The making of the Netherlands 2000, version 2.9
Saturday, April 10 2004, the Netherlands 2000 Scenery, version 2.9 has been released. It took the team more than 2 years to make something beautiful of it. We do hope that everybody will experience a lot of fun with the scenery. What was created in the last couple of years and what were some of the thoughts behind the design?
A lot of features are new and improved in the latest release. There are too many to describe in detail. Therefore I will pick a few as example:
Many airbases have been improved. At some you?ll notice small improvements in frame rate, at others you?ll see that the scenery has been rebuilt entirely. Just fly from EHSB (Soesterberg) to EHTW (Twente) or from EHVK (Volkel) to EHVB (Valkenburg). Many beautiful buildings were added looking as close to reality as possible.
Proudly we announce that almost all civilian airports have been revamped. Many fields were reworked in a major way and some were rebuilt from the ground up. Worth a look! Fly from EHGG (Groningen) to EHTE (Teuge). Or from EHSE (Seppe) to (EHBD) Budel. And then visit EHRD (Rotterdam), EHAM (Schiphol) with its newly added runway (the polderbaan), EHEH (Eindhoven) and EHBK (Beek) all of which are quite enhanced. Finally I?ll mention EHLE (Lelystad) that was created really beautifully. All these fields show photo realistic scenery.
Now there are landing places too for helicopters at the Free University of Amsterdam building, at Heli Holland in Emmen, at Neeltje Jans (the Delta works) and on top of the oil drilling platforms. Extra attention was given to create landing capabilities for helicopter pilots at many airfields.
Three glider fields have been extensively reworked. It?s great to jump into a glider and then try to land at Terlet, Salland or Haamstede. To increase the fun, some flights were created for you, starting high in the sky, so you can soar and make a tour. One of the options in the Feature Panel (see below) is activation of thermals randomly placed above The Netherlands or more locally placed thermals between Terlet, Teuge en Salland. Here you can fly from field to field.
We are really excited about our new ground textures. Technically and visually these literally underwent a metamorphosis. Visually stunning, these are little technical marvels which were realized after an enormous investment in time and skilled programming.
In the flight simulator world at large, more eye candy means worsening frame rates. This is why The NL2000 Scenery Design Team decided to deliver three different ground texture models, so that low and high end PC?s churn as happy as possible. ?Classic? refers to the method we used in the past. The ?seamless texture? model shows hardly any ?checker board? effect and finally the landable water model speaks for it self. The frame rate however will decrease with the sequence of the mentioned models and requires more powerful PC?s.
The most time was spent by The NL2000 Scenery Design Team on the last model (landable water). It combines high texture resolution quality with water you can land upon, a first!
Given the longevity of each NL2000 scenery, we expect the use of high end PC?s to increase during the ?lifetime? of this release and thus more people to use this model.
Static?s, dynamics and personal choices
In many a way it becomes evident on the Forum that there are folks that like to see static aircraft and others do not. Some want to see AI aircraft and then some don?t. We can satisfy everybody. By means of the Feature Panel everybody can select options that include or exclude these features. NL2000 is automatically configured, without you having to manually edit configuration files.
At the larger airports one can select static aircraft to be present or not, general aviation to take place between 10:00 and 14:00 hours from the smaller air fields or not and select whether or not you want to see ?Touch and go?s? at the smaller air fields. You can even select a squadron of F16?s to take off and fly between air bases.
Help, a plane is sinking into the clay!
The Netherlands 2000 scenery uses its own altitudes of fields and its own aircraft positions at those fields. Available as a feature in FS2002 and FS2004, you can select installable and correctly working AFCAD files in the Feature Panel that automatically use the appropriate altitudes. No more fiddling around, just select your option. There are always folks that want additional and more options to choose from. In the Feature Panel, you can actually do it all. For example you can select the altitude to be corrected in FS2004, but use your own AFCAD file creations.
We are proud that we were able to build even more accurate Navigation aids and lights at several air fields. The ILS?s get you precisely on the runways. The runway lighting at EHAM and EHRD is as realistic as possible. It?s worthwhile making a night time landing.
Hard work took place on the beacons en route. You can activate adapted beacons according to the actual situation in The Netherlands in the Feature Panel.
In version 2.9 all seasonable effects are present, which change the ground textures accordingly, including the direct environments of airports. As Dutch winters are mild and there is usually little snow fall, we selected the appropriate greenish ground textures. However for the snow fans, you can make it pile up like in Alaska, just activate this option in Feature Panel. A very pretty sight in combination with precipitation.
Objects on the ground
Also for this release The NL2000 Scenery Design Team did its best to add new objects on the ground. Many objects have been rebuilt. Many bridges are more frame rate friendly and many new objects have been added in the bigger cities and the country side. Just take off from EHLE (Lelystad), level off at 1000 feet and fly to Almere. You?ll be amazed by the impressive new buildings that arose there.
You?ll notice too that a lot of time was invested in adding high rises in the western metropolitan area (the Randstad). You?ll fly over splendid scenery; see typical tree lined roads and even cows in the meadows on low level flights.
The Netherlands 2000 Scenery Design Team never really promoted the use of specially designed flights (even though they were included most of the times), because we considered this rather to be an alternative, too simple a way of taking off. This time we functionally expanded this option with the help of the newly introduced and greatly improved functionality of ?Knee-Board? in Flight Simulator. Above all, we wanted to increase the possibility of using gliders.
There are two groups of flights. One gives you standard situations to exercise navigation skills above The Netherlands or even let you perform official training exercise sessions at Hilversum. Now there is the exercise circuit of Soesterberg, where pupils have to make solo flights around the CTR of Soesterberg and ?the great cross country?, in which pupils have to fly solo according to a navigation plan and visit three fields. These flights are fully programmed and included in this release. Also an included beautiful sight seeing flight along and over the Delta works is highly recommended.
The second group of flights is made for gliders above Holland?s nicest landscapes, and in the close proximity of a glider field where you can attempt a landing. Because Flight Simulator doesn?t have a winch start capability, you?ll be released high in the sky, ready to soar.
Many different folks, as many different choices
Inside the NL2000 scenery Design Team you?ll find as many different personal preferences as in the world outside the team. One prefers Holland to be flat, without ground objects to increase frame rates, another prefers a super computer and is never satisfied with enough detail. Others think of airports as being the most important part and there are those that rather see nicely detailed landscapes flying from A to B.
In order to find the right balance between frame rates and scenery detail, two main mechanisms are applied:
Complexity en density
Again in this release we use density settings. Every user can determine frame rates by choosing the display settings to increase visible 3D objects (lower frame rate) or decrease visible objects (higher frame rates). This is Microsoft?s standard method in Flight Simulator. It depends on your kind of system, personal preferences and demands; whichever way, you are in control.
With the introduction of the Feature Panel we have a second mechanism in place. After installation you?ll find a Feature Panel icon on your Windows desktop. The Feature Panel allows you to fine tune further. It consists of a number of option buttons representing certain categories. For example: in the category ?textures? you can select double railroad tracks versus the MSFS default single track, or select winter textures or exchange MSFS default tropical blue water textures for a more realistic Dutch gray. There are also selectable options for glider flights, static and dynamic aircraft, Navaids and general settings. The Feature Panel creates logs about options related installed files. When used appropriately, all selected options can be reset. Feature Panel initially backs up all your original files.
The Feature Panel thus becomes the ultimate tweaker of the scenery and resulting frame rates.
Organization of The Netherlands 2000 scenery Design Team
A new release means many improvements and additions. How did we organize this so it remains functional and smooth running? Techniques were discussed in a previous article (see flightsim.com), now I would like to address the organization of it all.
The team is no constitutional hierarchy. Principally it is club of members with a shared common interest.
As a team it has regular plenary discussions. The fact that members independently work on the scenery related issues and sometimes live far apart, there is a need for good interim and internal communications. The Netherlands scenery Design Team uses (besides phones) mainly the capabilities of the internet. In the past mostly e-mail, currently chat possibilities have been added.
As the team members are diverse in personal interests, it was decided to set procedures for communication. The end goals being: having more unity in quality and having an increased oversight on the status of the many projects, worked on at any given moment in time.
Starting with this release a bug tracking and status tracking system was developed. As it was maintained chronologically and by project category, it gave a perfect oversight over each project?s status.
Committees and sometimes sub committees or groups were established. The technical advisory committee and the general board of directors are new. The intent was to clarify and define certain responsibilities resulting in more time to persons to specialize in an aspect of scenery design. A coordinator of construction was created to supervise and direct all project activity.
At the same time the most important subgroup is also the biggest: the scenery builders. Actually, everybody is a member of this group. Amongst the builders are specialists and as we progress members learn skills from eachother, climbing to new levels of skills and suddenly creating stunning new scenery. Prime examples are new team members, who, by means of this learning experience, managed to create beautiful scenery as Haamstede and Salland glider field, Air field Midden-Zeeland and a splendid rendition of the Delta Works.
Who created what?
The scenery is not a loose collection of individual subparts. Cooperation is at the base of all projects. Some parts though are contributable to individual team members and carry a ?signature? in this version 2.9:
The air fields
Arno (main designer), Erwin, Rien, Johan
EHRD, EHEH, EHKD, EHGG
EHOW, EHST, EHHO, EHTX, EHAL, EHNP, EHDR
EHBK, EHVB, EHBD
EHLW, EHVK, EHSB, EHDL, EHGZ, EHWO, EHHV, Glider fields
Mark and Johan
Guido and Arno
Bridges, water and delta works
Johan and Frits
Cities and VFR points
Erwin, Mark, Johan, Kees, Frits, Jeroen, Bert, Roel, Guido, Gerard, Rien, Patrick
Joop and Rien
Coordination of construction
Technical support and research
Arno en Guido
Erwin, Guido, Johan
PR, contacts with external know how
Tom, Johan, Guido, Ton
Guido (Johan co-programmer)
Tom, Frits and Ton
Everybody, but especially Ton, DFSO and Rob de Bakker
Website and internal web services
Mark and Christian
Board of directors
Bert (Chair), Tom (Secretary), Johan, Guido, Arno
As The Netherlands 2000 Scenery Design Team we are pleased to have reached the present level of quality in release 2.9. Are we satisfied? Yes, but luckily the scenery is far from finished: it will never be finished. This makes our hobby worthwhile; there will always be some aspects left to be improved upon or to be created.
Big plans are again on the table for a new release. In the future a entirely different approach is anticipated, this is the reason why this scenery is version 2.9 (by the way, version numbers 2.3 thru 2.8 were never released).
Finally, we want to wish you lots of virtual flying pleasure.
(editors Tom van Maastrigt, Frits Tappe, Peter Nauta)