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Creating a realistic driving simulator would actually be much more difficult than creating a flight sim. Creating a virtual globe with ground details and buildings that look even moderately acceptable when viewed from ground level is very hard. This is as compared to flight simulators where terrain detail is mostly focused on accurate height maps and orthographic surface textures (which are readily available from USGS and other sources). Most of the urban environments in flight sims are poor quality procedurally generated structures - poor from a general game quality standpoint, they're fine for their usage in flight sims. For the most part, flight sims only bother to manually model and place the objects in major cities and landmarks, as well as around airports.

Promo material says that MSFS 2020 is using Bing maps to accurately generate models for 400 cities, but is using procedural generation for the rest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnithCa-H5w&t=1m55s






I don't buy that. I think procedural programming could do the trick, with details only for key buildings, for instance (which is how Google Maps started their modelling anyway). Yes, that would necessarily mean that you won't recognize your own house, but it would mean that you could drive along in a virtual world that is very similar (simulated even) to the real thing. As before mentioned, Outerra^[1] already did this for the entire Earth. It's a great project. Check it out if you haven't already! :)

[1]: https://outerra.com/index.html


All of the screenshots for outerra on the web site only show terrain with no urban environments.

This video shows urban environments, but the buildings seem to be low poly structures. Okay enough for a flight sim, but I doubt it would be pleasing driving simulator where you regularly see these buildings up close. https://youtu.be/YV9eAN7RVOU

The fundamental problem is that the buildings aren't procedurally generated - they're discrete models. They're procedurally placed on the map, but it still cycling through a fixed list of buildings. It looks similar to the real world from the sky, but if you were to go down and drive around you'd see the same apartments and stores again and again.


I think those are valid conserns. And I also think it can be handled, for instance by fractal algorithms. Most houses are just subsets of a general style, so I'd be quite interested in seeing some work done on procedurally modelled houses. I think doing it in a believable way completely feasible with todays technology. Hell, I could even take a crack at it myself, with POV-Ray^[1] lol. But given that it's an old ray tracer I don't think it would translate very well to modern game engines. It is entirely script driven, though, which makes things a lot easier when it comes to generating procedural contents.

[1]: http://www.povray.org/




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