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About HappyHaddock

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    Cloud cuckoo land

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  1. When it comes to the clouds in IL-2, the default settings available through the mission editor really don't showcase all the game engine is capable of, as whilst offering many cloud options they all look pretty similar making one choice difficult to distinguish from the next during normal game-play. Plus there are restrictions built in to limit how much each can be changed to differentiate it using the variable parameters in the mission editor. Generally speaking almost everything people say the game can't do can be made possible by extensive modding , where many may be aware of my slow-burn on-going work to completely overhaul the look of the natural world in IL-2. This is nudging closer towards the finishing line but I've still a fair amount of work to complete. The image below was one I first posted about a year ago when getting started on this work, where it would be fair to say I've progressed a lot since then and hope folk will be pleasantly surprised once I am able to reveal all I've been working on.
  2. I have never got on with steam so can't comment about how things work within that system. However the default set up outside of steam is that the game installs an icon on your desktop, you click that and it comes up with a launcher with a limited menu system with a big red PLAY button at the bottom. Somewhat obviously if you hit play it launches the game unless the game is updating in which case this becomes a progress bar showing the rate of download and will only return to being a PLAY button once any latest update has downloaded and installed. Of course if you don't hit play immediately you can use the various options to change few basic settings before launching the game.
  3. The desktop launcher has an option to turn mods on/off before launch. If I remember rightly it's under setting towards the top right of the launcher screen
  4. Well thanks to the few of you who took the trouble to respond: It seems that this last set of images was a little more challenging so for refence the correct answers were Pic.A-3D, Pic.B-3D, Pic.C-2D, Pic.D-Real, Pic.E-Real, Pic.F-2D, Pic.G-2D. Anyway I'm continuing to plug away with my work. Over the last year or so I've tried creating numerous tools for my graphics editing software to help create more believable cloud shapes/structure and whilst I have been able to individually model believable clouds one by one it was slow going and I knew I'd need a faster approach if creating a full mod others would want to use...Consequently I've changed tack somewhat and I've begun drafting simple scripts for a procedural approach to derive clouds for IL-2 from high res. satellite images of real life clouds. (for the moment it is proving semi-procedural as I am having to manually judge when to stop each phase of the multi step process) It is however showing real promise both in terms of delivering more believable height/volume for cumulonimbus clouds and is definitely orders of magnitude faster than hand sculpting/painting each new cloud shape. The image below isn't that impressive but I feel it looks no worse than the stock game which is encouraging given I'm still refining this scripting process. Also as an aside could I ask if others have noticed any change in the stock/vanilla (mods-off) clouds following recent updates? - the ugly concentric rings that used to appear in the shadows on the base of the clouds early/late in the day when the sun was low have been noticeable absent for me over the Christmas/New year period when testing my mods? I'm not saying I've found a fix for this as technically none of the changes I've been playing with over the last two or three weeks should impact upon this (and they may reappear again later?) However it dawned on me that they used to be really irritating but I've not seen them for a while which makes me wonder if the devs have changed/fixed something I've not picked up on. Cheers HH
  5. As mentioned before I am not saying yet which images from my little quiz are or aren't real but I am with you in terms of the fact that jpeg photos of real life are in many respects subject to many of the same processes that digital images in games are, so they don't always look the same way real life viewed through your own eyes does. In terms of my biggest bug-bear with the current cloud tech in IL-2 is largely, as you yourself say, the ability to define edges to clouds, there just isn't the resolution in the cloud models meaning you either apply a lot of softening blurring to the noise applied to break up the shapes of the clouds such that they look good from distance but poor up close. Alternatively you cut out the noise and apply sharpening to get clear edges but accept the fact that the underlying shapes look very , for want of a better word, "unreal". Plus you've got to allow for various different user defined graphics settings, so what you create to look got under one setting may then look atrocious to somebody else running different graphics settings. Cheers HH
  6. Hi, thanks for the reply but since I intend to give others time to play along I'm not yet saying whether the images G and D you mention are actually real, 2d flat textures or 3d models... you might be right you might be wrong. however could I encourage others to post their replies in the above linked thread where the actual images comprising the quiz are shown. HH
  7. I don't know if others out there think they have a good eye for detail and can distinguish pictures of real life from ever more "photo-realistic" video games, but by way of helping me refine my long term WIP project to overhaul the natural world in IL-2 I've posted in the above thread a second (and hopefully more difficult) little challenge for fellow cloud watchers. I'd be grateful for anyone willing to take a look, your answers will help me refine things further. EDIT: just for reference if you click the main subject heading of the above link it will take you to the start of the first page of a lengthy thread, if you click the part at the very top where it says HappyHaddock replied to a post it will take to the relevant section of this long thread with the quiz/pictures Merry Christmas HH
  8. … Well perhaps my comment above has put others off from answering the above little quiz, but the few responses so far received have been enough to show that the limitations/failings of my work when trying to fight against un-flattering graphics settings are as obvious to most others as myself (even if not to everyone).... Where for refence the answers to the previous quiz were; Pic.1-real, Pic.2-real, Pic.3-2D, Pic.4-3D, Pic.5-3D, Pic.6-2D, Pic.7-3D. Hopefully this next "quiz" may be a bit more challenging where the following is essentially the same as the previous "quiz" to work out which are photos from real life, which are screenshots of my 2D cloud textures in IL-2 and which are screenshots of my 3D particle models in IL-2, the only difference being this time I'm showing my modding work to its best advantage when rendered under the most flattering and optimal of graphical settings. Cheers for playing along and Merry Christmas HH
  9. Cassette tapes? Hah! 😉 I remember the days of the sinclair zx 80 designed in the late 70's with it's whole 1kb of memory (upgradable with an expansion to 16kb) and where with no means of permantly storing data things like games/software were sold as paper booklets of printed code for you to manually copy type into the computer each time you wanted to run them. Then after all day of typing up the code you had a pitifully inept game that didn't really do anything more than move a dot from side to side across the screen... but we were easily impressed back then!
  10. Thanks to those who have so far put forward their answers, where given that it was only about half a day ago that I posted this I'll give it a little longer before revealing who is right or wrong. Given that those of the above images taken from IL-2 are based upon some of the work I've struggled with most, rendered under the harshest and least flattering of graphical settings I thought it would be more obvious what was real and what wasn't. Consequently I'll take a little comfort from the fact that although there's more correct answers than incorrect there have been cases both of folk identifying real life as my digital work, and of my digital work being mistaken for real life which suggests I'm heading in the right direction. Perhaps a little later when I am feeling brave enough I'll try this exercise again with some more images of the work I am feeling more pleased with rendered under the most flattering of graphical settings.
  11. The Quick mission generator does choose sky.ini files at random which is why I suggested it would be an easy way to distinguish between a wide ranging problem with the way noise was handled and specific cases of certain files with problematic noise profiles. For the last year or more I've been chipping away at a WIP ambitious project to overhaul the look of the natural world in IL-2, it is a fair way from there being anything others can download but there are many aspects about the look of the clouds I'm working on improving. You may or may not have seen my thread about this work in the mods section of this forum?
  12. In the spirit of a bit of festive silly fun, and partly to help me along the way with improving my work on the sky and clouds I've put together the following little, for want of a better word, "quiz" for folks to try their hand at. There are seven pictures of overcast cloudy skies. Some are photos from real life produced by mother nature herself, some are screenshots of flat 2D texture clouds rendered within IL-2 and some are screenshots of 3D particle based cloud models, again rendered within IL-2. I wondered how many people can work out which are which and if they are willing to risk putting forward reasons for their answers/decisions; the things others identify as weak points are what will really help me with fine tuning and improving my cloud work now I'm finally trying to turn all my test data into some sort of mod others might actually want to download. I know from my own perspective, both being very familiar with my own work, and as an artist that spends a lot of time cloud watching the failings of my digital clouds give themselves away too easily. However what is obvious to one person may not be to another and folk here may notice a whole host of different failings to the ones I see as the biggest issues in need of further work.
  13. In part the following may only be meaningful to those who understand enough to not ask the question in the first place, and in part it doesn't really provide a solution to the original post anyway. however... The issue under discussion ( I assume you are referring to the slightly granular look of the clouds and not other aspects of their appearance?) relates to the noise function used to "distort" the basic cloud models. Without any noise the clouds are very "cubist" so you need something to break up the flat edges to make them look more natural. Presumably using a small number of large simple rectangular blocks distorted with noise is much less GPU demanding than accurately modelling complex organic shapes. @LizLemon has been doing some experimental work to completely rewrite the appropriate parts of the shaders to give better results with a new noise function in the clouds but I'm not aware of him having released any mod for this yet so this query presumably relates to the devs standard cloud rendering rather than modded clouds. If you are sufficiently familiar with identifying and editing in game cfg. files then you could change the various noise parameters in the offending sky.ini file to reduce the noise applied and spread it over a larger area as this would reduce the appearance of the granulation. However I can say from experience that finding the "Goldilocks" settings that are not too much and not too little takes a lot of effort and can lead to having to re-balance lots of others settings to achieve good looking clouds. In terms of simple changes, as others have said using the lower resolution cloud settings will "blur" things out but does introduce a lot of other technical issues people have complained endlessly about and which some say make the game unplayable for them. I personally find that the "high" cloud setting is the best balance between aesthetics and addressing technical limitations. After the introduction of the recent "extreme" cloud setting I've spent a fair while trying to get to grips with exactly what this is doing as it doesn't seem to fit in the same sequence as the other "low" to "high" cloud settings as it seems to act differently. It very aggressively addresses the technical issues that others have endlessly complained about, so in that respect it is to be welcomed, but it is a very subjective decision as to whether it compromises the look of the clouds more than the technical issues it seeks to address. In part where I think the other settings apply a degree of blurring to soften the effects of lower resolution cloud models (where whole aircraft are smaller than individual pixels in the cloud mapping hence needing the noise function to further break things up at a level much finer than the underlying cloud model) the extreme setting seems to force some type of sharpening which fights with attempts to blur out the otherwise blocky nature of the clouds... In truth there's probably a very clever bit of coding been done which the programmer in question will get no acknowledgment for because nobody gets to see the actual coding, but without knowing exactly what this setting is doing it is proving very challenging to keep all it's many benefits whilst still modding other settings to bring back some of the aesthetic benefits of the lower cloud settings. As to whether the original post is related to recent driver changes or game updates I would not be so sure, I have always run an Nvida card and have seen the same issues for as long as I can remember. I think what is most likely is that the stock game includes many different sky.ini files and it is possible to spend quite some time with this sim without ever encountering all of them (unless, like me you spend all your time dismantling the cloud system to heavily mod it) . It could simply be that the OP is encountering this particular sky.ini file for the first time and that this particular sky.ini files happens to have a more aggressive noise profile than any of the others previously encountered. I might suggest that you try a few dozen different missions through the Quick mission generator (which randomly selects between the games different sky.ini files, whereas scripted missions always draw upon the one file chosen by the person who wrote the mission ) and see if they all show the same problem. If the problem shows up under every circumstance you can be sure that the issue relates to broader issue with handling noise functions in the clouds. If it only shows up sporadically you can be sure it is to do with individual noise settings within particular sky.ini files and not the broader game engine itself. Cheers HH
  14. Well having said above that playing with noise settings in the clouds made it a little more obvious what was going on I am now not so sure as it may just have been the intermittent/sporadic nature of the problem that stopped it showing up in my most recent tests ? Several more tests have shown that If you turn the noise settings to zero you get very "cubist" flat sided clouds with no "features" or character but the problem of clipped edges still occurs, alternatively if you turn the noise way up it distorts the basic starting models into weird contorted shapes where it is not so obvious as to whether the clipped edges actually become more frequent or simply that any pre-existing clipped edges simply become more noticeable among an increasing abundance of curves. Either way if this is related to the way the game engine uses noise to shape the clouds it is not a problem that can be cured by turning down noise so I may have to chase another culprit if I am to find a solution. HH
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