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Author Topic: WxTech's A6M2 cockpit re-work, third release  (Read 7214 times)

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WxTech

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WxTech's A6M2 cockpit re-work, third release
« on: May 07, 2021, 07:50:31 PM »

UPDATE #3, March 29, 2024: The main changes: I've repainted the interior green, replacing the former yellowish-gold. Some additional canopy elements have been painted black. The instrument panel is a very pale green, based on a number of online photos I've dug up. I've also adjusted the panel's surface normals so as to make the lighting of the upper edge give a more smoothly rounded form. The gauge mounting screws are now slotted, not Phillips. The magnetic compass has had a damping movement added. This completely replaces the full archive; it's a standalone install. Download from the link below...





UPDATE #2, Apr 12, 2023: I've added an improved reticle, the texture being of larger size and hence greater sharpness, and comprised of two layers, one being a subtle glow. The original archive has been updated. If you've already installed this mod, you may simply take the following three files and add them to your existing folder. The two textures are completely new, while the existing Reticle.mat file will have to be overwritten.

Reticle.mat
Reticle-new.tga
Reticle-new-blur.tga



------------------------------ end of update #2 ---------------------------


UPDATE #1, May 12, 2021: The first release, in an interim state, was issued May 7, 2021. This should now be the 'final' release, and it completely replaces the first. At least I'm happy enough, in spite of a number of littler things niggling at the back of my mind. This now includes the 4.12/BAT compatible cockpit class. The updated readme file contents are supplied below. The download link remains the same.

------------------------------ end of update #1 ---------------------------


The gun sight, with dynamic collimator reflection (2 reflections, one from each glass surface), that changes intensity with the illumination angle. The glass texture is not 'milky' like the stock one, and the extra square texture on the face has been eliminated.




The sight's sun shade. Also not 'milky', but properly, cleanly transparent.




The instrument panel. The artificial horizon has been tidied up. The magnetic compass now looks like a recessed ball in shadow. Both of these gauges now show no bright background stuff through small gaps. All gauges have been given more appropriate bezels (the raised rings surrounding the faces), of a simple form.




The rear canopy. The framing has been made *slightly* rounder. Frame bar edges have been added, to give thickness. Glass now covers the rear canopy, where the stock plane had none.




The after cabin. I've added a shadow texture at the opening, to simulate the general darkness inside. The seat has had cutouts added for the holes.





Get the full cockpit here:

https://www.mediafire.com/file/dv8x0dswu5287d9/%25210_WxTech_Zero_Cockpit.7z/file



From the included readme file:


A Cockpit re-working of the A6M2 folder.


Third release, March 29, 2024. The main changes: I've repainted the interior green, replacing the former yellowish-gold. Some additional canopy elements have been painted black. The instrument panel is a very pale green, based on a number of online photos I've dug up. I've also adjusted the panel's surface normals so as to make the lighting of the upper edge give a more smoothly rounded form. The magnetic compass has had a damping movement added.

Second release, May 12, 2021.

The first, interim release: May 7, 2021.


Textures, 3-D elements and the cockpit class have all been tackled. Unless you have some mod that makes use of more specific plane folders, this will (or should) serve for the A6M2, A6M2-21 and A6M3 planes. At least it does in 4.12 and BAT Red Core. This mod contains EVERY file in the A6M2 folder; this is the complete thing, ready for other modders to tweak as they see fit without having to extract anything else.

I've included the cockpit class files for 4.12/BAT. If you're a Rebel (more properly, a Luddite  ;)  ) playing an earlier version, simply delete these 4 classfiles. But I'm sure someone (we all know who) will soon enough cook up a 4.09 version. Worthwhile, so as to have a proper bank angle indicator and better behaved night lighting.

I've borrowed heavily from other modder's textures, in some cases mixing bits from here and there.

This project can hardly ever be truly finalized, but it's close enough at this point to call good enough. Note that because I do this work using a spreadsheet and simple text editor to alter or make meshes, this makes for a mighty slow slog. I must have put into this a solid week-and-a-half's worth of full-time days. Never said I was quick!  ;)


The main changes:

- Added the missing glass for the aft canopy.

- Slightly improved the aft canopy profile, by tweaking the worst offenders in angular frame segment transitions, and adding a couple extra segments. Now looks a bit more smoothly rounded.

- For the aft canopy, added frame edging so as to add thickness.

- Added my gun sight, which has better reflector and sun shade textures, gets rid of the long-standing extra square reflector plate texture, and adds a dynamic collimating lens reflection that varies with the illumination angle.

- Lifted the gun sight by 3cm.

- Fixed the more egregious of the multitude of bad surface normals all over the place.

- Put some effort into giving the artificial horizon and magnetic compass a better overall appearance. The gaps in the transparency cutouts have proper black backing behind them, so that no background textures forward of the panel can show through. You'll notice that the compass ball no longer shows the 'flickering' texture bits coming and going in the upper right part of the ball. That's because I reduced by a factor of 100 the size of the two triangular textures present in the 'parent', controlling meshes. They're not supposed to be seen, and now they're not!

- The canopy perspex surface normals have been reversed, so as to make dirt more prominent in the up-Sun direction, due to the greater efficiency of forward scattering.

- Gave the instruments a more consistent bezel (the raised circular rim surroundingn the face), of plain form, more in keeping with the real things.

- Added a shadow texture at the opening into the rear fuselage, to represent the more dimly lit 'cave' back there.

- Added transparency cutouts for the lightening holes in the seat.

- Removed the alpha channel for texture left.tga (which is used for the cockpit walls and both foreward and aft decking), the presence of which caused the Sun to be seen through parts of the 'pit side walls. This transparency layer was only there for the handhold openings on the forward decking near the gun sight. Not having these openings as see-through is a fair price to pay for not having the 'pit walls let the Sun shine through. Also, the .mat file must set:
   tfTestA 0

- There were some 'useless' elements present that I've trimmed away. A simple gauge and needle for indicating oxygen pressure was cosmetic only; the gauge was generic and the needle was fixed. Moreover, there was a strange inability to show the gauge unless the cockpit lighting was turned on. This last issue was the main reason for deleting this one. Another pair of fixed needles were present, to indicate oxygen levels, but were not associated with any gauge at all. And the needles were hidden behind a sub-panel, anyway. So I disabled these. (Perhaps in the future, code could be added to make these gauges actually functional...)

- In the cockpit class:
  # Added 6dof code to expand the range of virtual head movement. You'll be sure to like the extra close placement you can get to the sight, making for better gunnery in turn fights. Without having to toggle the gunsight view at all.
  # Fixed the artificial horizon's bank angle caret action. It was, for all these years, incorrectly assigned as another turn rate indicator!!
  # Fixed the interior night lamp emitters so as to greatly reduce flicker, as well as illuminate more of the panel.


I include the Java for the cockpit class, with my various comments present. For non-programmers who are curious, this is readable with any text editor, but Notepad++ (free) is excellent as it uses context highlighting for Java, making it more readable.



As with all my work, this is offered for use by any and all, for any reason, without restriction.


WxTech,
May 12, 2021
March 29, 2024
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eltopo007

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Re: WxTech's A6M2 cockpit re-work
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2021, 08:31:38 PM »

It's wonderful!!! Thanks for your effort to make this old sim better and better
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azura

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Re: WxTech's A6M2 cockpit re-work
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2021, 09:01:45 PM »

Very very thanks from Japan.
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WxTech

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Re: WxTech's A6M2 cockpit re-work
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2021, 09:03:28 PM »

When I release the cockpit class, one amazing thing that has persisted to this day will be fixed. And that's the wrong behavior for the bank angle caret on the artificial horizon. This caret is the small indicator that is tied rigidly to the drum, and by which the bank angle is read off via the scale at the perimeter of the upper 180 degree arc.

I don't know why it was done in the original release of Pacific Fighters, but said caret was assigned the behavior of the turn indicator! You can see it move left and right exactly in step with the turn indicator as you tap the rudder pedals or waggle your wings. Back in 4.09 I assigned the correct behavior, which I carried over to 4.12 when updating then. I'll soon release the cockpit class with this fix, as well as an increased range of virtual head movement for those equipped with 6dof head trackers.
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Vampire_pilot

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Re: WxTech's A6M2 cockpit re-work
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2021, 12:15:26 AM »

This already looks great!

I did some work on fixing all the inconsistencies between the mods and stocks in one of the last BAT updates and this is taking it all the way. Great :)

WxTech

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Re: WxTech's A6M2 cockpit re-work
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2021, 01:41:34 AM »

A better view out the cockpit is achievable without forcing the CAMERA hook into any odd location by itself. And that is by increasing the range of virtual head movement in the Java code for 6dof in the plane's cockpit class. This pic shows the range in the fore-aft axis that I've settled on for the Zero. (I do have the CAMERA hook located a little farther forward than stock.) You can get close enough to the sight to smell the leather crash pad!  :D It might not seem quite so close, but that's because the FOV is 105 degrees (my default value for general flying and fighting, but I can zoom in to as narrow as 5 degrees.)

The sight picture is notably improved, great for shooting while turn fighting. Not shown is the large range in the vertical. I get a bit higher than the default setting (not too much room to expand within due to the canopy being a limit), but low enough to see the underside of the gun sight.

This will be included in the cockpit class which I'll release soon. It's supported for 4.12 and later. Also fixed is the the caret movement in the artificial horizon. Now instead of mirroring the turn indicator (!), it properly indicates bank angle.

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_1SMV_Gitano

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Re: WxTech's A6M2 cockpit re-work
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2021, 02:04:17 AM »

Nice job

A better view out the cockpit is achievable without forcing the CAMERA hook into any odd location by itself. And that is by increasing the range of virtual head movement in the Java code for 6dof in the plane's cockpit class.

IIRC the stock model works on the assumption that the pilot is tightly strapped to the seat. I'd say this was indeed correct for fighters at least

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WxTech

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Re: WxTech's A6M2 cockpit re-work
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2021, 02:28:15 AM »

Gitano,
I have five reasons to justify my approach to increased 6dof movement.

- The fact that in crashes, in spite of a tight belting in, pilots can bash their face against the sight shows that some freedom of motion exists, and that the sight is not a distant thing.

- In order to be able to turn sufficiently to see to the rear, one cannot too tightly constrain upper torso twisting. How far can you swivel your noggin if your shoulders cannot rotate some 45 degrees about the vertical axis? This implies the need to have a bit of slack in a shoulder harness.

- Aircraft cockpits, and particularly those in fighters, are surprisingly confined offices to work in.  ;) The sight is often not far ahead of one's face already while pressed back into the seat. To get a feel for this tightness of confines, alter the CAMERA or CAMERAAIM hook (usually found at the head of Body.msh) by just five or ten centimeters and note the material difference in the sight picture that results.

- The requirement to be fairly close to some sights in order to see in full the reticle image has, as far as I understand, had pilots indeed get up close. The best example, perhaps, is the Russian PBP-1, which has a huge reticle of some 220 mils diameter but a fairly small collimating lens. This combination requires a *very* close eye positioning.

- Perhaps most importantly, it's a game. Some concessions to game play are acceptable.

Cheers!
Glenn
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Knochenlutscher

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Re: WxTech's A6M2 cockpit re-work
« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2021, 04:51:15 AM »

Cool, Thanks for another overhaul
Cheers
Tobias
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WxTech

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Re: WxTech's A6M2 cockpit re-work
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2021, 12:37:43 PM »

I know that in this instance the changes I've made are kind of subtle. Unlike the case for the P-39, or the F4F, where significant enough improvements were immediately apparent. Here I retained the underlying model, the only departure being a slight smoothing of curvature of two of the aft canopy frame arches. In short, the Zero was already a pretty decent model.

But beause this plane ranks in the top tier of importance by any measure, it's worth the effort to further refinement.

I note that while subtle, somewhere along the way the canopy was slightly changed. This jumped out at me when I tried to add my older (4.08) rear canopy glass and frame edging elements. They did not fit, and so I had to do it all over again in the case of the frame edging. And I'll bet this is why the forward canopy and sliding part suddenly developed slight gaps for the perspex there. The person who changed the framing did not also deal with the glass. And they also introduced awful surface normal discontinuities on the forward canopy for all the trapezoidal segments connecting the frame bars. I dealt with the ones at the upper corners of the central windscreen panel because they were the most prominent.

And never got rid of since day one was the strange, additional texture on the sight's reflector. It's a simple square, reminiscent of the very first such treatment in the game's initial release. It loudly announces itself on all stock Type 97 (?) sights as a horizontal line (with gradient) running across the upper reflector. It seems to have been the initial, simple, temporary construct, but got left in place when the original artist added the more proper beveled-corner form, with edges.

And as I mentioned already, really baffling is the awful operation of the artificial horizon's bank angle caret (incorrectly assigned the action of the turn indicator!), and how it's just kept surviving all these years. I don't recall a single peep about this. I made a partial fix for me nearly a decade ago by altering the parent of the mesh so that least the caret, while still moving like the turn indicator, at least tracked with the tilting drum. It was an early proper fix once I started playing with Java over a year ago.

I guess I'm a bit more detail oriented than most, eh. ;)
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WxTech

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Re: WxTech's A6M2 cockpit re-work
« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2021, 09:36:22 AM »

The damaged gauge textures are now all consistent with the undamaged versions.
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SAS~Bombsaway

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Re: WxTech's A6M2 cockpit re-work
« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2021, 01:52:01 PM »

Very nice work. I really like the way you added the " reflection " of the canopy in the glass of the instruments on the " arm rest " panels.  Thank you for all your hard work.
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