View Full Version : Small dots -- GINORMOUS lights!

03-05-2007, 07:29 PM
So the small (read: invisible) plane dots at high screen resolutions make you gnash your teeth down to the gums? Well, have I got the solution for you.

Fly at night!

Aircraft navigation lights are drawn as HUGE blurred blobs at long range. By this I mean that when just inside the threshold of visibility, the blob of light is very much larger than the aircraft--several tens of meters in diameter. An enemy formation at several kilometers distance is just strange looking. The first time I saw this I thought it was some bizarre graphical glitch.

But no, it's just the way the light source is represented. So, why *this* gross exaggeration, when tracers (mainly red) are rendered so as to be sometimes harder to see than in reality?


03-05-2007, 09:59 PM
Good observations. If I recall, and I may not be right, the Nav lights don't scale in brightness with distance. It looks right only from a specific distance. The tracers do scale in brightness with distance, although the reds are very dim. However, as for the Nav lights, we must remember that the IL-2 series was never intended for night air warfare simulation.

If you missed this, czech it out...interview with a developer of the (cancelled) sim Target For Tonight (RAF bombers vs Reich air defence)...

TARGET FOR TONIGHT, 2 pages ~> http://www.womengamers.com/interviews/t4t.php

page 2...
Cat: How will you be able to portray a night-time flying game? Won't the player get lost in a sea of black? What'll she see in-game? Will tracers have different colours, like in IL-2 Sturmovik, for example?

Eddie: This is a very common concern, but I don't believe it should be a problem. Even on a moonless night there is some light, it's just you don't tend to notice it when you're surrounded by bright lights because your night vision is ruined. If you're stuck in the dark for hours on end, you'll find that you can actually see a remarkable amount. We're going to model night adaption, so if you have a large explosion close in front, you may find that your vision is temporarily impaired. Also there will be the Aurora Borealis (we thought of it before Microsoft announced it was in FS2002!), accurate stars to allow for navigation, fire, tracers, flak, searchlights, flares, "FIDO" (a system to clear fog where perforated pipes were laid alongside runways, filled with petrol, and then set alight!), and so on. It will be far from dull!

03-06-2007, 04:18 AM
The nav lights in this sim do not look at all realistic with that huge, bright, fuzzy halo effect. They can be seen from a great distance, even in daylight.

03-06-2007, 12:29 PM
Neat ideas on the part of some simulation developers! Yeah, the notion of simulating dark adaption is great. As an amateur astronomer I'm quite familiar with this!

In novels, etc., I'm always grinding my teeth at the way authors naively describe situations where our protagonists, even after being in the dark on a starlit night for some time, can't see "more than a few yards." http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-mad.gif

I've observed from some of the darkest places on Earth, and can verify that the illumination reaching the ground is quite considerable.

But here's a little known fact... the illumination from a night sky comes only to a quite small degree from starlight. The greater portion is from so-called "airglow", a thin layer of ionized atmosphere about 100km up (at the same level as the lowest parts of an aurora.)

From even the darkest mountain on a moonless night, airglow dominates starlight by *at least* a factor of 10! That's why one can always easily see a silhouette of one's hand when held up against even a star-poor region of the sky (as long as you're reasonably dark adapted.)

(For the more technically inclined... on any given night, the combined light of all visible stars is about equivalent to the brightness of Venus (magnitude -4.4). On even the darkest of nights, the integrated brightness of airglow is at least as bright as magnitude -7. The minimum difference is therefore 2.6 magnitudes, which is a brightness ratio of 2.512^2.6 = 10.9.)

And on the ground, a surprising amount of detail can be seen. I have no trouble walking about without a flashlight.

It's commonly stated that it takes something like 30 minutes to become almost fully dark adapted. From personal experience, just a few minutes will get you most of the way there. And once dark adapted, after a *brief* exposure to bright light one can pretty much fully rebound after 10 seconds or so.


03-06-2007, 12:51 PM
The sim would be better off with the code for nav lights eliminated altogether, at least for all AI.

03-06-2007, 06:05 PM
I don't think "ginormous" is a real word. For the benefit of those who speak English as a second language it would probably be helpful if we only stuck to words that were cromulent. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/35.gif

03-06-2007, 07:30 PM
Aussom Lurch. When I was out in the Texas desert, Jupiter created a dim but noticeable silver lining among the cumulus clouds.

Simulating night vision -- there is no need to do this if the sim is to be played under proper room lighing, and that is one thing that bothered me about the TfT interview. I have severely modded my StrikeFighers for use with only a 25watt red light bulb (some construct homebuilt cockpits for FB, so I don't feel quite so bizzare). But then I am rather "hardcore," contrary to recent accusations otherwise. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_cool.gif

Czech it out ~> http://bbs.thirdwire.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=2257

Only the facing of the moon is problematic, but its a square grafix file allowing only 90 degree rotations, although that might be fixable with some effort, I'm "okay" with it as is.

And, lay off the gin!