Scenery Gateway System

Now that the voting feature is implemented, I’d like to propose a worldwide Airport/Scenery/POI’s Gateway system to be implemented so that the community can contribute and create scenery for the sim.

How it works

  1. Community members make scenery for an airport, or a statue or some islands.

  2. They then upload them to a central repository.

  3. After it’s approved for quality by the folks at Asobo, the scenery is then updated as part of the base sim package.

  4. The scenery is made available to download as part of the next monthly or quarterly official update. Everybody now enjoys the new updated base scenery.

Benefits

  1. This can complement Asobo’s World 2.0 scenery updates, allowing for a much faster rate of development and improvement of scenery. Also lifts some workload off of Asobo’s shoulders.

  2. We won’t be tied down to relying on updates on photogrammetry data from Bing Maps. If their updates on Manhattan photogrammetry was from 2015, I don’t have faith in them to release updates to Asia or Middle East in the near future.

  3. Asobo can even use these crowd-developed or perfected scenery to further develop Bing Maps.

  4. Perhaps the most important benefit of all, no more being scammed by scenery developers to selling us poorly made scenery addons, when passionate and talented members of the community can do a much better job.

Why it’s beneficial to every simmer

Flight simming is a global hobby. We have simmers from all across the globe who are passionate to have their local areas be represented in the most realistic possible way in the sim for everyone to enjoy and admire. The sim hasn’t even been out for a month and we have a massive influx of people creating scenery packs for their local areas through various means and forums.

I don’t know much about 3D modeling myself, but if a system like this were to exist, I’d definitely take the time and effort to learn Blender and at least start by making a good model of my own house.

The passion is there, we just need to empower the community with the right tools and support them with good documentation and a solid platform. Cover these key aspects, and watch the world in the sim take shape before your eyes.

I’ve covered this topic previously, which has also garnered lots of support.

I hope this receives enough votes to get the attention of the developers.

It would be truly great if we get an “Airport Gateway” similar to X Plane, where users can upload adjustments/updates to default/generic airports modified using the Airport Tool / SDK, and have all those in one centralized place.

With a big and enthusiastic community hand-adjusting the generic airports to higher fidelity, this would over time raise the bar for airports worldwide.

It would also be a great source for Asabo to include those adjustements for updates/patches.

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Even if new airports had to be posted to a “gateway” administered by the devs, it would be the fastest and probably only way of getting the thousands of smaller airports accurately modelled, within the stated notional 10-year life of MSFS.

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Absolutely.
Although extremely impressive what has already been done through procedural methods, there’s a limit to what AI airport generation can accomplish.
And it would be unrealistic to expect Asabo to manually make adjustments to every airport that get reported having flaws.
Given how dedicated the modding community is, it would be a great asset that both Asabo and us customers would benefit from.

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I see this being talked a lot on the SDK forum. But I’m posting this long analysis here because I cannot stress how important this is. It fits perfectly into the sim’s design. And is a logical evolution to have.

Similar to X-Plane’s sharing or Wikipedia. ANY user could participate. Anyone could edit, correct, build on one another, enhance, and overall make airports more accurate to their real-life counterpart. Then, with moderator approval, the scenery could be automatically shared with all users. Unless, of course, they override the scenery with something else.

To prevent abuse and ensure quality control, Asobo/Microsoft could send out a request for knowledgeable and trusted volunteer-moderators to make sure only the best and most accurate work is shared with the world.

Take an example: This is Salt Lake City International. Not necessarily a massive or famous airport, but it will do:
SLC2020
It looks… Decent. The taxiways and runways look amazing. However, there is no ATC tower, Delta hangar, a few jetways, and fuel storage tanks. The massive parking lot is completely empty. The parking garage is apparently a warehouse. The missing tower is especially sad because the SDK itself includes a scenery object labeled “KSLC_ControlTower01”.
And if you look closely, there are trees on the apron. TREES ON THE APRON.

Now take a look at FSX (mostly) default SLC.
SLCFSX
Sure it’s missing a few buildings and the parking lot is now non-existent. No doubt the taxiways, runways, grass, and overall texture resolution look terrible in comparison to FS2020, but at least it has an accurate ATC tower, fuel depot, and hangar. Even the terminals have recognizable shapes (Ramp towers). FS2020 does not.

Imagine if someone fixed these small details and added them to the database.

As others have pointed out, this could be expanded to customized POIs, buildings, bridges, and even fixing terrain. Maybe those with the skills and passion can turn their home airfield into a payware-quality work-of-art for all to enjoy.

Maybe you could model your house for the one person besides you who happens to notice.

To be fair, quite a few FSX airports were hand-edited and/ hand-modeled. SLC included. The fact that the AI is able to create what we got now all from 2d satellite pictures and some minor tweaking is extraordinary. Bravo to the developers. But nothing will be as perfect as good old manual editing. Asobo/Microsoft do not have the time to manually edit thousands of airports and landmarks. But the community does. And I for one, do not want to shell out hundreds of dollars on overpriced scenery to fix simple problems when a shared community development system could fix these for free.

A small question I have is why airport grounds seem to ignore bing’s 3d building data and instead replace terminals and with auto-gen apartment buildings? Food for thought.

The AI could of course be improved. In fact, they may already have an improvement under wraps. That’s the beauty of AI. But again, nothing beats manual editing by a person who is familiar with the place. I myself can think of a few airports and locations I would love to fix-up.

With the power of the Azure servers, the opportunities and potential for such a system are infinite!

Anywho. Thanks for reading.

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We need this SO badly, and I’ve been pushing for it all over the place… on AVSim, Reddit, and threads here.

Cannot stand that the taxiways are inaccurate, and I just tried to go through the trouble of recreating my home airport using the SDK because there is no way to modify what exists. Needless to say, I failed and can’t get past making an accurate runway.

See my thread - something along the lines of “WE NEED correct taxiway names / signs before anything else”

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I to would like to see this come into play.

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I completely agree that having a system like this would be great. I’ve already made a few edits to local airports and additions of a few that were missing. Being able to submit that for inclusion in the actual game would be great, as I’d love to get this out there to other people, but there’s really no single organized way to do that right now.

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As well as making sure that the taxiways are correctly named, it would be good to make sure that the AI aircraft use realistic combinations of those taxiways.

I know from the World Traffic 2 forum on XP, that peeps needed to define these taxi routes for each airport, using WED, and the WT2 addon would use these where available. I know it’s probably getting towards the luxury end of the bells and whistles features, but it might be useful to make an early start on these taxi routes, if the SDK has a way to do it.

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As a contributor to the X-Plane Gateway project (I’ve submitted several custom airports which are now part of X-Plane’s base scenery) I agree this would be fantastic to see applied to MSFS also. Scenery building is also a gratifying hobby of sorts especially when you know your work will be shared with so many.

The only thing that gives me pause is the advancements being made in A.I. & what’s likely to be possible in the near future. Asobo is already heavily invested in using A.I. to aid with building its scenery. I can only imagine they will continue to improve that technology as will Bing Maps. Would hate to see us mere humans toiling away manually building airports for thousands of man-hours only to have next year, some A.I. super-computer patch the entire airport library with hyper-real, fully functional airports Worldwide in a single afternoon. Something to consider I guess.

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I’ve been pushing hard for this on multiple threads. Asobo, for those of us that fly on VATSIM and need real taxiway layouts, this is a necessity.

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nice thing would be to have access to navdata to correct or introduce navigation frequencies such as ILS, VOR etc. to make the scenarios complete.
How can it be done in FSX

Wouldn’t MS/Asobo open themselves up for all sorts of copyright nightmares if they „officially“ offer a gateway service? Seeing that a lot of people are already using e.g. Google Maps 3D assets to improve scenery… How is this issue handled on the Xplane gateway?

Also, why shouldn’t it be possible to build something like this purely community-driven and independent of MS/Asobo? In my naive mind it’s “merely” one big Dropbox-community-folder maintained by volunteers with a neat UI on top?!?

While I can’t answer for the legal implications of this project as that is something the big brains at Microsoft can answer, I can answer your second question.

Basically, If you go the highest resolution 3D models route, the polygon count will be so high that your framerates can be brought to it’s knees pretty quickly.

Having a a controlled and monitored system from Asobo allows that certain criteria is met such as

  1. 3D models with only supported textures should be submitted
  2. 3D models with polygon count no higher than a set limit can be approved
  3. No Google Earth data is used

and so on…

Additionally, Asobo side implementation means these updated models can be included as part of the base sim scenery. So whenever there is a new patch/update/hotfix, this updated scenery is provided with that update. Everyone gets to enjoy this scenery rather than only those who have seen the Dropbox folder in a forum, which severely limits reach.

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It would be the same for X-Plane I guess and it isn’t because only the X-Plane base assets are allowed to be used in the official gateway. Everything beyond that and expanding on the base assets is shared on the x-plane forums, which is a highly centralized place for custom scenery creations no matter if freeware or payware.

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This gentleman has flown his own drone across an airfield in Scotland, captured photogrammetry data, and imported that into MSFS using the SDK.

This is the perfect use case of a Scenery Gateway system. People around the world would be able to take their own photogrammetry data if they have the resources and contribute to improve the base scenery.

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As long as any potential contributors follow his warning about the potential safety risks of flying drones over an active airfield.

The results are very impressive.

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For sure. I’d bet there are strict regulations regarding no-fly zones over airports or densely populated areas.

But then again, this isn’t completely necessary as manual modeling of 3D landmarks also works fine. But if someone has the resources as well the expertise, more power to them.

One of my favorite things to do was land a random dirt strip in xplane add the 1 or 2 buildings around it and submit it xplane scenery. I would take off and never see it again. But it was a little bit better after I left.

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