X-Plane 10 HD Mesh Scenery v3

The “X-Plane 10 HD Scenery Mesh v3″ scenery is completely free to download and free to use. I call it Donationware because if you like the scenery, you are invited to donate for it:

Donate to alpilotx.net!



License

DO NOT REDISTRIBUTE / MODIFY / OR CHANGE (for 3rd party purposes) any parts of “HD Mesh Scenery v3″ without asking for permission in advance (usually I allow almost everything, but I like to know about it!).

Introduction

X-Plane 10 HD Scenery Mesh v3 is an update to the older v2 HD Mesh (and a replacement of the default Global Scenery) and brings a lot of improvements in many areas!

Covered Regions (see coverage on the download map below):

  • Europe (Canaries included)
  • North America (USA, Alaska, Canada)
  • Japan
  • Hawaii
  • NEW: Australia

Detailed coverage map (NOT the download map – look further down the page!)

General charcteristics

(some improvements were mostly in v2 too, but some are new to v3)

  • It is a much higher resolution base mesh (more, smaller triangles) compared to the default Global Scenery which ships with X-Plane 10 (one could say: approximately 3-4-times more dense). This has been increased over v2!
  • The higher resolution mesh allows for a much more detailed representation of the elevation profile of the landscape
  • The higher resolution mesh allows a much more detailed/exact representation of the underlying landclass data (because of the smaller triangles, which can follow landclass changes in the raw data more closely)
  • It is based on a completely new Openstreetmap (OSM) data (approximately 10th of October 2014), which brings (compared to default Global Scenery) a lot of improvements in:
    • water features (lakes, rivers, coastline) – many previously missing water features are now finally there
    • roads
    • railroads
    • power lines
    • urban park areas
  • (was in v2) It includes line rivers from OSM (not just polygons as before) tagged waterway=river which improves the landscape in most regions quite a bit
  • Water features (lakes / rivers) in Canada are now sourced from original government data instead of OSM (because OSM had some quite big gaps).
  • (was in v2) Uses improved urban zoning (thanks to improved algorithms in the scenery generator)
  • Many smaller and larger landclass data improvements
    • Australia has now its own higher resolution landclass data
    • Europe received forest detail improvements by mixing in “Landsat Tree Cover Continuous Field” data
    • (was in v2) completely replaced the landclass data for Canada (big improvements)
    • (was in v2) Japan has now its own higher resolution landclass data
    • (was in v2) some new classes added (in many regions), like: moraines, riverbeds, mining/dump sites
    • (was in v2) added differentiation between ice (perennial) and snow (more temporal) to have an even more detailed representation of mountains. There is a nice description of this by Albert (the texture master) on x-plane.org: follow this link
    • (was in v2) added differentiation between irrigated / non-irrigated crops (in some regions – like the USA etc.)
  • (was in v2) Completely replaced the elevation data with viewfinderpanoramas.org (if you have a few cents, donate to that guy!). This doesn’t changes much in areas which were already great, but fixes some which were really hosed.
  • Latest airport data (end of September 2014) boundaries used, to have up to date airport areas.

Fixes / Imporvements in v3

  • Much smaller forest type changes are now correctly depicted, bringing more versatility to the forest landscapes.
  • It turned out (thanks to a user report), that in Northern Europe, I did a misinterpretation of the underlying, raw landclass data, and thus introduced too many forests (where normally the land would be wet grassland –> “inland marshed” and “peat bogs”).
  • Square (orthogonal boundary lines) forest areas inside large forest stands (where inside the big stand the forest type changes – often visible in Canada, or where you have large, extended forests). This was a very long standing, and annoying problem (or side-effect) of the scenery generator, which I could finally fix to a level, where the internal forests patches look much more natural now (the orthogonal/square pattern is now definitely mostly gone).
  • Intermittent Water features (and OSM tag) removed (quite common in Canada).
  • Roads all over the airports – this was a bug of the scenery generator. This is now fixed. In v3 there will still be OSM based roads inside airport boundaries, but they are eliminated from runways / tarmacs / taxiways.
  • Mesh spikes (a few in Southern Louisiana, in NE Alaska around the Canadian border, and one in Massachusetts) – these are coming from the source elevation data. They have now been fixed in the source data as of April 2014.
  • Some roads missing in the center of some cities (like for example in Rostock / Germany) – usually those were roads marked as “pedestrian only”.
  • Some railroad lines appeared, which did not exist at all (for example at Miami Intl.) – turns out, my import script didn’t remove some historical railroad lines. This has been fixed.
  • Highway 1 across the Florida Keys was missing – in this case it was a shared vector which also had historical railroad tags and was thus removed. This has been fixed.
  • Some lakes and water featues were missing (like Silveretta Stausee) – these lakes had some less common “leisure” tags and were filtered out. For example “natural=water AND leisure=marina” have not been imported in v2. This has been fixed.
  • You might have seen excessively high skyscrapers in very few locations (known places are Manhattan, Honolulu) in very rare cases (interestingly this issue does not show up on 99% of the installations … and even when it shows up, its not always reproducible over recurring sim starts … and yes, I could verify, that at least on the data side, they are indeed present in the DSF scenery data). This is a known bug in the scenery generator, which has already been fixed. Thus, these skyscrapres should be eliminated in v3.
  • Deep “canyon” around Telluride (east of KTEX) … Obviously the river-in-mountain-smoothing-algorithm went haywire here. This river – and a few more – should be fixed in the next version, but I can’t make this 100% perfect, so there will always be a few, remaining “offenders” I am afraid.
  • Many airports have trees on them, their terrain is not appropriately smoothed or they have no grass on it. Usually this comes from outdated apt.dat (the basic information about airport layouts in X-Plane) used at the time of the scenery creation. More than 850 airports (freshly from the X-Plane Gateway ) have received an update in v3.

Warnings / Requirements

  • The scenery requires at least X-Plane 10.25 (beginning with 10.25 beta 1) which provides quite a few new terrain types/textures which this scenery relies on! Without it, your X-Plane will very likely crash on scenery load!
  • Please only download a smaller ZIP file at the beginning! Then test if it works for you and only then continue downloading other tiles! Do not unnecessarily overload the hosting providers! If possible, use the BitTorrent option at flightsim.com!
  • You might need very long time to download all tiles. Single file sizes go up to 3,6 GBytes! In the map you can see the size of each tile.
  • Your X-Plane 10 FPS might become very low (if you already have FPS problems, this will not improve your situation!)
  • 32bit X-Plane will often crash and is no recommended! Scenery shifts (when new, adjacent tiles need to be loaded) exhaust the usual 32bit memory address space most of the time.
  • If you have less than 4 GBytes of RAM, don’t even try! With 64bit, I recommend at least 8 GBytes or RAM for a smooth (hopefully crash free) experience (and if you combine it with other scenery and want to be on the safe side, take at least 16 GBytes of RAM)!
  • Please read the installation instructions carefully, as most of the problems result from an incorrect installation!
  • If it still does not work on your machine, there is not much I can do for you (mostly because of the above limitations)!

Download

Mirrors / Torrents

You can click on the desired tile in the following map, which will open a little balloon, including the file name / file size and the direct link to one of the mirrors:

  • flightsim.com (with offical torrents!)
  • isdg.com.au
  • aerosoft.com
  • x-plane.org

where the files are hosted (the files are identical across all sites, you only need to download one of them). You can (and should) choose one of those sites with the least traffic bottleneck (you might try, and see how fast your downlaod goes).

flightsim.com supports torrents now out of the box! You can (and should if possible!) start using BitTorrent directly on the respective flightsim.com download pages (the links in the dynamic map will bring you there)! Look for the tiny, round, blue button with “qb” written on it: torrent !

flightsim.com also offers you a first class membership (which at $30 for a year is less than many other, commercial add-ons might cost you), which removes all bandwidth limits for direct downloads at flightsim.com (other than the ultimate, physical limit posed by their server / ISP environment which is shared among all users). The flightsim.com BitTorrent support does not need a first class membership!

If for some reason the map does not work, the following links will bring you directly to the list view on the respective hosting sites:

A complete list of all torrents is also available here (thank you ISDG):

Chris K from ISDG says:

 

Via DVD delivery

At the moment, HD Mesh Scenery v3 is not available on DVDs as this is a service provided by www.fspilotshop.com. But I have already contacted them, and they definitely want look into this and hope to make it available in the future (no more details at the moment, but I will update it here, as soon as they become available).

Installation

IF you already have “HD Mesh Scenery v2″, you can delete it now (or at least give it a lower priority in scenery_packs.ini than v3):

  • Create a Subfolder called zzz_hd_global_scenery3 in your Custom Scenery folder (using the zzz_ prefix should highlight, that this package should load at the “bottom” of your scenery list!)
  • Create a Subfolder called “Earth nav data” in your zzz_hd_global_scenery3 folder (here, its very important to namke it EXACTLY “Earth nav data” and don’t make any typos etc.)!
  • After you have uncompressed the ZIP file(s), put the resulting scenery folders (they should have names like +50-130,+30-120,+40+010 etc.) in the previously created (sub)folder “zzz_hd_global_scenery3/Earth nav data“!
  • Now you can continue with the scenery_packs.ini section if this is your first HD Scenery Mesh v3 package! Otherwise you can now start flying.

If you have successfully installed HD Mesh Scenery v2, then you can follow the same procedure for v3. I only recommend, that you use a new Custom Scenery folder for v3 (like: zzz_hd_global_scenery3)

If you are still not sure, how your folder structure should look, it should resemble something like this (this is an example with only some of the packages/regions visible):

hdv3_folder_structure

Scenery_packs.ini

(You only need to do this once, when you install your first HD Mesh Scenery v3 package … All other packages are going in the same Custom Scenery folder, so they don’t need extra attention)

Beginning with X-Plane 10.10 there is a new “layer control”, which sets the order of the custom scenery layers explicitly. This happens with the file Custom Scenery/scenery_packs.ini and is documented here: http://developer.x-plane.com/2012/07/scenery_packs-ini-what-was-i-thinking/

Here are the most important points:

  • If you start X-Plane 10 the first time OR deleted(!) the scenery_packs.ini, it will create a new scenery_packs.ini and populate it exactly in the alphabetic order of your current folder names in “Custom Scenery” (in this case, the zzz_ prefix helps).
  • If you already have a scenery_packs.ini (you have already run X-Plane 10 at least once), any new folder in “Custom Scenery” will be put automatically on the TOP (beginning) of scenery_packs.ini (which puts your new scenery folder at the highest level)!
  • You can (and should) always manually sort / organize the scenery_packs.ini, as X-Plane only rewrites it when you delete it
  • For HD Mesh to work well with other Scenery Packages, its best to put it at the bottom(!) of scenery_packs.ini! You can either copy the entry manually to the bottom, or if you don’t care, you just remove scenery_packs.ini and when its recreated the next time, the HD Mesh folder lands at the bottom (as it will be sorted in that position alphabetically)

How to know if the installation was correct?

After some time, it turns out, that more often than I thought (or hoped), people have a broken installation and do not see/use HD Mesh Scenery (even if they think so). There is a very easy and straight forward way (other than obvious or less obvious visual cues)  to check, if X-Plane is really loading the HD Mesh Scenery (and thus, your installation was correct).

  • After a – hopefully – correct installation and correctly setting up scenery_packs.ini (see above) start X-Plane at a location where you have added HD Mesh Scenery coverage (of course, it makes no sense to check where you do not have it)!
  • When X-Plane has loaded up your airport and you see the scenery, close X-Plane again cleanly (this makes sure, that really everything has been written to the Log.txt).
  • Now open a file browser, go to the root directory where X-Plane is installed and open the file Log.txt (thats where X-Plane logs everything good or bad).
  • Search for text like “zzz_hd_global_scenery3″ (or the EXACT name you called the installation folder inside “Custom Scenery”).
  • If you find multiple lines, which look like DSF load time: 5869136 for file Custom Scenery/zzz_hd_global_scenery3/Earth nav data/+40-130/+48-123.dsf (635549 tris)” (of course, exact dsf file name, and numbers will vary depending on the place you loaded up) then everything is OK! X-Plane is indeed loading DSF (Scenery) files from you HD Mesh Scenery installtion.
  • If you do NOT find any such line mentioning loading HD Mesh Scenery v2 DSFs (with “DSF load time …. for file Custom Scenery/zzz_hd_global_scenery2/Earth nav data/ …”), then something went wrong and you should carefully re-read the installation instructions!

Known issues

In the meantime there are already quite a few known issues, which will (or will not) be addressed in a future update / release:

  • Strange plateaus around airports. In most (if not all cases), this is not an error in the HD Mesh Scenery itself, but a result of disabling “runway follows terrain contours” in X-Plane Rendering Options. So, whenever you see something strange happening around airports, first try to enable “runway follows terrain contours” before you report an issue!
  • Airports have trees on them, their terrain is not appropriately smoothed or they have no grass on it. Usually this comes from outdated apt.dat (the basic information about airport layouts in X-Plane) used at the time of the scenery creation. This can happen at any time when newer apt.dat is introduced (sometimes even by airport sceneries themselves).

 

Screenshots

Here are the official screenshots accompanying the release of HD Mesh Scenery v3. Just follow the links to my picasaweb albums:

FAQ

Difference between HD Mesh Scenery v3 and SimHeaven.com photoscenery!

At the moment there is NO photoscenery available which is based on HD Mesh Scenery v3. But this will change quite likely in the future.

Why is region X not covered?

This question has been asked so many times, that I think, I should finally – should have done so a long time ago – post about it on this page too:

The real problem is not so much “my preference” for Europe or North America or Australia. The problem is much more, that I do not have equally good data for all parts of the world! The greatest problem is usually land cover data, which gives the fantastic detail to the landscape (or lets it look dull … if there is no good enough data). Europe and North America (and New Zealand, Japan and lately Australia) do have very good (or sufficiently good/usable sources which can be mixed well enough to get good results) land class data, which allows me to create the great scenery you have now … the HD Mesh Scenery. .

A very good example, where you see how much difference good land class data makes, is my latest Japan effort. See the comparison screenshots:
https://picasaweb.google.com/101666907909842492197/XPlane10HDMeshSceneryV2JAPANDefaultAndHDComparisons?authuser=0&feat=directlink

The default Japan scenery has the same quality land class data as for example South America …  and then see, what difference the new, high resolution land class data makes! And exactly thats the problem … because I usualyl need land class data which is:

  • high resolution
  • good quality (its very hard to quantify for “outsiders”, whats good and what is not so good –> but the better the data, the less time I need to work on it … but rest assured, there is no geodata which can be used out of the box)
  • with large area coverage (the larger the covered area, the more my time investment can pay off)
  • free (yes, that is something quite important,  as I try to continue to keep the “product” free / donationware)

Without data like that, it makes far less sense to create a HD Mesh scenery for a given region.

BUT: rest assured, usually I am almost always scouting for new land class data! Whenever there will be good data for other regions, I will be there to check it out and generate scenery from it (if it is reasonable).

Data Sources / Acknowledgments

The following data sources have been used to make this scenery possible (none of them has been used in its “pure”, raw form but all have been mixed / merged together in one form or other, to achieve these results):

Contact

If you need to contact me, you either find me in most of the well known X-Plane related forums (my pseudonym is: alpilotx) or use the e-mail address on the contact page!

Have a lot of fun!

Andras Fabian
www.alpilotx.net

Extras

X-Plane 10 Tree Lines and Farms v2

You might consider adding another – free – little add-on from this site, which helps to improve the overall feeling (especially in large, agriculture / pastures dominated regions!):

Bonus experimental (dense) forests

Experimental, dense XP10 forest replacement! This is the same package as from the HD Mesh V1/V2 download (so, if you have downloaded it from there, you do not need to do it again)!
If you want to try out a bit more dense forests in X-Plane 10 (maybe together with the above HD Scenery), then you might be interested this:

  • Download this ZIP file: http://www.alpilotx.net/data/xp10-dense-forest-replacement.zip
  • Unzip it (you should get 261 FOR files)
  • Put the 261 FOR files in the X-Plane 10 folder: /Resources/default scenery/1000 forests/ (if its warning you about overwriting existing files, then you are doing the right thing – otherwise, you have choosen the wrong place)
  • Before overwriting, you might consider backing up the folder! But any X-Plane update would restore it to its original anyways (if you allow it to do so)

A few things to consider with this experimental(!), dense forest replacement:

  • It will probably make your FPS worse! (depending on your 3D card, this effect might be more or less strong)
  • At each update, X-Plane will ask you, if it shall overwrite the contents in the /1000 forests/ folder (restore it to the original, X-Plane “default)! You can always deny, or accept it (this way, you can get bet the default, even if you didn’t do a backup). And from time to time, you SHOULD go to the X-Plane default, as it will be improved too (over time), so you might miss out on improvements there!
  • PLEASE DON’T REDISTRIBUTE this forest replacement pack! Its experimental, and should remain as such. Over time, I think we will tune X-Plane 10 default forests to a point, that you won’t even consider this pack anymore.

Have fun with it!