The (Over)lay of the land

Following on from my post yesterday on the issues with using an overlay derived from simplified data with a higher quality ‘real-world’ mesh and ortho, I thought I’d post about the using a new method to populate the world.

Firstly, this work will probably be the last significant effort for the scenery. I keep thinking that it’s finished, and then something else pops up.

Creating a new overlay.

Wrestling with OSM data, I’ve managed to pull down the entire of New Zealand to source some good data to build an overlay. JOSM is something that I’ve used before to patch the mesh, but it can only operate with a small town size of area at a time, or it explodes. I tried to pull down New Zealand OSM data from bbbike, but it simply doesn’t want to work with New Zealand for some reason.

I grabbed World2XPlane a few years ago, but never completed an overlay. Well, after many dead ends and a few crashes, I succeeded in extracting the entire of New Zealand and pumping it through World2XPlane I got to finally test the results.

Here’s a quick summary, and it’s quite impressive. The size of the overlay has increased from 70MB to 240MB.

Starting in Central Auckland, I’m actually using a scenery pack, so we have to ignore some hand crafted buildings, and Mechanics Bay Heli-base.

But if you look closely, you’ll see that the buildings that are drawn are actually tracing the outline of the where the real buildings are. OpenStreetMaps actually has a lot of the buildings outlines drawn, so X-Plane can use its facade feature to follow it. This is similar to scenery for terminals at Airports.

Now notice the roads, they perfectly follow where the ortho-photo roads are, to a degree. It’s close enough to look like the real thing.

If you crank up the number of objects in the sim, it becomes more impressive, but I usually run with high or medium numbers for the frame rate.

Now let’s look at another area with larger industrial buildings.

This is near Auckland Intl, and note how the facades again align exactly with the outline of the buildings in real life.

Looking at a small town – Thames, renders the same result (ha! pun)

And Wellington, was previously the most problematic with its hills. Now the roads are much better and the buildings align well for the most part.

In the nightime photo above, we have street lights etc, but some buildings don’t have a working night time texture, sadly. They appear bright white.

Okay, what about Christchurch?

Well you can see that once again the roads and buildings are all in agreement with reality. You really can’t tell easily any more where the airport scenery ends and the overlay takes over.

I’m also very happy with Lyttleton Port, which now has real silos and ports where there used to be weird trees.

What about remote coastal roads?

Another benefit – those weird viaduct elevated roads are gone. Coastal roads now look much more ‘down to earth’ πŸ™‚

One final point above – look closely and judge for yourself if you think all the trees are now placed in a way that aligns with where the ortho shows they really are? No more random forests in the wrong place!

Overall, I’m really happy with the result! What do you think?

I’ll pop up a download link soon.

Categories: Flight Simulation

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10 replies

  1. Very nice. I also started experimenting with W2XP in NZ because I am not quite happy with the overlays I’ve extracted from AIPilots UHD mesh. Looking forward to download.

  2. This looks really impressive. It will make some elements of some older sceneries a bit irrelevant: the various attempts to cover over and exclude things just to overcome deficiencies of older overlays. I look forward to this!
    (Does this new overlay extend to the Chatham Islands? It would be good to see overlay roads and forests there looking more realistic.
    – Chris

  3. Nice work mate πŸ™‚ The quality of the overlay is now limited only by the quality of the OSM data, so if you find a truely heinous area, go into OSM, fix it up, wait a week and pull another extract to get the updated data.
    Problem is when there are large areas that are not accurate or building footprints have not been drawn which is the problem I face with creating overlay/autogen for Victoria.

  4. I was sold just hearing elevated roadways would be no more!lol
    Seriously, the UHD mesh alone felt like Christmas… this is like the pav for dessert!lol Totally awesome work. The definition elevates such dramatic landscapes to a whole new level. Brilliant stuff. Thank you. πŸ‘πŸ»

  5. 25 metre NZ DEM is available for download from for both North and South Islands .

  6. THX even better then MSFS2020

  7. zOrtho4XP_-36+172 from Lyndiman_NZ_North_Island_Ortho_Northland_R4, is this file supposed to be missing the Earth Nav Data, Terrain and Textures folders? Not sure if this is having an impact on the scenery or not. The scenery is fantastic, sure do like flying in New Zealand. Thanks

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