Fourth installment of the ferry system posted

I’ve now posted the 4th installment of the ferry system as described above. Installation follows the same pattern as the previous installments, but I’d still recommend going over the new instructions carefully.

Thanks to Dexter Thomas for taking a look at some of the new parts. As this project gets bigger and bigger, the chance that some pieces will not work gets much higher but at least I don’t know of any major issues at the moment. If you want to find specific boats take a look at the PDF schedules (one for BC and one for Washington) noting that they are in Pacific Standard Time. I believe they are correct, but they are generated and updated automatically so there is always a chance for error.

I’ll mention something about what will be in the 5th installment soon.


Pilotable Norwegian Pearl configuration file updated

Having discovered a large number of somewhat compensating errors in the aircraft.cfg file that controls the boat, I’ve updated files and separated the downloads, one for FSX and one for P3D v2.x. Feel free to use the original .cfg files if they are more to your liking. The instructions are also updated. I’m not completely happy with the current .cfg versions, but now I have a much better understanding of what’s going on. This is all in the way of preparation for the posting of a pilotable version of the MV Kaleetan, a project I started quite some time ago. But now it will be a minor offshoot of a future installment of the PNW ferry system. A wake issue in P3D is still present in v2.5 so no good solution yet.

First Washington State Ferries terminals plus new boats about done

I’m now about ready to post the first batch of my Washington State Ferries terminals for Orbx PNW as well as three ferry models, one of which has three liveries. Here are some links to a few screen clips:

Quemes Island – Anacortes

Fauntleroy, Vashon and Southworth:

Perhaps I can make a short video that gives a better feel.

Not having a more appropriate model for the Quemes – Anacortes ferry, I used a model of the WSF ferry Hiyu. It’s at least remotely plausible. The Quemes – Anacortes scenery is compatible with Jarad Marshall’s wonderful 74S Anacortes Airport. Thanks to Jarad for taking a look at some earlier clips.

The terminals for Fauntleroy, Vashon and Southworth are all done as large models using photoreal textures, although the image quality for the building textures is not that high. After all, they are just ferry terminals. All have night lighting, as do all the new boats.

The following boats are represented: MV Cathlamet, MV Issaquah, MV Kitsap, MV Hiyu, and the King County Water Taxi Melissa Ann which is assigned to the Downtown Seattle – Vashon route. There are custom wakes for each type of boat. (The MV Klahowya seen in a couple of the screenshots is not ready for posting yet — it will be included with a large terminal that is nearing completion.)

The interior of the hardened car deck of the Kitsap class boats is much more detailed than previous models; in some ways it’s at a higher resolution than the exterior, this because I’m finding that it’s a real kick to put Orbx BOB aboard and ride along. If you try it, shortly after the boat leaves the dock and turns around you will here the standard ‘welcome aboard the Washington State Ferries’ announcement. By the way, Orbx BOB does not have the parking brake (ctrl+period) enabled by default. If you want to try using BOB aboard the Kitsap class boats or the previously posted Jumbo Mark II boats (MV Tacoma etc.) I would suggest enabling the parking brake as follows. In the [brakes] section of BOB’s aircraft.cfg change the parking_brake= value from 0 to 1, like this:


parking_brake =1

(I’m in the process of making my own BOB-like vehicle that should be more suited for the purpose, as well as general observation. I may call it MOM, Mulitipurpose Observation Matrix, or perhaps POP, Purposed Observation Platform. MOM, POP and BOB, one happy family.)

With the addition of these boats, along with the previously posted MV Tacoma, the following routes will now be active although most of the associated terminals need fixing up before posting:

Bremerton to Seattle

Clinton to Mukilteo

Orcas Island to Friday Harbor

Friday Harbor to Sidney

Seattle to Southworth

Seattle to Bainbridge (two boats)

Edmonds to Kingston

I’ll include all of this as well as other odds and ends in the documentation.


Ps: once Orbx releases Friday Harbor via the FSS I’ll do the terminal there so it blends right in.

What’s next for the AI ferry system

Without any real logic to it, the plan for the next installment of the ferry system is shaping up. The focus now is on the Washington State Ferry system (WSF). In addition to the three Jumbo Mark II class boats I’ve recently posted, I’m hoping to post three Issaquah class boats (the Cathlamet, Issaquah and Kitsap), two Evergreen class boats (Tillikum and Klahowya) and the Hiyu. All of these have been redone in the last few months. The amount of detail is increasing, so I hope the realism is likewise increasing.  I’ll probably include the terminals at Fauntleroy, Vashon and Southworth (all done as models) and the terminals for the small ferry that runs between Anacortes and Quemes Island — not quite as fancy. This route is not managed by WSF, but for now I’ll substitute the Hiyu model. The desire for authenticity has to stop somewhere. I may also add my generic versions of Puget Sound lighthouses with appropriate light characteristics.

With regard to the boats, I’m surprised I have gotten this far in fixing up my own set of boats so that they are presentable. At least I think they are as of this date.  There are only two more representative classes to redo; the Jumbo and the Super.

A partial solution to the light visibilty range problem

Mostly so I can link to this page in the future, here’s what I wrote in the instructions for the WSF ferry MV Tacoma about the new effects used:

New running light effects

This has been an ongoing interest because realistic marine lights are a big part of the marine environment and I think they would be a requirement should P3D ever be used for maritime training.  Unfortunately, P3D v2.x and FSX treat marine light effects differently. Based on several experiments on my machine, effects in P3D are about ¾ the size they are in FSX. I have not found a work-around for this problem. I have chosen not to make sim specific effects because P3D is a moving target. Currently, marine light effects (and I suspect many other effects too) have a maximum range of ~6 km in P3D at which distance they suddenly cut off even if the test effect is huge, say 100 meters across. In some areas, the range can be as little as 2.5 km.

Both FSX and P3D suffer from a less than realistic apparent brightness vs. distance relationship. This is in part because in the real world the pupil dilates and lets in more light as the light gets dimmer. Based on a suggestion from Holger Sandmann, I have partially solved this issue by mipmapping a custom texture used by the effect This is not a new idea, but what may be new is the idea that if one is going to edit the mipmaps, rather than just enlarging the smallest ones, why not edit all of them? In fact, why not create all of them from scratch in Photoshop, each made so it’s appropriate for the distance when it will appear? This way the main texture can be quite small so the size looks fairly realistic when the camera is right next to the boat and yet the light can still be seen with nearly appropriate brightness up to several miles away, at least in FSX. The lights of the Puget Sound the lighthouses I’m working on are visible up to 10 nautical miles in FSX using this method which is a fairly realistic distance for this area. If you are not familiar with mipmaps, here’s a reference:

The visibility range of running lights is critical to mariners because when crossing the bow of another vessel at night, one watches for the change in the relationship between the mast range light and the bow light. When one is directly above the other you are directly in the line of travel of the approaching boat.

New wave effects

The new wake effect for the Tacoma now has a simulated wave train along the side of the hull in addition to the bow wave. This is an experiment, but so far I like the look.  (These are vertical waves, not a horizontal wake effect.)  I will add these wave effects to the wake effects used by some of my other boats after a bit more experimenting.

Why not post all of the AI ferry system as is?

I’ve had a couple of suggestions that I post all of the PNW AI ferry system as is, since it all works at least on my machine. I must say that the interest is flattering, but I thought a couple of screen clips would illustrate why I think it’s worth waiting until I rebuild the boats one by one. The first three clips are of my current version WSF ferry MV Kitsap, done several years ago. It does not look all that bad from a distance, but close up it’s how can I say it… awful. The last three clips are of the almost finished rebuild. It’s vastly more detailed, including the interior of the car deck. This so that you place Orbx Bob onboard and ride along and have what should be a fairly realistic view. I might make a pilotable version of this boat too once I have some WSF terminals redone.

1 2 Kitsap

The almost finished revised version:

4 56