[WIP] Chunilna Cabin Strip, Alaska

This scenery was a Work in Progress!
But all fun things have to come to an end…

Check out the official release thread!
[RELEASE] Chunilna Cabin Strip, Alaska | Emerald Scenery Design

Not to be confused with Chunilna Creek Airstrip, from my latest scenery for FSX & P3D. Chunilna Cabin Strip is located 9 NM to the south, and shares a similar name, because as it happens, the exact same creek runs next to both airstrips! Well, that and there are absolutely no other landmarks or known names to call it… Even my contacts around Talkeetna, AK didn’t know it was there. :laughing:

As luck may have it, I bumped into a guy on Discord who works seasonally at the Talkeetna Airport. He was kind enough to do a flyover on this strip and snap some aerial photos while out and about! Thanks to this, I was able to get a much better idea about what the airstrip looked like going into the project. A rarity for me…

Much like my last scenery for FSX & P3D, Chunilna Cabin Strip will be highly detailed, all the way down to some little things that you will have to look for to notice. With this scenery coming to MSFS, I can now afford to push a lot more polys per project before seeing a performance hit (At least, on my system)! So, almost all models have taken a giant step up in quality!


A Firewood Shed/Shelter I modeled last night. Officially, my second model done fully in Blender!

All building objects, and most newer library objects in the scenery have been done in Blender v3 and Substance Painter. Although, the Cabin is a bit of a hybrid, as it’s base model was done in Sketchup. However it was later brought into Blender, cleaned up and refined. Moving forward, this will be my new workflow. That said, I guess this is the part where I feel obliged to give a shout-out to Mykrode and 270inc over at Got Friends. They have been a huge help the last 2 months, putting up with my million questions as I learn Blender and Substance. I am positive that without their help, I would be nowhere near as far along with this project, and likely in or on the edge of a burnout, like in the past. Heck, I have even done some animations, which I never thought I had the skills to do. Turns out, it ain’t really rocket science. (At least, when everything is going smoothly… :wink:)

Current Features

So far, Chunilna Cabin Strip boasts a pretty decent set of features. Some of these are still works in progress. Mainly the dynamic stuff, but they are features that will 100% be in the initial release! I originally wrote this fairly late at night, I have probably left out some stuff…

  • Custom vegetation: weeds, wildflowers, shrubs/bushes, including 3D trees.
  • Custom ground textures.
  • Environmentally dynamic features, using XML simvars.
    • Animated Butterflies (4 native species).
    • Chimney smoke.
    • Water/Mud Puddles.
  • High quality 3D building models & clutter, with up to 4K res PBR materials.

These are just some of the features currently in the scenery. I have plans for more, including dynamic stuff, but am holding back until I can get the XML code working correctly for the current dynamic objects.

Progress!

I am making this post quite a bit further along in the development process than I normally have with past projects, so a lot of the major visual progress is already done. However, from this point out I’ll be sharing what progress I make here, as well as on my Discord!

Until then, here’s a volley of screenshots from the last month, showing the current progress on this challenging backcountry airstrip!










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I love the attention to detail, that to me is an important part of making a great airport/scenery, shows the care from the developer!

Looks like a really interesting strip and a bit of a challenge to land at! Out of interest, what’s your connection to this area? As it doesn’t seem something you would do randomly!

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I appreciate that! I have always enjoyed focusing on environment and smaller details. It really does make all the difference in a scenery.

The strip can be a real challenge. I have been able to get a Baron in and out so far, but that’s about the max. If you land it just right, the nose is about in the bushes at the opposite end. The runway is pretty much 700ft / 213m usable.

Shortly after I got my copy of FSX, I got involved with a virtual bush flying group that based primarily out of Talkeetna. So, I spent a lot of time flying all over the area.

The group really isn’t active anymore today, but my passion for the area and backcountry aviation is still very much alive. Since everyone seems to focus their projects around more well known locations and bigger airports, I decided to go in the opposite direction. :laughing:

Usually by chance, I just stumble onto these locations.

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Ah then the choice makes sense! It’s always nice to see some less known places being covered :slight_smile: Definitely looks like a nice challenge though!

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This looks wonderful! Is there any chance that you could add some random bears wandering through, maybe randomly wandering across the runway for a little added challenge?

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I actually wanted to have exactly this, plus some other animals crossing the runway or property here and there, but after a ton of research, it seems like the scripts system used to control that still isn’t available to developers.

So, for now it likely wont be a release feature, but it’s really high up on my list of stuff I’d like to eventually implement. Just at the mercy of the Asobo SDK team and when they get around to expanding their scripts support.

If you know of any developers that have made it work, I’d be happy if anyone could point me in their direction. The only other way it could be done is to have the bear animation follow a path, but that would be baked into the animation and the bear would likely clip into the ground or float at times.

Being born and raised in AK, I love this stuff. I’ve created a few off airport bush strips myself, but I’ve never posted them. (Kustatan River strip, Flat Top mountain southeast of Aniak, Lake George strip in the Knik valley… all places I’ve landed IRL growing up in AK).

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Super small progress update. The Firewood Shed/Shelter shown in the OP above is finally painted and in the sim!

Unfortunately I haven’t made any more progress past this. I’ve had to play a bit of real world catch-up today, and that will likely continue on through tomorrow. However, I’m still optimistic that I will find some time this weekend.

Next on the list will be a little bit of polishing. The Cabin needs a few texture corrections, as well as a bit of a modification. While reviewing aerial shots, I noticed that the deck stairs should be next to the cabin, and not near the end of the deck. Luckily the cabin is built with model parts and is not a combined mesh, so it should be quite easy to resolve. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Wow. That’s some really amazing work of a very unique subject. I haven’t had any interest in bush flying but after this is released, I think I’ll give it a go. Look forward to seeing more updates. Any chance you have the lat/long so I can check this out in Google Earth?

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Thanks! It’s a really fun strip. I already have two more similar sized locations planned after this one that will be a nice compliment.

The strip itself is fairly new. It was built sometime between 2014-2017, but the cabin has been there for longer, dating back to at least 2006. Here are the coordinates:

62.40570157673093, -149.98881183265334

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This week has seen a lot of progress, and the majority of it has happened in the last 48 hours…

I have been struggling my way through creating a custom windsock in Blender. The reasoning is that I needed something sized more appropriately to the airstrip. The default windsock is nice, however it’s meant for large airports and looked really out of place at this tiny bush strip. :sweat_smile: I went through several design iterations on the windsock, as I was trying to get the dimensions correct, but the main source of my struggles was just trying to figure the animations out. This windsock was literally baptism by fire, as I had to learn how everything worked in Blender, learn how to do animations, and run cloth simulation after cloth simulation to finally get results I was happy with. And of course, along the way, I had to figure out the things MSFS needed to be happy.

Finally, as of yesterday, I was able to get all of the animations done and the windsock displaying and functioning properly in the sim. I even got the rotation direction correct on the first try. :laughing:

I have also made some progress on the XML coding for dynamic objects in the scenery. The water puddles now only display when it’s raining. I’d like to make it so that they stick around for an hour or so after the rain stops, just to make them not pop in and out. However, so far it looks like as long as there is still rain in the immediate area, they stay in, even if it’s not directly raining on the strip.

The butterflies are dynamic now as well, and will only spawn from May through September. I’m also going to make it so that they aren’t out and about when it’s raining, for some more added realism.

Anyways, besides these two hurdles in the road, I have been mostly focused on some polishing in the scenery. In my last update, I mentioned about the cabin needing some texture fixes and a slight tweak to the model itself. Well, all of that is done now. The steps have been removed and bolted back onto their proper position. I still need to decide what I want to do with the windows, whether I throw some blinds up there or do parralax… I am leaning more towards the latter, as it has the potential to look better than a flat texture and would perform a lot better than doing a full 3D interior. Although, 3D would still be kinda cool… It just boils down to, is it worth taking the time to do it…?

I guess we’ll play that part by ear…

Moving forward, I still have the rest of the XML coding to figure out. There are two more models I want to do for sure, one shed and another clutter model. There may be a 3rd, but I’m still deciding on whether to include it or not. Then, as always, polishing and more polishing…

I also somehow managed to break my chimney smoke VFX again by doing seemingly nothing, so there’s always that to figure out. 3rd time’s the charm, right?

Besides all that, there really isn’t a lot left to do on this project. I haven’t settled on a release date yet, but it will definitely be sometime after the next sim update, assuming that there are no major hiccups in that release. I definitely would like to get this one out, as that means I can start on the next project, but at the same time, if it needs another week or two, it’ll get it. :slightly_smiling_face:

Until the next update, here are a few more screenshots:



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If you have been keeping up with this thread, then this is largely a recap plus some IRL bonus shots and additional detail, but I put together this video yesterday to show off the recent progress on the airstrip. This shows more of how the airstrip looks in real-time. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Looks absolutely stunning

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Amazing. Don’t think I’ve ever seen so many details packed into such a small bit of scenery. I can’t wait to fly up there.

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Once again, I’ve had another full week or so of progress! I started off the week with some asset work. I have been wanting to redo my fuel drum models for quite a while as they were looking a little dated. So, I decided to rework the models…

I started off with the same base mesh, however, I reworked pretty much everything, including the scale, which was originally eyeballed. Now it’s been modeled to correct specs. I also created new textures in Substance. A few of the variations are loosely based on the old designs, though the rest are completely new and simple. I have reused the old GUIDs, so anyone using these objects in their own freeware scenery will have a seamless integration once Emerald Object Library is updated. :slightly_smiling_face: The drums also share their own 4K texture sheet now, so there is plenty of room for future variations, with far less drawcalls.


I decided to grab the ORBX Alaska mesh this week, as ORBX are waiving all fees for Ukraine based developers. I wasn’t originally planning to pick it up, but hey, if it helps someone in an uncertain time, I’m all about it.
Doing so, I discovered that with the mesh installed, some elevation changes were happening at the airstrip, throwing quite a few models off. As I want this to be as seamless as possible, I opted to integrate a 2 meter DEM into the scenery. I went the heightmap/terraforming route, as I wanted to ensure that all present and future 3rd party DEM’s could be overridden.

As you may expect, this changed elevations slightly and I had to end up going back and making manual adjustments to dozens of models. Although, it’s totally worth the extra labor, as ideally, I should not need to do it in the future now. And if for whatever reason I do, hopefully it will at least be minor.

While I was at it, I added a bunch of new filler around the airstrip. I felt that the bushes surrounding the airstrip looked nice, however, it didnt make it feel very dense and wild, so I opted to add in two of the default bush variations. As much as I was trying to keep it mostly all custom, they look good, and they do the job, so why waste another couple hours!?

With the forest areas looking a lot more dense, I filled in some of the other gaps with branch piles and also added some more rocks along the edge of the runway.

Last update, I had mentioned that I broke my Cabin’s chimney smoke. Luckily I was able to figure out the issue, so that is finally working again. I have also swapped out the original striped windsock for an orange variant, as based on my reference photos, that looks to be the correct windsock color.

Some simple Morel Mushroom models are also now scattered about the area. Although I don’t have a photo, they are also environmentally dynamic and will only show from May through July, about the time they would normally show up IRL. Furthermore, I have also been working on my Campfire model.

Just a while back, I went through and polished up the model a little in Blender. I gave it the whole dynamic treatment as well, so it will swap between the standard and lit version when the temperature reaches or drops below 10C/50F. Currently, the chimney smoke does the same. In the future, I would like to differentiate this a bit, just so there wont be a ton of smoke in the area at the same time. It makes for more difficult landings when there is a crosswind. :smiley:



For the final part of this update, we tackle THE question. What to do with the Cabin windows…

What was that one clip from The Matrix…?

matrix_choice

Yes. I modeled an interior.


Until next time!
-RN44

3 Likes

This will likely be one of the last development updates I post for this scenery.

I am so, so close to release. All modeling is now complete, and I have well surpassed the level of detail I originally intended to put into this scenery. All that stands between me and beginning the release process are a few minor tweaks and XML coding for the dynamic objects.

Come to find out, the code I was using previously is apparently legacy code. As Asobo has already scrapped some legacy code for Aircraft, I figure it’s only a matter of time before all legacy code is depreciated. So, with the help of Jonx and GotGravel, I am trying to get ahead of the curve and implement all native coding.

As both Jonx and GotGravel are very busy with their own projects and releases at the moment, I am not exactly sure how long it will be until the XML coding is finished. The problem we are facing now is that all of the code is trial and error, as MSFS does not throw any errors for wrong code. As soon as we find that magical structure that finally makes everything work, the rest of the XML will be pretty straight forward. It’s just getting to that point… I am feeling pretty optimistic that we will have at least something working properly by the end of the week. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

Today, I finished off painting the last shed model for the scenery. It’s done in the same style as the rest of the buildings and has been given a 4K PBR material. Around it, I have finished off adding in vegetation to fill out the area. A path was has also been cut to the shed and even back to the outhouse! No need to pick up Ticks on that adventure…

I have also tweaked some more on the Cabin’s textures. To bring it up to the quality of the latest models, it’s textures, inside and out, have been increased to 8K! The inside has also now been fully occluded from the elements and snow will not show on any interior surfaces! So, when you want to get out of the rain or snowy snow, just hop on in. Who knows, maybe there will even be a fire to warm up by…

Lets add that one to the list of things to do. Sorry guys, release just got delayed another week… (maybe) :lying_face:

#Soon™



-RN44

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When you’re done with this, can you just go ahead do the rest of Alaska?!? :rofl: :joy:

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I’m on it. I just may die of old age before I can finish them all. :rofl:

Coming this weekend!

I am working to get this scenery released on flightsim.to and the marketplace, but am still awaiting approval from both! Will probably be delayed a bit on those platforms, unfortunately…

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Will it be directly available? Maybe I’m the odd one, but I usually prefer to make purchases directly whenever possible.