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Blog and Progress Updates
24th May 2009
New openBVE release–v220.127.116.11
A new version of openBVE is now available, version 18.104.22.168; head over to the » openBVE homepage « to download the latest stable release. One of the three most noticeable improvements in this version (the other two being time acceleration and the ability to mute sound, more below) concerns the Smooth Transparency feature, which has been dramatically improved. If you’ve enabled this option in openBVE previously, you might have noticed that while the quality of the rendered scenes was much better with Smooth transparency enabled, occasionally, unsightly fringes appeared around some transparent textures, where translucent pixels were rendered. This was problem was also more pronounced on Cross-City South v1.4 due to the frequency with which texture transparency is used in the new scenery. This issue concerning texture transparency and the z-buffer is a complex topic which I gather not all OpenGL developers adequately address, however Michelle has found a way of solving the problem, and while the performance is a little lower than with the previous implementation (especially on routes where a very high number of polygons use texture colour transparency), the visual quality is far better, as the following comparison screenshots demonstrate (along with the new X-City South v1.4 screenshots below).
On the left, we have the » ATS-Sn/P Test route « in openBVE v22.214.171.124; click the thumbnail and note the fringes around the catenary gantry texture. On the right, we have v126.96.36.199–no such issue can be observed, and the end result is superb:
Similarly, here we have the » Chashinai Railway «:
For a detailed explanation about this solution, please see michelle’s » Developer’s Blog «
Other welcome enhancements and changes in v188.8.131.52 include:
- A time acceleration feature (Ctrl+J, switches between x1 and x5 speed);
- The ability to mute the sound (Ctrl+M — now you can listen to music via your media player while in-game, which is quite a lot of fun when used with the time acceleration feature! 🙂 );
- A consistent look is now achieved where fog and background images are concerned, regardless of viewing distance;
- And more… Please see the » changelog « on the openBVE site for details.
If you’re still using openBVE v1.0.3 or 1.0.4, then after updating to the latest release, you’ll also benefit from changes which were introduced with v1.0.5, including amongst other things, a bug fix relating to odd behaviour where unwanted roll was initially applied to the external camera view, enhanced AI driver behaviour where cruising is concerned, and additions to the Doors parameter of the .Sta command.
Cross-City South v1.4 scenery improvements
Firstly, apologies for the lack of project updates recently… Unfortunately I’ve not done quite as much as I’d hoped to in the past month. Nevertheless, I’ve been working on updating the scenery objects for Cross-City South v1.4, and this is proceeding quite well now. It’s proving to be quite time consuming, and the bulk of the work involves replacing a fair number of the previously 2D trees and bushes with more realistic partially 3D versions, allowing the scenery to look good even when the camera is panned to the side, such as when looking out of the windows, while also enabling the camera to be moved a little further away from the train in the external view without the scenery looking unrealistic. Hedgerows have also been improved, not just the trees.
I’m currently adding pretty highly detailed vegetation just to test performance and visual quality, but once I’m finished I’ll likely perform a batch search and replace operation on all the scenery files to reduce the number of surfaces to improve framerates a little. I’m relatively happy with how the scenery is turning out, but I have to say, it’s just a little tedious; I’ll be glad when this task is over and I can get back to the animated objects!
Here are some screenshots to show the progress so far; the scenery, lighting and shading isn’t finalised yet, but the images give a general impression of the end result I want to achieve. The trees and hedges still look a little too repetetive to me–I’ll try and improve upon this if I have time… All screenshots depict the route at 1280×1024 resolution with 8x antialiasing, 16x anisotropic filtering, and with openBVE v184.108.40.206’s smooth transparency enabled. A fast graphics card will likely be needed for higher framerates with the latter feature in use, at least with openBVE 1’s renderer:
I’m also experimenting with mixing both 2D and 3D trees to achieve a balance between visual quality and performance; 3D trees are placed near to the lineside, while 2D trees are placed behind these, and the overall effect looks reasonable to me; I hope you agree. It should work well, provided the player doesn’t move the camera beyond the effective scenery edge boundary which the 2D tree surfaces create–openBVE is still primarily a cab view simulator, after all. Here are some examples of the scenery testing location at Longbridge:
I’ve also added shadows beneath the trees and OHLE masts (another feature brought in from Watford Junction to Rugby), as well as beneath hedgerows to improve the appearance of the scenery. The shadows are simply very low resolution textures, which in the interests of performance, don’t use alpha channels, just ordinary texture transparency. The low resolution of the textures provides the necessary blurring:
Lastly, I’m also updating the pointwork so it’ll be up to the standard of Watford Junction to Rugby:
openBVE Help Guide updated
Just in case anyone hasn’t read through the comments on my last blog entry or otherwise noticed, I updated my openBVE Help and Information Guide recently, to include instructions explaining how openBVE can be installed and used by Ubuntu Linux users, either via the Add/Remove option, or by installing and running the program via Wine (which allows BVE 4 plugin DLL equipped trains to be used in Linux). I update the guide regularly as well, so if you need any assistance with openBVE which isn’t covered elsewhere, please visit the updated guide for more information: openBVE Help and Information.
Incidentally, since I replaced the X-City South executable installer with the .7z archive, downloads have been just as frequent as before, and I’ve had no more requests for help with installing the route than usual (and I don’t get many requests for help usually); indeed someone who was a newcomer to train simulation kindly informed me that they’d managed to install openBVE, BVE4, and Cross-City South with help from the guides I’ve prepared. So I’m assuming that most of you are managing fine with the installation process. 🙂