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To Season or Not to Season - that is the Community Question


John Venema
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OK, strategic overview:

1.  Make changes to FTX Central and associated guidelines about making your own copies, backups etc to stop innapropriate use like frequent install/uninstall (I cannot say too much on this because as a Mac user I cannot use FTX Central, but I must say it is one of the very few issues I see some criticism of orbx here and on the XP forum.) Keep the lifetime thing and have systems, controls, whatever so that a few bad users do not spoil it for the rest.

2.  Go with JV’s suggested approach to seasons, if orbx considers there is sufficient volume.

Love orbx!  Love the opportunity to comment!

Cheers.

Edited by flsm (Frank)
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9 hours ago, John Venema said:

 

Why on earth would you use FTX Central in this way?

 

If our customers are using FTX Central like some always-on cloud service or a virtual drive then clearly we have to begin to re-think our service provision levels. We aren't Apple, Google, Steam or Amazon. 

 

Why in the world would I use FTX Central to re-install my large Orbx multi-GB sized addons, and in fact do it over and over again? That just shows a flagrant disregard for the service we provide, or a complete lack of understanding of business costs.

 

 

Indeed. Please stop customers from using FTX Central as their personal cloud space, just "because they can" - and then even call that "common sense". This behaviour of a few obviously raises the Orbx product prices for all customers and might even eventually  have led to this discussion at all - bandwidth costs being the main reason why Orbx wouldn't want to offer an LOD15 product with seasons.

 

Limiting the number of full downloads to 10 or 20 might be sufficient. It still leaves enough downloads for the normal customer not to get worried.

 

To reduce loading times, investigate compatibility problems with other products or identify performance issues, Orbx products can easily just be deactivated in the scenery library. With an app like SimStarter it can be done within a few seconds.

 

Edited by RALF9636
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1 hour ago, RALF9636 said:

Indeed. Please stop customers from using FTX Central as their personal cloud space, just "because they can" - and then even call that "common sense".

 

i believe the 'Orbx powers that be' are horrified...

 

also, it scares the average sensible user that $prices are going up (as has been mentioned on this thread)...

 

clear instructions of correct download/installation instructions need to be provided by Orbx 'front & centre' - ideally guided by the upcoming Orbx Central itself...

 

as has been mentioned, i am sure Orbx has access to user download data statistics - 'Fair Play' principle

 

;)

 

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Looking ahead, as ORBX have promised to be making further updates to the TE regions, adding POI etc. then if users are having to download the whole region again this will add considerably to their six figure sum and be especially painful if they are not charging existing customers for these improvements. Will it possible to just download the actual changes to existing customers rather than download the whole region each time?

Also, just to add my two penuth, FTX Central has only been used as a streaming service (by a few) because of the convenience, so removing the convenience rather than impose a cast iron restriction should resolve the issue eg. allow each user say ten downloads after which further downloads are still possible but have to be requested each time. 

PS: My apologies if I’m repeating points already made by others in this lengthy thread, but I didn’t spot them.

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10 hours ago, Rob Ainscough said:

 

Many reasons:

1.  frequent testing where I need a clean slate
2.  reducing load times
3.  problem solving conflicts with other products

4.  ID possible performance issues
5.  recover space to allow for other products that use even more space

 

Just a few reasons.  

 

Cheers, Rob.

 

 

Very revealing, thank you.

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The current debate moves more and more to download principles and FTXC which might be not the primary intention of this thread....

 

I suggest that ORBX provides an TE Olympic mountains demo with Option 2 (similar to the available FTX PNW demo).

Then the user has a "limited terrain extension" but a full view of the seasonal impact of an outstanding and varying landscape.

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Sorry for being off-topic here, but as the backup/restore-approach has been mentioned several times now I have a question Nick Cooper may answer.

 

Backing up and restoring the P3d's scenery\World\scenery, Sound and effects folder does not give me a clean sim installation as it restores all the files others have written into these folders as well which I probably not want to have restored at this time/at all. Is there a way to only backup and restore the Orbx-files whitin these folders? This said, a self-contained Orbx-installation outside of the P3D file-structure would be highly appreciated.

 

Cheers

Greg

Edited by GregSwiss
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As Rob suggests the P3D addon method must be the way to go...

In another post recently the successor to FTX3, Central 4 was discussed by Ben and John.

The new version will enable installation outside of the main FS folder, now that P3Dv4.4 allows this. As it seems that all add-ons will eventually go this way, maybe the solution to this dilemma is just over the horizon?

 

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Does the XML method take care of those situations where some scenery areas need to be "above" others in the pecking order? I have only just upgraded to P3D v4, and the vast majority of my scenery packages have been installed using the "scenery.cfg" method (only two have been added using the XML method). Nevrtheless, most of my scenery addons are now installed outside P3D altogether.

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On 1/3/2019 at 5:29 AM, Dadtom65 said:

Wouldn’t it be better just to have a vote on it as before for the other thing. Forget what it was. To many people with their own ideas. As for me personally Ha Ha, I would rather have more Regions like for the East coast of America and the likes of France and Spain. Yes I love the True Earth series and if you can churn them out for all the other regions then great butfor now more regions please. So that is a No vote for me on Seasons. Derek.

+1

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19 minutes ago, Christopher Low said:

Does the XML method take care of those situations where some scenery areas need to be "above" others in the pecking order? I have only just upgraded to P3D v4, and the vast majority of my scenery packages have been installed using the "scenery.cfg" method (only two have been added using the XML method). Nevrtheless, most of my scenery addons are now installed outside P3D altogether.

Use LorbySI addon manager.  That functionality should be in P3D itself, but isnt (yet) so 3rd party apps are required.   Full layering flexibility can be achieved....

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+1 for the seasons LOD 14 version !

 

For a few years, when i decided to only use Orbx add-ons, i made this choice and accepted not to use photorealistic scenes (my country is good covered by France VFR). 

 

Because i love to fly over seasonnal scenery and only do 10% summertime flights. 

 

Regards

 

 

 

 

 

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10 hours ago, ozboater said:

ORBX does not make the various methods of re-installation obvious. Users should 'fall over' the alternatives you provide to re-install products without re-downloading. The interface has only Uninstall/Install options, so no wonder people end up using FTX Central to re-download product.

 

This was when I saw the option to install from a manually downloaded zip. But it's NOT AN OBVIOUS choice as you have to look for it.

 

I 'accidentally' noticed the install choice of "Install from my manually downloaded .zip" and now only choose to download a .zip for my products when purchased (only needs to be done once), save it to my archive, and install from my archived .zip. It is fast, and FTX Central makes it accurate, as it gets any new updates for that FTX product.

A high speed portable drive holds all my archived ORBX .zip files.

 

+1.... I fell on the option of the save as a zip for next time option recently and now have a back up on my hard drive and use the useful check files buttons.

Not everyone is great at pc file/folder movement, some “me” cock it up, so I was happy to find this “managed” re-install option. 

It should be almost a default where it forces a save of the zip on the hdd and looks for this first when a user tries to download again from orbx servers. Maybe offer an opt out tick box for those that complain about hdd space.

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5 hours ago, Nick Cooper said:

Very revealing, thank you.

 

Welcome, looks like I'm not the only one doing this, hopefully some adjustments to FTX Central with the P3D V4.4 enhanced Add-On approach will save Orbx's bandwidth cost that could be put to better use across the board.  I think JV knows we love the work his team does and only wish the best for a prosperous future which leads to more content for all.

 

Cheers, Rob.

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5 hours ago, GregSwiss said:

Backing up and restoring the P3d's scenery\World\scenery, Sound and effects folder does not give me a clean sim installation as it restores all the files others have written into these folders as well which I probably not want to have restored at this time/at all. Is there a way to only backup and restore the Orbx-files whitin these folders? This said, a self-contained Orbx-installation outside of the P3D file-structure would be highly appreciated.

 

I believe the ORBX/Scripts directory contains the autogen description files that are deployed to the P3D Autogen directory by FTXCentral.  Perhaps a similar approach could be used for the scenery\World\scenery, Sounds and effects files--have their installation files be available in that directory (or something like that).  Ready to be quickly re-deployed into new P3D installs, if the self-contained ORBX directory approach is adopted.

 

Edited by DesertPilot
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Surprisingly where the initial simple question leads to. It seems a very valid question at the right time and it reveals the complications in the current use of the portal. With the introduction of TrueEarth this certainly leads to a huge growth in bandwith and thus the neccesity to protect the current business model. I agree with a number of users that there was little argument to reflect our own usage. In fact there is no warning and no stop to initiate a reinstall. In fact, today I did a 'verify files' action and saw what likes a complete redownload. I did not check if it only compaired the installed files or really took the full bandwith. This is one of the issues with FTX Central that may needs to be investigated. Many suggestions have been given already and I'm sure that there is enough to consider. I hope this discussion makes all of us more aware of the consequences.

 

Back to the initial question: I was surprised to see the broad range of preferences. That makes me change my first choice. Maybe i'd opt for the LOD14 with seasons first, but the quality of LOD15 (with a single season?) also attracts me. And it seems that a variety of people are willing to spend on LOD15 for more than 1 season. 

 

One last thing. These days I have been flying with realtime/wheater and it strikes me that I have no choice in winterscenery at 10 degrees plus without snow. Very unrealistic. And this applies for many countries, not only Europe. Is a configurable option possible>

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15 minutes ago, jellef said:

One last thing. These days I have been flying with realtime/wheater and it strikes me that I have no choice in winterscenery at 10 degrees plus without snow. Very unrealistic. And this applies for many countries, not only Europe. Is a configurable option possible>

 

 +1

 

I mentioned that several times.

 

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1 hour ago, jellef said:

One last thing. These days I have been flying with realtime/wheater and it strikes me that I have no choice in winterscenery at 10 degrees plus without snow. Very unrealistic. And this applies for many countries, not only Europe. Is a configurable option possible>

 

It already is configurable: January gives winter with snow, February and March give you winter without snow.

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7 hours ago, flying_fish said:

As Rob suggests the P3D addon method must be the way to go...

In another post recently the successor to FTX3, Central 4 was discussed by Ben and John.

The new version will enable installation outside of the main FS folder, now that P3Dv4.4 allows this. As it seems that all add-ons will eventually go this way, maybe the solution to this dilemma is just over the horizon?

 

Nick's terrific suggestion of creating a Symbolic Link presents an immediate solution to this condition. For example, it presently affords to FTXC the means to directly install Orbx products to a destination / drive / folder of your choosing. The Symbolic Link lets FTXC think that it is installing to an Orbx directory residing within the main FSX directory, when in fact FTXC is actually installing the scenery *wherever* you wish (as long as it is to a directory named "Orbx" that is in turn linked back to the main FSX folder). I would imagine this process could also be similarly used for other installations. It's been working just great for me since I jumped back in the water a week ago ;).

 

Blue skies!

Edited by Russ in NE
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Its a good point, and I use symbolic links now, but as others have also said, for the widest possible benefit for customers it's preferable to have hard-coded solutions within Central 4 that draw upon the addon folder installation rather than having to use junction links which are likely to be off-putting for some.

 

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Hello,

 

as has already been mentioned, this is being worked on for the next version (4) of FTX Central

along with numerous other changes.

I would think that it is a challenging task which will not be completed for some time.

 

Of course all constructive customer input is welcome and as evidenced by this topic, it is all considered.

 

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54 minutes ago, MarkH said:

 

It already is configurable: January gives winter with snow, February and March give you winter without snow.

 

Yeah, but many like to fly with real time wather which is requires - how should I call it - real time "time" (in February the days are already much longer again than they are  in January).

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23 minutes ago, wolfko said:

 

Yeah, but many like to fly with real time wather which is requires - how should I call it - real time "time" (in February the days are already much longer again than they are  in January).

 

Real world weather doesn't require you to have your sim in sync with the weather engine, at least with Active Sky. So you can fly with today's weather but running P3D in summer if you want. In fact that would nicely illustrate why a one-season product makes little sense to simmers who fly with real weather. At worst you will have to settle for a 25% shorter day, which seems a pretty minor compromise.

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On 1/3/2019 at 9:50 PM, John Venema said:

 

Why on earth would you use FTX Central in this way?

 

If our customers are using FTX Central like some always-on cloud service or a virtual drive then clearly we have to begin to re-think our service provision levels. We aren't Apple, Google, Steam or Amazon. 

 

I recently built a brand new PC and did a fresh install of P3Dv4.4 on it. To move my 100's of GBs of ORBX products I simply copied my old v4.4 installation over the top of the new v4.4 install. It only took a few minutes and I was up and running on the new PC. I assume people doing rebuilds are using a bit of common sense and not re-downloading hundreds of GBs of Orbx products each time they re-install a sim or PC. My goodness!!

 

Why in the world would I use FTX Central to re-install my large Orbx multi-GB sized addons, and in fact do it over and over again? That just shows a flagrant disregard for the service we provide, or a complete lack of understanding of business costs.

 

If anything, this topic has given us impetus to review bandwidth usage by our customers and rethink the entire model. Those people espousing their willingness to happily pay for extra data and large products may well find that to be the case moving forward. And no, we are not in the hardware shipping business, so HDDs are not going to be an option. Count on one hand how many FS companies do that successfully and are still in profit.

 

I don't often agree with you JV, but I'm with you on this.

 

I have multiple disk images, and regularly backup my 90GB (no True Earth, yet !) OrbX folder onto an external USB drive.

 

Many devs only allow finite number of re-downloads / activations.

 

When you said earlier that certain decisions could lead to bankruptcy, it sent a shiver down my spine.

 

Maybe we should preserve and appreciate what we have, a little like what we should be doing about the planet.

 

May I suggest a modification to the FTX Central interface, that makes it easier to make a backup of all the necessary files (including stuff that goes into other sub folders like World Scenery), to an external drive or alternative local drive, that could then restore everything locally, should a reinstall of P3D be necessary.

 

 

 

 

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22 hours ago, Rob Ainscough said:

 

Many reasons:

1.  frequent testing where I need a clean slate
2.  reducing load times
3.  problem solving conflicts with other products

4.  ID possible performance issues
5.  recover space to allow for other products that use even more space

 

Just a few reasons.  

 

Cheers, Rob.

 

 

Do you fly or do you spend your time fiddling with your sim?  How much testing and of what?  Simstarter and other apps can reduce load times. How often do you get conflicts?  I have every ORBX product and many, many add-ons and my conflicts are few and far between.  Recovering space can be fixed by adding more space.  I fail to understand why bandwidth should be used this way. 

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What also would be helpfull that these new TE sceneries installs directly , without files needed to be first downloaded in zip then extracted and

at last installed,  because for scenery of 200-300 GB we need  600-900 gb free space to install.

and think that many people don't have this space free on drives.

 

 

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I will likely choose  GB TE LOD 15 (summer only) and would probably use that product late Feb to late November (thereabouts).  In the other months (or prn) I would use FTX GB et al for the seasonal textures.  

 

Would this be be easily accomplished?  Having both products installed and simply in the Scenery Library have one active and one inactive?  Or can only one be installed at a time?

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Regarding LOD14 vs LOD15:

 

I'd opt for JV's second proposal with a LOD14 seasons package as an option in addition to the LOD15 summer package.

Maybe there is even room for a "LOD14-other seasons addon package" to the LOD15 summer package that uses LOD15 in summer and LOD14 in the other seasons?

 

Regarding the FTXCentral discussion a short personal story and opinion:

 

I haven't been flying for som time now. I recently got a new computer and bought P3D so I can finally make the switch from my old FSX.

And boy, so many things have changed! It's not easy migrating from the old to the new platform when one did not keep up with all developments in the flightsim world (and I was quite adept some time back with FSX and all its folder stuff).

Many questions even came up when I tried using FTXCentral for the first time, and digging through the forums for answers is quite time consuming.

In the light of all this I second those who aks for a FTXCentral that helps the user more in terms of personal backup, folder locations and the like.

I'd seriously appreciate it. Thanks :)

 

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On the original question about seasons...yes I would love them, but storage capacity is becoming an issue for me.

 

In the future with cheaper (?) bandwidth, and cheaper, larger hard discs I'm sure it will happen, but now might be too early.

 

I'm loving TE south and central. I've just got to make some space for north.

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On 1/3/2019 at 10:50 PM, John Venema said:

 

Why on earth would you use FTX Central in this way?

 

If our customers are using FTX Central like some always-on cloud service or a virtual drive then clearly we have to begin to re-think our service provision levels. We aren't Apple, Google, Steam or Amazon.

If anything, this topic has given us impetus to review bandwidth usage by our customers and rethink the entire model. Those people espousing their willingness to happily pay for extra data and large products may well find that to be the case moving forward. And no, we are not in the hardware shipping business, so HDDs are not going to be an option. Count on one hand how many FS companies do that successfully and are still in profit.

In addition to my earlier suggestions I propose

1. Allowance of one download per product per year as a matter of course

2. Make a simple request necessary for more frequent downloads so people are aware of having to justify their actions

3. When first downloading a product, it should ask where it will be backed up on their HD so most customers will simple do so

4. When trying to reinstall the very first question should be is where is your existing HS backup and state that an update will be made after reinstall of your backup

5. Updates are the norm rather than exception as opposed to reinstall of product when it is updated by OrbX

6. Make it necessary to make requests for anything out of the ordinary

7. Use a lot of the ideas in this thread to keep download costs to a minimum

8. Keep up the excellent product development and the best in class customer service

 

Thanks once again for even giving us the opportunity to make such suggestions and share our ideas

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I saw Xenviro mentioned in this thread but not specifically in relation to X-plane

Are there any companies planning to have snow overlaid over ground textures in Prepar3d

This would then negate the need for seasons in most cases

It appears seasons will be necessary in Alaskan TE products

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This is TrueEarth GB South for XP11, with xEnviro adding snow. Note how even the roofs and trees have snow added. Nice volumetric clouds too.

 

All with shaders

 

image.thumb.png.fbad713380fef089a1e091c99d6a2b60.png

 

 
So if this can be done for XP11, why not for P3D?
 
That to me is the future of large area photoreal regions. Create summer/night and use tech to add seasons.Eventually P3D won't need night ortho textures because it will all be dynamically lit like XP11 does.
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