Why are good watermasks so rare?

This isn’t a wish, just a curiosity. There are some stunning watermasks in the sim, but so many missed opportunities to put them in as well.

Is there some technical reason why it’s more trouble than its worth? That might explain it, but some devs seem to be able to implement them quite easily through the sdk (e.g. Bijan, who used to do them to order!).

1 Like

I think it’s a mix of not having a good satellite imagery and having nobody to clean up everything behind (remove boats, remove artifacts, etc.).


I haven’t spent a lot of time around water masks in the sim. Out of curiosity, could you elaborate on what makes most water masks bad?

1 Like

I’ve got one.

It’s sad when the water masks don’t follow the contours of the rivers. It makes me just want to remove the masks entirely.


Sorry, I think my title was misleading. I’m more interested in why they are so rare full stop.

Ones that are less impressive tend to not be blended (just a straight line where they finish), low resolution, poorly-colored, and have artifacts like boat wakes.


To me, what makes a water mask bad is when the intricate pattern created by the water of a bay or inlet where it meets the land is replaced by long straight lines that give a rectangular water look. The Chesapeake Bay still suffers from this. There are areas down in Florida that look quite real as time was taken to create a realistic water mask. Maybe PG makes the difference, I don’t know.


I was surprised the New Zealand update didn’t have better water masking for the rivers. Orbx used to love to update the intricate detail of things like that. I guess thats just the past.


Ahh, okay, thanks for the clarification. I think, to the answer of, “Why are they so rare?” I think the answer is that most of them are hand-drawn by artists.

Two years ago, I asked a question on one of the developer streams why they could not generate water masks using AI, and the answer, in part, was that they would need water depth information (bathymetry) in order to do that, in addition to the color of the water. Here is the answer in full (edit: looks like the YouTube embed is not opening it up at the right timestamp…go to 1:00:58 in the video or open this URL in another window: https://youtu.be/txWoKztDlzI?t=3658):


What’s frustrating is that even if you want to hand draw the mask edge using a polygon, you can’t set the water to be transparent. It’s either opaque water, or land.

For example: You can carefully draw a polygon around a tropical island to capture the reef and lagoon, set it to ‘ocean’ and it will then show the underlying imagery. This gives nice turquoise lagoons that look great from the air, but when you land/zoom in it’s not a water surface but land! (not animated, no water physics or effects). To cap it, the SDK will add vegitation to the poly that you then have to exclude with another poly on top of that.

Now Asobo have a way of doing this (as clear from their lovely Tahiti water masks). But sadly it’s not something available through the SDK (there are technical reasons why, which Asobo have explained in the Dev forums).

The upshot of this is that you have to wait for Asobo and the World Updates if you want tropical looking water that behaves like water. (And if someone wants to tell me I’m wrong and show me how I can do this through the SDK, I’m all ears!)


That’s interesting info for sure, thanks.


P3d has bathymetry data. I would guess that worldwide data set would be quite expensive.

1 Like

Me, too! Me, too!

I’ve been looking for a way to erase the underwater docks and airplanes and boats. I don’t even care about pretty pictures under the water (for the work I do).

After that, I’d love the ability to easily adjust the “altitude” of shores, i.e. terraforming without the jaggies, keeping the waterline where it is.

Thanks for that, I missed it the first time round and it explains some of the technical stuff that I guessed was holding things back but just didn’t know the specifics.

It does push the issue of AI to the fore again for me, though. They say one of the main problems is there’s no AI so far that can decide if the satellite imagery is good enough quality or not to put in as a mask.

From what I understand of its deployment so far, the AI that has been used is pretty basic, maybe not really AI as such, as I don’t see any evidence it’s making changes or learning anything. Shame, as MS is such a big investor in AI, and I can imagine it’s easy to make it trainable to learn when a white spot on a satellite image of the sea is a parked boat, or just a reflection from the sun.

I hope MS have plans to integrate more AI into the world model development.

1 Like

From yesterday’s Dev stream it looks like Asobo are planning to utilise more data from MS to improve coastlines.

There is a way of doing this. It involves extracting the scenery tile and editing it in Photoshop. I didn’t delve into it or try myself, but I definitely found an explanation somewhere on either the Dev forums or fsdeveloper.com how to do it. Just don’t ask me for a link…


Do you have a link?


Cool, thanks! I bet I can do it with one of the BGL extractors, that’s great! I’ll check it out. I did some stuff like that years ago.

1 Like

Perfectly put!

Really they only way i have heard to do it for us common folk is to cheat, lay a flat layer just above the polygon with transparency. But that will clip if the water gets choppy.

1 Like

Yeah, it’s not really a solution when the very reason you are doing it is to maximize the visuals of tropical water

This topic was automatically closed 30 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.