In the recent AMA over at Mudspike, it was mentioned by Matt Wagner that DCS World would be getting an upgraded cloud system. Now we have our first look at those clouds with a very early preview. Let’s have a look!
When DCS World 2.5 came out, Eagle Dynamics revised their cloud rendering technology to better support and fit in with the new rendering engine. But they also always maintained that they would be doing a more sophisticated cloud rendering system later on. We’re now starting to see the fruits of that labour.
Mentioned in the AMA was the ability to have different types of clouds and multiple layers. While IL-2, X-Plane, and others all have the ability to display a variety of cloud formations and multi-layers of clouds. DCS World has lagged behind though clearly Eagle Dynamics has been working hard.
The above image looks fantastic and gives us far more realistic looking clouds than the puffy fluffballs that DCS World does not. To be fair, DCS World’s current clouds are fine but they don’t offer a lot of variety nor do they feel particularly dense when you fly through them.
The current cloud implementation was not built with VR in mind and apparently spinning clouds can be an issue. This new system is intended to correct that issue too.
What DCS is up against
Rendering clouds is a challenging thing for any flight sim. For years we’ve seen flat bitmaps approximating clouds but they were never really that convincing. These days with more layers and more images overlayed things can start to look fairly convincing.
Sims like IL-2 are using a fairly complex system to display clouds and they have great variety of appearance. Starting in version 3.01, IL-2 has been able to display multiple layers at a time. The team has further improved rendering giving clouds a smoother more realistic appearance and those changes are coming soon.
We’re also seeing full volumetric cloud systems take shape both with current sims and future ones. For X-Plane 11 we have xEnviro, a paid add-on, that improves the look of X-Plane using volumetric clouds (and other rendering improvements).
Of course, Microsoft Flight Simulator is looming in 2020 and it’s volumetric cloud rendering technology and weather injection appears to be a step ahead of anything else that we’ve seen (at least from a visual standpoint). With a huge number of possible layers and volumetric rendering, we’re looking at a significant jump in visuals for cloud rendering.
We don’t know when this new cloud rendering technology will be made available but the new system appears to be looking fairly well evolved now and hopefully that means we’ll be looking to 2020 for some improved visuals.