when viewed from higher altitudes.

  2. It looks like this is wrongly implemented, as if there is a term ending up as (1 - distance) because the closer you get, the lower the LOD, until a reversal distance where it is working as expected.

Pushing Harder

With these results in hand I’ve decided to look closer in case I could find some reasonable data explaining this. I’ve therefore used the Dev Mode tools to look closer to the terrain tiles and here is something also interesting when just changing altitude:


NB: I’ve tried keeping the mouse pointer as close as the same spot in both shots.

You can see when lowering the altitude and when the trees are disappearing the simulator is indeed loading LOD16. In other words, the LOD are loading exactly as expected based on slanted Euclidian distance, but the trees are not loading as expected.

Looking at the fine print in the middle is revealing something else: when the trees are disappearing LOD14 and LOD15 layers are both tagged with ‘SD’, whereas when trees are rendering only LOD14 layer is tagged with ‘SD’. I don’t know what these mean but if this is any hint for Asobo, it is worth mentioning it.

Voila for now, I hope this will help them resolving these bugs faster.

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Very nice analysis. What I somehow miss (or missed in one of your posts): do you have an idea, why this all happened with the patches? I mean, do you guess about anything based on your findings that could possibly explain why LOD got worse after the first patch(es)? THAT is what baffles me, what the heck did they change. And why the heck does the dev of the sim obviously not know how their engine works? Strange…

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It’s hard to tell why because there could be multiple reasons.

It could be just a consequence of someone in the team venturing in the optimization process for the release version who didn’t realize at the time the unfortunate side-effects, or this could be anything else. From the look of it I’d venture to say probably at some point a change of LOD was decided, either because it was meant to be, or in reaction to a limitation with the implementation at the time of the decision. This could just be in the end a typo in one line of code (wrong value used), or a mismatch between the main code and the shaders (2 different teams out of sync).

What I believe is the simulator is using different LOD rings strategies and threshold and these must be in sync otherwise the graphics are messed up. In my example I’m showing how when displaying the higher definition LOD layer the trees are disappearing and they would only reappear when closing in. This seems to indicate the distance based visibility threshold is dependent on the layer LOD and this is wrong in my opinion unless this is perfectly in sync with the new lower layer LOD threshold value so that there is a smooth and imperceptible transition.

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We can’t restore the release view, set the correct LOD value by modifying the Usercfg file? The visual world, trees are very bad still …

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Very interesting findings CptLucky8, I too have spent a number of days trying to figure out the same issue and eventually came to a similar conclusion regarding Euclidian distance. I have not noted the exact thresholds regarding the LOD ranges and this will be my next project. I would like to understand if there are set threshold limits i.e. LOD 50 - 99, or similarly if there is a value which finds itself outside of the LOD loop i.e. greater than LOD 200. Will report my findings and screenshots here, once again thanks for all the hard work, your contributions to the community are very much appreciated :wink:

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I’ve implemented my own LOD and tree “fixes” and until such time as this issue is corrected in a future update I find it works well for my personal tastes. It requires a little bit of work and if anyone decides to try it for themselves you may find it works for you as well but I take no responsibility for anything you do to your files. You’ve been “advised”… make backups of your files.

Firstly, I preferred the old tree sizes to the smaller ones that have been implemented, so I edited the four tree files in the fs-base/vegetation folder. I increased the height of all trees, the “max” setting, by modest amounts, but left the “min” settings alone. I think all of the complaining about the size of trees was a little overblown in most cases, not all, and the subsequent shortening of the tree heights has led somewhat to the loss of immersion many are experiencing in regards to the look of forests and other heavily wooded areas. I believe the tree sizes in the beginning were carefully selected to give the user a sense of “fullness” to the forests and other areas while flying and in the air at altitude. It’s true that some trees were too tall in some instances, such as the occasional tree near a runway approach, but in general looked great. (My opinion, of course). I also increased the number of trees by about 10%. These adjustments were just guesses as to what the original numbers for trees were because I don’t have those original files available for comparison. I can tell you that in MHO these adjustments make a significant difference in my perception of the landscape and immersion, like it was in the beginning. But…as the saying goes, your mileage may vary.

Secondly, in the Usercfg.opt file, I experimented with and settled on the following two adjustments:

a) increased Terrain LoDFactor from 2.0 (200 setting in game graphics setting) to 4.5
b) increased ObjectsLoD LodFactor from 2.0 to 8.5

These two adjustments have done the following: increased the distance that trees are drawn, and increased the distance that you can see city skyscrapers from close by at the 200 setting (in game graphics setting) to way out near the horizon, dramatically improving immersion. This setting probably also draws other objects further out as well but the skyscrapers are the most notable improvement.

All of this is strictly my opinion of how scenery looks now, and others may or may not agree. But it works for me and has made the scenery and immersion level pleasant and enjoyable again.

As I stated earlier, I expect Asobo to correct LOD issues with a future patch/upgrade and fix these problems, but for now this is working for me. Should anyone decide to try these adjustments I hope you find some numbers/adjustments that satisfy you as well. :slight_smile:

I should also note that I do have a robust system and can run the sim with Ultra settings. Should one have a system with lower spec hardware, that should be taken into account if any changes are tried. :slight_smile:

I am including two screenshots, notice in the second the city skyline in the distance…

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Amazing pictures! You did a fantastic job! You are very clever! What you need to change will be emailed to me. Exactly which folder to write to. I need a detailed description from you. I want wonderful trees like yours. Thank you very much for your help! E-mail: batkizoltan@gmail.com

We would truly appreciate if you give us the specific changes that you made in these files (or the files in a zip) :slight_smile:

hmm interesting I taught Object level of detail only affected airport objects

Thank you for sharing this!

I’m not in favor of manually changing the UserCfg.opt file and then set to read-only because when changing these LOD settings in the file it is affecting more than just these.

Please also note Trees rendering size is directly affecting trees rendering distance. Although it is clever an optimization because there is no point in rendering a tree only 1 pixel on the screen if this tree is above a texture of the same color, I believe it is wrongly implemented because it is cutting out trees too soon where they are still rendering over much more than 2x2 pixels for example. You can see this size -> distance effect in my screenshot in the first post where I’ve set max size to 51.

Having said this, with your settings, do you see trees at an intermediate distance appearing, then disappearing and reappearing again as you’re progressing forward? (re: 08OCT2020 Update)

Thank you for sharing. Like yourself I too have edited the vegetation files using 100’s of different variations to determine the best representation of trees. Although there are certain sets of settings which do make a pleasing visual difference, the problem is somewhat more complex as CptLucky8 has already mentioned.

Terrain LOD affects the detail visible on the terrain, although there is a slight draw distance ring increase in Terrain LOD, the actual ring LOD from the aircraft position is not directly affected. The same principle works with Object LOD, higher settings do not render objects further away from the aircraft, all it does is render the objects within the ring LOD with sharper details. As previously mentioned… again by CptLucky8 :wink: things start to get really weird when reducing the Terrain LOD to 100 or less, more trees are rendered further away from the aircraft, however the LOD ring (trees specific) close to the aircraft position is sometimes reduced.

Here is a simple breakdown of how the LOD settings actually work. Picture yourself on a giant sheet of paper (flat), the sheet of paper is populated with 1000 black squares (representing objects) and 1000 black circles (representing trees), there are also feint lines on the paper (horizontal and vertical) representing the Terrain. While flat on the piece of paper, you can see the squares,circles and lines nearest to you in all it’s glory. You begin to start ascending, and the patterns start becoming smaller, there’s still the same number of squares (1000) and still the same number of circles (1000), also there are still the same number of lines. Terrain LOD depicts how sharp those lines on the paper will be while ascending, the number of lines do not increase, only the quality of what’s already present. Objects LOD works exactly the same way, the quality of whats already present is more definable from altitude.

Draw distance (the setting we do not have access to yet) will determine how many sheets of paper we can add to our original one. Trees, Buildings and Bushes settings (within the sim) do have an effect on the LOD within the LOD ring, however there are dependencies within the code that makes the behavior of populating these objects somewhat confusing.

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@DaffodilGlue317 This is a very clear explanation of what is happening and what the current implementation limitations are vs what the simmers are looking for ! :clap:t2: :clap:t2: :clap:t2:

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Thanks for the reply, I’ve been following this thread since the beginning and appreciate your input and work on deciphering this issue.

I do not change the UserCfg.opt file to read only after making an adjustment. I have checked this file many times after using the sim and find it is never changed by the sim, at least not that I can tell. Perhaps the sim itself disregards the higher number I’ve entered and limits the two settings to 2.0 no matter what I’ve changed the number to, but I didn’t believe that. I had done a lot of testing up until a few weeks ago with the ObjectsLoD Factor setting and found it most definitely made a difference in city skyscraper view distance. I did those tests on numerous cities and in all cases was pleased to find the draw distance increased greatly. I left that setting at 8.5 and didn’t look back.

After reading your replies and that of DaffodilGlue317, I did a new test of the Chicago skyline a little while ago and it now appears the skyscraper draw distance has been extended in the sim code, as both a setting of 2.0 and 8.5 appears to show the skyline at about the same distance away from the city. Talk about confusing, I know I wasn’t seeing things a month ago when conducting these trials. I think Asobo made code changes with the last patch or two because of the talks about tree LOD’s and draw distances, etc. I don’t know this of course, just going by what I know I was seeing and what is happening now, or appears to be happening now.

I do think that my edits to tree sizes and their numbers in the tree files has made a noticeable difference in the appearance of trees. As for your second question, I have seen what you are describing, but in my case I believe it’s effect to be somewhat mitigated because I increased the tree sizes and it isn’t as noticeable to me. Would you concur that is possible?

To sum up, I am going to leave my settings as is, it isn’t hurting the sim in any case and I definitely prefer the larger tree sizes to the reduced sizes. I will continue to follow this thread and your discoveries, and as Asobo has already stated publicly they are investigating all of this I am encouraged they will sort this out and fix the tree LOD and draw distance issues.

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@CriticalClub72, thanks for the tip. It makes a huge difference, but you shouldn’t be afraid of tall trees :joy:

I tried several values, the only problem: trees are not realistic with the size of the world.

But I prefer too tall trees with a large lod than realistic trees displayed at the nose of the plane :kissing_closed_eyes:

Just look at the side of the millau viaduct (thanks to Thalixte by the way)
I live in this area and I am finally reconciled with msfs, waiting in my sweet dream that asobo releases a fix for trees lod.