Night lighting issues still present - The community solutions

Could the decrease in brightness done by devs to simulate atmospheric effect to some extent?

But yeah they don’t need to decrease the brightness, only reducing the clipping (the core light area) the further lights away, so lights appear smaller and “losing brightness”, while actually the brightness is similar, but the size gets smaller.

I believe this is wrong too! Look at the rail lamps in the XP11 screenshot and how the halo is reducing in size too. This looks much better.

Now look at the 5 bulbs I’ve posted above and how color shifts with -100 brightness and relate this to the red color shifting at the edges of the runway in FS2020…

There is a difference changing size and changing brightness also because the shader code is running in a linear space (the textures and screenshots are in a gamma space). This makes maths a little bit different for these and more complex, whereas changing size is simpler, done in hardware at the silicon level (not the shader code level) and is closer to the truth. (so it seems)

There are certainly good reasons they’re doing it the way they do, yet, this doesn’t preclude investigating other ways and how they compare visually and performance wise. It is also possible they just didn’t put additional thought on the whole night lighting for other reasons (no previous experience with realistic aeronautical lighting but experience in close-up lighting only over limited distance, or art director pushing for photo looking instead of pilot looking lights, or any other speculation you could add to this list).

In any case, it is certain they’ve tried to respond to community demand in a hurry with the integration of the ‘night lightning enhancements’ since release, but even if I can’t tell whether it was better pre-release because of the NDA I can at least tell it is not the same (from the look of the publicly available pre-release screenshots) and many seem to want pre-release lighting back (at least the point light part of it).

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I must be missing something, why is it wrong to reduce brightness for more distant lights? That is after all how it works in real life.

I’m no expert on any of this and have been reading along with some interest. So I may be totally wrong here but I would guess it’s because the lights are a constant brightness no matter how far away you are from them. What changes is the viewers perception of scale based on the distance and the diffusion/refraction of the light in the atmosphere before it reaches the viewers eyes.


What you are hinting at is that “brightness” is an ambiguous term, and it is.

In more precise terms, radiant intensity and luminous flux do not depend on distance, but irradiance and illuminance do. I think what the sim depicts (or should depict) for lights is illuminance?

Some useful infos to get started:

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Yeah that is interesting… but what does it have to do with this?

Are you talking about how the sim (+ GPU + monitor) should render the less bright more distant lights, is that your point?

My point is in the video. If you change the colors (indirectly in changing the brightness) you’re not averaging the same as if your reducing the size. It is clearly explained in the video at 1m 22s, at 2m 19s, at 3m 07s.

I understand it is a little difficult if you’re not into computer graphics programming and shader code, but just looking at the runway at EGNX I’ve posted above, you can see how different it is when changing size vs brightness, and I personally find XP11 point lights more realistic and they do not show the same flaws than the ones in FS2020.

I believe at this stage, if not looking for the details behind the maths with light in CG, it would be a matter of taste only and the only way to solve this is having a Legacy/Modern choice for lighting as we do have for the flight model…

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Yeah but what averaging are you talking about.

Take a step back – we agree irradiance and illuminance decreases with distance, i.e., fewer photons hit your eyes (irradiance) and therefore your “perception of brightness” (illuminance) is lower when the light is more distant?

I think, reading between the lines, that what you are talking about is how that reduced illuminance of more distant lights should be reflected in the rendered image, and that issue might well be non-trivial. Is that the point you are trying to make?

You achieve reduced luminance in the distance in shrinking down a point sprite image of a light bulb. That is the point I’m trying to make. If you just approach lighting in painting white pixels, sure, you’d change brightness. But in painting sprite with a semi transparent halo, you let the hardware filtering the texture at smaller size do the magic for you… And this will give a correct size appearance based on the distance too.

Again, download, open in a paint program, then zoom the XP11 and the FS2020 images of the EGNX runway and compare, measure RGB levels, etc… Then zoom out and compare the overall distribution of lightness from front to back of the runway etc… This is self-evident to me but I might be alone looking things the way I see them (of course only me can see what I see anyhow LOL)

Why do we need a Legacy / Modern Light Setting

(like Legacy / Modern flight model setting)

Regardless it is more accurate perceptually, some prefer left, some other right…

PS: of course there are different performance implications doing one approach or the other but ultimately it appears FS2020 is rendering point sprites anyhow, so in the end it might not change much between doing what they do which looks like:

  • they’re changing brightness using the halo as an indirect size changing effect, instead of changing size using the halo as an indirect brightness changing effect.
  • the former makes distant and close lights look nearly the same size and distant lights seem brighter
  • the later makes distant and close lights look accurately sized from each other and accurately emitting the same power.

Got it, yeah then I know what you mean.

Where I am coming from is the halo and glow effect is caused mainly by our eyes (especially in the zero aerosol setting used by live weather), or by the camera if it is a photo, and therefore the size of that halo and glow is independent of the intensity of the light and is determined by the point spread function of the imaging system. Thus it would seem more natural to reduce the intensity to simulate light propagating a longer distance, and then let the processing steps that simulate the eye fade the halo and glow effects (and colors) accordingly. With a final clipping step for parts of the halo and glow that are now too weak to be seen the result is a perception of a smaller halo.

But I get that in actually rendering that in computer graphics there might be more clever and better looking ways to achieve the same result than the simple physics approach I outlined. If you say shrinking a point sprite is the more clever way then I am sure that is true.

In terms of end result, I certainly think the right picture is more believable.

At least we’re now 2 ! :joy:

I honestly don’t know whether I’m right or not, just that using the halo texture for a bulb light and reducing its size proves to be better in practice in a specific simulator, and like you’re saying it is more believable because the halo and the size are tricking our senses.

PS: and I shall add I find XP11 in VR with this lighting system, in addition to real car lights moving on roads, very immersive.

PS: I’m not bashing FS2020 devs either. I find their graphics engine really amazing given the material complexity (mesh density, textures, PBR) and the light model. What we’re inferring from comparing screenshots is only based on what we see mostly and for some of us also intimate knowledge about how 3D engines are working and coded. It is possible the issues I’ve hilighted in my few latest posts here are only due to a few bugs in the shader code for example and the implementation is supposed to show these lights differently.

Add to that, in XP11 you can change some light bulb properties in a file, and using dataref editor…
If MSFS have that also, then some in the community can just give us their “tweak” on the light file(s) for people to copy / download.


You scalling them wrong. Honestly, it is baffling. Taking from your [first, original] print, the left one is way smaller. Even without scalling, anyone with a good eye can see that the left one is smaller.

Come on man…

I’m taking it from this print. If anyone says the left lamp is the same size or bigger has some sighting problems.

Here’s a screen shot of my flight above Tokyo… Orbs have square/rectangular-ish shape…

And the below screen shot shows if suburban light orbs are of correct heights, it gives trees chance to cover them, and gives us this nice “random” effect

And I found out that as per @ScenicAtol3300 if you use Geforce Freestyle, there are filters that you can put to make the light orbs appear smaller, and darkens your night flights… 4 screens below

Last one at final (Point Cook airport). If not for the filters, the cartoonish blue taxiway lights would’ve been very visible

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Thank you for sharing these screenshots! Per the look of it (my eyes only) in reducing the brightness via Freestyle you’re making the lights smaller because of this:

In this example I’m using a point sprite texture used in XP11 for demonstration and you can see in reducing the brightness by 100% you’re starting to see the core shape used to build the image, which is otherwise concealed by the halo around it. This relates to me to the same effect you’re having with these bulbs appearing squarish on your 1K monitor. I don’t see them squarish at al in 4K.

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Here’s my examples of before and after. I took the first pic early Sept. I remember this approach (ILS 23 - EGPF ~1m out on GS. The collection of different colour temps of the lights close by and off into the distance had a subtly to them like the real thing. Nothing was too dim, nothing too bringht. For sure the best i’ve seen in a sim.
What we have now (I havnt changed my settings) is too uniform and too bright. Final approach into my home airport at night used to be great now it looks more p3d.


Eyesight and guesswork is removed from the equation thx to this enlargement I made for you. (perhaps you missed it?)

This is the exact same lamps from the same picture you’re talking about in the enlargement, resized instead of resampled to maintain pixels for a far comparison instead of guessing.

Left is release build from september, middle is after update 5, right is after update 7.
Bulbs around ~6x7 pixels since release depending on aliasing.

Do you see this or not?*
I’m really trying to help you out here, dude…

The lamp bulb texture is the same. The visibility range is different, since we can see the lamps further away now. They get smaller and fade away too, but after a much greater distance that’s before, maybe that is what’s tricking you?


It is not dude. You made it wrong.

The print below is just your original print (not your cutouts, which are wrong) multiplyed a few times and then cut and paste together.


Whatever you did in your ‘enlargement’ is wrong. I’m proving it to you. The fact that some people can see with a naked eye is just a detail.

Can someone with basic Photoshop skills get his original print and multiply it a few times and put the lamps together so that he can understand his mistake? But you do have to get the larger print (click on the image).