These comments are in preparation for the soon to be released service pack for Vic+ for Orbx PNW where some of my stuff is suggested as optional enhancements. It is strictly optional I should say. So if it is a pain in the rear instead, it’s an optional pain in the rear. The solution is as near as the delete key.
I think to some extent what’s desirable in a wake effect is in the eye of the beholder as well as the configuration of the sim and of the users computer, but nonetheless there are some unavoidable compromises. Also, the appearance of the effect is different in P3D compared to FSX, and P3D is a moving target which makes it even more difficult. I think that’s why many boat models use default wakes; less hassle. So for your own use, feel free to edit the sim.cfg file of any of my AI models to use one of the default wakes that come with the sim, or any other wake you might find on the web for that matter.
Options for tweaking the look of the wake yourself
Based on the look of the cruise ship wake and the Coho ferry wake on my machine, I’ve made them more transparent and grayed the colors significantly. I think it looks more realistic. These are controlled by the start color= and end color = lines in the .fx file. An entry of 180, 180, 180, 175 gives the values for red, green, blue, and alpha (transparency) in that order. Values are from 0 to 255. 0, 0, 0, 255 is pure black. The start color progresses to the end color over the lifetime of the particle. There are three parts to the wake effect; a bow wake, a quarter wake and a stern wake, each with its own color values. So if you are not happy with the look of the wakes on your machine, adjust these values to your liking. It’s a lot of trial and error. I think it’s safer to stay with pure gray because the color of the water varies.
More about the compromises
Wakes can be thought of as a sequence of semi-transparent tiles representing waves or wash that expand exponentially over time until their lifetime is up* or the scale goal is reached. This means that they expand very rapidly as they approach their maximum extent if limited by time. If you limit them by scale goal the wake typically forms an hour glass shape unless the lateral scale rate is very low in which case the Kelvin wake angle (~20 degrees) is not very accurate. These tiles are produced at a constant rate and are not a function of the boat speed, although they do stop when the boat is stopped.
The result of this is that a wake that looks nice when a boat is at its nominal speed will look far too spread out when the boat is going very slowly or when turning. Every time the boat changes course, the wake effect re-starts and this produces sharp discontinuities in the effect. It is possible to minimize these discontinuities, but that can produce unwanted side effects. So this means that when creating routes, one can have longer straight legs where the wake looks nice but not that great when the boat turns, or one can have a lot of shorter legs with minor course corrections which improves the look of the wake when the boat turns. But because the boat slows before the turn, there is a larger portion of the time where the wake effect does not look good. My current choice is longer straighter legs, but at the turns, a series of closely spaced course corrections.
In addition, modern large ships do not leave that much wake. Nonetheless, the wake effect seems to help situate the boat on the water surface. For the time being I’m going to quit while I’m ahead (relatively speaking) but I may start playing with reducing the alpha and increasing the time until fadeout begins to compensate. A lot of trial and error. This may or may not work.
For those who would like to try the latest wake effects that I think have promise, I’m now posting them via the links page.
*My empirical formula generated from some tests I made is
D = SeSR*t
where D is the distance that the edge of an effect travels on an axis is:, S is scale, SR is scale rate and t is time. These values are specified in the effects file. Notice that there is no vt corresponding to the distance that the boat has moved.