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View Full Version : Lesser of 2 evils...splines or a bunch of weeds?



Thai1On
November 4th, 2012, 11:11 AM
Work is progressing on the L&A and presently I have the tracks lined with a grass spline running on each side of the tracks and I think it looks good. My question in order to make it look better I think I need a second spline of tall grass or weeds. And here is where my question comes in. Do I add more splines or go with an obscene number of grass/weed assets? Of course frame rates are limiting factor here. The idea is I want the track sides to look lush with vegetation.

Dave

sniper297
November 4th, 2012, 12:00 PM
There's a theory that splines cause performance problems, whether that's pure myth or actual fact I have no idea since I've never seen any actual scientific proof one way or the other. Using DMDrake's abandoned industry block scenery object on one test route, festooning the entire route with hundreds of them, I saw no framerate difference from the same route with the abandoned industry splines instead of blocks. If it IS a myth - and I strongly suspect it is - it was probably started by someone who saw lousy framerates, deleted a bunch of grass or bush splines, got better framerates and jumped to the conclusion that splines were bad for framerates. If he had looked at the actual mesh he probably would have discovered that the splines he deleted were made in sketchup with 600,000 polygons for a single bush.

So what I'm using for trackside foliage is splines;

http://www.trainsim.com/vbts/showthread.php?310266-Undergrowth-splines

On the DLS now;

undergrowth_6a,<kuid:522774:100597>
undergrowth_6b,<kuid:522774:100602>
undergrowth_6c,<kuid:522774:100603>
undergrowth_6d,<kuid:522774:100604>
undergrowth_6e,<kuid:522774:100615>
undergrowth_6f,<kuid:522774:100613>
undergrowth_6g,<kuid:522774:100686>
undergrowth_6h,<kuid:522774:100687>

You can test for yourself how they work;

American Flyer,<kuid:522774:100852>
American Flyer Template 1,<kuid:522774:100864>

Some screenshots here;

http://www.trainsim.com/vbts/showthread.php?311607-American-Flyer

JCitron
November 4th, 2012, 12:09 PM
It probably depends upon the size of the spline objects. Hundreds of thousands of little, tiny, teeny, weeny, little polygons starting and stopping repeatedly are probably worse than one huge clump of buildings repeated only a few hundred times if at the most.

To be honest though I have found a frame rate difference with the older grass objects too as well as grass splines, but not as much so with the newer stuff by McGuirrel - her M:Ultra Grass assets - i.e. Speed Grass objects. These newer grass objects render rather nicely, but the problem then is you need thousands of clumps to look right. I tried that with a route I was building, and found that I needed a lot more grass than I would have wanted to place, besides that becomes a drag too particularly if there's a slope because they hang out into space because they're group objects. The same, I suppose happens with other's group objects too, so you have to either place individual clumps or drag them into the dirt all over the place.

John

Isegrinns
November 4th, 2012, 06:11 PM
Good question.
I´m going with individual grass on my routes. And yeah, the ammount of them plus the trees I use sure get down on the framerate!
That said, I cannot say that I´m using up-to-date assets.
Worth it? You deceide.
:)

BD1
November 4th, 2012, 06:17 PM
I use textures: Forest1 and Forest 1 and they look almost 3D, and look like real schrubery on hillsides

Paulsw2
November 4th, 2012, 09:25 PM
If you check the Ashburton-Windrush route i uploaded back in August, you'll see I made extensive use of the jankvis payware trackside splines JVC#(Gr1) Trackside spline A,<kuid2:328583:20247:1>; JVC#(Gr1) Trackside spline B,<kuid2:328583:20255:1>; JVC#(Gr1) Trackside spline C,<kuid2:328583:20251:1>. I also used his freeware grass splines JVC~(Gr3) Grass A 62m,<kuid:328583:3937>; JVC~(Gr3) Grass B 62m,<kuid:328583:3935>; JVC~(Gr3) Grass C 62m,<kuid:328583:3934>; JVC~(Gr3) Grass D II 56m,<kuid:328583:3933>. I think it made a huge difference and I would strongly recommend them.

Paul

airtime
November 5th, 2012, 05:40 AM
Many thanks to (http://forums.auran.com/trainz/member.php?519274-Thai1On)Thai10n for starting this thread, this is a question I would like answering too.

I read in the past on this forum, that splines in a route come in different lengths, and your computer uses extra cycles to work out the various lengths of splines, thus slowing frame rates, where-as a piece of grass is the same height and same dimensions as the last one, so it can re-draw the grass many times in one go, so the system does not have to work out height and length as much, thus creating better frame rates.

Now in the past, I have tried this out, and found out it was either a certain type of track, mainly high detailed track, or the type of fencing used, that was giving the highest buffer count, but I would like to know also, which is better grass splines or individual grass placed in bunches along the lineside.

I have been using assests from the ECML route, as I believe this is the longest route in Trainz, and the items used must be of a standard not to slow the frame rates down too much, especially when you look at the length and size of the ECML route.

Joe Airtime

frogpipe
November 5th, 2012, 11:53 AM
ECML = ???? :confused:

JCitron
November 5th, 2012, 12:03 PM
ECML = ???? :confused:

British route = East Coast Main Line.

London King's Cross to Edinburgh. There are portions of the route in TRS2010 and more of it in TS12. It's a really nice route to drive.

John

Paulsw2
November 8th, 2012, 07:27 PM
The obvious problem with using flora objects to line a route rather than splines is the shear number and time it would take. My route is only a few miles long, but I think I would have lost the will to live if I'd used objects rather than splines! The other benefit is that splines will height adjust to contours, eg. hillsides, whereas objects won't unless they're rollable. The idea of having to roll every grass clump on a hillside as well as place and height adjust it is just too much to contemplate! :confused:

Paul

JCitron
November 8th, 2012, 07:51 PM
The obvious problem with using flora objects to line a route rather than splines is the shear number and time it would take. My route is only a few miles long, but I think I would have lost the will to live if I'd used objects rather than splines! The other benefit is that splines will height adjust to contours, eg. hillsides, whereas objects won't unless they're rollable. The idea of having to roll every grass clump on a hillside as well as place and height adjust it is just too much to contemplate! :confused:

Paul

Paul,

This is one of the things I was running into on my route. I like the real objects versus the splines, but adjusting each one was driving me totally off the wall!

John

sniper297
November 8th, 2012, 08:17 PM
Most of what I know about graphics processing and draw calls is probably obsolete (like me! :sleep: ) but if it works the same way it did back in the days of DOS and dinosaurs, a 3000 polygon spline would work better than 30 100 polygon objects simply because it's one object to load and process rather than 30. Image files also create a performance hit, a block of buildings or a building spline with one large 2048x2048 image which maps different parts of the image to different parts of the mesh will do better than 10 different 128x128 TGA files, again because it's more files to load. I forget the exact number, but using multiple images rather than a single large image is something like the equivalent of an extra 500 polys per image file.

Thai1On
November 8th, 2012, 10:58 PM
Quick update. So far along the main I have a telegraph spline, 2 JVC grass splines, and 2 JVC grass and shrubs splines and I'm still holding 25 FPS. I'm using a few of the tricks other members suggested to improve speed. I forgot to mention I also have an obscene amount of Speed Tress lining the right of way and mountains :hehe:. So for TS12 is hanging in there and my purpose build PC helped:cool:

Dave

RoysTrainz
November 8th, 2012, 11:44 PM
Everything in life has to do with observation and learn from what you see. Many times we think we see and still so it the wrong way.
Splines I only use for track, roads and power lines!
I assume we all talk about TS12.
It should be known, well known to all of us that splines for any kind of vegetation is asking for trouble by ALL means.
We all talk about objects and LOD which makes objects (and splines eg track...) work perfectly the way TS12 can support it. So assuming we all use Object and not object groups (not grouped as an object that limits the usages to only flat terrain which the world NOT is).
Most objects I use have LOD and or will be subject to changes that way sooner or later therefore place in a certain pattern will do the job TS12 can support with no major loss of fps per baseboard.
For the last 2 years (and longer) I showed more than once in a while what can be done with TS12 and a picture tells a thousand words for the eye of the beholder.
Thai1on hope this helps I know we are worlds away and yet so close:p lol.
hope this helps

Roy;)

sniper297
November 9th, 2012, 12:24 AM
"It should be known, well known to all of us that splines for any kind of vegetation is asking for trouble by ALL means."

Sorry, my test results are the complete opposite, with bush/undergrowth and tree splines I get better performance.

RoysTrainz
November 9th, 2012, 01:00 AM
@sniper297
I feel the undertone of your sorry,...... so I cannot help you and we cannot compare the apples and pears you seem to use to make it work.
Depending on what size, density,etc of route you create yourself anything is possible but I try to help advice using TS12 use objects with LOD.

Roy:o

sniper297
November 9th, 2012, 02:15 AM
We'll just have to agree to disagree on that one, everybody keeps saying splines are bad for framerates like it's a proven fact, but my experience shows that it's a myth.

Isegrinns
November 9th, 2012, 07:00 AM
I´d like to add in that I think what joosten meant is that there is no "the generic spline"...

I can only say from my experience with 10, that with the level of detail I am trying to bring in, the framerate is bad either way. But with objects it looks better!
http://www.worldofugly.de/ugly/024.gif

Now that I´ve been working on something in 12 with a guy who knows how to set it up to look awesome, it might be a different thing.
:)

mezzoprezzo
November 9th, 2012, 07:26 AM
Artistically, I think that individual objects are the winners for middle to close views.

Textures are, IMHO, the preferred option for foliage which is viewed at long distance.

Splines might be ok for some close up areas, e.g. large patches of overgrown grassy rail yards where you want the grasses to be seen “growing” through the tracks (which textures can’t do).

The big plus for me is that a nicely constructed group of individual foliage objects is totally original. Every part of the route can then look unique.

Conversely, a spline will generally always look the same. However, used sparingly in combination with individual foliage objects, splines can sometimes be made to look a bit more unique, but you can usually spot them.

BobCass
November 9th, 2012, 01:23 PM
I like Mezzo thinking on this, special effect places its good..But you have too learn to keep splines for the most part back from the tracks or you get some stutter..

sniper297
November 9th, 2012, 02:07 PM
Again I gotta disagree, if the mere condition of being a spline causes stutters regardless of poly count, there would be no hope for Trainz since all track is a spline.

http://img248.imageshack.us/img248/1893/69849320.jpg

35FPS on a minimum spec system, there are nothing but splines in that scene, not a single solid object.

boleyd
November 10th, 2012, 09:28 AM
I had a route, not mine, that I loaded up with splines not paying any attention to the FPS. Then I placed some trains and FPS went down by a lot. So I suspected all the spline things. I pulled a lot of them out. No real improvement. The high detail trains (which I love dearly) were a bigger load.

I agree the splines look repetitive but they stick to the terrain. So I will overlay 2 different splines to eliminate the obviously repetitive look. I also modify the config to remove the LOD limit that is sometimes too small causing spline elements to pop into view. I agree with Sniper (hmmmm) unless tracks have some special program attention a large yard should be a killer.

JCitron
November 10th, 2012, 10:29 AM
And large yards are usually a killer. That's why there are different types of track with different repeat points on them and very low-poly tracks too, which sometimes work and sometimes don't. The lots-o-tracks then combined with lots-o-railcars, locomotives, and buildings, are all the ingredients needed for the makings of a slideshow.

There are other issues too with spline trees that no one here has mentioned. All the objects appearing in front of others, making everything look odd. They also have a weird perspective to them, which gives them a distorted look as well. The pine tree in the lower right hand corner in Sniper's screen shot is a good example. These two things were always a fault of spline trees which is nothing related to the later versions of Trainz.

Perhaps the spline objects are great for distances where there's no need to use full-size trees, but for along the tracks, they don't look right.

John

mezzoprezzo
November 10th, 2012, 11:26 AM
Here’s a mix of spline hedgerow and individual trees and shrubbery.

There’s not really much there. I tried to make it look a bit more populated by using complimentary textures to help out the illusion of a densely verdant landscape.

http://i1237.photobucket.com/albums/ff461/fstrainz/splinetrees_zps4c158da6.jpg


Below is the key showing which is which. I prefer the individually laid areas because they are unique.

The “spline only” areas look a bit repetitive to me, but I’m relatively happy with it. The mix of the two types in the overlapping areas help break up and improve the duplicated spline imagery a little more. A matching texture underneath the splines, emulating shadows, helps with the illusion. I've deliberately not done this under the central diagonal spline to illustrate the point.

I can’t say I have noticed any distortion problems with the splines, except perhaps when they are being dragged across the undulating landscape hugging the ground. They look a bit odd in Surveyor during their movement, but look perfectly acceptable once placed, unless they are placed on extremely steep areas.

http://i1237.photobucket.com/albums/ff461/fstrainz/splinetrees_key_zps31754c47.jpg

JCitron
November 10th, 2012, 11:34 AM
Casper,

This looks awesome and proves a of good points we've been discussing. The spline objects look quite nice and so do the alpha-blended flipboards in TRS2004. Sadly in the newest versions, their coloring is marred by the way they're rendered. If you look carefully at Sniper's tree spline in the very right hand corner, there is that weird perspective of the tree as though it was photographed at the wrong angle. Maybe you were lucky with how you place these objects.

John

sniper297
November 11th, 2012, 07:00 PM
Again, that has nothing to do with being part of a spline - it's an old cruciform tree which does the exact same thing in the fixed object. Look at a grass clump object and the matching grass spline object from the same angle, an X is an X.

mezzoprezzo
November 11th, 2012, 07:27 PM
John,

Yes, I can see your point after looking at Sniper’s screenshot.

I do get occasional transparency problems where one plane jumps in front of another, but it is only noticeable when the landscape is moving. Even then it’s not entirely unacceptable. It reminds me of the effect you sometime get looking through a real train carriage window at speed. It’s minimal on my setup, and nothing like as pronounced as the example you have highlighted. It certainly seems to have reached a more unacceptable level in later versions. Pity!

With my setup, once the image is stationary there seem to be no problem at all. The worst I can achieve is as seen in the example in my last post where the billboard star pattern shows against a lighter ground texture. Here’s a closer view. There is something odd looking with the spline bush to the left of the yellow compass. It has some transparency issues but it seems minimal

As stated in my last post, I’d normally texture some “shading” below it to visually anchor it to the ground and mask the obvious cross effect. It then looks OK.

Casper

http://i1237.photobucket.com/albums/ff461/fstrainz/Spline_billboardeffect_zps71358015.jpg

BobCass
November 11th, 2012, 08:45 PM
You Know, I think that splines are just like buildings..You can get good ones or bad ones as far as frame rates are concerned..But you can also create things that you cannot do with Textures..http://i860.photobucket.com/albums/ab163/bobcass/Bobcass_20121108_0007.jpg

sniper297
November 11th, 2012, 09:58 PM
I played with them rock cliff objects for a while, unfortunately either the terrain sculpting tools are too coarse or I just haven't gotten the hang of using them since I had too much difficulty getting a realistic transition.

Paulsw2
November 12th, 2012, 04:42 PM
Artistically, I think that individual objects are the winners for middle to close views....Conversely, a spline will generally always look the same. However, used sparingly in combination with individual foliage objects, splines can sometimes be made to look a bit more unique, but you can usually spot them.

I agree. Where are the splines here?
http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n264/paulsw2/Ashburton large format/21ExitfromWindrushTunnel.jpg

Judicious use of splnes with 3D objects makes for very good foliage. For users with TS10 and 12 you can see the benefits of the latest 3D foliage, efficient splines and speedtrees which is so much better than the old billboard style objects which really only work for screenshots.

Paul